From: Kaukab Siddique [mailto:ksidd37398@aol.com] Sent: Thursday, July 10, 2014 12:06 AM To

Subject: Re: Zain, Shamim and Kaukab Siddiqui if you Support ISIS the it means you Support Israeli Zionist IDF

130 American advisers have arrived and US drones, now armed, are preparing an attack plan. Iranian planes have also been spotted. What do Americans say about ISIS' danger. How does ISIS answer. Michael Scheur speaks with wisdom. Check this link from Jamaat al-Muslimeen Virginia: http://youtu.be/fK7MMjTQzB0 

The U.S. Puppet Regimes In The Muslim World

 Are All Paper Tiger Tyrannies Hated By Their Oppressed People

By Jack D. Douglas

The sudden implosion of the vast Iraqi Army of the Baghdad Puppet Regime constructed by the U.S. is an excellent early warning of the fates of the other U.S. puppet states in the Muslim World—Afghanistan, Egypt, Pakistan, Yemen, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, U.A.E., and lesser ones. As always, there are many differences among these puppet states, including degrees of being puppets of the U.S., but the general picture of them and their situation now are roughly similar.

The U.S. War Against Islam, which began with the annihilations of Afghanistan and Iraq roughly thirteen years ago, led to a sudden, immense, secret transformation of the Muslim World from anxious allies of the U.S. to secret enemies and led to the rapid growth of the Holy Warrior guerrilla groups and parties started earlier by Hizbollah and al-Queda because of the U.S. support of the Israeli occupation of Lebanon and Palestine and the growing hatred of the older U.S. puppets, especially Saudi Arabia. The Islamic peoples had begun secretly turning against the U.S. in the 1950′s and 1960′s as the U.S. began more and more to quietly replace the retreating European empires in the region and support pro-American puppet regimes. The U.S. CIA with U.K. help worked with corrupt Iranian forces to overthrow the Iranian democracy in 1953 and replace it with the terrorist secret police state of the Shah and Savak. As that bit of U.S. treachery and conspiracy became more and more known in Iran, Iran became the first of the revolutionary Islamic states to turn against the U.S. Other peoples learned the same hard lessons over the decades and followed in their footsteps.

Since Bush et al. declared a “World War” against the “Islamic Axis of Evil” after 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington by al-Queda, a predominantly Saudi guerrilla group enraged at the U.S. over its puppet Saudi Arabian police state, the whole Muslim World of one and a half billion people have turned overwhelmingly against the U.S. and more and more secretly support guerrilla groups against the U.S. puppet regimes oppressing them. Pakistan, a huge nuclear state with about 150 millon people quickly went from pro-U.S. to fiercely anti-U.S. over the annihilation of Afghanistan, the systematic plane and then drone attacks on Pakistanis, and all the rest.

As far as I can tell from what we can see so far in this implosion of the al-Maliki puppet regime in Iraq, this small army of fierce Holy Warriors of somewhere between a few thousand and ten thousand was able to terrify and disperse the huge army and police forces of the Iraqi state numbering nearly 100,000 in the North [out of about one million nationwide] because the Sunni majority in those areas welcomed them or went along with them and, very importantly, I expect the Sunni minority in the Shia dominated national army and police did the same. It was probably this sudden desertion of tens of thousands of Sunni soldiers and policemen who had been working with them that threw them into panicky flight.

All of these puppet regimes who have tried to build nationwide security forces in nations that are very pluralistic and divided in their populations [like Iraq which is divided into the Shia, Sunni and Kurds] face the same danger. They are normally highly infiltrated by other ethnic groups who resent the dominant puppet regimes as well as by the major guerrilla forces, since guerrillas always do this, a crucial reason the U.S. and its puppet S. Vietnamese governments lost the war in Vietnam and the puppet forces suddenly imploded when seriously attacked by guerrillas and the North Vietnamese army.

These U.S. constructed national security forces look formidable on paper and can growl fiercely as long as they are not seriously attacked by homogeneous, tight knit, fierce and effective guerrilla armies. When that happens they become paper tigers and flee, even throwing their vastly superior weapons away in terror.

Napoleon said that the moral factors of war, all the nonphysical ones, are three times more powerful than the physical. That remains true in general in our age of high tech. weapons. But there are situations such as I have been describing above in which the moral factors are vastly more important than that. These Sunni guerrillas with a little help from spies in Mosul threw a vast, modern army with vast weapon superiority into total panic by doing little more than huffing and puffing on their rams’ horns, a greater feat than Joshua’s defeat of the fortress forces of Jericho with the help of God.

These Holy Warriors overrunning Iraq have overrun almost all the Sunni areas with the help of the locals in a few days. Now they are coming up against the Holy Warrior Shia militias and probably supporting Republican Guards of Iran which are highly trained and very effective. If Moqtada al-Sadr is able to get his partially moth-balled Mahdi Army into fierce and organized fighting shape quickly, the Shia will hold their heartland from Baghdad south to Kuwait and the Persian Gulf. I argued many years ago that Moqtada is the natural leader of Iraq for many reasons, including the fact he is a holy man, not corrupt like al-Maliki, and is able and willing to work with Sunnis and Kurds. He is by far the most beloved military leader of the Shia in Iraq and he is even an old friend of the head of Hizbollah, the vastly effective Shia guerrilla army of Lebanon that has given the Syrian government a victory after looking like it was doomed.

If I were the leader of this fierce little Holy Warrior army, I would feint toward Baghdad to pin down the Shia and mislead others, but I would speed South to strike into the oil heartland of Saudi Arabia in the N.W. where the Shia hate the Saudis and the paid military forces from other countries share that hatred. I would have sent a force down from Syria through Jordan to join my invading army in Saudi Arabia. I would promise big bonuses to the paid foreign troops if they join me and then go home after we seize the wealth of the Saudi puppet tyrants. And I would be prepared to destroy the oil shipment facilities in Saudia Arabia on the Gulf instantly if the U.S. attacked us.

I think Saudi Arabia is a paper tiger and would implode. We would have realized the dream of Osama bin Laden, a Saudi Yemenite, and with the vast wealth of Saudi Arabia in our control we would rapidly build our Caliphate of loyal and fierce Sunnis to control nearly half the oil exports of the world, then build our Middle Eastern wide Caliphate of all Sunnis and live in glory the rest of my days.

If that dream conquest failed, I would lead my remaining forces back up to Iraq or through Jordan into Syria and then into northern Iraq to control that rich prize and build the Caliphate out from that more slowly.

I think it is possible they will be thinking like me and do that or something very similar.

In any event, the U.S. will for decades be reaping the whirlwind of its incompetent and insanely stupid “divide and conquer” plan in the Muslim World.

[N.B. I am not a Sunni and will not accept supreme command of that Holy Warrior army if they do ask me.]

Jack D. Douglas [send him mail] is a retired professor of sociology from the University of California at San Diego. He has published widely on all major aspects of human beings, most notably The Myth of the Welfare State. 

[if !(IE 7) | !(IE 8) ]>> Black Flags Over Mosul - OpEd | Eurasia Review
Mosul, Iraq. Photo by Sgt. Michael Bracken, Wikipedia Commons.
Mosul, Iraq. Photo by Sgt. Michael Bracken, Wikipedia Commons.

Black Flags Over Mosul – OpEd


‘The whole of Mosul collapsed today. We’ve fled our homes and neighborhoods, and we’re looking for God’s mercy. We are waiting to die.’ – Mahmoud Al Taie, resident of Mosul, Wall Street Journal

An army of Sunni fighters affiliated to al Qaida crossed the Syrian border into Iraq on Tuesday, scattering defensive units from the Iraqi security forces, capturing Iraq’s second biggest city of Mosul, and sending 500,000 civilians fleeing for safety. The unexpected jihadi blitz has left President Barack Obama’s Middle East policy in tatters and created a crisis of incalculable magnitude. The administration will now be forced to focus its attention and resources on this new flashpoint hoping that it can prevent the makeshift militia from marching on Baghdad and toppling the regime of Nouri al Maliki.  Events on the ground are moving at breakneck speed as the extremists have expanded their grip to Saddam’s birthplace in Tikrit and north to Baiji, home to Iraq’s biggest refinery. The political thread that held Iraq together has snapped pushing Iraq closer to a full-blown civil war.   Here’s an excerpt from the New York Times:

”The militants freed thousands of prisoners and took over military bases, police stations, banks and provincial headquarters, before raising the black flag of the jihadi group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria over public buildings. The bodies of soldiers, police officers and civilians lay scattered in the streets.”

“Having consolidated control over Sunni-dominated Nineveh Province, armed gunmen were heading on the main road to Baghdad, Iraqi officials said, and had already taken over parts of Salahuddin Province.”

The Iraqi security forces–whose training by the US military cost an estimated $20 billion–dropped their weapons and fled at the first sign of trouble. Now the streets, government buildings, schools, hospitals, airports and military installations are in the hands of the al Qaida-splinter group called  the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria or ISIS. The group is now in possession of helicopters and tanks that were left behind by al Malaki’s soldiers.

Tens of thousands of civilians have left the city in cars and on foot carrying whatever they can in small trunks and plastic bags. Iraqi news stations report that the roads and checkpoints are clogged with people fleeing for safety to Kirkuk or Baghdad. According to Bloomberg: “Dead bodies are scattered around western Mosul due to the fighting. The city is empty and most shops are closed.”

In a desperate attempt to reverse developments on the ground, “Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki took to the airwaves to urge all men to volunteer to fight, promising to provide weapons and equipment. The Prime Minister also urged parliament to declare a state of emergency as part of an effort “to confront this ferocious attack that harms all Iraqis.”

“We will not allow for the remainder of the … province and the city to fall,” he said in a live speech broadcast on Iraqi state TV.” (CNN)  Al-Maliki has subsequently asked the US for “airstrikes with either drones or manned aircraft targeting the Al-Qaida offshoot militants on Iraqi territory”.

As of Thursday morning,  Obama had not responded to the beleaguered president’s request.    The United States has not experienced such a spectacular foreign policy debacle since the Saigon withdrawal in April 1975. The fall of Mosul is not a minor setback that can be corrected by deploying special ops and lobbing a few bombs on targets in Mosul. It is a complete policy collapse  that illustrates the shortcomings of the abysmal War on Terror. The American invasion and occupation of Iraq is entirely responsible for the problems that plague Iraq today. There were no bands of armed terrorists roaming the countryside and wreaking havoc before the US invasion. All of Iraq’s troubles can be traced back to that bloody intervention that has left the country in chaos.

Will Obama send US combat troops to Iraq to fight the jihadis and reverse events on the ground. If so, he will need Congress’s stamp of approval, which may not be forthcoming. Also, he should prepare his fellow Democratic candidates for a midterm walloping like they’ve never seen before. The American people have never supported the Iraqi quagmire. The prospect of refighting the war in order to beat the radicals which the administration-itself created through its own disastrous arm-the-terrorist policy is bound to be widely resisted as well as reviled. Americans have washed their hands of the “cakewalk” war. They won’t support a rerun.

The media finger-pointing has already begun with gusto. This time the villain of choice is not “Hitler” Putin, but the Iraqi security services who cut and ran at the first smell of grapeshot. More objective-minded observers will see this for the farce it is. The explosion of armed radicalism in the Middle East is the inevitable result of US meddling, intervention and occupation. The chickens have merely come home to roost as the opponents of the war had predicted. Obama and Bush have achieved what bin Laden only could have dreamt of, a city of two million people falling into the hands of his extremist spawn while Washington gazes helplessly from the sidelines. That’s what you call failure with a capital “F”.  Here’s a clip from Bloomberg:

”Fighters from a breakaway al-Qaeda group are in position to seize Iraqi energy infrastructure after taking control of Mosul in a strike that highlights Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s weakening grip on the country. …A day after guerrillas drove police and soldiers from the nation’s second-biggest city, there were conflicting reports on the situation in Baiji, north of Baghdad and home to Iraq’s biggest refinery.”

Let’s face it: If the ISIS starts taking out pipelines and oil installations around Mosul, it’s Game-Over USA.  Oil futures will spike, markets will crash, and the global economy will slump back into a severe recession. Obama has a very small window to reverse the current dynamic or there’s going to be hell to pay.    According to a June 10 report  by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW):

“The ISIS is …. no longer merely a terrorist organization. It is a conventional military force that holds terrain and claims to govern some of it. The Mosul campaign was well planned and required years to set conditions…..The operations allowed it to cut off media from the city, limit the Iraqi Security Forces’ activities there, and gain freedom of movement within it…..   (The) ISIS laid the groundwork for the seizure of Mosul, its areas of control on the morning of June 10, 2014 EDT, its assessments of its own attacks, and its aspirations to govern a state in Iraq and Syria.”

The report suggests that the ISIS is not a ragtag amalgam of rabid fanatics, but a highly-motivated and disciplined modern militia with clearly outlined political and territorial objectives. If this is the case, then it is likely that they will not march on Baghdad after all, but will tighten their grip on the predominantly Sunni areas establishing a state within a state. And this is precisely why the Obama administration may choose to stay out of the conflagration altogether, because the goals of the ISIS coincide with a similar US plan to create a “soft partition” that dates back to 2006.

The plan was first proposed by  Leslie Gelb, the former president of the Council on Foreign Relations, and then-senator Joe Biden. According to the New York Times the “so-called soft-partition plan ….calls for dividing Iraq into three semi-autonomous regions…There would be a loose Kurdistan, a loose Shiastan and a loose Sunnistan, all under a big, if weak, Iraq umbrella.”

And this is why the US will probably not deploy combat troops to engage the Sunni fighters in Mosul. It’s because the Obama administration’s strategic goals and those of the terrorists are nearly identical.  Which should surprise no one.

Mike Whitney

Mike Whitney writes on politics and finances and lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, forthcoming from AK Press. He can be reached at [email protected]

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[if !(IE 7) | !(IE 8) ]>> The Dawn Of The Islamic State Of Iraq And Ash-Sham - Analysis | Eurasia Review
Territory controlled by the ISIL as of June 2014 in Syria and Iraq..
Territory controlled by the ISIL as of June 2014 in Syria and Iraq.

The Dawn Of The Islamic State Of Iraq And Ash-Sham – Analysis


By Aymenn Jaweed al-Tamimi

In the course of the Syrian civil war, two major rebel factions have emerged who share al-Qaeda’s ideology: Jabhat al-Nusra (JN), which was founded at the beginning of 2012 by Abu Mohammed al-Jowlani, and the Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham (ISIS). In April 2013, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI—the umbrella front for al-Qaeda in Iraq), proposed that JN and ISI merge together. He thus announced the formation of a new Islamist polity, ISIS, which included territories in Iraq and Syria (ash-Sham). Baghdadi argued that Jabhat al-Nusra had been initially set-up with financial support and manpower from the ISI and therefore that the Syria-focused JN was a mere “extension” of the Iraq-based organization. Jowlani, however, rejected Baghdadi’s proposal to combine their efforts on the grounds that he was not consulted. Subsequently, he renewed JN’s bay’ah (pledge of allegiance) to Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of al-Qaeda Central.

In June of 2013, al-Jazeera revealed a leaked letter in which Zawahiri ruled in favor of maintaining a separation between ISI and JN in Iraq and Syria respectively. The network released video footage of Zawahiri reading the letter aloud in November 2013. Many observers interpreted this televised pronouncement from al-Qaeda Central’s leader as a renewal of the call to disband ISIS, although sources within ISIS circles inform me that the video in question had, in fact, been in private circulation among their members for months. In any event, Baghdadi has personally rejected the call to disband ISIS. Similarly, ISIS’s new official spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, a Syrian veteran of the Iraq War, has also rejected the proposal in even more forceful terms, going so far as to accuse Jowlani of “defection” and affirming that ISIS would not accept geographical limitations based on “Sykes-Picot.”

There are variations in the membership composition of both JN and ISIS that are worth noting. Indeed, the differences between the two groups have national as well as ideological dimensions. JN has a greater proportion of native Syrian members in its ranks, while most foreign jihadis fighting in Syria have declared their allegiance to ISIS. The national differences between the two factions are sig- nificant; however they must not be exaggerated. Most foreign fighters in Syria are disproportionately represented among ISIS’s leadership and elite paramilitary corps. The vast majority of ISIS fighters in the rank and file, however, are Syrian nation- als. Therefore, while there is a distinct national difference between the two groups, it is not the most important factor that distinguishes them from each other.

In the first few months after Baghdadi announced the formation of ISIS, its relationship with JN in Syria was not always clear. In March 2013, for example, members of the local JN faction under the leadership of a local commander called Abu Sa’ad al-Hadrami seized the city of Raqqa. The names and banners of JN and ISIS remained interchangeable throughout the city until July 2013. Hadrami had, in fact, pledged allegiance to Baghdadi, but he was not opposed to the pres- ence of the JN. By July of 2013, circumstances had changed: Hadrami reaffirmed his allegiance solely to JN. He cited concerns over ISIS’s conduct in Raqqa and argued that continuing to wage jihad under the name of ISIS constituted diso- bedience to Zawahiri. Subsequently, he withdrew from Raqqa with his followers to Tabqa, and announced a return to Raqqa in September 2013 under the banner of JN.

The return of JN to Raqqa as a faction that is distinct from ISIS reflects the widening gap between the two groups over time. JN still cooperated with ISIS in the overall administration of the city through participation in Raqqa’s Sharia Committee, a ruling body that also included the Salafist faction Ahrar ash-Sham. However, distrust between JN and ISIS became increasingly apparent. Tension between the two groups boiled over last summer. In August of 2013, ISIS expelled the main FSA contingent in Raqqa thereby leaving many fighters in the city with no army to which to pledge their loyalty. As a result, ISIS and JN began to compete for new recruits among those formerly aligned with the FSA. As such, ISIS has tried to seize some of the bases of these former FSA fighters only to have JN intervene to stop them in the name of the FSA’s allegiance to the Syrian JN. Violence between the two al-Qaeda-inspired groups followed. As the opposition outlet Aks Alser recently reported in November of 2013, ISIS tried to seize an apparent JN base in Raqqa leading to exchanges of gunfire. A local contact ex- plained to me after the incident that it was not strictly a JN base, but rather the headquarters of Jabhat al-Tawheed, a battalion that had previously pledged allegiance to JN.

Despite the turf wars and violence between ISIS and JN, not all those who have pledged their allegiance to JN or ISIS are necessarily hostile to members of the other faction. For example, the Kata’ib Junud al-Haq, a battalion of rebel fighters in the Syrian town of Abu Kamal on the border with Iraq, initially declared itself a branch of JN. It later switched its emblem and pledged allegiance to ISIS, only to then revert back to JN after Zawahiri’s letter emerged calling for the separation of the Iraqi and Syrian jihadist groups. During the battalion’s time as an ISIS affiliate, however, the group’s Facebook page still featured imagery in support of JN, such as photos of JN banners. Furthermore, in an interview I conducted in November 2013 with Kata’ib Junud al-Haq’s media activist Zaid Osama Albukamali, the battalion’s representative made it clear that despite the reversion to an exclusive JN allegiance, Kata’ib Junud al-Haq is not hostile to ISIS and seeks cross-border cooperation, even though it supports Zawahiri’s directives for separation between ISIS and JN in Syria.

Open hostilities notwithstanding, there have been plenty of instances in which both JN and ISIS have managed to cooperate in Syria. Examples include a siege of the base of the Syrian Army’s 17th Division in the Raqqa governorate, a coor- dinated offensive against regime strongholds in the Homs desert area, as well as operations against the Kurdish YPG (Yekîneyên Parastina Gel) militias and regime forces in the Qamishli area. In each of these operations, both groups have succeed- ed in uniting against a perceived common enemy.

Despite the capacity of both factions to cooperate, the JN-ISIS split is perhaps the greatest internal division in the transnational jihadist movement in a single country. It is also the only known instance in which a local commander, the emir of ISIS Baghdadi, has openly disobeyed the al-Qaeda Central emir Zawahiri. The JN, by contrast, has more recently gone to great lengths to stress its loyalty to Zawahiri. In fact, the JN has begun using an alternative name on its banners, “Al-Qa’ida in Bilad ash-Sham,” amid alleged attempts by other rebel groups (e.g. the Islamic Front’s Jaysh al-Islam under Zahran Alloush) to co-opt JN away from al-Qaeda.

In assessing these instances of cooperation and divergence between JN and ISIS and its implications for the future of the jihadist rebellion in Syria and Iraq, it should be noted that the dynamics on the ground between the two groups re- main very fluid and contained. Open conflict on a national scale between the two factions anytime soon is highly unlikely. Moreover, given the ideological leanings of the current JN leadership, it is also unlikely that they will drop their affiliation with al-Qaeda Central.

Jihadist Political Strategies

As evidence of the competition between JN and ISIS mounts, both factions have tried to consolidate local political support by intensifying their pub- lic outreach efforts. Their respective bids to “win hearts and minds” have involved a wide array of activities, from media outreach to the provision of economic aid and social services such as running bakeries and supplying bread at prices lower than those in the conventional black market. Furthermore, both groups have shunned engaging in criminal behavior, a practice that has favorably distinguished JN in the public’s eyes from the FSA-banner groups in the rebel-held northern areas.

ISIS has arguably distinguished itself from all of the other rebel groups in its outreach to Syrian populations by employing social media with remarkable effectiveness. Indeed, the extent of ISIS’s political and media outreach aimed at garnering local support is unprecedented in the history of global jihadist move- ments. ISIS is trying to demonstrate in Syria that it has somehow “learned the lessons” of al-Qaeda’s failures to hold onto power in the Anbar province and its ultimate defeat in the Iraq War. When Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was at the helm of al-Qaeda and the jihadist insurgency in Iraq, the Al-Qaeda fighters behaved with extreme brutality towards Sunni Arab locals. This helped to ignite the “Anbar Awakening” that in the course of the U.S.-led troop surge in Iraq resulted in the formation of the anti-al-Qaeda Sahwa movement.

Now, ISIS has tried to show that it has taken care not to repeat those mistakes in Syria. Indeed, ISIS has carefully crafted and implemented a political strategy that calls for the establishment of its own political institutions. Given its success, ISIS will be able to realize its wider, transnational project: the incorporation of territories in both Syria and Iraq. Looking into the future, the group’s ultimate vision is to establish a Caliphate across the Muslim world.

Currently, ISIS’s political control over Syrian territory has exceeded anything that ISI accomplished during the Iraq War. The group has maintained exclusive control over some eastern localities in the Hasakah province and several northern border strongholds in the Aleppo and Idlib governorates, such as ash-Shaddadi in Hasakah, the towns of Azaz and Jarabulus in Aleppo, and until January 2014, ad-Dana in Idlib. The group has also governed multiple districts of the Aleppo urban center and metropolitan areas, such as Tariq al-Bab and Mashhad.

Until now, however, the predominant method of ISIS governance has consisted of joint rule through a coalition with other groups. As a result, ISIS lacks the ability to dislodge rivals from the majority of the localities where it has a presence. In the Aleppo governorate, for example, ISIS has shared power with other rebel factions in towns such as Manbij and al-Bab. Tensions have, in fact, emerged in both places over the ISIS presence: locals regularly accuse ISIS of unilaterally asserting sole control over services like baking and distributing bread. In the Idlib province, there has been an ISIS presence in several towns, including Ma’arat an-Na’aman and Saraqeb. In the Raqqa province, ISIS is arguably the most promi- nent faction of the provincial capital and one of the main groups in the important northern border town of Tel Abyad. There is also an ISIS presence in most of the remaining rebel strongholds in the Latakia province along the Mediterranean coast, as well as in the towns of the southeastern province of Deir az-Zor.

In the Damascus governorate, ISIS has a much smaller presence. It has con- trolled a single locality: Yabroud. Yet the group runs a training camp in Ghouta, and it regularly harasses Assad’s forces in the Qalamoun Mountains, East Ghouta, and in regime-held districts in the city of Damascus. The Deraa governorate on the Jordanian border, by contrast, lacks a substantial ISIS presence and is dominated by Jabhat al-Nusra.

Building an ISIS State

ISIS is distinguished from other rebel factions in Syria for its financial resources. ISIS enjoys substantial monetary support from donors in the Persian Gulf, an extensive extortion network in Ninawa province of northwestern Iraq and control of some oil reserves in eastern Syria. Financial support for ISIS likely increased after the group directed a successful prison break from Baghdad in July 2013 that freed hundreds of fighters who had been imprisoned since the insurgency in Iraq of 2006 –7.

When ISIS establishes itself in a new locality, particularly one already in rebel- held areas, it aims to consolidate its authority through outreach to locals in the form of da’wah meetings. (The term da’wah literally means “call” or “invitation” in Arabic and is more widely used in Islamic discourse to refer to missionary outreach to non-Muslims.) For ISIS, da’wah meetings are opportunities to both build-up ties to Muslim locals in an attempt to promote their ideological world- view, and to strengthen their political power. In addition to convening meetings in public spaces, other forms of da’wah outreach include the distribution of pamphlets outlining ISIS’s ideology and establishing da’wah offices. ISIS’s da’wah outreach, of course, continues well-beyond the group’s initial establishment of its presence in the locality. In a bid to ensure that their political rule lasts, ISIS’s da’wah efforts have particularly targeted children. The group has also sought to recruit children during Muslim religious festivals by offering them gifts. The most egregious case of this took place in ad-Dana, where ISIS distributed Western brand toys, including Spiderman and the Teletubbies, on Eid al-Fitr.

As part of its wider strategy to foster a new generation of Syrians in support of its ideological agenda, ISIS also runs a number of schools in areas where it has consolidated its presence. Unlike the Afghan Taliban, ISIS does not prohibit girls from attending school, but the group does enforce gender segregation and nor- mally requires girls from the fifth year of primary school (that is between the ages of 10 and 11) to wear proper Islamic dress in order to attend. ISIS offers other services to complement their educational outreach, such as their school-bus services in the Aleppo town of al-Bab.

For both boys and girls, lessons in ISIS schools do not consist of anything beyond rote memorization of the Qur’an and Sunna (the latter referring to the Prophet’s example as outlined in the Hadith and the Sira), religious exegesis, and the history of the Rashidun Caliphs of Islam. Some evidence indicates that ISIS is using textbooks in schools in Raqqa and Jarabulus whose contents and covers have been plagiarized directly from the Saudi Ministry of Education. The text- book on Tawhid, Monotheism: a Central Doctrine in Islam, is the most noteworthy example. Because of the limited nature of the ISIS curriculum, the group has little to offer in the way of conventional university-level education. In Raqqa, where a number of colleges exist, ISIS has used the facilities to host da’wah meet- ings for university students. In cities like Raqqa, ISIS is also providing education in mosques.

In addition to its educational initiatives, ISIS has also set up Islamic courts in areas where it has established a presence. ISIS considers Sharia to be the sole source of legislation, and the application of “Islamic justice” includes the use of hudud corporal punishments for an assortment of crimes such as theft and blasphemy. Sharia is also applied in family disputes. In addition to administering Islamic courts, ISIS has also begun providing law enforcement; in some areas, it has set up police stations that have their own patrol cars. ISIS’s Sharia-enforcement squads have targeted those accused of being “Alawite soldiers” and defenders of the Assad regime, as well as rival rebel leaders with a reputation for warlordism. Recently, ISIS “police” squads in the Aleppo governorate wiped out a gang known as the Ghuraba ash-Sham (Strangers of ash-Sham). While the Ghuraba group has a rep- utation for ideological “moderation” compared to al-Qaeda-inspired groups, it was renowned for its criminality not only in the eyes of ISIS but also a variety of other rebel factions.

ISIS in Syria has also applied the classical Sharia concept of dhimma (literally, “protection pact”) in its conduct toward minority Christians. In this, Christians are subjected to treatment as second-class citizens, and their lives and property are threatened if the conditions of dhimma (e.g. payment of the jizya poll tax) are violated. In Tel Abyad, for example, ISIS desecrated the local Armenian Church at the end of October 2013 on the grounds that it violated the dhimma pact. Meanwhile, ISIS has taken advantage of the fact that most Christians have fled the sectarian violence in Raqaa to convert the churches into ISIS-run da’wah offices.

Another service ISIS offers in its outreach efforts is the distribution of bread. Whenever ISIS has moved to expel rival factions from a locality (such as Northern Storm from Azaz and Liwa Ahrar al-Jazira from the eastern border town of Yaroubiya, from which ISIS was subsequently expelled by the Kurdish YPG), ISIS administrators have subsequently lowered the price of bread to co-opt any locals who display sympathies for a rival faction. Of course, bread is not the only form of economic aid on offer, and in some Aleppo suburbs, ISIS has introduced a formal ration card system.

Since the days of 9/11, pundits have often debated what the goals of al-Qaeda and its affiliates are. Some describe al-Qaeda as a reaction to Western foreign policy in the Middle East and they characterize the jihadist movement’s goals as limited to expelling foreign forces from the Muslim world. Others see al-Qaeda’s goals as much more ambitious, and focused on the establishment of a new Islamic political order. ISIS’s portrayal of its own goals in Syria-Iraq indicate that it seeks to establish an Islamic state that can become the core of a new Caliphate that will eventually strive to dominate the rest of the world. Despite their ongoing dis- agreement with Zawahiri, ISIS abides by Osama bin Laden’s dictum that there are only three choices in Islam: conversion, subjugation, or death. ISIS’s presen- tation of these goals in Syria contrasts the image it is trying to establish for itself in Iraq, where it lacks any substantial territorial control and the mechanisms of a proto-state. In Iraq, ISIS has tried to portray itself as the protector of the Sunni population that is defending against provocations from the “Safavid” government.

ISIS’s globalist pretensions are evident in the video testimonies of its members from Syria. In one case, an ISIS fighter named Abu Omar al-Ansari, who partici- pated in the ISIS-led capture of the Mannagh airbase in the Aleppo governorate in August 2013, makes it clear that it is necessary to establish an Islamic state over the entire world, and that the project is not limited to Syria. In another video testimony, an American fighter for ISIS, Abu Dajana al-Amriki, expressed similar sentiments: “We’ll bring the right of Islam to rule all of the entire world.” British ISIS fighters interviewed by the publication VICE have also expressed the same view. Indeed, ISIS’s discourse is much more open on the matter of building a more transnational caliphate than that of JN, and has clearly impacted the movement’s political strategy. In Aleppo, ISIS supporters have notably established a “Co- ordination [Network] of the State of the Caliphate” to organize demonstrations demanding the establishment of a pan-Islamic Caliphate. These rallies occur regularly after Friday prayers in areas of Aleppo that have been ISIS stronghold districts like Tariq al-Bab.

In the nearer term, ISIS has stated that its most immediate goal is to establish a single Islamic state spanning the territories of Iraq and Syria. In this, they’ve acted in accordance with Baghdadi’s pronouncements that JN and the ongoing jihad in Syria are mere “extensions” of ISIS’s campaign in Iraq. After successfully setting up the institutions of a proto-state in many areas, ISIS has become increasingly emboldened to express its real desires, that is, to become the staging ground for a larger transnational jihad.


ISIS in Syria embodies three important new trends in the overall development of the global jihad movement. First, the group’s existence in Syria marks an open challenge to the leadership of al-Qaeda Central, and to Zawahiri’s directives in particular. An unprecedented split in the jihadist movement in the Fertile Crescent has resulted. Though ISIS is striving to realize the same transna- tional political vision as al-Qaeda’s central leadership, the ISIS leader Baghdadi has been purposefully ambiguous about whether he or his group has any sort of allegiance to Zawahiri. Is Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi seeking to establish himself as a Caliph by launching his own Islamic state-building project in Syria independent of Zawahiri’s directives? If so, then infighting with Jabhat al-Nusra, whose ultimate amir is Zawahiri, will become a logical inevitability. Will ISIS and its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi eventually displace al-Qaeda Central and Zawahiri as the main figures of reverence for jihadist fighters and their supporters worldwide? This, of course, will ultimately depend on ISIS and the success of its efforts in Syria.

Second, ISIS in Syria has enjoyed a level of success in the founding of an Islamic state that is unmatched by any al-Qaeda affiliate or group sharing al-Qaeda’s ideology. Because of its efforts to design and implement a political strategy through social services, the media and educational outreach, it is likely that ISIS in Syria will become the model for current and future jihadist movements seeking to consolidate their control over territory in a lawless environment. Third, despite the disagreement among ISIS members as to whether ISIS is actually an al-Qaeda affiliate, it is ISIS in Syria that perhaps most openly expresses the global jihad movement’s true long-term goals: namely, the establishment of a Caliphate that should encompass the entire world.

Nevertheless, the future viability of ISIS’s “state-building” and its political out- reach is in serious doubt. The situation in Syria is simply far too fragmented to allow ISIS to unite the country as a whole under its rule. Indeed, for ISIS to achieve such a goal requires opening up too many fighting fronts, an approach that has already cost ISIS some significant territorial control within Syria. Such is evident in ISIS’s open conflict with the Kurdish YPG militias following its expulsion from the northern border town of Ras al-Ayn in July 2013. While ISIS quickly coun- tered by expelling pockets of YPG militias from multiple locations in the Raqqa and Aleppo governorates (such as the Jarabulus area in July 2013, and Tel Abyad in August), the group has suffered serious setbacks in the far northeast at the hands of the YPG. As a result, ISIS commanders have had to rely on reinforcements from the Ninawa province in Iraq. This diversion of manpower to the northeast has resulted in weaknesses along the Aleppo front against regime forces. Consequently, the Assad regime has managed to exploit rebel infighting in the Aleppo area and to retake some territory.

Moreover, despite ISIS’s political outreach, the group faces a fundamental problem in dealing with other rebel factions and thus in consolidating political control. This is partly because ISIS already sees itself not merely as a “group” or “faction” like the other rebels but as a “state” that has the prerogative to rule over all others. Therefore, ISIS is inherently unwilling to share power, and often adopts a particularly brutal approach to dealing with other rebel factions. In fact, insur- gent groups in Iraq, like Jamaat Ansar al-Islam, and also in Syria, like Ahrar ash-Sham, have all complained about ISIS’s intractability. Tensions between ISIS and other rebel groups are likely to grow, as the serious infighting between ISIS and other rebel groups in Aleppo, Idlib, Raqqa and Deir az-Zor governorates suggests. In January 2014, ISIS killed a leading figure in Ahrar ash-Sham, Abu Rayyan, who had attempted to mediate a dispute between Ahrar ash-Sham and ISIS over the latter’s seizure of an Aleppo town called Maskanah.

In all likelihood, the murder will exacerbate existing tensions among the Islamist rebel factions. At present, two rebel coalitions—the Jaysh al-Mujahideen of Aleppo and the Syrian Revolutionaries Front in Aleppo, Idlib and Hama— are committed to evicting ISIS out of Syria. A third coalition that formed in No- vember 2013, the Islamic Front, has been more ambiguous with respect to ISIS. While some of its fighters have battled with ISIS, the Islamic Front’s leaders do not indicate a desire to destroy ISIS per se, but rather lack the ability to restrain their fighters in various localities.

ISIS has weakened itself by fighting along too many battlefronts; it has spread itself too thinly in various towns where it has sought to consolidate political con- trol. On January 10, 2014, rival factions evicted ISIS from almost all Idlib local- ities except the town of Saraqeb. In Aleppo, Azaz remains the only substantial ISIS stronghold in the Raqqa province. Even there, however, ISIS must continually fight with FSA-banner militants who pledged allegiance to Jabhat al-Nusra in the city of Raqqa. In Deir az-Zor province, fighting broke out in the town of Mayadeen between Ahrar ash-Sham and ISIS, culminating in a suicide car bombing by the latter against the former’s local headquarters in the town.

It is worth noting that the rebel groups that have emerged in opposition to ISIS differ from the ones which ultimately became the Iraq “Sahwa” movement in three important ways. First, Islamic Front fighters generally decline to have any kind of Western support in the fight with ISIS. Second, this fighting has been sponta- neous and opportunistic, rather than a pre-planned initiative against ISIS. For example, the murder of Abu Rayyan provoked widespread demonstrations in northern Syrian towns against ISIS, thereby allowing members of the Syrian Revolutionaries Front and the Jaysh al-Mujahideen to exploit the opportunity to attack ISIS. The squabbling that ensued dragged Islamic Front fighters into the conflict. Third, there is a degree of localization to these clashes: Ahrar ash-Sham fighters still collaborate with ISIS on the Qamishli front against the YPG, and some Ahrar ash-Sham affiliates (e.g. in Tel Abyad) refuse to fight ISIS. Likewise, Jabhat al-Nusra tries to play a mediating role in Damascus and Idlib provinces and to protect ISIS fighters in Qalamoun.

So far, ISIS’s loss of territory has been substantial, but the infighting among these rebel Islamist groups should not be construed as the beginning of the end of ISIS in Syria. The group can still retreat into the shadows in its all out-war against the “Sahwa” among the rebels (to quote ISIS’s spokesman in a recent speech on the clashes), and it can pursue clandestine sabotage attacks in an attempt to under- mine its rivals within the rebel ranks. Thus, the ISIS bombings and assassinations targeting Sahwa militiamen that we observe in Iraq with regularity today may well become the new norm in Syria.

Since January 2014, however, ISIS’s brutal conduct toward rival rebel groups has drawn strong condemnation from central figures in al-Qaeda. In once instance in Jarabulus, an ISIS suicide car bomb targeting other rebels killed 33 people. Abu Khalid al-Suri, the man appointed by Zawahiri to mediate between ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra, has since released a statement distancing bin Laden, Zawahiri, and even Abu Musab al-Zarqawi from ISIS’s recent “crimes.” He called on ISIS members to repent. It now appears the gap between al-Qaeda Central and ISIS will continue to grow.

This article appeared in Current Trends in Islamist Ideology Volume 16.

About the author:
Aymenn Jaweed al-Tamimi
Shillman-Ginsburg Fellow, Middle East Forum

This article was published by the Hudson Institute and may be accessed here.

Hudson Institute

Hudson Institute is a nonpartisan policy research organization dedicated to innovative research and analysis that promotes global security, prosperity, and freedom.

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