Category Archives: Islamic State

ISIS Threatens Western Journalists as First Targets

By Dalit Halevy, Ari Yashar
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), which has in recent days expanded its hold after capturing large portions of Iraq last month, and last Sunday declared itself an Islamic “caliphate,” has threatened foreign journalists with death if they dare write against the Islamist group.

The message was written on a Twitter account associated with ISIS, which changed its name to “Islamic State” along with its declaration of an Islamic caliphate.

“The brothers register the names of all the Western journalists who demonize the Islamic state, in case the United Heretical States of America decides to get involved in Iraq and Syria; in this way we’ll know who to attack first,” read the message.

The ISIS threat continued “their propaganda is what kills our women and children in the Muslim world, and indeed because of their lying propaganda many Muslim children died.”

It is worth noting that ISIS has committed numerous atrocities against Muslims in areas under their control; two weeks ago it executed and crucified one of its own members for corruption.

The group has tortured and murdered prisoners, among them children and teenagers, forced Druze men to convert to Islam or die, and last month killed a 102-year-old man along with his whole family. In March, the group live-tweeted the amputation of a hand of a man charged with theft in the northern province of Aleppo.

As far as America getting involved in Iraq and Syria, US President Barack Obama has waffled back and forth on taking action. First he committed to not sending troops to Iraq – only to send over 500 marines, dozens of helicopters, and the aircraft carrier George HW Bush into the Persian Gulf.

Then after ruling out American airstrikes on ISIS, Obama hinted such airstrikes were a possibility mere days later, and then sent a delegation of 300 “advisers” to aid Iraqi forces.

ISIS last Friday captured a Syrian oil field in the Deir el-Zour province in the east of the country near Iraq, after seizing Syria’s largest oil field last Thursday in the same region.

The Sunni Jihadist group now controls a corridor from the Syrian provincial capital of Deir el-Zour to the border town of Boukamal, giving it a free flow between Syria and the areas of Iraq it seized last month.

The Islamist group has already amassed great assets during its blitz offensive in Iraq, seizing Iraq’s largest oil refinery, a chemical weapons facility, and becoming the “world’s richest terrorist organization” by looting 500 billion Iraqi dinars ($425 million) from banks in Mosul.


Don’t Overestimate the Islamic State

By M.Rubin
I’m currently in Jordan where I’ve been able to meet some Iraqi tribal representatives, Sunni Iraqi businessmen, and representatives of the “Iraqi resistance,” including those who held senior positions under Saddam Hussein. What they have conveyed to me—which is consistent with what I have heard from many Kurdish interlocutors familiar with the situation in Mosul—is that the West should not see the fighting in largely Sunni populated areas of Iraq as simply a battle between the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and the Iraqi government. Rather, they suggest, while ISIS—now just the Islamic State—has been the vanguard advancing against the Iraqi military, most of the ground is being held either by Sunni tribes or by veterans of the Saddam-era army, albeit professionals who are nationalists but not necessarily Baathists.

Indeed, word from Mosul and elsewhere is that once ISIS passes through, the situation calms rapidly. There are still flights to Mosul listed on the departure board at Queen Alia International Airport in Amman. And while there have been atrocities—against some Iraqi army members and, alas, Christians—many of the most gruesome claims, they suggest, are false: just re-posting of photos of Syrian atrocities relabeled to suggest that they had occurred more recently in Iraq. Women are staying home because they don’t necessarily understand what the new rules are or how they will be enforced but, beyond that, life is getting back to normal. The real problem right now, residents say, is that the Iraqi government has cut off salaries, water, and electricity to the city and so supplies are beginning to run out.

The former officers and tribal representatives suggest that Abu Baghdadi’s sermon on Friday in Mosul notwithstanding, they are unwilling to settle for ISIS domination but are willing to cooperate loosely with them for the time being with the full understanding that they will soon be fighting them directly. They also seem to suggest that they recognize that there will have to be negotiations with the Iraqi central government—they have no delusions of taking and holding Baghdad—but that they are unwilling to sit with Prime Minister Maliki, and instead say they will talk to his successor.

Fears of the Islamic State and the caliphate make headlines, but the reach and power of the Islamic State should not be exaggerated. The problem of this radical al-Qaeda off-shoot is real, but the current dynamics in Al-Anbar, Ninewa (Mosul), and Salahuddin (Tikrit) governorates are both more complicated but also perhaps more reconcilable.