“The Islamic State brand is empowering. It tells you you’re a victim and offers a license for revenge. And, through social media, it offers you celebrity, a chance to be somebody rather than nobody. Anyone who thinks a theological argument could counter this is simply naive.”
…“We are dealing primarily with the adolescent mindset,” contends Lapis [Communications], citing statistics that 90 percent of jihadists today are under 25. These militant youths want to see things in black and white. The only antidote, argues Lapis, is “ ‘the grey’ of social compromise and tolerance, of nuanced and considered thoughts.”
“Radical Islam isn’t the cause, it’s the excuse,” says Lapis. Messaging that feeds the sense of an isolated and aggrieved Muslim community is “the worst thing that can happen in the West,” says Kenning.
10:26 PM EDT
Yawn…you can actually make a living writing nonsense like this. Muslums are migrating to the West in record numbers. The intellectual West’s attempt to define Islam has yet to save one Western life.
10:23 PM EDT
Did Trump come first or ISIS or Mohamed or bin laden?
10:25 PM EDT
Or Jesus or Yahweh or ….
10:23 PM EDT
What a smart “expert.”. Blaming America for Muslims enslaving and killing young Yazidi girls and killing and driving out most non-Muslims or other sects.
10:12 PM EDT
While I am a fan of Mr. Ignatius, this column simply does not pass the smell test. If I follow, if it were not for the Islamaphobia of the West, ISIS would lose its cachet and stop committing acts of terrorism?
This of course begs the question – what is it that is causing fear in the West? 50 years ago, was anyone in the West worried about Islam? At some point this process got rolling, and it is hard to believe that one morning the West suddenly decided that Islam was going to be the new enemy. The truth is, there is something to wisely fear here.
Secondly, this is problematic. It assumes that ISIS and other radical Muslims don’t really believe what they believe. Should we not at least give them the benefit of the doubt? They are not mere reactions to us. That gives them too little credit.
There will always be the Trumps of the world, but they are playing off a combination of their own prejudices and pre-existing fears in Western society. (Mr. Ignatius also ignores the cachet and attraction that comes with being a rebel against one’s society. See also the counter-culture of the 1960s.)
Further, while I have no truck with Mr. Trump, this: “Kenning argues that the best way to defeat the Islamic State’s strategy is for the Trumps of the world to shut up.” – has a distinctly totalitarian undertone. We do have a First Amendment after all, and the proper response to it is counter-argument, not terrorism. Certainly Mr. Ignatius is not suggest that we forfeit free speech just to keep youthful Muslims contented.
The last weakness in all of this is the supposition that ISIS’s inability to govern effectively will hasten the demise of its allure. This is anti-historical. Communism was a manifest failure and yet even today it holds attractions in certain quarters.
Mr. Ignatius needs to be reminded that Islamism has other appeals and that not every human measures happiness by a growing GDP. The first lesson of life – not everyone thinks as we do.
What ISIS Really Wants
The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse. Here’s what that means for its strategy—and for how to stop it.
“Oh, Muslims, Islam was never for a day the religion of peace. Islam is the religion of war,” the voice says, according to a translation by the SITE Intelligence Group. The voice also warns Muslims that they will be persecuted if they stay in the West, saying that if authorities monitor or question Muslims, “soon they will begin to displace them [Muslims] and take them away either dead, imprisoned or homeless.”
ISIS is the largest, most capable, best-armed and most financed terrorist group in the world today. It holds about a quarter to a third of Syria and Iraq. It has created a proto-state in the heart of the Middle East. It has ambitions to destabilize the region and seize a caliphate that stems throughout what they call Greater Syria or al-Sham or the Levant, which would include Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, the Palestinian territories and Israel. Beyond that, it wants to seize caliphates [that] stretch across the Arab-Islamic world, which would include any place that had once been Islamic — Spain, for instance. From that base, it would attempt to dominate the world. It really has a millenarian vision of conquest in the name of Islam. It will not stop where it is, it cannot be deterred, and it will be highly destabilizing to the region — a region that is still of critical importance to the world’s economy because of the oil resources there.
And in the midst of that, it views the rival Shiite groups as apostates that need to be killed. So it would spark an intra-Islamic civil war; it already has, and that would rival the Thirty Years’ War in Europe in the 17th century for scale, scope and brutality. We can remember that the Thirty Years’ War killed off a third of the population of central Europe. So this is a group that would be highly destabilizing to the region and highly destabilizing to the world. If allowed to retain control of this state that it’s created, it would inject terrorism into Europe and the United States, either directly or via self-radicalized people who read ISIS’s postings on social media and take action. So no, it’s not a threat that we can ignore.
Secret to Islamic State success: Shock troops fight to the death
By HAMZA HENDAWI, QASSIM ABDUL-ZAHRA and BASSEM MROUE, Associated Press7/8/2015
Islamic State elite forces fire artillery against Syrian government forces in Hama city. Photo: Associated Press
BAGHDAD — Bearded and wearing bright blue bandannas, the Islamic State group’s “special forces” unit gathered around their commander just before they attacked the central Syrian town of al-Sukhna. “Victory or martyrdom,” they screamed, pledging their allegiance to God and vowing never to retreat.
The Islamic State calls them Inghemasiyoun, Arabic for “those who immerse themselves.” The elite shock troops are possibly the deadliest weapon in the extremist group’s arsenal: Fanatical and disciplined, they infiltrate their targets, unleash mayhem and fight to the death, wearing explosives belts to blow themselves up among their opponents if they face defeat. They are credited with many of the group’s stunning battlefield successes — including the capture of al-Sukhna in May after the scene shown in an online video released by the group.
“They cause chaos and then their main ground offensive begins,” said Redur Khalil, spokesman of the U.S.-backed Kurdish People’s Protection Units, which have taken the lead in a string of military successes against the Islamic State in Syria.
Though best known for its horrific brutalities — from its grotesque killings of captives to enslavement of women — the Islamic State group has proved to be a highly organized and flexible fighting force, according to senior Iraqi military and intelligence officials and Syrian Kurdish commanders on the front lines.
Its tactics are often creative, whether it’s using a sandstorm as cover for an assault or a lone sniper tying himself to the top of a palm tree to pick off troops below. Its forces nimbly move between conventional and guerrilla warfare, using the latter to wear down their opponents before massed fighters backed by armored vehicles, Humvees and sometimes even artillery move to take over territory.
The fighters incorporate suicide bombings as a fearsome battlefield tactic to break through lines and demoralize enemies, and they are constantly honing them to make them more effective. Recently, they beefed up the front armor of the vehicles used in those attacks to prevent gunfire from killing the driver or detonating explosives prematurely.
Those strategies are being carried over into new fronts as well, appearing in Egypt in last week’s dramatic attack by an Islamic State-linked militant group against the military in the Sinai Peninsula.
Andreas Krieg, a professor at King’s College London who embedded with Iraqi Kurdish fighters, said IS local commanders receive overall orders on strategy but are given freedom to operate as they see fit to achieve them. That’s a sharp contrast to the rigid hierarchies of the Iraqi and Syrian militaries, where officers often fear acting without direct approval.
IS fighters are highly disciplined — swift execution is the punishment for deserting battle or falling asleep on guard duty, Iraqi officers said. The group also is flush with weaponry looted from Iraqi forces.
IS stands out in its ability to conduct multiple battles simultaneously, Iraqi army Lt. Gen. Abdul-Wahab al-Saadi said.
“In the Iraqi army, we can only run one big battle at a time,” said al-Saadi, who was wounded twice in the past year as he led forces that retook the key cities of Beiji and Tikrit.
Even the group’s atrocities are in part a tactic to terrorize its enemies. It beheads captured soldiers, releasing videos of the killings online. Stepping up the shock value, recent videos showed caged captives being lowered into a pool to drown and the heads blown off other captives with explosive wire around their necks.
The number of IS fighters in Iraq and Syria is estimated between 30,000 to 60,000, according to the Iraqi officers. Former officers from the military of ousted Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein have helped the group organize its fighters. Veteran jihadis with combat experience in Afghanistan, Chechnya or Somalia have brought valuable experience.
Foreigners who join IS often end up as suicide bombers. “People go to the Islamic State looking to die, and the Islamic State is happy to help them,” said Patrick Skinner, a former CIA officer now with The Soufan Group, a private geopolitical risk assessment company.
The group’s tactics carried it to a sweep of northern and western Iraq a year ago, capturing Mosul, Iraq’s second-biggest city. Shortly thereafter, IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared a “caliphate” spanning its territory in Iraq and Syria.
In May, it captured Ramadi, capital of Iraq’s vast western Anbar province. In Syria, it seized the central city of Palmyra.
The elite shock troops were crucial in capturing Ramadi. First came a wave of more than a dozen suicide bombings that hammered the military’s positions, then the fighters moved in during a sandstorm. Iraqi troops crumbled and fled as a larger IS force marched in.
Around the same time, they also overran a central Syrian town, al-Sukhna. In an online video released by the group, the elite fighters are shown pumping themselves up for the attack. “Victory or martyrdom,” the fighters, wearing blue bandanas, scream in a circle around their commander, pledging their allegiance to God and vowing never to retreat.
Since US-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria have hampered the group’s movements, IS has lost ground. Iraqi troops and Shiite militiamen retook some cities, like Saddam’s hometown of Tikrit. In Syria, Kurdish fighters backed by heavy U.S. airstrikes recaptured Kobani, on the Turkish border, after weeks of devastating battles. More recently, IS lost Tal Abyad, another Syrian border town.
But last month, IS attacked not only Kobani — with 70 elite fighters battling for two days against a larger Kurdish force — they also launched a similar incursion in Tal Abyad, where they fought for days until they were killed. They also attacked the northeast Syrian city of Hassakeh, where they continue to hold out.
“They weren’t planning to leave alive,” Kurdish commander Ghalia Nehme said of the IS fighters in Kobani. “It seems they were longing for heaven.”
Mroue reported from Beirut, Lebanon. AP correspondents Lori Hinnant in Paris and John-Thor Dahlberg in Brussels, Belgium contributed to this report.
We will never be able to negotiate with Islamic State. So what other options are there?
Isil’s terrorists want to create a world in which life as we know it no longer exists
A grotesque love of propaganda. Unspeakable barbarity. The loathing of Jews – and a hunger for world domination. In this stunning intervention, literary colossus V.S. NAIPAUL says ISIS is now the Fourth Reich
By V.S. NAIPAUL FOR THE MAIL ON SUNDAY
PUBLISHED: 19:10 EST, 21 March 2015 | UPDATED: 20:36 EST, 21 March 2015
Nobel Prize-winning author V. S. Naipaul has warned that Islamic State are the most potent threat to the world since the Nazis The Nobel Prize-winning author V.S. Naipaul has warned that Islamic State are the most potent threat to the world since the Nazis.
In a hard-hitting article in today’s Mail on Sunday, the revered novelist brands the extremist Muslim organisation as the Fourth Reich, saying it is comparable to Adolf Hitler’s regime in its fanaticism and barbarity.
Calling for its ‘military annihilation,’ the Trinidadian-born British writer says IS is ‘dedicated to a contemporary holocaust’, has a belief in its own ‘racial superiority,’ and produces propaganda that Goebbels would be proud of.
A long-term critic of Islam as a global threat, he also challenges those who say the extremists have nothing to do with the real religion of Islam, suggesting that the simplicity of some interpretations of the faith have a strong appeal to a minority.
The author of A House For Mr Biswas, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2001, is known for his sharp views.
He has likened Tony Blair to a pirate whose socialist revolution had imposed a ‘plebeian culture’ on Britain and found himself embroiled in controversy in 2001 by comparing Islam to colonialism, saying the faith ‘has had a calamitous effect’ as converts must deny their heritage.
Imagine a world in which a young man is locked in a cage, has petrol showered over him and is set alight to be burnt alive.
Imagine the triumphant jeering of an audience that has gathered to witness this. Imagine, also, a 12-year-old child with elated determination on his features shooting at close range a kneeling man with his arms tied behind his back.
Then picture the spectacle of a hundred beheadings of victim after victim in humiliating uniforms, their hands and feet bound, kneeling with their backs to their black-robed executioners who wield knives to cut their throats as though they were sacrificial lambs.
Picture queues of helpless men and women being marched by zealous executioners who nail them to wooden crosses and crucify them, howling and bleeding to death as crowds watch.
Then picture thousands of girls and women, their arms tied, being marched by hooded and armed captors into sexual slavery. And then, if that is not enough, picture men being thrown off cliffs to their deaths because they are accused of being gay.
Yes, all these scenes could have taken place in several continents in the medieval world, but they were captured on camera and broadcast to anyone with access to the internet. These are scenes, of yesterday, today and tomorrow in our own world.
I have always distrusted abstractions and have turned into writing what I could discover and explore for myself.
So I must begin by admitting that I have not recently travelled in those regions threatened by barbarism – the Middle East, the north west of Africa, in pockets of Pakistan and in the Islamic countries of south eastern Asia.
However, in the 1980s and early 1990s I undertook to examine the ‘revival’ of Islam that was taking place through the revolution in Iran and the renewed dedication to the religion of other countries.
I travelled through Iran, Pakistan, Malaysia and Indonesia attempting to discover the ideas and convictions behind this new ‘fundamentalism’.
My first book was called Among The Believers and the second, perhaps prophetically, Beyond Belief. Since those books were written, the word ‘fundamentalism’ has taken on new meanings.
As the word suggests, it means going back to the groundings, to the foundations and perhaps to first principles. It is used to characterise the interpretation given to passages of the Koran, to the Hadith, which is a collection of the acts in the life of the Prophet Mohammed and to an interpretation of sharia law.
However, the particular fundamentalist ideology of ‘Islamist’ groups that have dedicated themselves to terror – such as Al Qaeda, Boko Haram and now in its most vicious, barbaric and threatening form the Islamic Caliphate, Isis or the Islamic State (IS) – interprets the foundation and the beginning as dating from the birth of the Prophet Mohammed in the 6th Century.
This fundamentalism denies the value and even the existence of civilisations that preceded the revelations of the Koran.
It was an article of 6th and 7th Century Arab faith that everything before it was wrong, heretical. There was no room for the pre-Islamic past.
So an idea of history was born that was fundamentally different from the ideas of history that the rest of the world has evolved.
In the centuries following, the world moved on. Ideas of civilisation, of other faiths, of art, of governance of law and of science and invention grew and flourished.
This Islamic ideological insistence on erasing the past may have survived but it did so in abeyance, barely regarded even in the Ottoman Empire which declared itself to be the Caliphate of all Islam.
But now the evil genie is out of the bottle. The idea that faith abolishes history has been revived as the central creed of the Islamists and of Isis.
Their determination to deny, eliminate and erase the past manifests itself in the destruction of the art, artefacts and archaeological sites of the great empires, the Persian, the Assyrian and Roman that constitute the histories of Mesopotamia and Syria.
They have bulldozed landmarks in the ancient city of Dur Sharukkin and smashed Assyrian statues in the Mosul museum. Destroying the winged bull outside the fortifications of Nineveh satisfies the same reductive impulse behind the destruction by the Taliban of the Bhumiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has described this destruction of art, artefacts, inscriptions and of the museums that house them not only as a butchery of civilisational memory but as a war crime.
It is telling that the victims of Wednesday’s barbarous shootings were visitors to the great Bardo Museum in Tunis, a repository of art and material from Tunisia’s rich, pre-Islamic past.
Isis is dedicated to a contemporary holocaust. It has pledged itself to the murder of Shias, Jews, Christians, Copts, Yazidis and anyone it can, however fancifully, accuse of being a spy. It has wiped out the civilian populations of whole regions and towns. Isis could very credibly abandon the label of Caliphate and call itself the Fourth Reich.
Isis have bulldozed landmarks in the ancient city of Dur Sharukkin and smashed Assyrian statues in the Mosul museum (pictured)
Like the Nazis, Isis fanatics are anti-semitic, with a belief in their own racial superiority. They are anti-democratic: the Islamic State is a totalitarian state, absolute in its authority. There is even the same self-regarding love of symbolism, presentation and propaganda; terror is spread to millions through films and videos created to professional standards of which Goebbels would have been proud.
Just as the Third Reich did, Isis categorises its enemies as worthy of particular means of execution from decapitation to crucifixion and death by fire.
Whereas the Nazis pretended to be the guardians of civilisation in so far as they stole art works to preserve them and kept Jewish musicians alive to entertain them, Isis destroys everything that arises from the human impulse to beauty.
Such barbarism is not new to history and every nation has suffered mass murder and barbaric cruelty in the past. That a European country in the 20th Century launched a holocaust on the basis of race is a matter of the deepest shame.
That Isis has revived the religious dogmas and deadly rivalries between Sunnis and Shias, Sunnis and Jews and Christians is a giant step into darkness.
The Arab lands, relatively stable under the Ottoman Empire, were divided up by the British and French victors of the First World War into the kingdoms of Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Syria and Jordan at the Cairo Conference of 1920. Borders were drawn in straight lines and the sons of the Mufti of Mecca imposed on the newly carved territories as kings.
Winston Churchill was advised at the Cairo conference by T. E. Lawrence and by Gertrude Bell, who should have known that the Shia would not readily welcome or acknowledge a Sunni king and vice versa.
After upheavals, rebellions and military coups, the region settled down under dictatorships in the 1950s and 1960s.
The Ba’athist Party was, in some senses, a modernising force and Saddam Hussein, though a Sunni, ruled the predominantly Shia and partly Kurd nation of Iraq with a ruthless hand. Wherever two or three were gathered in the name of the Almighty, he sent in his police.
He may not have been a savoury character but his overarching policies were holding on to power and modernising Iraq.
He was the cat that kept the rats of Islamism at bay. His invasion of Kuwait, another artificial sheikdom, poor in territory at the knee of Iraq but rich in oil, triggered the international reaction against him. The Bush-Blair alliance invaded Iraq and the puppet regime they set up executed Saddam. In the absence of the cat, the rats ran riot.
And so it has proved throughout the region. The Libyans, with the assistance of a European alliance, overthrew Gaddafi. The country is now at the mercy of Islamic militants. The same Arab Spring saw democratic protest against the Egyptian dictator and resulted for a while in an elected regime veering towards the repressions of Islamism.
It was overthrown by a military coup whose leader, General el-Sisi, speaking to the clerics and supposed scholars of the authoritative Islamic university Al-Azhar, called on them to denounce Isis as the greatest threat to international peace and exhorted them to declare the ideology of Isis a heresy. The mullahs of Al-Azhar have not as yet complied.
In Syria, the conflict of groups opposed to the government of Bashar Al-Assad resolved itself in the formation of a Sunni Islamicist militia, which in turn evolved – after a significant bloodletting – into Isis.
Are Isis and its followers heretics? The politicians of Europe and America, including David Cameron, Barack Obama and Francois Hollande, after every Islamicist outrage insist on describing them as a lunatic fringe. Their constant refrain is that these perpetrators of murder and terror have as much to do with Islam as the Ku Klux Klan has to do with Christianity or the testament of Jesus Christ. But does such political assurance bear scrutiny?
Whereas the Nazis pretended to be the guardians of civilisation in so far as they stole art works to preserve them and kept Jewish musicians alive to entertain them, Isis destroys everything that arises from the human impulse to beauty
Of course the politicians, church leaders and others who say ‘these atrocities have nothing to do with Islam’ are not making a researched or considered theological statement. They are attempting, quite rightly, to prevent civil discord in a world in which there are considerable Muslim immigrant populations in most countries of Europe and in the US.
So what impels the tiny minority of young men and women from immigrant communities to volunteer themselves to ‘jihad’ and to almost certain self-destruction, or young women to abscond from their families and from European reality to become jihadi brides.
When I visited Pakistan, I discovered what I have characterised as the effects of an ideological nurture. The Pakistani or Bangladeshi Muslim is taught that he or she has no historical antecedents before the conquest of parts of India and its conversion to the faith.
The pressures of poverty and promise bring this Muslim to Britain. He and his family don’t speak English.
They are confined to work and live in an exclusively immigrant area of an inner city – say Bradford, Tower Hamlets or parts of Greater Manchester or Birmingham.
Their children are raised as Muslims, some strict some not so strict, and are sent to the normal city schools which soon become almost exclusively immigrant.
Some find that the values that traditionally inform them are at variance with those of the lives they see around them. This is true for even those Muslim young men and women who are being educated, through Britain’s by-and-large egalitarian system, to be surgeons or computer programmers.
Islamism is simpler. There are rules to obey, a jihad to fight against the civilisation you can’t comprehend, a heaven to go to when you martyr yourself and now a real fighting force in the world which you can join to simplify and solve your existence: no history to complicate your self-awareness, no art to distract you, no ambivalence and choices that ‘Western’ civilisation offers you, no doubt about the fruits of martyrdom, no allegiance to the country in which you were brought up and which gave you a free education and perhaps welfare benefits. A gun, a half-understood prayer and the simplicity that a simple and singular upbringing craves.
That is why they go. And volunteer for death, and die.
In the past three or four centuries since Descartes, Leibniz and Newton, Islam remained encrypted in the revelations of the Koran and the Hadith of a 6th Century life.
The expansion of the scientific enquiry coincided with or possibly caused the maritime expansion of European colonialism. Empirical science, the progress of liberal religion and the germination of modern democratic ideas coincided with European colonial dominion over Asia and Africa.
The process of decolonisation in the 20th Century gave rise to the idea that every advance in civilisation, scientific or democratic, was to be condemned as ‘colonial’. There may be no ideological answer to such bigotry.
The Islamic world does contain currents that are opposed to the interpretations that Isis gives to the Koran, the Hadith and to sharia. These are yet to declare themselves.
Though the appeal of Isis can be challenged by other strands of Islam, its murderous presence persists in the failed states of Iraq and war-torn Syria and threatens to spread through northern Africa.
The crippled Iraqi government has launched its reluctant armies against Isis. The Iranians, being Shias opposed to Sunni Caliphates, are supporting the Iraqi army and the Shia militias, who are a considerable force independent of the Iraqi government, are in a coalition to fight Isis on the ground. With air support from the West, they may manage to push Isis back.
Such an offensive, with the immediate objective of regaining Iraqi territory has to be urgently expanded. Isis has to be seen as the most potent threat to the world since the Third Reich.
Its military annihilation as an anti-civilisational force has to now be the objective of a world that wants its ideological and material freedoms.