Birthday for A Caliphate

Reuters

Reuters

Breitbart, by Dr. Sebastian Gorka, June 29, 2015:

After Friday’s deadly jihadist attacks in France, Tunisia and Kuwait, Prime Mister David Cameron has stated that ISIS is an existential threat to the West. Today’s anniversary of the re-establishment of the Caliphate give us good cause to assess the threat to America in this, the first part of a two part piece by Dr. Sebastian Gorka.

One year ago, a man unknown to most of the world achieved a feat that has eluded Islamic extremists for the previous 90 years.

On June 29, 2015 Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, after almost a century of absence, formally reestablished the theocratic empire of Islam in a sermon from the pulpit of the Grand Mosque in Mosul. In the last year, his terror group, ISIS, which today we should call by its new name of the Islamic State, has grown to become the most dangerous insurgency of the modern era.

On September 10th, 2001 it would have been impossible to imagine that humans would soon be crucifying each other again, or that there would be an anti-American terrorist group able to capture and hold territory in multiple nations of the Middle East without Washington or her allies and partners being able to stunt its growth. We are now living in such a world. A world where innocent prisoners are burnt or drowned alive, or unbelievably decapitated with the use of detonating cord. A world in which hundreds of thousands have been killed in a civil war in Syria and an insurgency in Iraq, both together driving millions of survivors into refugees camps or into the hands of human traffickers.

The Islamic State that is at the center of this tragedy is a unique threat for four reasons:

  • Firstly, it is the richest group of its kind in modern history. No other sub-state actor has the resources available to IS. Since capturing city after city in Iraq it has netted close to a billion dollars from state coffers, augmenting this stupendous sum with illicit oil salesransoms, and the sale of plundered antiquities. This income will allow IS to continue operations for years to come, and not just in Iraq and Syria. (Note: according to the official 9/11 commission report, that stupendous attack only cost Al Qaeda $500,000).
  • Second, it is the first ever transnational insurgency. In the modern era of guerrilla warfare, the insurgent force was defined by its desire to defeat an incumbent government and replace it. This was true of Mao Tse Tung in China, or the FARC of Colombia, and all the other insurgencies of the 20th century. The Islamic State is an international insurgency recruiting as it does from Muslim communities all around the world and enjoying the sponsorship of more than one foreign government. However, it is also a transnational insurgency. Not only does it hold territory in both Iraq and Syria, with the intent of displacing both the Assad government and the government in Baghdad, it has the goal of destroying all regimes that it deems to be un-Islamic. The fact that Nigeria’s Boko Haram was recently accepted into IS and subsequently changed its name to The West Africa Province of the Islamic State means that Abu Bakr is now technically the Caliph or emperor of not only all IS land in the Middle East, but also former Boko Haram territory in Africa.
  • Third, in its ability to recruit jihadi fighters, the Islamic State has out surpassed Al Qaeda in every measure. Exact figures are impossible, but the best estimates are that, in the space of less than a year, the Islamic State has drawn 20,000 foreign fighters from around the globe, including Western Europe, Australia and North America. Al Qaeda, the original jihadi group responsible for the 9/11 attacks, did manage to attract foreign recruits, but never in the tens of thousands.
  • Lastly, and most problematically for any hope we may have for defeating IS, the Islamic State has built a global Social Media-based propaganda platform that is very sophisticated and effective and that the nations its wishes to destroy – America included – have been impotent to combat.

Alone, these four attributes would make any irregular threat like IS/ISIS a formidable enemy. Where it is located makes it a strategically deadly one.

Just like Judaism and Christianity, Islam has a very deep eschatology. The Sunna, or traditions of Islam, go into great detail about how the world will end and how all humans will be finally judged on the final day by Allah. Before that end comes, the religion is explicit that there will be a great final holy war, or Jihad, in the land of Al Shaam, the Arabic word for Greater Syria and the Levant, or the territory in which Abu Bakr has successfully established his new Caliphate. In fact, between its origins as Al Qaeda in Iraq and its current name of the Islamic State, the group specifically referred to itself as The Islamic State of Iraq and Al Sham. As a result, Abu Bakr, the leader of the new Caliphate, has the eschatology of a faith followed by over 1 billion Muslims on his side. He knows that, by being successful on the ground that all Muslims know is the site of the last holy war before judgement day, he can rely on a steady stream of recruits for as long as there is no opposing ground force set against him in Al Sham.

Plainly put, in the last 12 months since he declared the new Caliphate, Abu Bakr has achieved more than Al Qaeda did in the preceding 13 years. Also, instead of being the “JV team” to Ayman al Zawahiri’s professional team, it is America that has presented itself as the amateur foe.

After Abu Bakr and his Al Qaeda in Iraq franchise was kicked out of the original terror group by Zawahiri for disobeying his orders, he took his small terrorist force in Syria from Iraq and used the civil war there to train and expand his force. As the bloodshed mounted both there and in an Iraq increasingly divided by the corruption and brutality of the Maliki regime, hundreds of thousands of local residents fell victim to the depredations of the competing fighting forces. Yet America decided not to respond. Having pulled our forces out of Iraq in 2011, we were unready and unable to respond to the growing threat. At the same time, President Obama made repeated statements about “red lines” that President Assad was not to cross. The lines were crossed but without triggering a US response. Not until thousands of Yazidis were hounded by ISIS up to the top of Mount Sinjar did the President decide to act by deploying air assets to target ISIS units on the ground.

The delay in an American response has cost America’s reputation in the Gulf dearly, perhaps more dearly than anything done by the administration of George W. Bush. As it was recently explained to me by a very senior U.S. General with responsibilities in the region: “Our Sunni allies just don’t trust us anymore. The region already runs on conspiracy theories, but after the Sunni see more than 200,000 of their people murdered in the last three years and we do nothing until a minority sect is attacked, they draw the conclusion that we are on the side of the mullahs and the Shia revival.”

If one agrees with the summary by Prime Minister Netanyahu that the violence on the Middle East and North Africa cannot be understood unless seen as “a game of thrones” for the crown of the caliphate between the Shia and Sunni extremists, then it is obvious that giving the impression that we have already chosen sides will only feed the flames of war. Especially when this impression is apparently confirmed by every additional concession made by the White House to Tehran in the hopes of closing a nuclear deal with the Revolutionary Republic.

Nor can these threats any longer be relegated to events happening far away. As the targeting of Pamela Geller’s free speech event in Garland, Texas by two armed jihadis demonstrates, those who wish to impose a puritanical and violent version of Islam upon America and her citizens are already here. And Garland is not a one-off. The FBI has confirmed that the Bureau already has ongoing IS-related investigations underway in every state of the Republic. Recently, the first IS recruiter was arrested in New Jersey. And in preparation for this article I had a research assistant simply collect all open-source reports of IS arrests and plots uncovered in the US in the last 24 months. We found 56!

When will America take the threat of a hyper-violent organization with tens of thousands of adherents who wish to destroy America seriously? When did we take Al Qaeda seriously? On September 12th, 2001. At the moment, short of a mass-casualty attack occurring on US soil in a way that links the perpetrators directly to the Islamic State, it seems highly unlikely that the Obama administration will truly take the fight to IS. Of the 400+ troops the White House has decided to deploy to Iraq to help train the trainers, less than 150 will in fact work on that mission, with the rest providing security to the trainers. The Islamic State has more than 30,000 active jihadis, more than half of whom were recruited from abroad. And the most powerful nation in the world can only spare an extra 150 trainers? As another senior officer recently commented in front of a meeting of US generals: “Every day that ISIS still exists and the most powerful nation in the world does nothing, we can chalk another propaganda victory up to the jihadis.”

Consequently, it seems unavoidable that IS will continue to grow and spread its barbarity until a new Commander-in-Chief is sworn in. The good news is that in an election campaign that is already underway and which almost each day sees the cornucopia of at least the Republic candidates increase, national security is at last back on the front burner, or rather both front burners. As a result we may have a chance after November 2016 to engage our newest enemy in the way the jihadists deserve.

The details of a possible strategy that could be used to measure the candidates will follow in Part Two.

Sebastian Gorka Ph.D. is the Major General Matthew C. Horner Chair of Military Theory at the Marine Corps University. You can see his briefing from the Global Counterterrorism Summit on Why ISIS is Much More Dangerous than Al Qaeda here and follow him on Twitter at: @SebGorka.

The Caliphate is Reborn — Western Stupidity Continues

isisdabiqGates of Vienna, by , June 23,2015:

On June 29, 2014, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS or IS) declared the formation of a new Caliphate and rebranded itself the Islamic State. As the author Robert Spencernotes, a plan for the restoration of the Caliphate was sketched out ten years ago by the Jihadist terror network al-Qaida. It has been carried out more or less exactly by the Islamic State. IS itself recognizes al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden as an important predecessor, as well as the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq (which ultimately became the Islamic State), Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

When a new Caliphate was declared in June 2014, many people considered it to be a bad joke. However, a year later, the Islamic State is still around. It has been successfully pushed back on several occasions, following significant military resistance. Yet it has also displayed an ability to adapt, and to conquer new territories when it has suffered a defeat on other fronts. The Islamic State is clearly not a joke.

The Egyptian activist Hassan al-Banna founded the Muslim Brotherhood in 1928. He, too, sought to reestablish the Caliphate. It was considered a major blow by many Muslims when the Turkish reformer Mustafa Kemal, or Atatürk, formally abolished the Caliphate in 1924. Al-Banna was preceded by other Muslim activists such as Rashid Rida. Banna is the grandfather of Tariq Ramadan, who is currently Professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies at the prestigious University of Oxford, England. Ramadan has served as a high-level advisor to the authorities in Britain, France and the EU.

The influential Egyptian Islamic scholar Yusuf al-Qaradawi is widely considered to be a spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. He was a follower of the MB founder Hassan al-Banna in his youth. Qaradawi has confirmed that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is a former member of the Brotherhood. Baghdadi on June 29, 2014 declared himself Caliph Ibrahim of the Islamic State. By reestablishing the Caliphate, al-Baghdadi was merely fulfilling the desire of millions if Muslims worldwide, a goal which the Muslim Brotherhood have been fighting towards for nearly a century.

The author Graeme Wood published an in-depth article in the American magazine The Atlantic which has been referred to by many: “What ISIS Really Wants.” I don’t agree with all of his claims. Nevertheless, he concluded that “The reality is that the Islamic State is Islamic. Very Islamic. Yes, it has attracted psychopaths and adventure seekers, drawn largely from the disaffected populations of the Middle East and Europe. But the religion preached by its most ardent followers derives from coherent and even learned interpretations of Islam. Virtually every major decision and law promulgated by the Islamic State adheres to what it calls, in its press and pronouncements, and on its billboards, license plates, stationery, and coins, ‘the Prophetic methodology,’ which means following the prophecy and example of Muhammad, in punctilious detail.” One pious Muslim Mr. Wood talked to commented that “I would go so far as to say that Islam has been reestablished” by the IS Caliphate.

Read more

Also see:

ISIS Is Following a Plan Laid Out Ten Years Ago by Al-Qaeda, and It’s All Working

-, -:  (FILES) -- A TV grab from the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera news channel dated 17 June 2005 shows Al-Qaeda number two Ayman al-Zawahiri delivering a speech at an undisclosed location with a machine gun next to him. Al-Zawahiri, in a video posted on the Internet 29 September 2006, called US President George W Bush a liar who had "failed in his war against Al-Qaeda", Al-Jazeera television reported. The previous day, Islamist websites on the Internet had said there would be a new video message posted by Zawahiri entitled " Bush, the pope, Darfur and the Crusades."  AFP PHOTO/AL-JAZEERA  -- QATAR OUT & INTERNET OUT --  (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)

-, -: (FILES) — A TV grab from the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera news channel dated 17 June 2005 shows Al-Qaeda number two Ayman al-Zawahiri delivering a speech at an undisclosed location with a machine gun next to him. Al-Zawahiri, in a video posted on the Internet 29 September 2006, called US President George W Bush a liar who had “failed in his war against Al-Qaeda”, Al-Jazeera television reported. The previous day, Islamist websites on the Internet had said there would be a new video message posted by Zawahiri entitled ” Bush, the pope, Darfur and the Crusades.” AFP PHOTO/AL-JAZEERA — QATAR OUT & INTERNET OUT — (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)

PJ Media, by Robert Spencer, June 19, 2015:

It has been almost a year since June 29, 2014, when the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shams (ISIS) declared the formation of a new caliphate and dropped the second half of its name, rebranding itself as simply the Islamic State. It has survived nine months since Barack Obama vowed to “degrade and ultimately destroy” it.

It has survived, and has continued to attract Muslims from all over the world, even after virtually every major world leader and Islamic group has condemned it as un-Islamic. And it shows no sign of going anywhere anytime soon.

All this is well-known. What is less known is that the plan for the restoration of the caliphate was sketched out ten years ago by al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, and has been followed out more or less exactly by the Islamic State.

The claim to reconstitute the caliphate is the key to the Islamic State’s success — the importance of this cannot be overstated.

The revival of the caliphate is, in the eyes of those who support it and have longed for it all these years, a return to the form of government of the glory days of Islam. From Muhammad’s death through Islam’s Golden Age up until the breakup of the Ottoman Empire after the end of World War I, Muslims were ruled by a caliph, the successor to Muhammad as spiritual and political leader of Islam.

And the declaration of the caliphate, and its placement in and around Syria and Iraq, was not an invention of the Islamic State, or incidental to what it perceived as its mission from the beginning. In reality, a new caliphate had long been an aspiration dear to the hearts of many jihadi terrorists, including al-Qaeda.

Bin Laden’s lieutenant Ayman al-Zawahiri wrote to the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq (which ultimately became the Islamic State), Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, on July 9, 2005:

It has always been my belief that the victory of Islam will never take place until a Muslim state is established in the manner of the Prophet in the heart of the Islamic world, specifically in the Levant, Egypt, and the neighboring states of the Peninsula and Iraq; however, the center would be in the Levant and Egypt.

Zawahiri also heaped praise on Zarqawi for helping bring that state — the revived caliphate — closer to reality:

If our intended goal in this age is the establishment of a caliphate in the manner of the Prophet and if we expect to establish its state predominantly — according to how it appears to us — in the heart of the Islamic world, then your efforts and sacrifices — God permitting — are a large step directly towards that goal.

Zawahiri then offered Zarqawi his “humble opinion that the Jihad in Iraq requires several incremental goals,” the first of which was to “expel the Americans from Iraq.” The second stage, wrote Zarqawi, would be exactly what the Islamic State ended up doing nine years later:

The second stage: Establish an Islamic authority or amirate, then develop it and support it until it achieves the level of a caliphate — over as much territory as you can to spread its power in Iraq, i.e., in Sunni areas, is in order to fill the void stemming from the departure of the Americans, immediately upon their exit and before un-Islamic forces attempt to fill this void, whether those whom the Americans will leave behind them, or those among the un-Islamic forces who will try to jump at taking power.

Following the establishment of this state, the third stage would be to “extend the jihad wave to the secular countries neighboring Iraq,” followed by the fourth stage, which “may coincide with what came before: the clash with Israel, because Israel was established only to challenge any new Islamic entity.”

Zawahiri wrote in an extremely deferential manner to Zarqawi, repeatedly assuring the Iraq commander that his analysis was not “infallible.” Nonetheless, he did not hesitate to give him direction, emphasizing that:

The mujahedeen must not have their mission end with the expulsion of the Americans from Iraq, and then lay down their weapons, and silence the fighting zeal.

If they did that:

We will return to having the secularists and traitors holding sway over us. Instead, their ongoing mission is to establish an Islamic state, and defend it, and for every generation to hand over the banner to the one after it until the Hour of Resurrection.

Zawihiri summed up the “two short-term goals” as “removing the Americans and establishing an Islamic amirate in Iraq, or a caliphate if possible.” Attaining them, he wrote, would ensure possession of “the strongest weapon which the mujahedeen enjoy — after the help and granting of success by God,” which was “popular support from the Muslim masses in Iraq, and the surrounding Muslim countries.”

But al-Qaeda itself hesitated to declare a caliphate for fear that the Americans would nip it in the bud. A letter from Osama bin Laden, found in the trove of documents at the Abbottabad compound and declassified in May 2015, explained:

We should stress on the importance of timing in establishing the Islamic State. We should be aware that planning for the establishment of the state begins with exhausting the main influential power that enforced the siege on the Hamas government, and that overthrew the Islamic Emirate in Afghanistan and Iraq despite the fact this power was depleted. We should keep in mind that this main power still has the capacity to lay siege on any Islamic State, and that such a siege might force the people to overthrow their duly elected governments. We have to continue with exhausting and depleting them till they become so weak that they can’t overthrow any State that we establish. That will be the time to commence with forming the Islamic state.

Bin Laden saw the restoration of the caliphate as the ultimate goal of al-Qaeda’s activities:

[T]he result that we deployed for … to reinstate the wise Caliphate and eliminate the disgrace and humiliation that our nation is suffering from.

But he argued against “insisting on the formation of an Islamic State at the time being” — and instead wanted his followers:

… to work on breaking the power of our main enemy by attacking the American embassies in the African countries, such as Sierra Leone, Togo, and mainly to attack the American oil companies.

Bin Laden was overcautious. The Islamic State established itself as the new caliphate and has thrived, and no one seems to have the will to do what is necessary to “degrade and destroy” it in any real sense. And so its first anniversary is unlikely to be its last.

The ISIS economy just got a huge boost

A symbolic trade caravan representing the prosperous trade during the era of Queen Zanobya 260-273AD during a show held in the ancient city of Palmyra, some 240 kilometers (150 miles) northeast of Damascus Friday, Sept. 27, 2002.

A symbolic trade caravan representing the prosperous trade during the era of Queen Zanobya 260-273AD during a show held in the ancient city of Palmyra, some 240 kilometers (150 miles) northeast of Damascus Friday, Sept. 27, 2002.

Business Insider, by Pamela Engel, June 1, 2015:

The US is trying to choke off the Islamic State’s revenue streams in Iraq and Syria. But the biggest slice of the ISIS budget may come from taxing the “Caliphate’s” captive population, a source of wealth for the group that’s harder for international actors to control.

While it’s almost impossible to know the exact breakdown of the Islamic State’s balance sheet, experts estimate that its biggest source of revenue is taxation. This means that its seizure of the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra and the Iraqi provincial capital of Ramadi could give the group’s funds a big boost since both cities still have civilian populations.

The US has been targeting ISIS’ oil revenues and donations from “overseas benefactors.” But that still leaves ISIS free to collect millions in taxes, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The Islamic State (also known as ISIS, ISIL, and Daesh) has claimed territory across Syria and Iraq, forcing those who stay in those areas to pay taxes to the jihadist militants, sometimes in return for government-like services.

For example, sources in Palmyra, the ancient Syrian city Islamic State militants overran in May, told The New York Times that after executing perceived enemies, the group fixed the city’s power plant, turned on the water pumps, and handed out free bread.

This is all part of the group’s long-term strategy to gain a foothold and establish authority in the areas it claims to govern. ISIS wants to create an implicit social contract with those living in its self-proclaimed “caliphate,” or an Islamic empire that aims to unite the world’s Muslims under a single religious and political entity.

By collecting taxes from residents and providing civil services in return, ISIS appearst to behave like a government, creating a greater sense of legitimacy for the group’s rule. But there’s a thin line between taxation and extortion in the Islamic State.

“ISIS makes most of its money from plunder,” Jonathan Schanzer, vice president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told Business Insider in May. “We’re seeing that over and over again. They go from one town to the next and knock over a bank or several banks and go house to house and extract whatever is of value.”

“It’s a racket,” Schanzer said. “And that’s how ISIS continues to survive and thrive.”

screenshot 2015-05-26 11.48.34 (1)

Analysts at the nonprofit RAND Corporation estimated that in 2014, ISIS raked in $600 million from extortion and taxation and $500 million in money stolen from Iraqi banks.

In addition to giving ISIS added legitimacy, this fundraising strategy helps to sustain the group financially so it can continue its rampage across the Middle East.

ISIS also makes money from looting and selling antiquities on the black market, and Palmyra is known for its ancient ruins and museums.

Schanzer noted that the porous border between Turkey and Syria could make it difficult to police smuggling.

“You’ve got these fairly lawless borders, borders that have been exploited repeatedly,” Schanzer said. “So the assumption is that we’ve got easy smuggling routes [to bring] illicit goods over the border.”

***

Western Officials Alarmed as ISIS Expands Territory in Libya

Workers cleaning the ground after a suicide car bombing at a checkpoint outside Misurata, Libya, on Sunday that killed at least four people. The Islamic State claimed responsibility. Credit Reuters

Workers cleaning the ground after a suicide car bombing at a checkpoint outside Misurata, Libya, on Sunday that killed at least four people. The Islamic State claimed responsibility. Credit Reuters

MAY 31, 2015:

TRIPOLI, Libya — The branch of the Islamic State that controls Surt has expanded its territory and pushed back the militia from the neighboring city of Misurata, militia leaders acknowledged Sunday.

In the group’s latest attack, a suicide bomber killed at least four fighters on Sunday at a checkpoint west of Misurata on the coastal road to Tripoli, according to local officials and Libyan news reports.

The continued expansion inside Libya of the group, also known as ISIS or ISIL, has alarmed Western officials because of its proximity to Europe, across the Mediterranean.

Four years after the removal of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, the near collapse of the Libyan government has left no central authority to check the group’s advance or even partner with Western military efforts against it.

Two armed factions, each with its own paper government, are fighting for control, and each has focused more on internal quarrels than on defeating the Islamic State.

The group’s expanding turf in Libya also gives it an alternative base of operations even as it appears to be gaining ground in other regions — in Palmyra in Syria and in Ramadi in Iraq.

graphic on ISISThe gains come despite an American-led bombing campaign aimed at rolling back the group’s original territory across the border between those countries.

Suliman Ali Mousa, an officer with the brigade from Misurata, confirmed in a telephone interview on Sunday that over the past two days its forces had retreated in the face of Islamic State advances to the east, south and west of Surt. Islamic State fighters have captured the Gardabya air base, about 12 miles south of Surt; it had been all but destroyed by NATO airstrikes during the 2011 campaign against Colonel Qaddafi, but Libyans describe it as a strategic foothold.

Toward the east, Mr. Mousa’s brigade retreated from its base in a water treatment facility, leaving the Islamic State in control as far as the town of Nofilya, another extremist stronghold. And toward the West the Misuratan forces had also pulled back about 12 miles toward their home city.

“We left our position and relocated,” Mr. Mousa said. “It was a necessary retreat. Our fighting position did not allow us to stay where we were.” He added that another group of Misurata fighters had abandoned a power station west of Surt and so his group had taken their place.

He said he was unsure why those fighters had pulled out, but “there was a lot of talk about money and unpaid salaries.”

Mullar Omar Bio Draws Subtle Distinctions with “Caliph” AbuBakr

2422558701CSP, by Kyle Shideler, April, 6, 2015:

The Taliban has published a new biography of Mullah Omar (link is to Taliban-controlled shahamat-english.com) which paints a hagiographic picture of the Taliban leader’s history and upbringing (H/T LongWarJournal).

The biography covers Mullah Mohammad Umar ‘Mujahid’ childhood, his Islamic studies up to the age of eighteen, before pointing out that his studies were “interrupted” by the invasion of Afghanistan, and going into detail on his history of jihad against the Russians.

While not expressly doing so, the biography establishes a number of key distinctions between Omar and his rival Amir al mu’minin (Leader of the Faithful) “Caliph” AbuBakr Al-Baghdadi, with whom it is currently in a struggle with over legitimacy regarding leadership of the Global Jihad Movement. While Mullah Omar has never formally been put forward as a candidate, both Taliban and Al Qaeda leaders have used the Leader of the Faithful title to refer to Mullah Omar, a title typically applied to a sitting caliph. Omar has been given the title since 1996, during a Taliban demonstration where he was filmed holding aloft the supposed relic of the Prophet Mohammed’s cloak.

These distinctions between Mullah Omar and Baghdadi are notable, and likely intentional, as Al Qaeda and the Taliban compete with Islamic State for jihadist legitimacy and preeminence.

Beginning from childhood the comparisons are immediately clear. While Islamic State’s Baghdadi claims a, certainly apocryphal, lineage going back to the Quraysh tribe of the Prophet, Omar’s biography highlights a tribal connection to  Mīrwais Khān Hotak (who led Afghanistan’s rebellion against the Safavid Persian dynasty), an elite but by no means as storied a parentage.

While Al-Baghdadi has a doctorate in Islamic Studies from a prominent Baghdad University, Mullah Omar’s formal Islamic studies were halted by the Soviet invasion. The biography goes into great detail regarding alleged “heroics” of Mullah Omar in fighting the Soviets from as early 1978. While it goes unstated, the Taliban is indicating that its leader was fighting jihad while the Islamic State’s “Caliph” was still a toddler. While much about Baghdadi’s history is not clear, It does not appear that he was a jihadist commander of any significant stature prior to his detention in Camp Bucca, Iraq.

The biography also defends Mullah Omar’s Islamic orthodox as a member of the Hanafi school of jurisprudence:

Ideologically, Mullah Mohammad Umar ‘Mujahid’ belongs to the main ‘Ahl-i-Sunna wal Jamma’a’ (the believers in Quran, traditions of the Holy Prophet, peace be upon him, and the consensus of Muslim Umma). He is the imitator of Hanafi school of thought. He is severely opposed to all heresy or heterodox opinions. He never likes sectional, ideological and factional differences among the Muslims.

Reference to factionalism may be an intended backhand to Islamic State, which is known for attacking other jihadist groups with whom they have disagreements.  As a whole, that the Taliban feels the need to defend Omar’s Islamic orthodox is a reflection on the success of Islamic State propagandists who have described Mullah Omar as Deobandi ( a sect popularized in India and Pakistan, which includes both Wahhabist and, reportedly Sufi elements) which the Islamic State considers heterodox.

Much of the rest of the biography focuses on personal traits ascribed to Mullah Omar, with the intent of depicting him as a particularly pious and overly humble individual, describing him as being reduced to tears at being named Leader of the Faithful, and naturally contrasts with the cult of personality Islamic State propaganda generates around the person of Al-Baghdadi as sitting Caliph. The biography also details the system of governance, and the commissions and deputies through which Mullah Omar purports to govern, intended to dismiss criticism by Islamic State supporters that Mullah Omar has not be seen in public.

The biography highlights both the age and experience gap between Al Qaeda and Islamic State supporters. Generally, Islamic State supporters are younger, and more familiar with the history of jihad against the United States beginning with Osama Bin Laden, through Zarqawi and now Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi. Islamic State attempts to highlight their control of territory as unprecedented and their establishment of Shariah over parts of Iraq and Syria as equally unprecedented. The Taliban on the other hand, represent the “wise old men” of jihad with a substantive history of establishing and running an Islamic emirate in spite of fierce opposition from the West.

That said, while it’s possible that this report may shore up support among Taliban and Al Qaeda loyalists, it’s unlikely to put a dent in the enthusiasm generated by the Islamic State’s Caliphate declaration.

Also see:

The Islamic State Caliphate is Pure Islam

141011-isis-syria-mn-815_0551bbaed807741ac85d8a7fcfe593f1.nbcnews-fp-1040-600NER, by Jerry Gordon with Bill Bennett of Morning America and Dr. Michael Welner (April 2015)

In the March New English Review (NER) we wrote about the failure of the Countering Violent Extremism Summit of President Obama.

On Wednesday, February 18, 2014 at a White House Summit, President Obama presented his views on countering “violent extremism.” He suggested that Islamic terrorists misappropriate Islamic doctrine, exploit disaffected youths in communities across the US and globally throughout the Ummah – the community of Muslim believers. He suggested that youths prone to radicalization outside the US may be victimized by poverty, without job opportunities and oppressed by corrupt regimes. Countering violent extremism he suggests is a multi-pronged approach involving economic programs, political reform and community involvement to halt radicalization. His focus in the US was on creating community partnerships and pilot projects in several American cities, endeavoring to integrate Muslims in America, preserving and protecting their civil rights under our constitution against untoward surveillance. The President gathered Muslim and other religious clerics from the US and abroad, community leaders, law enforcement, homeland security officials, and high tech entrepreneurs seeking means of stopping radicalization of youths. These youths are attracted by the “successes” of the Islamic State blasted around the world via the internet, tens of thousands of tweets, high production videos and on-line webzines in a number of languages including English.

Nowhere in his remarks did the President explain what the Islamic doctrine is that has attracted tens of thousands of foreign fighters, Americans among them, to be recruited to the cause of this self-styled Caliphate, the Islamic State (IS). What he has called ISIL, the Islam State in the Levant (ISIL) is a reference to the broad geographic area that stretches from the eastern Mediterranean coast to the Persian Gulf. Those “successes” include videos of the savagery perpetrated against the hated Kuffars, meaning infidels, including Christians, Jews, ancient religious minorities and apostate Muslims. Those videos show barbaric beheadings, burnings, crucifixions, mass shootings and enslavement. The President mentioned recent incidents in Paris, Copenhagen, Ottawa and Sydney of attacks on victims without naming the victims; leftists, free thinkers, Christians and Jews. Neither did he identify the perpetrators.

Just prior to the mid-February White House Summit, The Atlantic Magazine published an article by Graeme Wood, What ISIS Really Wants which stated:

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.

Russian historian at Connecticut Central State University, Professor Jay Bergman, wrote, “I read it. Superb. The [President] should read it. But of course…he won’t.”

According to Wood, IS bases all of its power and authority on a strict adherence to a Salafi literal interpretation of Islam and Sharia law, with almost a total focus on the doctrine of Tawhid. Tawhid calls for strict adherence to the laws of Allah as revealed by the Prophet Mohammed. Further, that all man-made laws and systems must be rejected. IS considers any Muslim who doesn’t adhere to the doctrine of Tawhid an infidel, including “core Al Qaeda” and other Salafists who object to IS public displays of savagery.

We concluded:

Countering violent extremism as propounded by President Obama evaded his responsibility to identify the radical Islamic doctrine of IS. He engaged in the delusion that by campaigning for community organization, jobs and faith based programs we might prevent radicalization of Muslim youths. Instead he should listen to the wise counsel of former DIA chief, Army Gen. Michael Flynn, who in media interviews and testimony before the House Armed Services Committee called for a global war against IS. Flynn suggested the first cornerstone of a strategy to “degrade” and “defeat” IS is to define the ideology behind radical Islamic extremism. The fact that liberal publications like The Atlantic have exposed the barbarity of strict adherence to Tawhid in Islam clearly communicates that destroying IS through the exercise of American and allied military power should be the first order of business.

The President’s “violent extremism” Conference in Washington demonstrated that soft power is trumped by raw Islamic Jihad every time. That is embodied in failure to recognize the Qur’anic doctrine behind the rise of IS.  To paraphrase a State Department anti-ISIS message, “Think Again, Turn Away” from Taqiyya – lying for Allah.

On March 16th, 2015, Forensic Psychiatrist Dr. Michael Welner, Chairman of The Forensic Panel, was interviewed on Bill Bennett’s Morning America program about what attracts Western and other foreign Muslims, to join the barbaric cause of the Islamic State. Welner provided insights as to what attracts Islamic State recruits that raise serious questions about the social media messaging initiatives of the Obama Administration. Dr. Welner explains the root of ISIS’s appeal and why people continue to join its cause.

In the face of the rise of the Islamic State and its ability to attract Muslims to Syria and Iraq from all over the world, syndicated radio host Bill Bennett welcomed Michael Welner, M.D. back to his program to discuss the apparent popularity of ISIS. Dr. Welner, known to NER readers, as one of America’s most highly-regarded forensic psychiatrists. He is routinely consulted on the most complex forensic cases across the United States, such as the ongoing New York trial of the accused kidnapper of young Etan Patz.  He is known to our readers for his work on the Omar Khadr Guantanamo case and in pioneering research an evidence-based standard of the worst of crimes, the Depravity Standard.

In response to Bennett’s invitation, Dr. Welner confronted the apparent paradox of ISIS recruitment successes in the face of its disturbing beheadings. As he explained to Bennett, Dr. Welner noted that non-Muslims do not appreciate the significance of the Caliphate declared by ISIS leader al-Baghdadi. ISIS is attracting followers of a utopian and unadulterated Islam abandoned over 1000 years ago, of a faith of strict dogmatic adherence to the Qu’ran. These Caliphate ideals prompt an obligation among the devout to serve the Caliphate in whatever capacity needed, and involve a plan of nation building based on the idealized Muslim society on land the Caliphate controls. Beheadings (and enslavement and immolation) are prescribed by the Qu’ran for cleansing those Muslims deemed to be apostate. Followers allow for these methods as necessary measures in the building of a messianic ideal, reminiscent of the “cleansing” of Pol Pot’s Cambodia. ISIS exploits these punitive options to inspire fear of the consequences of resistance among its local opponents. At the same time, ISIS inspires quiet among Muslims generally because to contest its methods would be to contest the Qu’ran. This psychological control, explains Dr. Welner, is an adaptation of political correctness, Muslim style.

The Western media and ruling classes muddle through by looking away from how ISIS is laying waste to all religions in the Arab world. That is consistent with the intelligentsia’s uselessness in genocide historically, Dr. Welner lays out an approach for how America should confront the ISIS threat militarily and in its public information in a segment Bennett termed “masterful.” Readers of the NER will be familiar with how American exceptionalism is key to the solution from our interview with Dr. Welner in the aftermath of the (Oklahoma Beheading NER interview).

The National Review On-line rated the Bennett-Welner discussion the best of the Week of March 16 to 20, 2015 on this topic. Clare Lopez, former CIA Operations officer and Senior Fellow at the Washington, DC-based Center for Security Policy commented:

Great interview with Dr. Michael Welner….he understands appeal of IS better than the entire USG put together right now. I must say it was fascinating to listen to someone from completely outside the political realm nail it like that. Meanwhile all the so-called counterterrorism ‘experts,’ and Islam ‘experts’ are so far off base we know the bad guys are laughing at us all.

Against this background, here is an edited version of the Bennett-Welner interview. (text)

Listen to the Bill Bennett Morning in America interview with Dr. Michael Welner, Chairman of the Forensic Panel:

Official in Turkey’s Ruling Party Refers to President Erdogan as ‘Caliph’

Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, received Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, left, after passing between two columns of 16 troops, each dressed in the warrior regalia of past Turkic states, bearing period armour and toting weapons ranging from swords to lancers. Adem Altan/AFP via Getty Images

Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, received Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, left, after passing between two columns of 16 troops, each dressed in the warrior regalia of past Turkic states, bearing period armour and toting weapons ranging from swords to lancers.
Adem Altan/AFP via Getty Images

CSP, by Aaron Kliegman, March 19, 2015:

An official in Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) caused controversy this week by tweeting that the country should “get ready for the caliphate” and referred to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as “caliph.”

Fuat Özgür Çalapkulu, the man who wrote the tweet on March 17, is the head of the AKP in the southeastern province of Siirt. He was responding to Erdogan’s opponents who object to the Turkish leader’s plan to change Turkey’s government from a parliamentary system to a presidential system. Erdogan would be the leader, thus giving him more power.

Erdogan’s main criticism came from Selahattin Demirtaş, pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Co-Chair, who said his party “will never let you [Erdogan] be president” in such a proposed system of government. Çalapkulu was mainly countering this statement with his tweet and also referred to past comments by Erdogan opponents that the leader could not even be a village headman (muhtar).

Çalapkulu backed off his words, however, after receiving harsh reactions because of them. On March 19, he changed his Twitter account to private so that only confirmed followers can see his comments and released a written statement saying he had a different meaning for the term caliph.

Part of his statement reads, “I use this word to refer to a leader who has command of all the problems, institutions and administration of his country; a leader who is the independent and powerful voice of the world’s downtrodden; the protector of the oppressed; a good, successful, pioneering and visionary leader.”

It is possible that Çalapkulu did not mean to use the title caliph with its full religious connotations or was being facetious, but the tweet is worth noting given Turkey’s increasing Islamic identity and pivot away from the West under Erdogan’s rule.

More importantly, the AKP official is not the first person to refer to Erdogan as a caliph, in jest or not. Some of Erdogan’s followers have called him this title before and essentially pledged allegiance to him like many have been doing recently to Abu Baker al-Baghdadi, leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS).

Furthermore, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, one of the most influential clerics in Sunni Islam and spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, has said that Istanbul, Turkey is the capital of the coming caliphate and has suggested that Erdogan is blessed by Allah and could be the one to lead the Islamic world order.

Çalapkulu may have been joking or using caliph in a non-literal way, but in its full context the AKP official’s tweet is part of a larger narrative where Turkey is becoming more Islamic and identified, at least by some, as a central part of a future caliphate. In fact, Erdogan and the AKP have actually perpetuated this image and a neo-Ottoman atmosphere. Erdogan’s religious-based policies and centralization of power are helping in this endeavor.

***

Speaking of images, have you seen Erdogan’s “White Palace”?

Georgetown University panel shows how Islamic State’s caliphate has justification in Islamic history and appeal for modern Muslims

Jihad Watch
November 11, 2014 

by Andrew Harrod

 Emad Shahin

Emad Shahin

The caliphate “is not something bad . . . for the majority of Muslims,” concluded visiting professor Emad Shahin during a recent briefing titled “Boko Haram, ISIS, and the Caliphate Today” at Georgetown University’s Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding (ACMCU). A small conference room housed around twenty people, as panelists pledged to “help explain” the allegedly “confusing phenomena” of Nigeria’s Boko Haram and the Islamic State (ISIS)’s “overlapping language of political Islam” and the “caliphate and . . . sharia.” The panel, however, merely reinforced that ISIS’s brutal “caliphate” has ample justification in Islamic history and appeal among modern Muslims.

According to Shahin, a “very idealized historical legacy” of past Muslim caliphates, such as the Abbasids (c. 750-1519 AD), dominates Muslim thinking. It was then that Islam’s “expansion and extension” occurred, he noted, alluding to a brutal “legacy” far less appealing to non-Muslims. The Turkish Republic’s 1924 abolition of the last caliphate—a “symbolic unity of Muslims”—was a “devastating shock.”

Since then, the concept of the caliphate, something Shahin pointed out has been “embedded all along” in Islamic political programs, became the “raison d’être” of Islamist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood. Muslim intellectuals advocating a Muslim confederacy alongside a caliphate envisioned “something like the Vatican and the European Union.” Shahin concluded that the caliphate, as exemplified by Tunisia’s Ennahda and Turkey’s AKP Islamist parties, signifies “good governance” for many Muslims.

Shadi Hamid of the Qatar-funded Brookings Institution—and a former student of Shahin’s at Georgetown—continued this analysis, stating that there is “something powerful about the idea” of a caliphate for the “vast majority of Muslims, even those who are quite secular.” Growing up in Pennsylvania, he heard Muslims ask, “How did we go from there to here?” while contemplating Islamic society’s fall from its supposedly glorious past to its all too dismal present. Consequently, the Islamic State’s caliphate declaration was a “pretty great marketing move,” even though, he claimed, the “vast majority of Muslims disagree profoundly with” the group.

Hamid described the Muslim Brotherhood as one of the “deeply illiberal” yet “mainstream Islamist movements committed to the democratic process” which, in the wake of Egypt’s popular uprising in 2013, provided a source of recruitment for groups like the Islamic State. Recruits who are initially “vaguely sympathetic” to ISIS and join for economic reasons, “over time . . . start to take on the ideology.” It helps that ISIS is “perhaps the richest extremist group in modern history,” having captured oil reserves and received “a lot of private funding from Gulf countries,” often while governments turned a “blind eye.”

Hamid explained that ISIS supporters see Muhammad’s “prophetic model” as a guide. It is a popular assumption that Muslims are “just like anyone else” in respecting humane values, but, he stressed, “Islam is a construct” requiring interpretation. He conceded that “very problematic and uncomfortable” doctrines exist in the orthodox “pre-modern Islamic tradition” desired by Salafists and other Islamists. Sharia law, for example, legitimates slavery, an abhorrence that ISIS practices today.

Shahin attempted to counteract ISIS’s legitimacy by referencing “benchmarks” from the “rightly guided” caliphate that existed for thirty years after Muhammad’s death. Under this “prophetic model of the caliphate,” a caliphate proclamation was an orderly process requiring territorial control and consensus among Muslim leaders. Yet Shahin referenced no such development amidst Islam’s past successive caliphates, regimes no less turbulent than other historical empires, beginning with the strife-torn “prophetic model” itself. Caliphates have risen and fallen according to the violent tides of Islamic history, a pattern ISIS clearly seeks to emulate.

Hamid considered “governance and democracy” central concerns to any anti-ISIS strategy in a Middle East marked by widespread “collapse of the regional order.” ISIS, which he described as “primarily not a terrorist organization,” had exceeded the “very low bar” of regional governance “in recent decades.” Hamid criticized an American-supported, regionally dominate “Saudi counter-revolutionary axis” and instead advocated a “get serious” approach to an insurgent overthrow of Syria’s Bashar Assad, however unlikely to combat ISIS or regional instability. Meanwhile, in yet another erroneous analysis of jihad, Shahin cited the “root causes” argument that seeks to blame Western colonialism, poverty, and oppression rather than acknowledge its roots in classical Islam.

Tamara Sonn, Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani Professor in the History of Islam at Georgetown, complained of ISIS and Boko Haram using “similar language” concerning the caliphate, claiming that the result has been “a great deal of confusion of what actually Islam stands for.” Given that Sonn’s chair is named after the former ruling emir of Qatar, one of ISIS’s primary funders, it is little wonder that such “confusion” reigns.

Sonn’s protestations notwithstanding, her fellow panelists unwittingly exposed the longstanding caliphate visions anchored in Islamic canons to which ISIS has pledged allegiance. The panel also revealed that there is an abundance of support for ISIS from Muslims worldwide, demonstrating that, for many Muslims, there is nothing confusing about ISIS. The analysis of ISIS’s governance, meanwhile, indicated that this brutal movement cannot simply be written off as crazy and raised doubts about hastily considered Middle East democracy promotion. Ultimately, the panelists offered nothing to blunt Islam’s often dangerous political edge.

Andrew E. Harrod is a freelance researcher and writer who holds a PhD from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and a JD from George Washington University Law School. He is a fellow with the Lawfare Project; follow him on twitter at @AEHarrod. He wrote this essay for Campus Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum.

The “Khorasan Group”, New Name, Old Threat

khor1CSP, By Kyle Shideler:

Recent media coverage has been bombarded by revelations of a “new terror threat“, “more dangerous than ISIS”, the Khorasan Group.

Khorasan refers to the historical area under the Islamic Caliphate that corresponds to Iran/Afghanistan/Pakistan and the subcontinent, and the Khorasan Group, according to intelligence officials speaking to the media, consists of a relatively small (between fifty and a hundred) group of veteran Al Qaeda fighters from the Afghanistan/Pakistan region. These fighters are said to include a number of highly skilled bomb makers and other operatives, led by Muhsin al-Fadhli, a native Kuwaiti, and long time Al Qaeda insider, who specializes in financing and facilitation. Jihadist social media is hinting that Al-Fadhli may have been killed in the first round of U.S. bombing.

Khorasan Group’s mission, supposedly, has been to find jihadists with western passports who have travelled to Syria, train them, and reinsert them into the West to conduct spectacular attacks of the kind that Al Qaeda is famous for.

Khorasan Group operates in and among Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, and there’s been lively debate in the counterterrorism community over whether its really worthwhile distinguishing between Jabhat al-Nusra and Khorasan group at all. This is significant because Jabhat al-Nusra, despite being Al Qaeda, is deeply intertwined with the Syrian rebels at-large, and they are widely supported by these rebels, including those that the Obama strategy calls for arming and training to fight ISIS. For their part, Jabhat al Nusra hasn’t made the distinction, claiming they were the recipient of U.S. bombings.

It’s entirely plausible that intelligence suggested that this Khorasan group was preparing an imminent attack, and even if they weren’t, they are definitely enemies of America and a legitimate target.

But the extra hype about this specific group, and separating them out as somehow different or more threatening than Jabhat al Nusra, and Al Qaeda proper, has more to do with attempting to limit the negative reaction from rebels within Syria, and to distract Americans from the reality that in Syria there really are few good guys, with a possible exception of the Kurdish forces, who aren’t really receiving support. That strategy has already failed, with multiple Syrian rebel groups complaining about the strikes against Jabhat al Nusra, including one group expected to be the core of the force the U.S. intends to train to send against ISIS.

There has been an attempt to try to separate out elements of Al Qaeda, into Core, and affiliates, and in the case of the Khorasan group, small units within affiliates. Or for that matter to disassociate ISIS from Al Qaeda, as ISIS being “too brutal”, when the reality is that ISIS hasn’t engaged in any tactic that Al Qaeda didn’t institute first.

This is a misguided attempt to convince people that what we face is a series of minor groups, and that the enemy who attacked us on 9/11 is broken, and/or on the run. The reality is we face an overarching enemy, a Global Islamic Movement-which is how they identify themselves- operating in accordance with a knowable strategic doctrine that we are not addressing.

That doctrine is Shariah law. It is the same law that ISIS is instituting in its territory, and the same one that Jabhat al Nusra and several of the other Syrian groups would institute in Syria if they prove successful in defeating Assad.

Our enemy knows that you can not defeat an opponent you do not name. They do not say that their war is with the U.S. Army,  the 75th Ranger Regiment, or the 5th Special Forces Group. They say plainly and openly, that their war is with America, and the allies of America, and more importantly, that it is an ideological war, based on a conflict between belief systems which are irreconcilable.

Until we are prepared to discuss the conflict in ideological terms, we will forever be playing “whack-a-mole” with a never ending series of “new” threats.

RECOMMENDED READING: Understanding The Islamic Caliphate State

Abu Bakr Al-BaghdadiBy Cultural Jihad:

While apologists in the west are clinging to a theme that the Islamic State has nothing to do with Islam …” Al-Baghdadi is emulating the Prophet Muhammad – the ultimate Islamic role model.”

Much of the western world is under the impression that ISIS/IS (Islamic State) is preparing  to attack western targets.  A report by  The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI),  Understanding Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi And The Phenomenon Of The Islamic Caliphate State, notes that while global attacks are part of the Islamic State’s long term strategy,  it’s current focus is on  “establishing and consolidating a state”:

The successive atrocities committed by the Islamic State (IS, previously called the Islamic State in Iraq and Al-Sham – ISIS) have diverted the discussion away from an understanding of this organization’s political program, creating the erroneous impression that it is simply a more vicious version of Al-Qaeda. According to this view, this organization presumably intends to attack the West by means of its foreign militants who hold Western passports and could return to Western countries to carry out terror attacks – and hence it is paramount to destroy the IS forthwith. Saudi King ‘Abdallah bin ‘Abd Al-‘Aziz promoted this approach when he said that he was certain that those jihadists “would arrive in Europe within a month and in America within two months”.

This report seeks to clarify the IS’s doctrine based on the organization’s official writings and speeches by its leaders. It will argue that, unlike Al-Qaeda, the IS places priority not on global terrorism, but rather on establishing and consolidating a state, and hence it defers the clash with the West to a much later stage. In this, it is emulating and reenacting the early Islamic model.

hijrahIn The Islamic State – building its infrastructure, we highlighted how witness accounts out of Raqqa, Syria indicate  an effort by the Islamic State to attract foreigners to serve as jihadis and experts in various fields to provide infrastructure support.  These accounts seem to fit the narrative of the MEMRI report:

What supplants the struggle against the West at this stage are the duties of hijra [migration to the Islamic calipahte state] and bay’ah[pledge of allegiance to the Caliph], both of them central components in building the caliphate. In an audio message published immediately after the caliphate was declared, Al-Baghdadi said to Muslims everywhere,  including in the West: “Whoever amongst you can migrate to the Islamic State should migrate. Hijra to Dar Al-Islam is obligatory.” In his first public appearance, his Friday sermon in Mosul,  he referred to the implementation of the shari’a as “a religious obligation,” while avoiding any call to global jihad or to harming the West. Both Al-‘Adnani in the declaration of the caliphate and Al-Baghdadi in his Mosul sermon refer to the caliphate as an “obligation that has been forgotten for generations.” In this, their discourse contrasts sharply, for example, with the discourse of Muhammad ‘Abd Al-Salam Faraj, a major theorist of the Egyptian jihad movement in the 1980s, who termed jihad (rather than the establishment of a caliphate) the forgotten obligation.


The MEMRI report also notes that Al-Qaeda publications such as Inspire constantly call for terror attacks on the west and include advice/instructions on how to proceed as a “lone wolf” or in groups.  In comparison, an issue of  the Islamic State’s English publication Dabiq included,  “A life of jihad is impossible until you pack your belongings and move to the caliphate.” :

The issue also says: “Many readers are probably asking about their obligations towards the Khilafah right now. Therefore the Dabiq team wants to convey the position of the Islamic State leadership on this important matter. The first priority is to perform hijra from wherever you are to the Islamic State, from darul-kufr to darul-Islam. Rush to perform it as Musa (‘alayhis-salam) rushed to his Lord, saying {and I hastened to You, my Lord, that You be pleased} [Taha:84]. Rush to the shade of the Islamic state with your parents, siblings, spouses and children. There are homes here for you and your families. You can be a major contributor towards the liberation of Makkah, Madinah, and al-Quds. Would you not like to reach Judgment Day with these grand deeds in your scales[?] Finally, if you cannot do any of the above for reasons extremely beyond your control, inshallah your intention and belief that the Islamic State is the Khilafah for all Muslims will be sufficient to save you from the warning mentioned in the hadith, ‘Whoever dies without having bound himself by a bay’ah dies a death of jahiliyya.’”

While apologists in the west are clinging to a theme that the Islamic State has nothing to do with Islam, the MEMRI report points out:

In his approach that prioritizes the consolidation of the Islamic State over an all-encompassing battle with Islam’s enemies, Al-Baghdadi is emulating the Prophet Muhammad – the ultimate Islamic role model. The Prophet, while displaying cruelty in battle – cruelty mirrored by the IS – put off battles with his enemies and integrated compromises and tactical agreements in his policy, in order to gather strength prior to renewing action to obtain his ultimate goals. The IS, ruling from its informal capital in Syria’s Al-Raqqa, conducts itself in a similar manner, enforcing the laws of the shari’a while selling oil to Europe via the black market.

In other words, Al-Baghdadi and his Islamic State are attempting to repeat history as described in the Quran.

Despite the emphasis on the Islamic State’s current priority in  establishing and consolidating a state, the MERI report cautions:

It should be emphasized that, although the doctrine of postponing the clash with the West is solidly entrenched, as reflected in the organization’s writings and actions, it cannot be ruled out that certain developments, such as a massive Western attack, could change the organization’s order of priorities and advance the stage of conflict with the West. The Western strategy of nipping the Islamic State in the bud may provoke counterattacks that were not planned by the organization at the outset. This places the West in a bind: inaction endangers the West in the long run, while immediate action may exact a heavy price that Al-Baghdadi did not plan to exact in the present stage.

The full report, Understanding Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi And The Phenomenon Of The Islamic Caliphate State can be read HERE

Bostom on Hannity: Ottoman Caliphate Atrocities, 1915-19, An Order of Magnitude Greater Than Those of IS/IL

By Andrew Bostom:

Last night, my brief sound bite during a Sean Hannity panel alluded to the timeless Koranic injunction to wage jihad war against Jews and Christians, specifically, Koran 9:29, for the purpose of forcibly imposing a Sharia-based Islamic order upon them. This reference was followed by a graphic, modern historical manifestation of this eternal Islamic “imperative”: the 1915-19 jihad genocide of the Armenian, Assyro-Chaldean, and Syrian Orthodox Christian communities of Anatolia, and northern “Mesopotamia,” i.e., modern Iraq, by the last Caliphate—the Ottoman Caliphate.

Notwithstanding the recent horrific spate of atrocities committed against the Christian communities of northern Iraq by the Islamic State (IS/IL) jihadists, the Ottoman jihad ravages were equally barbaric, depraved, and far more extensive. Occurring, primarily between 1915-16 (although continuing through at least 1918), some one million Armenian, and 250,000 Assyro-Chaldean and Syrian Orthodox Christians were brutally slaughtered, or starved to death during forced deportations through desert wastelands. The identical gruesome means used by IS/IL to humiliate and massacre its hapless Christian victims, were employed on a scale that was an order of magnitude greater by the Ottoman Muslim Turks, often abetted by local Muslim collaborators (the latter being another phenomenon which also happened during the IS/IL jihad campaign against Iraq’s Christians).

Tragically 2/3 of Muslims from Morocco to Indonesia—hardly a “fringe minority of extremists”—support the eternal Islamic “ideal” to re-create a Caliphate. Regardless, the wrenching illustrations included below  should make plain to all decent, sober-minded persons why any “Caliphate movement” must be confronted, and crushed.

Read more

Also from the September 12, 2014 studio discussion titled “Underestimating the threat of radical Islam to America” –

 

 

LOPEZ: Obama pledges additional support for Iranian puppet regimes

In this photo released by an official website of the Iranian supreme leader's office, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks during a meeting in Tehran, Iran, Sunday, Sept. 7, 2014.  (AP Photo/Office of the Supreme Leader)

In this photo released by an official website of the Iranian supreme leader’s office, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks during a meeting in Tehran, Iran, Sunday, Sept. 7, 2014. (AP Photo/Office of the Supreme Leader)

By Clare Lopez:

In a prime time address to the nation on the eve of 11 September 2014, President Obama pledged an expanded U.S. effort to destroy the Islamic State (IS), which he still calls “ISIL” (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant). American air power, stepped-up training for anti-Assad Syrian jihadis (which he calls “moderate rebels”), an additional $25 million in financial aid to Baghdad, and partnership with “a broad coalition” (that currently consists of 9 countries) comprise the key elements of the new military campaign.

Given that the only territory IS currently threatens are the regimes of two Iranian puppets – one in Baghdad, one in Damascus – Obama’s announcement in effect amounts to a renewed U.S. commitment to support Tehran’s grip on regional hegemony. The nuclear talks about how quickly the U.S. will accede to the Iranian bomb resume in another week.

Remarkably, the president opened his remarks with the rather preposterous claim that “ISIL is not Islamic.” Now, Obama himself has admitted in his autobiography “Dreams From My Father” that he “made faces during Quranic studies.” Still, it might be expected that he retained something of those madrassa lessons—or at least that White House advisors (not the Muslim Brotherhood ones, though) would have steered him away from such an egregious misstatement.

As it is, one of the reasons that the Saudi regime is so shaken by the approach of IS forces toward its borders is precisely because Riyadh royals know full well their Islamic piety doesn’t begin to measure up to the purity of IS practice. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the IS leader, not only boasts a Ph.D. in Islamic Studies from a Baghdad university, but wears the black turban to signify descent from Muhammad. Whether entitled to claim the Islamic prophet’s bloodline or not, al-Baghdadi models his every action on the example Muslims believe set out for them centuries ago by the founder of their faith. For Muslim purists like al-Baghdadi, the Qur’anic verse 33:21 that tells them “Ye have indeed in the Apostle of Allah a beautiful pattern of conduct for any one whose hope is in Allah and the Final Day…” is taken quite literally (amputations, beheading, crucifixions, flogging and all).

Obama rambled on, claiming next that “ISIL is certainly not a state.” Unfortunately for the Iranian proxies in Baghdad and Damascus that are his intended beneficiaries, it is their former states that no longer exist—because the Islamic State, the Caliphate, has dismantled them. Obama did seem to recognize the effective erasure of the 1916 Sykes-Picot borders at least in some measure, though, as he declared his intent to expand U.S. air strikes more evenly throughout the Caliphate (including into what used to be called Syria as well as the former Iraq).

Apparently in pursuit of a public relations coup that’s eluded him of late, Obama nevertheless offered up additional glimpses of his unenviable conundrum about which jihadis to support on the ground in the intra-Islamic sectarian struggle that’s torn the region apart since the Islamic Uprising began in 2011.

For example, he seems to have conveniently forgotten that the ranks of today’s IS are full of Syrian jihadis armed, funded, and trained by U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) in cooperation with the now-terrified Hashemites, NATO ally Turkey, Muslim Brotherhood sponsor Qatar, and the flailing Saudi monarchy. A monster has slipped the leash but the American president says he’s more than ready to provide even more support to more Syrian rebels, who, this time, definitely will be exclusively the ‘moderate’ ones.

But what about the threat to the homeland if IS is allowed to exist and consolidate? Well, the question somehow is never asked about how either individual jihadis or small jihadi cells that an IS enclave might direct to attack the homeland are in any way different than the jihadis the Iranian or the Saudi state have launched our way over the decades—to include the hijackers of September 11, 2001 or the uncounted numbers of Hizballah cells operating across the Americas today. But there’s never been a hint of a suggestion that those jihadist sponsoring states constitute a compelling national security threat to the U.S. that requires an international coalition to deal with them.

Read more at Washington Times

Clare M. Lopez is the Vice President for Research and Analysis at the Center for Security Policy.

Honor the 9/11 Dead: Defeat the Enemy & Punish Those Supporting Them

WTC-and-Pentagon-on-9-11By John Guandolo at Understanding the Threat, September 11, 2014:

It is 13 years after September 11, 2001.

How are we honoring those slain on that day? How are we honoring those in uniform who have given the last full measure of devotion for a cause they believed is truly right and just?

In preparation for his speech Wednesday night (9/10/14), America’s President sought council from the King of Saudi Arabia – the largest financial sponsor of the global jihad.

At the leadership level of our federal intelligence and law enforcement agencies, “catastrophically ignorant” is the only appropriate way to describe their status with regards to our enemy.  And yet our leaders shut down meaningful, fact/evidence based training on this enemy in compliance with the requests of their Muslim Brotherhood masters.

Nearly every major Islamic organization in the United States has been identified in U.S. federal terrorism trials as being a part of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Islamic Movement with the stated goal of destroying America from within via Civilization Jihad.  Yet, our President, National Security Council, State Department, FBI, DHS, Pentagon, and others, ONLY rely on Islamic advisors who are leaders of known MB organizations or affiliated with the MB Movement.

Around the world the Islamic armies are overthrowing nations, brutally murdering non-Muslims (over 100,000 Christians per year in the last few years) by beheading them, crucifying them, burying them alive, and the like – all of which comports to Sharia (Islamic Law).  Yet our leaders say this war has “nothing to do with Islam.”

Because of cowardly and criminally negligent leadership on both sides of the political aisle in America, in our Universities, in our churches, and across our media, the enemy has been given wide latitude to push their jihadi movement forward with great force and success.

We wouldn’t want to offend them after all.

On Wednesday (9/10/14), demonstrating the light of hope for rational thought is still alive, Vice President Dick Cheney called (19:06) for the Muslim Brotherhood to be designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) and noted they are the root of the global jihad.  At the same time this administration materially supports the MB and Al Qaeda in Libya and Syria against the sitting governments.  All of us would be in jail for such actions.

This behavior, in no way honors the 9/11 dead or our troops who have died in battle.  It is time we rectify this.  It is time to engage and defeat the enemy and punish those who support them.

It is time to recognize the fact that the enemy leading the MB Movement in America wearing suits and spending time with our leaders in cities like Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, New York, Nashville, Denver, Charlotte, Miami, Dallas, Detroit, and others, is the same enemy  cutting off children’s heads and putting them on pikes in Syria and Iraq.  It is the same enemy our troops fought and are fighting in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, the Philippines, North/Central/East Africa, and elsewhere.  This is the global Islamic Movement with one unified goal – the establishment of a global Islamic state (caliphate) under which Sharia (Islamic Law) is the law of the land.

Our Constitutional Republic stands on the principle that God gave us our liberty and no man nor any government may take that liberty from us.  That is the ideal found in our Declaration.  Our Constitution is the first great attempt to make that ideal a reality.  Since its inception, our nation has been the most prosperous, generous, and virtuous in the history of mankind.  Not perfect, but our system requires the drive towards liberty and away from tyranny.

The Islamic Movement seeks to impose Sharia, which necessarily enslaves people and strips them of their God-given liberty.  Women are property under Islamic Law.  Apostates and homosexuals must be killed if they do not repent and change their ways under Islamic Law.  Non-muslims must convert, be killed, or submit to Sharia and pay the non-muslim poll tax under Islamic Law.  100% of all published Islamic law agree on these matters.

This enemy only understands one thing – strength and power.  We must exert our strength and power and ensure the enemy knows we will not surrender anymore ground, and we will retake the ground lost thus far.

It is time for the think tanks across this nation to stop mincing words about this Islamic enemy by creating fictitious meaningless phrases which do anything but identify the enemy.  We must recognize that at the nation-state level (hint: Organization of Islamic Cooperation), there is a global war being waged by an Islamic enemy, and we appear to be the only ones unaware.

It is time to shut down the thousands of MB front groups and Islamic Centers in America – which the MB itself says are places from which the jihad will be launched.  All of the MB leaders should be treated like the jihadis (“terrorists”) they are.

Saudi Arabia should be handled like the terrorist state it is.  Men like former Saudi Ambassador to the U.S. Prince Bandar, who funded two of the 9/11 hijackers through a third party,  should be treated as a “terrorist,” as should other members of the Saudi elite class who the U.S. government knows are currently funding the global jihad.

Men like Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, one of the richest men in the world and a leading funder of the global jihad, and who sits on the board of Time Warner  and News Corp, should be handled like any other terrorist, not like an executive of a media giant.

George Soros has created thousands of organizations which work daily to undermine our Constitutional Republic.  Included in these are many organizations, like the New America Foundation, which directly support and work with the Islamic Movement.  Mr. Soros, his enterprise, and at least one of his sons all work to support our enemies and destroy this nation, and all should spend the rest of their days behind bars for it.

Leaders of DHS, FBI, CIA, State Department, and other branches of the government, as well as elected officials who:  continue to appoint Muslim Brotherhood/Hamas, and Al Qaeda individuals to positions of authority inside our bureaucracy; give quarter to our enemies; apologize for and defend their actions; attend functions to raise money for the jihadis; and aid and abet them in any way, should meet the fate of a traitor because they have and are violating the law – not to mention violating their Oath of Office to “protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies.”

When men like Denis McDonough, the President’s former Deputy National Security Advisor, publicly laud leaders of MB organizations and funders of Hamas like Imam Mohamed Magid of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), allow him to have input on U.S. foreign policy and domestic counterterrorism strategies, and give him a security clearance and access to sensitive U.S. systems, Mr. McDonough should go to jail, not get promoted.

When the FBI Director collaborates with leaders of Hamas (dba “CAIR”), the Muslim American Society (MAS), the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), and other jihadis, and then testifies before Congress that he did not know the place where the Boston Marathon bombers were radicalized was founded by an Al Qaeda operative – and Americans are dead – well…we put doctors and lawyers in jail for criminal negligence like this.

When elected officials and law enforcement leaders raise money for Hamas in America, they should be prosecuted for a variety of charges, including material support for terrorism.  They are breaking the law and should pay the price for directly supporting our enemies.

The President himself has violated his oath of office and federal law, abused his powers of the office he holds, and has exposed America and its people to grave dangers on a number of levels.  At no time in history has such a gross disregard for the Constitution been so evident, yet the American people so silent.

It is time for those who give aid and comfort, propaganda, material support, and financial reward to our enemies to pay a price.  And it should be a harsh price.

If we are to honor the great and heroic sacrifices of all of the men and women who gave their lives on 9/1/01 and since, it is time for America to shed its weak and traitorous leadership and begin to retake our place in the world as the strong, principled leader we are and were meant to be.

If Americans would like to experience on U.S. streets what we are witnessing in Syria, Iraq, Niger, Mali, Pakistan, and elsewhere around the world, then let us continue on the road we are on of capitulation and defeat.

If we want to stand on the wall and defend Western civilization, the actions advocated here are much less severe than we will have to engage in when the enemy makes itself prominently known in our hometowns.

John Guandolo bio

Why Al-Qaeda Just Won’t Die

OsombieBy Sebastian Gorka:

These days, zombies are all the rage. Viewing figures for the season finale of the hit show The Walking Dead are to be envied. Blockbuster movies featuring Brad Pitt proclaim the genre, as do popular books reconceiving Jane Austen among the living dead.

Perhaps this is no coincidence. The fascination with zombies may be fed subconsciously by a real-world global foe which bears more than a passing resemblance to George Romero’s iconic monsters. Al-Qaeda, even if not actually peopled by animated corpses, is a cult of death. Ayman al-Zawahiri said exactly that when he declared that he and his cohorts love death more than we love life. On top of that, it seems that—despite declarations to the contrary from the White House and more than thirteen years of U.S. counterterrorism operations—al-Qaeda is far from deceased.

Slide2_0In fact, in at least one respect, al-Qaeda may be even worse than the menace of the walking dead. In the latter’s case, they at least have the decency to die when you strike them hard enough in the head. Not so with al-Qaeda. We killed Osama bin Laden, its founder and head, more than two years ago, yet the body of jihadi terrorism fights on. So much so that in his recent open testimony before Congress, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper stated that al Qaeda now has operational centers in in twelve nations around the world, from Mali to Syria.(1) By way of comparison, in 2001, when we started the war against al-Qaeda, it had operations centers in just one country: Afghanistan. Indeed, as the graph below, based upon open-source unclassified databases illustrates, al-Qaeda is on the rise.

So why is it proving so hard to kill al-Qaeda? Because as a nation we have broken the fundamental rules of strategy: we have failed to execute an objective analysis of why the threat exists and what it wants. Worse, in the last four years we have distorted reality even further by allowing preconceived notions and politically driven strictures to influence and limit our understanding of the enemy.

Know Thine Enemy

I spend my days teaching strategy to the military, federal law enforcement and their intelligence community colleagues. Whoever the audience, we always start in the same place: if you have an enemy that you want to defeat, you have to know who they are, where they came from and what their strategy is. The military calls this an Estimate of the Situation, or more operationally, Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield. In the decade-plus war with al-Qaeda, we have been erratic and counterfactual in our EoS and IPB.

After 9/11, the President declared a global war on “terror.” The term was an odd one, for terror is the tool of several types of actor, especially dictators who use it systematically against their own people and dissidents abroad. Yet our GWOT was not targeted against recognized practitioners of terror, such as the Kim dynasty in North Korea or the mullahs in Iran. Nor did our global campaign target all terrorist groups. We did not deploy Delta Force against Basque separatists in Spain, or the eco-terrorist ELF (Earth Liberation Front), but against a very specific foe: those that were responsible for the attacks of 9/11. Those “practitioners of terror” justified their murder of unarmed civilians with a religious narrative that saw the West—Dar al Harb, or the House of War—as having declared war on Islam, and had as their strategic objective the re-establishment of the theocratic empire of Islam known as the Caliphate.

Yet from the very start, the President and his team assiduously disassociated al-Qaeda from Islam, representing bin Laden and his followers as renegade extremists whose actions were un-Islamic. This, despite the fact that their fatwas leveraged the words of Allah and Mohammed, those Koranic passages and sections of the Haddith (sayings and tales of Mohammed) that explicitly call for the death of the infidel.(2)

To be clear, as a nation America was never at war with Islam. Nor is it now. We are, however, at war with people who have a fundamental understanding of Islam, and whose broader legitimacy is very difficult to theologically undermine due to their reliance on the ancient tenets of an often-violent religion. But what exactly is al-Qaeda, and where did it come from?

Root Causes

The story starts with the Caliphate, which—contrary to popular conception—is not some abstract idea invented by a small group of extremists. The theocratic empire of Islam, the polity that integrated faith and politics and which was founded by Mohammed, existed for over a thousand years. True, its center moved over time, from Mecca to Damascus, then to Baghdad and finally to Istanbul, but it was a real living thing which still existed at the beginning of the 20th century. By then, it was under Turkish control and most people called it the Ottoman Empire. Yet this was the Caliphate, and there was even a Caliph, or emperor of Islam.

Unfortunately for the Ottomans, after World War I broke out they decided to side with the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Germany. As a result, by 1918 they were on the losing side of the world’s first global war. In an attempt to salvage the Muslim empire after this defeat, and prevent total dismemberment and disarmament along the lines of what occurred to Germany and Austria-Hungary at Versailles, the Ottomans reinvented themselves under the leadership of a very charismatic and intelligent army officer named Mustafa Kemal. Kemal, who would later change his name to Atatürk—meaning Father of All Turks—would reinvent the nation that would eventually become the Republic of Turkey.

Atatürk’s strategy was to convince the West that his people no longer were a threat and that his nation should be recognized as a member of their community. This required a wholesale reinvention of his country, the key pillars of which were the separation of Islam and politics and the broader secularization of Turkey. To that end, he not only banned traditional Turkic-Islamic dress for officials of the state but replaced the Arabic alphabet with a modified version of our Roman one.(3) Most significantly, in 1924 Atatürk formally decreed the dissolution of the Caliphate.(4) It is no accident, therefore, that less than five years later in the Suez region of Egypt, one Hasan al-Banna established the Ikwan Muslimin, or Muslim Brotherhood, the avowed mission of which was—and still is—to reestablish the Caliphate which had been “unjustly” dissolved.

After World War I, certain Middle Eastern territories that had been part of the Ottoman Empire were put under the mandate of the British government. These lands include what we today call Israel, as well as the Palestinian territories (the West Bank and Gaza Strip). After WWII, as violence escalated between Arabs and Jews and between these groups and British mandate forces, London decided that after six years of fighting the Nazis, the British had no future as the governors of the Middle East and pulled out of Palestine. It was under these circumstances that the new Jewish state of Israel was declared.

From the Muslim perspective, and the view of the Arab states that invaded Israel the day after it declared its statehood, this was the second seismic blow to the psyche of the ummah, the global community of Islam. From the perspective of the true believer, this territory is sacred Muslim soil. So much so, that before the Qibla—the Islamic direction of prayer—became Mecca, all Muslims had to face Jerusalem five times a day as they prayed to their creator, Jerusalem being the third holiest site in Islam and the place from which Mohammed was said to have risen into heaven.

However, the most important year of all for anyone who wishes to understand why 9/11 happened and what al-Qaeda stands for, is 1979. In the Muslim world, which follows a shorter lunar calendar initiated when Mohammed journeyed from Mecca to Medina (Yathrib), 1979 represented a turn of the century, the shift from 1399 into the year 1400. And just as with other cultures, there were many in the Muslim world who had great expectations for the new century, that significant events would occur. And so they did.

First came the Iranian Revolution. Although a Shi’a event, it had great ramifications for all Muslims. With the removal of the Shah and the complete rejection of the Western model of the secular nation-state, the revolution had at its core the religious imperative that Islam and politics cannot be separated. That is why the real center of power in the Islamic Republic since 1979 has been a man of the cloth and not a politician. This message of the reintegration of faith and politics and the continued success of Iran in rejecting the Western way of politics is an example to all Muslims.

Second was the attack against the holiest site in Islam: the Siege of the Grand Mosque of Mecca. As the Muslim world was collectively entering the year 1400, more than a thousand jihadi terrorists stormed the Grand Mosque and declared a Holy War against “false Muslims.” The terrorists managed to control the most important site in Islam, the epicenter of the annual hajj pilgrimage, for almost two weeks. More importantly, it turned out that the radicals had been encouraged and in fact blessed by members of the Saudi ulema, or clerical class, who agreed that Islam had lost its way and had to be cleansed by force.

The siege was eventually broken by French commandos who had been smuggled into Mecca after being hastily converted to Islam. But the true geostrategic significance of the attack came afterwards, as the King of Saudi Arabia, in an effort to secure the House of Saud, made a pact with the ulema who had endorsed the jihad.(5) The deal was straightforward: in exchange for the support and patronage of the monarchy, the clerics would not propagate the ideology of jihad on the soil of the Kingdom. However, the export and dissemination of jihadi ideology outside of Saudi Arabia into non-Muslim lands was not only permissible but would be supported by the government.

Lastly, that December, came the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. With the unprovoked assault against a Muslim country by godless communists, the seeds were sown for the redefinition of jihad as a global brand, a brand that would exploit the Western desire to hurt the Kremlin for its military expansion into Southwest Asia.

One of the non-Afghan mujahedeen that took up the fight was a Palestinian Jordanian named Abdullah Azzam. With a PhD in fiqh—Islamic jurisprudence—from the most important Sunni institution in the world, al-Azhar University in Cairo, this charismatic teacher established the Services Bureau (MAK) to recruit Muslims from around the world to come to Pakistan, learn the rudiments of guerrilla warfare and then be deployed into Afghanistan against the Soviet forces. The same year he would release a fatwa entitled Defense of Muslim Lands, in which he would call all Muslims to Holy War, declaring jihad to be fard ayn, an individual and universal obligation of all believers.(6)

Azzam’s logic was clear, and compelling. Since Atatürk had dissolved the empire in 1924, there was no longer a Caliph or commander-in-chief who could declare a holy war. As a result, it was up to each and every believer to deploy himself. Eventually, according to authoritative estimates, the MAK would churn out between 50,000 and 100,000 fighters, including the man who became Azzam’s deputy, Osama bin Laden.(7) A decade later, after the Soviets had been vanquished in Afghanistan, Azzam would be assassinated in Pakistan and bin Laden would take over control of his organization and rename it The Base for the Propagation of Holy War against Jews and Crusaders, or al-Qaeda, as we call it in the West.

Read more at The Journal of International Security Affairs

Dr. Sebastian Gorka is Associate Dean and Associate Professor of War and Conflict Studies at National Defense University in Washington and a regular instructor and advisor for SOCOM, US Army Special Operations Command, and the FBI. Dr Gorka is also the National Security Editor for Breitbart.com.