ISIS: THE LATEST PHASE OF THE JIHAD

Originally published by Hoover Institution’s Strategika.

Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center.

The best way to understand the Islamic State (ISIS) is to see it as the next phase of al-Qaeda. All Sunni Islamic jihadi groups—Boko Haram, ISIS, Taliban, al-Shabaab, al-Qaeda, even Hamas—share the same motivations based on a literal and orthodox reading of Islamic history and doctrine: resurrecting a caliphate (which existed in various forms from 632 to 1924) that implements and spreads the totality of sharia, or Islamic law.

Accordingly, ISIS’s notorious atrocities—beheading, crucifixion, sexual enslavement, and destruction of non-Sunni places of worship—are being committed by other jihadi groups (e.g., Boko Haram and al-Shabaab, both of which pledged allegiance to ISIS) and even by some Muslim governments (e.g., Saudi Arabia) and individual Muslims around the world.

Conversely, although al-Qaeda (AQ) adheres to the same sharia that ISIS implements, it has long waged a propaganda war against the West. AQ portrays all terrorist attacks on the West, including 9/11, as mere payback for the West’s unjust polices against Muslims, including support for Israel and Arab dictators.[1]

To maintain this “grievance” narrative, AQ knows that the innately supremacist and violent aspects of sharia—for example ISIS’ destruction of churches and subjugation of “infidel” Christian minorities—need to be curtailed or hidden from the Western world.  Otherwise AQ’s efforts of portraying jihadis as “freedom fighters” resisting an oppressive West risk being undermined.[2]

Regardless, AQ’s strategy of turning Western opinion appears to have borne fruit in one pivotal area: canceling longtime Western support for secular Arab dictators. In the context of the “Arab Spring,” the Obama administration turned its back on America’s Egyptian ally of 30 years, Hosni Mubarak; helped ISIS-affiliated jihadis overthrow Libya’s Gaddafi (even though he was complying with Washington); and continues supporting ISIS-affiliated “moderates”[3] to overthrow Syria’s Assad. Idealists in both government and media forgot a primary reason the U.S. had formerly supported secular Arab dictators: they single-mindedly opposed the jihadis.

The result has been a new and emboldened phase of the jihad, a.k.a., ISIS. Born and entrenched in precisely those nations that U.S. leadership brought “freedom and democracy” to—Iraq, Syria, and Libya—ISIS (or al-Qaeda 2.0) is now indifferent to Western opinion. By widely broadcasting its savage triumphalism in the name of Islam, ISIS forfeits the “grievance card” but plays the “strength” card, thus inspiring millions of Muslims. According to the Pew Research Center, in 11 countries alone, at least 63 million and as many as 287 million Muslims support ISIS.[4]

Yet even ISIS works in stages. When criticized by Muslims for killing fellow Muslims and not attacking Israel—the supreme enemy—ISIS responded by saying it was following the pattern of the historic caliphate founded in 632.[5] Then, Caliph Abu Bakr beheaded and crucified tens of thousands of Muslims for apostatizing. Only after the rebel tribes were brought back into the fold of Islam were they set loose to conquer European/Christian territories during history’s early Muslim conquests (634–750). Indeed, it is believed that ISIS’ caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi took this name to signify his focus, that is, terrorizing all “hypocrites” and “apostates” until they unify under the caliphate’s banner.

It still remains to be seen whether ISIS’ strategy—inspiring Muslims but losing Western opinion—will succeed. According to polls, “Islamophobia” is on the rise in the West, especially after the rise of ISIS, prompting several politicians to speak more candidly about the catalysts for terrorist violence.

The Obama administration’s weak responses feed into AQ’s narrative that Islamic terrorism at least in part reflects Islamic grievance; and it refuses to connect the actions of any jihadi organization—whether ISIS, al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, et al—to Islamic teaching.

Time will tell whether the next administration will remain willfully ignorant of the nature of its jihadi enemy—which is fatal in war according to Sun Tzu’s ancient dictum, “know your enemy”—or whether reality will trump political correctness.

Notes:

[1] See “An Analysis of Al-Qa’ida’s Worldview: Reciprocal Treatment or Religious Obligation?” Also, The Al Qaeda Reader, which separates the organization’s communiqués into two groups: “Propaganda” messages to the West portraying jihadi terrorists as mere freedom fighters, and “Theology” messages to fellow Muslims, preaching the same Islam of ISIS.

[2] See “Al-Qaeda: Defender of Christians?” for a more elaborate explanation of this theme.

[3] For the Syrian Free Army’s role: “Largest Massacre of Christians in Syria Ignored.”

‘Islamic State Commander’ Found Living As Refugee In Rural German Village

In the latest of a series of raids, German police have searched two homes in a rural village after a television channel interviewed a suspected Islamic State commander living there as a refugee.

Sankt Johann is a small village in the south west German state, Rhineland-Palatinate. Something of a rural idyll, its 800 residents live between vineyards in the shadow of a 14th century Gothic church. And yet, as SPIEGEL TV reports, this weekend it was the scene of police raids on two Islamic State-linked suspects living in refugee housing.

Prosecutors’ office spokesman Michael Neuhaus said the two men targeted by the operation are “suspected of taking part in the Syrian civil war as members of a foreign terrorist organisation”. He said there were “no immediate indications that a concrete attack was planned” but declined to give any further details.

Two houses in the village are used to house Syrian refugees, but among the opponents of the Assad regime living there SPIEGEL TV tracked down a suspected commander of the Islamic State terror group after tip offs from other Syrian activists. They had identified him as a man called Bassam, a notorious commander said to be responsible for the deaths of dozens of people.

A 32-year-old man, he allegedly fought in the ranks of Islamic State fighters in the eastern Syrian city of Deir ez-Zor before leaving via Turkey to seek asylum in Germany. Starting his fighting career with rebel jihadists in Al Kasra, the man in question is understood to have joined Sunni Islamist militias fighting the Syrian Government as part of the al-Qaeda affiliated al-Nusra Front, before graduating to the even more extreme Salafi jihadists of Islamic State.

His original ambition had been to be a suicide bomber, but his brother had used his position as a Sharia judge to secure him his officer’s role. In late summer last year Bassam was captured at a checkpoint north of Aleppo by Free Syrian Army soldiers following intelligence that he was fleeing to Turkey with tens of thousands of dollars in cash. For reasons unknown he was released after 20 days, with a memory card for a telephone holding masses of Islamic State propaganda but without his money.

Incredibly, German security services were said to have been oblivious to his presence in Germany since last autumn until SPIEGEL TV’s research alerted them to it.

For his part Bassam denies ever being an Islamic State fighter, and says he has nothing more to do with his brother. He also claims to have no idea why he was captured by soldiers from the Free Syrian Army.

For now he wants to concentrate on his professional future, telling SPIEGEL TV: “I want to learn German and work as a cook.”

As Breitbart London recently reported, German security forces have received more than 100 tip-offs that Islamic State fighters may be hiding among migrants currently staying in the country.

You Don’t Know What Obama Said at the Mosque

obamas islamic tearsIf you seek to understand Barack Obama and his views, the best place to go is his speeches. But you have to read them in their entirety, not rely on hearing them or on the media’s summary of them. When you do, you realize how often what Obama says is morally and intellectually confused and even untrue.

The most recent example was his speech last week at a mosque in Baltimore. In addition to reassuring Muslim Americans that they are as American as Americans of every other faith — President Obama spoke a lot of nonsense, some of it dangerous.

President Obama: “So let’s start with this fact: For more than a thousand years, people have been drawn to Islam’s message of peace. And the very word itself, Islam, comes from salam — peace.”

Why did Obama say this? Even Muslim websites acknowledge that “Islam” means “submission” [to Allah], that it comes from the Arabic root “aslama” meaning submission, and that “Islam” is in the command form of that verb.

That’s why “Muslim” means “One who submits,” not “One who is peaceful.”

Obama: “Jefferson and John Adams had their own copies of the Quran.”

The reason Jefferson had a copy of the Quran was to try to understand it in light of what the Muslim ambassador from Tripoli had told him and John Adams. When asked why Tripoli pirates were attacking American ships and enslaving Americans, the Muslim ambassador explained that Muslims are commanded to do so by the Quran: “It was written in their Quran that all nations which had not acknowledged the Prophet were sinners, whom it was the right and duty of the faithful to plunder and enslave; and that every mussulman [Muslim] who was slain in this warfare was sure to go to Paradise.”

That’s why Jefferson and Adams had Qurans.

Obama: “And how do we move forward together? … It can’t be just a burden on the Muslim community — although the Muslim community has to play a role.”

Most Americans would say that the American Muslim community has to play “the” role, not “a” role in preventing violent Islam from capturing the minds of American Muslims, and in helping authorities identify extremist Muslims.

Obama: “Second, as Americans, we have to stay true to our core values, and that includes freedom of religion for all faiths.”

This is so obviously true that one wonders why the president felt it necessary to mention it.

Obama: “There are Christians who are targeted now in the Middle East, despite having been there for centuries, and there are Jews who’ve lived in places like France for centuries who now feel obliged to leave because they feel themselves under assault – sometimes by Muslims.”

One would have expected that after mentioning “Christians targeted now in the Middle East,” he would have mentioned “Jews targeted now in the Middle East.” That, however, would presumably have been too controversial to say. So, the president mentioned the many Jews in France “who now feel obliged to leave” their country because “they feel themselves under assault” — and then came the corker: “sometimes by Muslims.”

Sometimes? French Jews have recently been murdered, tortured and harassed more than at any time since the Holocaust. And virtually every one of those attacks has been perpetrated by Muslims.

Obama: “We have to be consistent in condemning hateful rhetoric and violence against everyone. And that includes against Muslims here in the United States of America.”

Two facts are relevant here. One is that religious hate crimes are exceedingly rare in America. The other is that in 2014, the last year for which we have data, Jews were targets of hate crimes four times more frequently than Muslims.

Obama: “I often hear it said that we need moral clarity in this fight. And the suggestion is somehow that if I would simply say, these are all Islamic terrorists, then we would actually have solved the problem by now, apparently.”

The president has made extensive use of the straw man — a false target that he then attacks. This is one such example. No one has ever said that if the president were to identify Islamic terrorists by name instead of nameless “violent extremists,” “we would actually have solved the problem by now.”

What drives most Americans crazy is that the president of the United States refuses to name the enemy. And this rewriting of reality filters down. Increasingly, for example, when (and if) 9/11 is taught in American schools, the attackers are never identified as Muslims.

Obama: “And, by the way, the notion that America is at war with Islam ignores the fact that the world’s religions are a part of who we are.”

Another straw man. No American of any stature has said that “America is at war with Islam.”

Obama: “In the discussion I had before I came out, some people said, why is there always a burden on us? When a young man in Charleston shoots African-Americans in a church, there’s not an expectation that every white person in America suddenly is explaining that they’re not racist.”

This point alone should have been publicized by the media — that the president of the United States tells Muslims that they have no moral obligation to condemn violence committed in the name of Islam.

Obama: “American Muslims are better positioned than anybody to show that it is possible to be faithful to Islam … and to believe in democracy.”

That is actually true. Given that theocracy, not democracy, is a central tenet of Islam, if an Islam compatible with democracy ever develops, it will probably develop in America.

Obama: “These are the voices of Muslim scholars, some of whom join us today, who know Islam has a tradition of respect for other faiths.”

Another falsehood. Islam has no such tradition. Islam has always demanded that Jews and Christians be treated as humiliated second-class citizens — when not forced to choose between conversion or death.

Now you know what President Obama said at the Islamic Society of Baltimore. But if you just read or listened to the mainstream media, you would have missed it because none of this was reported. It was all about, as the headline in USA Today put it, “At Baltimore mosque, Obama condemns anti-Muslim bigotry.”

The Supreme Council of Cyberspace

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