The US Didn’t Create ISIS — Assad and Saddam Did

basharalassadonline-newsit2_1Frontpage, by Daniel Greenfield, Nov. 4, 2015:

The Russia-Iran-Assad axis and its useful idiots in the West claim that the United States created ISIS. Some of the loonier conspiracy sites that gleefully repost Russian propaganda allege that the Caliph of ISIS is a Jewish Mossad agent named Elliot Shimon or a CIA agent named Simon Elliot.

Elliot doesn’t exist, but ISIS’ Deputy Caliph Abu Ali al-Anbari, who was Saddam’s major general and a Baathist member, does. The Caliph’s right hand man, Abu Muslim al Turkmani, was also a Baathist and a lieutenant colonel in Saddam’s military intelligence organization before being killed by a drone strike.

Considering the history between Saddam and the USSR, it is likely that one or both of the Caliph’s deputies received training from Russian intelligence advisers during their careers. Turkmani’s DGMI in particular was closely entangled with the KGB. One of the reasons ISIS is much better than its Sunni Islamist opponents is that its top people had been trained by Soviet experts.

The ISIS blowback doesn’t lead to America, but in a completely different direction.

Before the Islamic State’s current incarnation, it was Al Qaeda in Iraq and its pipeline of suicide bombers ran through Syria with the cooperation of Assad’s government.

Assad and Al Qaeda in Iraq had a common enemy; the United States. Assad had a plan to kill two birds with one stone. Syrian Islamists, who might cause trouble at home, were instead pointed at Iraq. Al Qaeda got manpower and Assad disposed of Sunni Jihadists who might cause him trouble.

Meanwhile Al Qaeda openly operated out of Syria in alliance with the Baathists. While Syria’s regime was Shiite and Iraq’s Sunni, both governments were headed by Baathists.

The Al Nusrah Front, the current incarnation of Al Qaeda in the area ever since the terror group began feuding with ISIS, named one of its training camps, the ‘Abu Ghadiya Camp”. Abu Ghadiya had been chosen by Zarqawi, the former leader of the organization today known as ISIS, to move terroriststhrough Syria. This highway of terror killed more American soldiers than Saddam Hussein had.

The Al Qaeda presence in Syria was backed by Assad’s brother-in-lawAssef Shawkat, who had served as Director of Military Intelligence and Deputy Defense Minister.  His real job though was coordinating Islamic terrorist organizations. During the Iraq War, he added Al Qaeda to his portfolio.

Handling terrorists without being burned is a tricky business though and the blowback kicked in.

In 2008, a US raid into Syria finally took out Abu Ghadiya and some of his top people. A year later, General Petraeus warned that, “In time, these fighters will turn on their Syrian hosts and begin conducting attacks against Bashar al-Asad’s regime itself.”

Shawkat was killed by a suicide bomber three years later. Assad’s support for terrorists had hit home. Those Sunni Islamists he had sent on to Iraq who survived returned with training and skills that made them a grave danger to his regime.

Exactly as Petraeus had predicted.

Anti-American Leftists who claim that the US created ISIS were cheering on its early terror attacks as the work of a Baathist “Resistance”. ISIS these days is accompanied by top Baathists including General al-Douri, a close Saddam ally. The same outlets claiming that we created ISIS celebrated the “Resistance” campaign against NATO “neo-colonialism” when what they were really celebrating was ISIS.

Putin’s regime has claimed that it is fighting ISIS, but it was supporting Assad back when Syria was a conduit for ISIS to attack Americans. The Baathists in Syria and Iraq had both been Soviet clients and it was the USSR which turned international terrorism into a high art.

The United States has gotten plenty of the blame for supporting Mujahedeen in Afghanistan against the USSR, but the USSR had started the practice much earlier and had signed on to the Red-Green alliance. As Primakov, a top Soviet leader and KGB figure closely involved with the Muslim world, had said, the “Islamic movement” has a “radical trend which is strongly charged with anti-imperialism.”

It’s no coincidence that ISIS has thrived best in countries that were former Soviet clients whose governments attempted to fit Primakov’s definition by walking a fine line between Socialism and Islam. Nor is it a coincidence that in addition to its beheadings and sex slavery, ISIS plays up its free medicalcare and price controls. ISIS is still offering Socialism and Islam with a bigger emphasis on Islam.

While Baathism is often described as secular, it actually sought to blend Islam with its politics. It was a leftist Islamism that emphasized Socialism in contrast to the rightist Islamism of the Muslim Brotherhood whose leaders were often businessmen and landowners with a more capitalistic bent.

These distinctions, which led the USSR to build ties with the Baathists while Western countries got involved with the Muslim Brotherhood, were more style than substance. The preference of the Muslim Brotherhood or the Turkish AKP for crony capitalism as the next best thing to a lost former feudalism did not make them friendly to the West. And the Baathists were tribal dictators who cloaked their clannish authoritarianism and familial feuds in a blend of hollow Socialist and Islamic platitudes.

Critics claim that there would be no ISIS if Saddam were still in power, but the Iraqi dictator helped create ISIS through his alliances with Islamists. ISIS did not suddenly rise out of the ruins of his regime. Instead it grew within Saddam’s regime as the dictator responded to his setbacks against Iran and Saudi Arabia, two Islamist states, by reinventing Iraq and Baathism as explicitly Islamist entities.

During the Iran-Iraq War, Saddam had begun building ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, hoping to bridge the old split between Baathists and Brotherhood and meet Shiite Islamism with Sunni Islamism.

After the Gulf War, Saddam Hussein went in a blatantly Islamist direction. The man in charge of his “Return to Faith” campaign was General Al-Douri, who would be the key ally that Al Qaeda used to move its people through Syria and who would live long enough to fight alongside ISIS as it retook Tikrit.

Allah Akbar was added to the Iraqi flag and Islamic education was embedded into the system from elementary schools to Islamic universities. It is likely that the Caliph of ISIS owes his own Islamic education to Saddam’s newfound interest in the Koran.

By the mid 90s, Saddam endorsed a Caliphate and implemented Sharia punishments such as chopping off the hands of thieves.  When ISIS amputates hands, it’s just restoring one of Saddam’s Sharia policies.

Everyone knows about Saddam’s palaces, but fewer know about his campaign to build the world’s biggest mosques. One of the biggest of these had a Koran written in Saddam’s own blood. This mosque would become a major center for ISIS allied operations run by a Muslim Brotherhood organization.

The Caliph of ISIS was recruited into the Muslim Brotherhood by his uncle. And like so many Jihadist leaders, he moved on to Al Qaeda. His own Baathist-Islamist background made him the perfect man to take Saddam’s vision of a Pan-Islamic state with Sharia and Socialism for all to the next level.

Saddam’s outreach to the Muslim Brotherhood helped create ISIS, just as Assad’s backing for Al Qaeda did and much as Gaddafi’s LIFG deal with the Brotherhood paved the way for his own overthrow.

Barzan, Saddam’s brother and the leader of his secret police, had warned him that his alliance with Islamists would lead to the overthrow of his regime. And that is what likely would have happened. American intervention changed the timetable, but not the outcome.

ISIS is a Baathist-Islamist hybrid that devours its creators, turning on Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood, and at times even threatening its Baathist allies. Its hybrid of Socialism and an Islam so medieval and brutal that it even frightens Al Qaeda and the Brotherhood has its roots in Saddam’s Iraq. Televising new and more extreme tortures was a tactic that was more Saddam than Osama.

Even ISIS’ most revolutionary step, declaring its leader the Caliph, echoes Saddam’s effort to don the vestiges of the Abbasid Caliphate by linking himself to Caliph Al-Mansur. The difference between Saddam and ISIS is that it is willing to follow through on the symbolism.

For Saddam, Islam was a means. For ISIS it is an end. ISIS is Saddam’s Islamized Iraq without Saddam. It uses Saddam’s tactics and infrastructure for purely Islamic ends.

ISIS is blowback, but not against America. It’s the outcome of two Russian client states that climbed into bed with terrorists only to see the terrorists take over their countries. Saddam and Assad were both warned about the consequences of their alliance with Islamists.

Saddam aided the Muslim Brotherhood in trying to topple Assad’s father, yet learned no lessons from it. Assad aided the Al Qaeda attacks on Americans, but didn’t consider what would happen when Al Qaeda turned its attention to him. Both regimes sowed the Islamist seeds of their own destruction and made inevitable their transformation into Islamic terror states.

Victory Without Soldiers? The futility of soft power in defeating militant jihadists

Weekly Standard, by Reuel Marc Gerecht, Oct. 26, 2015:

With the war in Syria becoming ever more complex and murderous, it’s worthwhile to revisit a guiding principle of Barack Obama: The use of American military power is likely to do more harm than good in the Middle East, and even in the region’s violent struggles, soft power is important, if not decisive, in resolving conflicts. If Islamic militancy is to be defeated, better ideas, advanced by Muslims, backed up if necessary by Muslim soldiers, must be the principal means.

We do not know whether the president sincerely believes in this military-lite, soft-power-heavy, Muslim-versus-Muslim answer to Islamic radicalism; he may well just care about his progressive agenda at home. A non-interventionist foreign policy, and all the intellectualism that surrounds it, may be only an afterthought, a byproduct of his determination to keep his liberal aspirations for America undiminished by arduous and expensive foreign adventures.

But we cannot ignore the fact that terrorist safe havens now cover a large swath of the Middle East and may soon extend once again across southern Afghanistan. Let us assume that the president sincerely believes that Islamic militancy must be defeated by ideas for it to be downed on the battlefield. Let us also assume that this Middle Eastern question will eventually compel some sustained attention from Republican presidential candidates, since one of them may well succeed Obama and confront the Syrian war, which is rattling both Europe and the Near East. A Republican president could choose to ignore the conflict, citing the same arguments Obama does, with a conservative twist. Republicans don’t appear any more eager than Democrats to send American forces again into Muslim lands. Vladimir Putin’s arrival has probably made punting an even more attractive bipartisan option, since changing policy in Syria could well pit the United States militarily, indirectly or directly, against Russia. Barring a massive terrorist strike against America launched from the Islamic State or elsewhere in Syria, even a half-million dead Syrians—double the current accepted number—and millions more made homeless will likely not push Americans to intervene.

But fear of entanglement aside, does the president’s view make sense historically? Have Muslims viewed militant irruptions as preeminently battles of ideas? Or have they seen such struggles as contests of swords and gunpowder? In the past, what have been the winning strategies against “violent extremism” in the Middle East?

Taming the zealots

Historical parallels to the Islamic State are imperfect. Although Islamic history has seen an enormous number of politico-religious rebellions, the vast majority failed to displace the ruling powers, and successful movements seeking explicitly to revive the early caliphate have been rare. The Islamic State in this sense is a product of modernity: It couldn’t have happened without the rise of modern fundamentalism, which zealously ignores—or delegitimizes—the history, the perceived moral compromises, of medieval and modern Muslim empires and states and returns the believer to the most virtuous age, to the community of the prophet Muhammad and the first four caliphs, the Rashidun, the Rightly Guided Ones.

But jihadist revivalism is a not infrequent occurrence. As Princeton’s Michael Cook noted in Commanding Right and Forbidding Wrong in Islamic Thought, an important book for understanding historically the moral reflexes and agony of faithful Muslims:

It was the fusion of this egalitarian and activist [Arab] tribal ethos with the monotheist tradition that gave Islam its distinctive political character. In no other civilization was rebellion for conscience sake so widespread as it was in the early centuries of Islamic history; no other major religious tradition has lent itself to revival as a political ideology—and not just a political identity—in the modern world.

Focusing on the more extreme and successful examples of this religio-political zeal offers some insights into how such fervency fades. Islamic history offers no sure strategy for defusing zealotry, but it certainly records the methods that Muslims, and non-Muslims, have used to combat the fanaticism of believers at war with the status quo. And the principal method has always been military.



The closest modern parallel to the Islamic State is the Mahdist movement in Sudan and Egypt in the late 19th century. In 1881 Muhammad Ahmad bin Abdallah declared himself the Mahdi, the Guided One, the messiah in Muslim theology. He and especially his successor, Abdallah ibn Muhammad, who called himself a caliph, created a jihadist state in Sudan that aspired, at a minimum, to the conquest of Sudan, Egypt, and Ethiopia. Both men gathered to the cause tens of thousands of holy warriors, bedeviling the Christian kingdom of Ethiopia, the Egyptian-Turkish khedivate, and the British administration in Cairo. The renowned British general Charles “Chinese” Gordon fell victim to the Mahdi at the capture of Khartoum in 1885. The Ethiopian emperor Yohannes IV died in battle against the caliph’s army in 1889.

Like the Islamic State today, the Mahdist realm was essentially a war-machine, which evolved into a semi-functioning state that lasted less than 20 years. Mahdist forces’ tendency to slaughter Egyptian and Sudanese administrators in the employ of the khedive complicated their efforts at government. Christians within their reach also fared poorly, though better than Christians have done under the Islamic State, which has ruthlessly ignored the sharia’s command to respect the life and property of Christians, an inferior but protected class under the holy law.

The Turco-Egyptian, Sudanese, and Ethiopian forces proved utterly incapable of containing the Mahdist holy warriors, who called themselves the Ansar, or the Helpers, a term also applied to those who welcomed the prophet Muhammad in Medina after his flight from a hostile Mecca. The British at first wanted to avoid a head-on collision with the Mahdist movement, deeming it too costly, but after the death of Gordon and the continuing advances and depredations of the caliph’s armies, General Horatio Herbert Kitchener was dispatched with a British Army of 8,000 men supported by 17,000 Egyptian and Sudanese troops. Deploying Maxim guns and modern artillery (and Winston Churchill on horseback), the British wiped out a Mahdist army of 60,000 men at the Battle of Omdurman on September 2, 1898. Within a year, the Mahdist movement was irretrievably broken.

As long as they relied on soft power, both the Muslim ruler of Egypt and the British administration proved unable to counter the religious appeal of the Mahdi and his successor in Sudan and southern Egypt. The khedive and the British believed, correctly as it turned out, that military success would destroy what we today would call a popular Islamist challenge.

Wahhabis Run Amok

West of the Indian subcontinent, Wahhabism has been the driving engine of Sunni jihadism since the 1970s. The rise of the Wahhabis in Arabia in the 18th century also offers parallels with the Islamic State. Muhammad ibn Adb al-Wahhab was born in 1703. By the 1740s, his revivalist movement, which arose in one of the most primitive regions of the peninsula, had caught the eye of religious scholars in Mecca, the great cosmopolitan pilgrimage city under the distant control of the Ottoman sultan in Istanbul. The Wahhabi creed, once married to the power of the tribal chieftan Muhammad ibn Saud in 1744, cleansed the Najd, the Saudi and Wahhabi heartland, of more tolerant preachers and scholars. The region became the incubator for a severe interpretation of Islam, at odds with the multicultural, relatively tolerant sentiments of the Ottoman empire. Wahhabi teachings, often skeptical if not dismissive of the great legal scholars of the past, ruthlessly reduce the sources of law to the Koran and the traditions of the prophet, the Hadith, that pass the requisite tests of purity.

An intolerant, often violent fastidiousness that sees lax and worldly Muslim practice as the same as unbelief is the hallmark of this doctrine. Wahhabism has a mania about idolatry, shirk, which makes its followers exceptionally hostile towards Shiites, with their adoration of the imams, the charismatic descendants of the Caliph Ali; of Sufis, who can see God in almost anything; and of Christians, with their obnoxious embrace of anthropomorphism and the Trinity. Wahhab put it clearly by citing a hadith in his declaration of faith, The Book of God’s Unity: “Whoever affirms that there is no god but God and denies all other objects of worship safeguards his blood, property, and fate with God.” In other words, if you don’t do that, you are fair game. The desire to purge Muslim society and subjugate or expel non-Muslims is an inevitable byproduct of this creed. The parallels with the Islamic State are obvious.

Saudi armies had conquered most of Arabia by the end of the 18th century. But the Wahhabi-Saudi thirst for power and pillage brought a reaction. Muhammad Ali Pasha—the great Ottoman Albanian lord of the Nile Valley, who’d modernized his armed forces and gained de facto independence from Istanbul—attacked. By 1819 he had destroyed the Saudi-Wahhabi state.

For a time, Egyptian rule was strong enough to check any Saudi-Wahhabi rebirth. But Egypt, always in a financial mess, lacked the resources to maintain sufficient forces in the Najd, and when the khedive eventually lost control there, a rejuvenated Ottoman empire, which had Westernized its armed forces, reestablished its sovereignty over most of the Arabian Peninsula. The British, the naval guarantor of the Trucial States (today’s small Gulf countries), checked Wahhabi plans to push east. Other Arabian tribal powerhouses, especially the pro-Ottoman Rashidis, who were slightly less hardcore than the Wahhabis, took advantage of Saudi tribal disunity and smashed Saudi forces at the Battle of Mulayda in 1891. Also, importantly, the Ottomans pushed back with soft power, backing clerics who waged an intellectual campaign against Wahhabi intolerance, the forerunner of what we now call takfirism, the practice of declaring “bad” Muslims infidels and thus subject to the sword.

Dark days for the Saudi-Wahhabi alliance continued until the charismatic Abd al-Aziz ibn Saud (1875-1953) rose to power, just as the Ottoman sultanate was ending. With the empire’s collapse after World War I, western Arabia saw a Saudi-Wahhabi advance. Taif and Mecca fell in 1924; Medina and Jeddah, the all-critical seaport of western Arabia, in 1925. Ibn Saud eponymously elevated the Kingdom of the Najd and the Hijaz into the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932.

The Saudi-Wahhabi union might have perished several times had it not been for the movement’s lasting success at cleansing the Najd of opposing religious views. Even after the devastating loss at Mulayda, the Wahhabis survived because they’d culturally transformed the landscape of their homeland. As the historian David Commins has noted, “the Rashidi amirs .  .  . had no interest in uprooting Wahhabi influence. There would be no repetition of the Ottoman-Egyptian efforts to stamp out Wahhabism. By the 1880s, generations of Najdi townsmen [including the Rashidis] had lived in a Wahhabi milieu. The strict monotheistic doctrine had been naturalized as the native religious culture.”

Although the Saudis, with their well-financed global Wahhabi missionary activity, have done horrendous damage to Islamic civilization since they came to power in 1925, they also illustrate what is missing today in the fight against the Islamic State and other radical Islamists who are developing emirates throughout the Greater Middle East. When Wahhabi warriors—theIkhwan, or the Brothers—were chomping at the bit to invade Trans-jordan and Iraq in the 1920s, which would have dragged Ibn Saud into a war with Great Britain, and were slaughtering affluent “bad” Muslim subjects of the Saudi monarch, Ibn Saud attacked. He divided the Wahhabi ulama, or clergy, from the Ikhwan and drove those hardcore holy warriors out of Arabia, where they surrendered to the British. The power of the Ikhwan, who were ideologically quite similar to many of the jihadists of the Islamic State, was permanently broken.

Yet there is no Ibn Saud today. There are no conservative Muslims with the prestige and power to put down radical Islamic revivalists. The Saudis have no might that they can project far from their borders even though they have purchased an enormous amount of Western weaponry. The odds are good the Saudis will lose their struggle with the vastly outgunned Shiite Houthis of Yemen. And if that military engagement does go badly, it could traumatize the kingdom and even delegitimize the ruling family. Although the Wahhabi establishment remains loyal to the House of Saud, religious dissent among the ulama has been visible for years. It’s a tossup whether official Saudi religious authorities now have more influence among religious youth than militant dissident clergy. The Saudis’ ability to broadcast an effective, nuanced message abroad—the Wahhabism of the Islamic State is bad, but our Saudi Wahhabism is good—is, to put it politely, questionable. Money can buy only so much.

Meanwhile in Egypt, a kind of charade in the name of religious reform continues. President-for-life Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, an observant Muslim, likes to declaim about the need for a reformation within Islam and parade state-paid clerics from the state-controlled (and Saudi-financed) Al-Azhar seminary. But fundamentalism has become mainstream in Egypt, and violence aimed at an increasingly oppressive state is growing. Sisi is the past: Secular military dictatorship is one of the primary causes of the collapse of civil society and the radicalization of youth throughout the Middle East. The components of his political identity—Nasserite pan-Arabist, corrupt militarist, Egyptian nationalist, faithful Muslim—are a summation of the passions and conflicts attending Egypt’s startling decline since the 1950s. Sisi may have his fans in the United States, especially among House Republicans and conservative columnists, but despite his popular coup, he confronts the same dilemma as his predecessors Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak: How does a poor military regime, dependent upon American arms, stay afloat in an increasingly religious country, deeply uncomfortable with that dependency and with Egypt’s diplomatic relations with Israel? The answer for all three men: Intimidate thefundamentalists, while culturally accepting, if not encouraging, most of the social mores—the “Islamic values”—dear to the religious.

Even before Sisi’s 2014 coup against a democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood president and an Islamist-dominated parliament, Egypt was an internally weak state, incapable of projecting its tired ideals, let alone its armed forces, abroad. Today, Cairo is broken and bankrupt, avoiding an administrative collapse only by means of Saudi cash. At best, Sisi is playing defense inside Egypt. The general’s open and growing sympathy for the Alawite Shiite regime in Syria—which surely puts him at odds with the vast majority of Sunni Arabs, his Saudi funders, and Al-Azhar’s ulama—reveals his concern that the Islamic State, with its narrative of revivalist violence and an increasing flow of arms across the porous Libyan-Egyptian border, is a serious threat to his rule. He’s probably right.

The Frightful Search For Virtue

The Islamic State is essentially a rebirth of the Kharijite schism. The earliest of Islam’s many schismatics, the Kharijites believed that the caliphate belonged to the most virtuous—not to descendants of Ali, the cousin and son-in-law of Muhammad, or to the prophet’s tribe of Quraysh, which became the Sunni standard for succession. They practiced, or so it seems in the sources written by their enemies, an anarchic egalitarianism. In 661 a Kharijite killed Ali, the last of the Rashidun caliphs. According to the sources, the Kharijites were exceedingly violent. Overlaying Arab tribal customs onto the faith with extreme rigor, Kharijites could lawfully kill or enslave anyone—man, woman, or child—who failed to meet their demanding standards.

When the Wahhabis irrupted in the Arabian Peninsula, the Ottomans called the Saudi-Wahhabi warriors khawarij, or Kharijites. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the caliph of the Islamic State, explicitly claims that by establishing a new jihadist realm in the heart of Iraq and Syria, core lands of classical Arab Islam, he has proven himself most virtuous by the gold standard in Islamic history—military conquest. Like the leader of any society so formed, Baghdadi runs the risk that others will see themselves as equally deserving through battlefield victories or, worse, see him as compromised if he starts losing. Another danger: Power tends to corrupt. Baghdadi and his inner circle may start to sin in the eyes of their followers. The original Kharijite movement was fissiparous: They were as likely to duel with each other as with non-Muslims. Although the arguments of the “secessionists” (the literal meaning of khawarij) have powerfully echoed through Islamic history, Umayyad caliphs had crushed the movement militarily by the early 8th century. Without success in war and unable to gain a sufficient number of new spiritual recruits, Kharijism faded as a serious challenge to the status quo.

We may hope that the Islamic State and other holy-warrior movements that have conquered lands will similarly evanesce—but even faster. Such movements are unlikely to die, however, unless they are defeated militarily. The Assad regime, which provoked the rise of jihadism through its savagery, probably cannot wipe out the Islamic State, even if powerfully reinforced by the Iranians, Lebanese Hezbollah, and Russians. It just doesn’t have enough manpower: The Shiite Alawite community, the backbone of Bashar al-Assad’s power, is only about 10 percent of the Syrian population, and the Russians and Iranians may not want to invest enough to end this fight.

So long as their own casualties remain low, both parties strategically benefit from continuing mayhem. The Russians are now indispensable in Syria; they have checked, if not checkmated, any future American or Turkish intervention against Assad; they have again spooked the Europeans and made themselves a player in a refugee crisis that is fraying the European Union, a Russian strategic goal topped only by the dissolution of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization; and, last but not least, Putin has diverted attention from Ukraine, the democratic Achilles’ heel for a despotic Russia, and reminded everyone, again, that he’s aggressive, unpredictable, faithful to his friends, and not easily deterred.

Sectarian strife has only expanded Iranian influence. The mullahs would probably prefer Assad to win outright, but a certain Sunni threat, as in Iraq, keeps the Iranians in a secure avuncular position. The age of Iranian ecumenicalism, when the revolutionary movement tried hard to appeal to Sunni Muslims (Hassan Rouhani and his mentor, Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani, were big fans of this approach in the 1980s and 1990s), is over. We will have to see whether the Russians and the Iranians, through better weaponry and planning, can ramp up the lethality of the Alawite war-machine. Assad needs to slaughter on a much larger scale, and drive into exile millions more, before the Alawite future brightens.

Both Democrats and Republicans want to believe that the Islamic militancy developing in Syria will stay localized. Syria’s Islamic militants have a huge war to fight against enemies near at hand. Modern jihadism of the type we see in the Islamic State, however, will surely take aim, with increasing seriousness, at the United States and Europe. The Islamic State’s holy warriors are already far more globalized than the Afghan Taliban, who eagerly lent a hand to Osama bin Laden and have stayed loyal to al Qaeda, as al Qaeda has stayed loyal to them, through the arduous years since 2001. For such severe jihadists, globalization is as basic as the Koran and the magnetic conquest narrative of early Islam. And the Islamic State, unlike al Qaeda, now has thousands of Western Muslims within its ranks. That’s a lot of raw material to sift through and develop. And the European security services—especially the French DCRI and British MI5, the West’s frontline defense—are seriously stressed. We may choose to absorb future terrorist strikes by the Islamic State and respond just with bombs and drones. But if we decide we need to stop them, to deny them caliphates where they can conspire and multiply, we will have to put boots on the ground. We will not be able to leave prematurely, as we did from Iraq. Islamic history suggests we will have no other choice.

Reuel Marc Gerecht, a contributing editor, is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. 

Sex Slavery and the Islamic State

By Mark Durie, JULY 3, 2015:

This article appears first in On Line Opinion.

Yehzidi Sex Slave

Jamie Walker, Middle East correspondent for The Australian, asked two critical questions in a recent article which discussed the involvement of two Australian citizens, Mohamed Elomar and Khaled Sharrouf, in Islamic State sex slavery. In 2014 Elomar purchased sex slaves, of whom four, all Yazidis, later escaped to a refugee camp where the ABC caught up with them andinterviewed them.  Elomar had also boasted on Twitter that he had “1 of 7 Yehzidi slave girls for sale” at $2500 each.

Walker’s questions were:

“The uncomfortable questions for the Western world, including Australia, are why this debased appeal seems to be gaining traction with Islamic State’s target audience, which increasingly includes women, and why it’s not challenged more stridently in the public arena.”

The Islamic State has given its own answer to the first question. In the fourth edition of its magazine Dabiq it aggressively promoted sex slavery as an Islamic practice, arguing that the practice conforms to the teaching and example of Muhammad and his companions.

Does this argument have any wider appeal than among Islamic State recruits?

The reality is that many Muslim scholars have upheld the practice of enslaving captives of war. For example Islamic revivalist Abul A‘la Maududi wrote in his influential and widely disseminated tract Islam and Human Rights that for Muslims to enslave their captives was “a more humane and proper way of disposing of them” than Western approaches. Enslavement by Muslims, he argued, is preferable to the provisions of the Geneva Convention because of the value of this policy for fuelling the growth of Islam:

“The result of this humane policy was that most of the men who were captured on foreign battlefields and brought to the Muslim countries as slaves embraced Islam and their descendants produced great scholars, imams, jurists, commentators, statesmen and generals of the army.”

Islamic revivalist movements which look forward to the restoration of an Islamic Caliphate have repeatedly endorsed the practice of slavery in the name of their religious convictions. For example the (now banned) Muhajiroun movement in the UK announced in an article, “How does Islam Classify Lands?” that once a true Islamic State is established, no-one living in other nations (which it calls Dar al Harb ‘house of war’) will have a right to their life or their wealth:

“… hence a Muslim in such circumstances can then go into Dar Al Harb and take the wealth from the people unless there is a treaty with that state. If there is no treaty individual Muslims can even go to Dar Al Harb and take women to keep as slaves.”

It is a problem that the Qur’an itself endorses having sex with captive women (Sura 4:24). According to a secure tradition (hadith) attributed to one of Muhammad’s companions, Abu Sa‘id al-Khudri, this verse of the Qur’an was revealed to Muhammad at a time when Muslims had been ‘refraining’ from having sex with their married female captives. Verse 4:24 relieved them of this restraint by giving them permission to have sex with captive women even if the women were already married.

Abd-al-Hamid Siddiqui, a Fellow of the Islamic Research Academy of Karachi and the translator into English of the Sahih Muslim, commented on this tradition, saying: “When women are taken captive their previous marriages are automatically annulled. It should, however, be remembered that sexual intercourse with these women is lawful with certain conditions.”

There have been many cases reported across the centuries of Islamic armies using captive women for sex slavery, but is this any different from all wars? It is different in one important respect, that the mainstream of Islamic jurisprudence has justified and supported this practice on the basis of Islam’s canonical sources, including Muhammad’s own example and teaching.  Islamic sex slavery is religiously sanctioned ‘guilt-free sex’.

This religious teaching is impacting our world today because the global Islamic community has been deeply affected by a grassroots religious revival, which seeks to purify Islam and restore it to its foundational principles, which include rules for war and the treatment of captives.

This leads us to Walker’s second question: why is the Islamic State’s ‘debased appeal’ not ‘challenged more stridently in the public arena’?

An obstacle which stands in the ways of such a challenge is that it would require a sober evaluation of the Islamic character of sex slavery. However even suggesting a link between Islam and ‘terrorism’ has become taboo to those who are afraid of being judged intolerant. Not only do some impose this taboo upon themselves, but they are quick to stigmatise those who do not partner with them in this ill-considered ‘tolerance’.

The taboo attached to making any link between Islamic State atrocities and the religion of Islam was apparent in comments by Greg Bearup on his interview with South Australian politician Cory Bernardi. During the course of the interview Senator Bernardi linked the Islamic State with Muhammad’s example, to which the interviewer wrote “Kaboom!”, and called the comment a ‘hand grenade’, ‘inflamatory’ and ‘divisive’.

While it is a hopeful sign that some Muslims, such as Anooshe Mushtaq, have been willing to explore the Islamic character of the Islamic State, non-Muslim opinion-makers should show more backbone by engaging with the issue at hand.

It is not a sign of tolerance when free people deliberately silence themselves about the ideological drivers of sex trafficking. The same can also be said of acts of terrorism, such as the world has witnessed over the past week in France, Tunisia and Kuwait.

Until societies are able and willing to have a frank and free discussion of the ideological drivers which motivate acts of terror and abuse, they should not expect to be able to develop effective strategies to contain or wind back such atrocities.

A state of denial is a state of defeat.

Mark Durie is the pastor of an Anglican church,
a Shillman-Ginsburg Writing Fellow at the Middle East Forum,
and Founder of the Institute for Spiritual Awareness.


Obama Sides With Muslim Brotherhood In Islamic Reform Debate


Daily Caller, by Neil Munro, Jan. 12, 2015

The president of the United States has somehow put himself on the opposite side of an Islamic theological debate from the Muslim president of Egypt.

President Obama has aligned himself with revivalist groups — including the Muslim Brotherhood — that are trying to promote traditionalist Islam, while Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has begun championing Islamic modernizers.

Those modernizers want to defang the militant and supremacist Islam that has reigned since Islam emerged in the 700s. In contrast, the revivalists — and their allied jihadis — want to regain the regional power that traditionalist Islam held until roughly 1800.

The Islamic debate was dramatically exposed Jan. 1 when Sisi called a public meeting with the leaders of Islam’s leading seminary, which is based in Cairo.

“Is it possible that 1.6 billion people [Muslims] should want to kill the rest of the world’s inhabitants — that is seven billion — so that they themselves may live? Impossible!” Sisi said in front of the TV cameras and religious leaders at Al Azhar.

Sisi tried to portray Islam’s traditional doctrines as outmoded ideas wrongly attached to the faultless core of Islam. ”That thinking — I am not saying ‘religion’ but ‘thinking’ — that corpus of texts and ideas that we have sacralized over the years, to the point that departing from them has become almost impossible, is antagonizing the entire world. It’s antagonizing the entire world!”

“You need to step outside of yourselves to be able to observe it and reflect on it from a more enlightened perspective. … We are in need of a religious revolution. You, imams, are responsible before Allah. The entire world, I say it again, the entire world is waiting for your next move … because this umma [Muslim community] is being torn, it is being destroyed, it is being lost — and it is being lost by our own hands.”

In contrast, Obama has repeatedly praised Islam as a “religion of peace,” and says that jihadis are violating the established beliefs of Islam.

His attorney general, Eric Holder, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Jan. 11 that “we are at war with terrorists who commit these heinous acts and who use Islam, they use a corrupted version of Islam, to justify their actions.”

When quizzed by ABC’s George Stephanopolous the same day, Holder repeated the same traditionalist message. “We are at war with those who would commit terrorist attacks and who would corrupt the Islamic faith in the way that they do to try to justify their terrorist actions,” Holder said.

Obama’s spokesman, Josh Earnest, repeated Obama’s theological claim Jan. 7, shortly after Muslim revivalists murdered eight journalists, two cops and two other people at the Paris office of a satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo. “There are some individuals that are using a peaceful religion and grossly distorting it,” he claimed.

“We have enjoyed significant success in enlisting leaders in the Muslim community, like I said, both in the United States and around the world to condemn that kind of messaging … and we’re going to redouble those efforts in the days and weeks ahead,” Earnest said.

On Jan 11. the White House announced it would hold a Feb. 18 meeting to showcase its efforts to prevent “violent extremism” in the United States. The announcement didn’t mention Islam.

The administration’s current policy recruits Brotherhood-aligned groups in the United States to identify and re-educate potential jihadis living in semi-segregated Muslim communities in the United States.

The White House’s continued support for traditionalist Islam is drawing new criticism. ”The Obama White House is now a propaganda center for what Earnest described as ‘peaceful’ Islam,” said a Jan. 9 statement from Newt Gingrich.

“This is either madness or cowardice,” he added. ”It could be madness because President Obama and his team are so out of touch with reality that they see themselves as the definers of a 1,500-year-old religion.”

“It could be cowardice because our national elite in both parties … is afraid to face the reality that millions of people around the world, many of them motivated by religion, hate the West and want sincerely to destroy it,” he added.

Obama has pushed the same revivalist message since 2009, when he flew to Cairo to give a major speech to Muslims, dubbed, “A New Beginning.”

Obama began the 2009 speech by praising the same seminary that Sisi reprimanded.

“For over a thousand years, Al-Azhar has stood as a beacon of Islamic learning; and for over a century, Cairo University has been a source of Egypt’s advancement. And together, you represent the harmony between tradition and progress,” he said.

Prior to the speech, Obama insisted that some members of the then-suppressed group be allowed to attend.

Once the Muslim Brotherhood revivalist movement narrowly won Egypt’s presidency in June 2012, Obama tried to help them reconcile their Islamic worldview with the attitudes needed for stable government.

Since 2009, Obama and his deputies have mostly partnered with the revivalists who are tied to the Muslim Brotherhood, not with the fewer modernizers promoted by Sisi.

In the United States, his deputies have privately and publicly met with the revivalist groups’ allies hundreds of times, and he has invited them to the White House. For example, Obama has met with Haris Tarin, D.C. head of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, who has called for the U.S. government to stigmatize speech critical of Islam.

That’s very different from Sisi, who is trying to suppress the Brotherhood movement and push al-Azhar’s Islamic leaders toward modernity.

Sisi made his demand for modernity in front of TV cameras, and then underlined his modernist approach by joining the head of Egypt’s remaining Christian community of roughly eight million people at a New Year Mass.

“It is very important that the world sees us as Egyptians. … We are setting an example from right here in Egypt. That is why it is not acceptable to say anything except that we are Egyptians. We must be Egyptians only. Yes, Egyptians. Yes, we are one hand. … We will treat each other with respect. And we treat each other with love, a deep and sincere love,” Sisi said.

Sisi’s presence at the Mass was a first for an Egyptian head of state, and it comes only two years after Egypt’s electorate overwhelmingly elected two militantly revivalist parties to run Egypt’s government. In July 2012, Sisi overthrew the revivalists amid huge public protest against their slow-motion, economy-wrecking imposition of totalitarian Islam.

Obama’s distance from Sisi isn’t surprising, Robert Spencer, an expert and critic of Islam, told The Daily Caller. “Obama believes that Islam is a ‘religion of peace,’ he probably doesn’t think it needs any reform, and thus regards Sisi’s recommendations as unnecessary.”

Sisi’s embrace of modernity, and of Egypt’s Christian community, is far more politically dramatic than anything imaginable in the United States.

Al-Azhar isn’t just the Harvard of Islam — it’s the intellectual partner of the Brotherhood and its various jihadi groups, including Hamas in Gaza and the gunmen who killed Sisi’s predecessor, President Anwar Sadat, in 1981.

Unsurprisingly, the Brotherhood’s supporters oppose Sisi’s push.

Pro-Sisi “Egyptians shouldn’t worry about my not supporting his call for ‘religious revolution,’” said a tweet from Mohamed Elibiary, a Texas-based Brotherhood supporter who served as an adviser until late 2014 in the Obama’s Department of Homeland Security.

Abu Bakr al Baghdadi: From Terrorist Commander to Religious Icon

abu-bakr-al-baghdadiBlind Eagle, By Brian Fairchild:

Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s power to motivate and attract tens of thousands of radicalized Muslims is largely based on the fact that he has transcended the role of a terrorist commander and has become an Islamic religious and political icon – the new “Caliph” of the re-established “Caliphate”. 

He doesn’t claim to be a prophet, but he claims nothing less than to be the rightful political and religious heir to the Prophet Muhammad, and he often draws parallels between himself and Muhammad and other prophets, to support these claims and to legitimize his strict religious ideology.

On July 5, 2014, al-Baghdadi made his video debut at the Great Mosque of al-Nouri in Mosul, Iraq wearing Islamic garb and sporting a long beard, and he made a speech that was carefully crafted to draw parallels between himself and Muhammad.  The speech occurred during the Muslim month of Ramadan, and so he began his comments by stating that “Ramadan is a month to wage jihad”, noting that the Prophet Muhammad fought many battles against the “polytheists” during this month.

The implications of this reference sent a particularly potent message to radical Muslims because they know that Muhammad led Islam’s two most important battles during Ramadan – the very first battle, called the Battle of Badr, and the Battle of Mecca.  According to Islamic history, Muhammad faced overwhelming odds in his battle with the powerful Quraysh tribe at the desert oasis of Badr, but was victorious because of Allah’s divine intervention.  At the subsequent Battle of Mecca, he defeated the Quraysh with an Army of 10,000.  The city fell with almost no resistance.  The victory at Mecca consolidated Muhammad’s power and caused the surrounding tribes to join him.  The few remaining opposing tribes were quickly subdued.

The parallels to al-Baghdadi are unmistakable.  As he spoke at the Great Mosque of al-Nouri his total force was estimated to be around 10,000, the same number Muhammad fielded in the Battle of Mecca.  Like Muhammad, he emerged out of the desert and, against all odds, defeated a much larger and better equipped enemy, causing many to flee without firing a shot.  He consolidated his power by creating the “caliphate”, and the surrounding tribes joined him.  Finally, he proclaimed that these victories were only possible because he and his troops “have been bestowed upon by Allah to achieve victory” – divine intervention. 

The comparisons continue.  In the Islamic State’s September 21, 2014 statement, al Baghdadi calls Muslims to emulate the Prophet Muhammad’s historic hijrah (emigration) from Mecca to Medina by emigrating from their homes to defend the new Islamic State.  He proclaims that the coming fight with America is a decisive moment in Islamic history (just as Muhammad’s fight was) – a moment in which the fate of all Muslims hang in the balance, and he exhorts Muslims to rise to their brothers’ defense because:

  • “They are facing a battle which is of the decisive, critical battles in the history of Islam. If the Muslims are defeated, they will be humiliated in such a manner that no humiliation compares to. And if the Muslims are victorious – and this will be the case by Allah’s permission – they will be honored with all honor by which the Muslims will return to being the masters of the world and kings of the earth…”[1]

These comparisons resonate deeply in Salafi-jihadis who believe that there is no higher religious calling than to emulate the Prophet Muhammad’s methodology to establish Allah’s religion on earth, and this is precisely what al Baghdadi calls them to do.  He emphasizes their piousness by stating that he sees “the Quran walking alive amongst” them, and then unambiguously tells them that they are directly following in Muhammad’s footsteps:

  • “O soldiers of the Islamic State and its sons everywhere, listen and comprehend. If the people belie you, reject your state and your call, and mock your caliphate, then know that your Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) was belied. His call was rejected. He was mocked. If your people fight you, accuse you with the worst of accusations, and describe you with the worst of all traits, then know that the people of the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) fought him, expelled him, and accused him with matters worse than those you have been accused with.  If the parties have gathered against you, then know they gathered against your Prophet before (blessings and peace be upon him).”[2]

Muslim traditions tell how the pious Muhammad was able to overcome vastly superior military forces because of Allah’s divine intervention on his behalf, and thus, in the September 21, 2014 statement, al Baghdadi tells his followers that, because of their piousness and strict religious observance, Allah is on their side and that victory against America is assured because Allah wills it:

  • “Allah has given you might and honor after your humiliation. He has made you rich after your poverty. And He has aided you despite your weakness and small numbers. He showed you that victory is from Him, the Glorified.He grants it to whomever He wills and whenever He wills…Therefore Allah will give you victory. Indeed, Allah will give you victory. By Allah, Allah will give you victory…So know that – by Allah – we fear not the swarms of planes, nor ballistic missiles, nor drones, nor satellites, nor battleships, nor weapons of mass destruction. How could we fear them, while Allah the Exalted has said: ‘If Allah should aid you, no one can overcome you; but if He should forsake you, who is there that can aid you after Him? And upon Allah let the believers rely” – Qur’an Chapter 3: Verse 160.

In addition to drawing parallels between himself and the Prophet Muhammad, al Baghdadi also uses the Prophet Noah to legitimize his particularly severe religious rule.  In the second issue of his official publication Dabiq magazine titled The Flood , al Baghdadi uses the story of Noah and the Ark to legitimize his demand that Muslims live according to a strict literal interpretation of Sharia law.  In the article, the Prophet Noah is described as an uncompromising prophet who gave his people a single, but profound, choice:

  • “He didn’t say to them, for example: “I have come to you with the truth, and your leaders are calling you to falsehood, so you are free to choose whether to follow me or to follow your leaders.” In fact, he didn’t even say anything to the effect of: “If you follow me then you would be correct, and if you follow your leaders then you would be mistaken.” Nor did he say anything to the effect of: “If you follow me you will be saved, and if you oppose me and follow your leaders then your reckoning is with Allah, and I have done what is required of me and you are free to choose.” Rather, he told them with full clarity:  “It’s either me or the flood.”[3]  The parallel between Noah and al Baghdadi couldn’t be more obvious, especially given the fact that the Dabiq article was titled:  It’s Either the Islamic State or the Flood.

It is al Baghdadi’s uncompromising religious belief that is the very crux of the jihadi civil war between al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri’s Jahbat al Nusra (also called the Nusra Front), and al Baghdadi’s Islamic State.

Al Baghdadi is much more religiously zealous and demanding than Zawahiri.  Zawahiri is flexible and pragmatic in matters of ideology, preferring to slowly and carefully educate the Muslim community to accept Sharia law, and he is willing to form pragmatic alliances with non-jihadi organizations to further al Qaeda’s interests.

Al Baghdadi, on the other hand, has no such tolerance for coddling the Muslim masses or working with infidels, believing rather that it is his mission to confront Muslims, including Zawahiri and the Nusra Front, on matters of religion:

  • “it’s upon us…to eradicate the principle of “free choice,” and to not deceive the people in an attempt to seek their pleasure…Rather, we must confront them with the fact that they’ve turned away from the religion…and that we’re completely ready to stand in the face of anyone who attempts to divert us from our commitmentto making the religion of Allah triumphant over all other religions, and that we will continue to fight the people of deviation and misguidance until we die trying to make the religion triumphant.”[4]

That al Baghdadi and his followers have drawn this religious line in the sand against al Qaeda is documented by the following developments:

In late April 2014, a group of nine al Qaeda emirs from Afghanistan, Turkmenistan and Iran defected from al Qaeda to the Islamic State.  They justified their defection by indirectly accusing Zawahiri and the al-Nusra Front of infidelity and apostasy:

  • “the forces of infidelity and apostasy quickly sowed the seeds of hypocrisy, using new groups under Islamic sounding names to be a rival and an obstacle to the Islamic state…the group did not have any courage to enforce judgments over those who disobey sharia, under the pretext of avoiding a clash with the people or due to their inability and incapacity…”

A few days later, al Baghdadi’s spokesman, Sheikh Muhammad al-Adnani, echoed these sentiments stating:

  • “Al Qaeda, including Jabhat al-Nusra and Khorasan, deviated from the rightful course…It is not a dispute about who to kill or who to give your allegiance. It is a question of religious practices being distorted and an approach veering off the right path.”

In The Flood, al Baghdadi specifically criticized the Nusra Front and Zawahiri for regularly breaking Sharia law in matters of religion and by forging alliances with organizations the Islamic State considers to be infidel, such as the Syrian National Coalition and the Islamic Front, and for justifying this religious laxity as a pragmatic and temporary necessity for “the sake of Jihad”.[5]

Also in The Flood, al Baghdadi quotes Salafi scholar Ibnul Qayyim who said:  “The pillars of kufr (religious infidelity) are four:  arrogance, envy, anger, and desire”, and then al Baghdadi goes on to accuse al Qaeda of all four:

  • “Whoever wants to know how a mujāhid (jihad) group fī sabīlillah (for Allah) becomes a militant group fighting fī sabīlit-tāghūt (for corrupt regimes) then let him review history, and let him know that a man’s love for leadership,wealth, and personal opinion becomes pride. Pride becomes envy. Envy becomes arrogance. Arrogance becomes hatred. Hatred becomes enmity. Enmity becomes contradiction of the rival.[6]

So confident is he in his religious superiority that in March 2014, al Baghdadi challenged the Nusra Front, to Mubahala – an Islamic ritual that implores Allah to choose between two rival factions by showing his favor for one while cursing the other.  In Muslim tradition, the repeated military success of one of the parties can only occur if Allah wills it, and al Baghdadi believes that his series of successes proves that Allah has chosen the Islamic State over the Nusra Front as the winner.

Analysts frequently try to explain why so many radicalized Muslims flock to Iraq and Syria.  The reasons they stipulate often include that these misguided Muslims are simply alienated youth, thrill seekers, or are attracted by “jihad cool”.  In actual fact, Salafi-jihadi fighters are religious zealots, and they are attracted to al Baghdadi as their religious and political leader precisely because he is seen by them to be the active defender of what they consider to be “true” Islam.  Tens of thousands have already performed hijrah to embrace his religious and political leadership, and this number can be expected to grow exponentially as al Baghdadi continues to “defend” Islam.

Brian Fairchild bio.

Clare Lopez: “Jihad Resurgent: Islamic Challenge, Western Response”.


Published on Sep 16, 2014 by Q Society of Australia Inc

Clare Lopez at the Q Society event in Sydney on the evening of 5 September 2014.

Christians are ‘asking’ to pay jizya: reflections on the Islamic State

the-islamic-state-full-length-1408013927By Mark Durie, AUGUST 14, 2014:

An important documentary by VICE News has been published which uses extensive footage gained by a journalist embedded with Islamic State forces.  The youtube video linked here is set to start at 29m 58s, just before a section in which it is declared that Christians had asked for a dhimma pact,requesting to pay jizya.


There are many noteworthy things about this documentary.

Theology Rules

One is the intensely theological content of the IS fighters and leaders.  Their speech is littered with references to the Qur’an, the Hadiths (traditions of Muhammad) and the Sira (biography of Muhammad).  This shows that the jihadis’ worldview is profoundly shaped by Islam’s scriptures. Islam is their driving motivation, determining – at least in their eyes – the boundaries of their behavior, their goals, and their morality. Whatever else Muslims find in Islam’s scriptures – including words of peace or reconciliation – it is abundantly clear that the Qur’an and Sunna are more than adequate to sustain the ideological base which drives the IS actors.  This conforms to the pattern of other jihad wars throughout the history of Islam.


Another notable feature of this documentary is joy;  the joy of the jihadis; the joy of local Muslims about the caliphate; the joy of young boys who are being recruited to become jihadis for the Islamic State.  The Islamic State is being established on a wave of the pious, exuberant joy of its supporters.  Islamic State soldiers do not suffer from morale-sapping doubts about what they are doing. They believe they are making great sacrifices to what they consider to be the noblest of causes.  If morale were enough to guarantee victory, these men would sweep all before them.

Grooming Young Boys

Another thing that struck me about the documentary is the reality that the Islamic State is intentionally gathering young boys, grooming them, and placing them in training camps to become a  jihad generation.  Some of the youth who appeared in the documentary were full of excitement and anticipation about this.  The current Islamic State fighters have been drawn from all over the Muslim world, including from Western states, and are bound together by their creed.  Now that they are establishing themselves in Iraq and Syria, they are raising up a jihad generation from the sons of the local people.  Judging from the pattern established by Muhammad’s example, these boys will include young Christians who have been converted to Islam by the jihadis and are even now being trained for war.  This is consistent with the practice of jihad campaigns down through history.


Another thing that struck me was the undercurrent of fear.  On jihadi declared that weapons are the best way to establish Islam.  The Islamic State jihadis consider it perfectly righteous to impose Islam by force, which means through fear.  This is, in their view, Allah’s way.  I was reminded of the words of the Qur’an:  “I will strike fear in the hearts of the unbelievers” (Sura 8:12); “If you come upon them in war, deal with them so as to strike fear in the hearts of those who are behind them” (Sura 8:57); “Soon we shall strike fear into the hearts of the unbelievers” (Sura 3:151); and Muhammad’s own words “I have been victorious through terror” (Sahih Bukhari).  Fear was etched onto the smiling faces of men, interviewed in prison, who were awaiting sentence by an IS sharia court.  As they eagerly praised the Islamic State, and confessed their gratitude for being brought to a correct understanding of Islam, their own fear was standing in the background, monitoring everything they said.

‘Willingly’ the Christians pay Jizya

An IS leader made the memorable claim that Iraqi Christians have asked to pay the jiyza. They have asked, he said,  for a dhimma pact – the alternatives were to convert to Islam or be slaughtered.

The idea that the dhimmi status is willingly accepted by Christians and other non-Muslims living under Islamic rule – that they want and choose to be dhimmis – is reflected in the statements of many jurists and Islamic commentators from the past.

Here is what I wrote about the ‘willing’ submission of dhimmis in The Third Choice (pp. 140-141), in a discussion of the annual Islamic jizya payment ritual, in which non-Muslim men of past generations received a ritual blow on the neck to symbolize their escape from beheading through paying the non-Muslim tax.
“The 18th century Moroccan commentator Ibn ‘Ajibah said that [paying jiyza] represented the death of the ‘soul’, through the dhimmi’s execution of their own humanity:
[The dhimmi] is commanded to put his soul, good fortune and desires to death. Above all he should kill the love of life, leadership and honor. … [He] is to invert the longings of his soul, he is to load it down more heavily than it can bear until it is completely submissive. Thereafter nothing will be unbearable for him. He will be indifferent to subjugation or might. Poverty and wealth will be the same to him; praise and insult will be the same; preventing and yielding will be the same; lost and found will be the same. Then, when all things are the same, it [the soul] will be submissive and yield willingly what it should give. [Tafsir al-Bahr al-Madid fi Tafsir al-Quran al-Magid. Commentary on Sura 9:29 ]The intended result of the jizya ritual is for the dhimmi to lose all sense of his own personhood. In return for this loss, the dhimmi was supposed to feel humility and gratitude towards his Muslim masters. Al-Mawardi said that the jizya head tax was either a sign of contempt, because of the
dhimmis’ unbelief, or a sign of the mildness of Muslims, who granted them quarter (instead of killing or enslaving them): so humble gratitude was the intended response:

The jizya, or poll tax, which is to be levied on the head of each subject, is derived from the verb jaza, either because it is a remuneration due by reason of their unbelief, for it is exacted from them with contempt, or because it amounts to a remuneration because we granted them quarter, for it is exacted from them with mildness. This origin of this impost is the divine text: ‘Fight those who believe not in God …’ [Q9:29] [Al-Ahkam as-Sultaniyya]Although some today falsely claim that the jizya tax was simply a tax like any other tax, or merely a payment to exempt dhimmis from ‘military service’, the remarks of al-Mawardi and Ibn ‘Ajibah make clear that its true meaning is to be found in psychological attitudes of inferiority and indebtedness imposed upon non-Muslims living under Islam, as they willingly and gratefully handed over the jizya in service to the Muslim community.”Many have claimed that Islam’s historical record has been maligned by ‘Orientalist’ western historians.  To understand the dynamics of jihad across the generations, and the meaning in Islam of  Al-Futuh ‘conquest’ (literally:  ‘the opening’ of a nation to Islam) one only need look at what the Islamic State is doing in Iraq.

What about the future?

Finally, let us consider the future.  I venture to make a few predictions.  The lack of air power of the Islamic State means that it cannot sweep all before it.  Nevertheless it is here to stay.  The movement will continue to excite the Muslim world and draw recruits to its cause, as well as funding.  It will also continue to destabilize surrounding states.

The utopian promises the Islamic State has made to Sunni Muslims under its rule will prove in the end to be a profound disappointment to almost everyone.  Prosperity, morality and justice will not flourish under the rule of the caliphate.  The application of unfettered power, together with abuses of that power under strict Islamic conditions will corrupt the utopian rule, and will turn the current euphoria into a symphony of pain, including for Sunni Muslims.  Force can win power, but it cannot make people good, despite what the jihadis believe.  As in Iran, revivalist fervor will eventually give place to cynicism and despair about Islam itself, so the on-going crisis within Islam, namely the failure of revivalist movements to deliver on their utopian promises, will continue to unroll.

The most vehement rejectors of Islamic utopianism will eventually be the Muslims who have had the misfortune to live under the regimes it has created.  We are already seeing the outworking of this process in Egypt and Iran.  At the same time, it will be in the West that Islamic utopian sentiment, with all its dangers, will continue to thrive, for this will be the place where revivalist Muslims do not have to actually live under the conditions created by their ideal of a strict Islamic state.  For this reason it will be in the West that many will persist in remaining true believers in the coming Islamic world order, despite what is happening before their eyes across the Middle East.

The tragedy for the areas now occupied by the Islamic State is that the loss of the dream will take years, and in the meantime the rising jihad generation will kill and be killed in large numbers.

What is also certain is that the refugees will continue to come.  For now the ones fleeing the Islamic State are Christians and others for whom radical Sunni rule is an existential threat.  In time however the disillusioned Sunnis of northern Iraq and Syria will make their own exodus.  Just as post-revolutionary Iranian Shi’ites are now fleeing Iran’s failed sharia utopia, so also will the Iraqi Sunnis.  They will want a better life than the Islamic State can offer.

Mark Durie is a theologian, human rights activist, pastor of an Anglican church, a Shillman-Ginsburg Writing Fellow at the Middle East Forum, and director of the Institute for Spiritual Awareness. He has published many articles and books on the language and culture of the Acehnese, Christian-Muslim relations and religious freedom. A graduate of the Australian National University and the Australian College of Theology, he has held visiting appointments at the University of Leiden, MIT, UCLA and Stanford, and was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities in 1992.


dhimma – covenant or pact of surrender, by which a conquered non-Muslim community have agreed to live under Islamic rule, and by virtue of which this community is protected from jihad

dhimmi – a non-Muslim living under Islamic rule, who is considered to be subject to the conditions of a dhimma pact

hadith – traditions, first spoken and later written, which record things which Muhammad is believed to have said or done, as well as things said and done by his companions

jizya – tribute paid to Muslims to prevent jihad attack; for dhimmis this is payable as an annual ‘head tax’ by adult dhimmi males

Qur’an – Allah’s revelation to Muhammad, believed to be dictated to him by the angel Jibril (Gabriel); also spelled Quran or Koran

Sunna the example and teaching of Muhammad, recorded in hadith and sira literature; the word sunna also means religiously recommended

sira – biography (of Muhammad)

Islam’s Second Crisis: the troubles to come

sunset on Islam

Muslims will hold Islam accountable when Islamic revivalists promise utopia but deliver chaos and human rights abuses.

By Mark Durie:

In What Went Wrong, Bernard Lewis charted the decline of Islam in the modern era and the resulting theological crisis for the Muslim world.

Now Islam is going through a second crisis, caused by the repeated failures of revivalist responses to the first crisis.  This second crisis, combined with the cumulative effect of the first crisis, which remains unresolved, will lead to a long drawn-out period of political and social instability for Muslim societies.

The first millennium of Islam was a period of expansion through conquest.   However for five centuries from around 1500, Western powers were pushing back Islamic rule.  There were numerous landmarks of the ascendancy of the West (which includes Russia), such as:

  • the conquest of Goa in India by the Portuguese in 1510;
  • the liberation of Christian Ethiopia in 1543 with the aid of the Portuguese soldiers;
  • the defeat of the Ottomans at the gates of Vienna in 1683 and
  • the ensuing liberation of Hungary and Transylvania;
  • Napoleon’s conquest of Egypt in 1798;
  • the USA-Barbary State Wars of 1801-1815, which put an end to tribute payments by the US to the north African states to prevent piracy and the enslavement of US citizens;
  • a long series of defeats for the Ottomans in Russo-Turkish wars stretching across four centuries and culminating in the 1877-78 Russo-Turkish war,
  • which led to the independence of Romania, Serbia, Montenegro and Bulgaria;
  • the overthrow of Muslim principalities in Southeast Asia by the Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch and English;
  • the final destruction of Mughal rule in India at the hands by the British in 1857;
  • the defeat and dismantling of the Ottoman Empire as a result of WWI;
  • and finally, the establishment of the modern state of Israel in 1948, in territory formerly ruled by Islam, which was considered by many Muslims to be the crowning humiliation in this long line of defeats.

We are not just talking about Western colonialism.  Some of the victories over Muslim principalities involved the occupation or colonisation of primarily Muslim lands, but many involved the liberation of non-Muslim peoples from the yoke of Muslim rule, such as in Ethiopia, Hungary and India, and some were defensive responses to Islamic aggression, such as the defeat of the Ottomans at the gates of Vienna.

While the external borders of Islam kept shrinking, its position of dominance within its own borders was also being challenged.  During this same period there were in many places improvements in the conditions experienced by non-Muslims under Islamic rule – a weakening of the dhimmi system – which communicated to Muslims an impression of their own faith’s loss of dominance and its loss of ‘success’. A landmark in this long process was the Paris Peace Treaty of 1856, which settled the Crimean War.  As part of this settlement the Ottomans were compelled to grant equal rights to Christians throughout their empire.

The gradual process of improvement of conditions for Christians and Jews under Islam was regretted by Muslim scholars, who saw it as evidence of Islam’s decline.  For example a request for a fatwa from a Egyptian Muslim judge in 1772 lamented the ‘deplorable innovations’ of Christians and Jews, who were daring to make themselves equal to Muslims by their manner of dress and behavior, all in violation of Islamic law.

In a similar vein, the Baghdad Quranic commentator Al-Alusi complained that non-Muslims in Syria during the first half of the 19th century were being permitted to make annual tribute payments by means of an agent, thus escaping the personal ritual degradations prescribed by Islamic law.  He concluded:  “All this is caused by the weakness of Islam.”

Why would Islam’s lack of dominance be evidence of weakness?

Islamic doctrine promises falah ‘success’ to the religion’s followers, symbolized by the daily call to prayer which rings out from minarets: ‘come to success, come to success’. The success promised by Islam has always been understood to be both spiritual and material: conquest and rule this life, and paradise in the next. The Qur’an states that Allah has sent Muhammad “with the guidance and the religion of truth, that He may cause it to triumph over all (other) religions” (Sura 48:28).

Islam’s theology of success meant that the global failure of Islamic armies and states at the hands of ‘Christian’ states constituted a profound spiritual challenge to Islam’s core claims. Just as Muslim scholars had always pointed to the military victories of Islam as proof of its divine authority, this litany of defeats testified to its failure as the religion of the successful ones.

The urgency of the question ‘What went wrong?’ drove the Islamic revival, an interconnected network of renewal movements which have as their central tenet that Muslims will once again be ‘successful’ – achieving political and military domination over non-Muslims – if they are truly devoted to Allah and implement Islamic laws faithfully.   These are reformation movements in the original (medieval) sense of the Latin word reformatio, for they seek to restore Islam to its former glory by returning to first principles.

Some of the main formative strands of Islamic revivalism have been:

  • the Wahhabi movement which originated in the 18th century;
  • the Deobandi movement in India and Pakistan which dates from 1866;
  • Jamaat e-Islami, which was founded 1941 in India;
  • the Muslim Brotherhood, founded 1928;
  • and the Iranian Revolution of 1979.

Out of these have come a myriad of offshoots and branches such as the Taliban (from the Deobandi movement); Al Qaida (a product of the ideology of Muslim Brotherhood theologian Said Qutb); the missionary movementTablighi Jamaat; and Hizb Ut-Tahrir.

Even the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, the ‘United Nations’ of the Muslim world, is a revivalist organization: this is reflected in its Charter which states that it exists “to work for revitalizing Islam’s pioneering role in the world”, a euphemism for reestablishing Islam’s dominant place in world affairs.

In essence, Islamic revivalist movements aim to restore the greatness of Islam and make it ‘successful’ again.  This hope is embodied, for example, in the Muslim Brotherhood’s slogan “Islam is the solution”.  This implies that when Islam is truly implemented all the problems human beings face – such as poverty, lack of education, corruption, and injustice – will be solved.  The flip-side of this slogan is the thesis that all the problems of the Muslim world have been caused through want of genuine Islamic observance:  Allah allowed his people to fall into disarray because they were not faithful in obeying his laws. The correction to this spiritual problem should therefore be more sharia compliance.  This is the reason why headscarves and burqas have been appearing on Muslim women’s heads with increasing frequency all around the world.

For a time it appeared to many Muslims that the revivalist program was working.  The Iranian Islamic revolution, and the later victory of jihadis in Afghanistan and the break-up of the Soviet Union was considered to be evidence of the success of the revivalist program.  This was the certainly view of the translator of Sheikh Abdullah Azzam’s jihadi tract Join the Caravan:

“The struggle, which he [Sheikh Azzam] stood for, continues, despite the enemies of Islam. ‘They seek to extinguish the light of Allah by their mouths. But Allah refuses save to perfect His light, even if the Disbelievers  are averse. It is He who has sent His messenger with the guidance and the true religion, in order that He may make it prevail over all religions, even if the pagans are averse.’ [Qur’an, 9:32-33] Since the book was written, the Soviets have been expelled from Afghanistan, by Allah’s grace, and the entire  Soviet Union has disintegrated.”

Utopian claims are risky, because they open up the possibility for even greater failure, and amplified cognitive dissonance as the gap between one’s faith and reality widens.  The first crisis of Islam was the rise of West through superior technological, economic and military prowess.  The second crisis is the failure of Islamic revivalism as a response to the first crisis.  The second crisis could prove even more painful and profound in its effects on Islam than the first.

The manifestations of revivalism’s failures are as diverse as the Islamist movements which generated them.  One could point to:

  •  the atrocities and backwardness of the Taliban;
  • the corruption and cruelty after the 1979 Iranian Revolution;
  • the failure of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt to govern for the benefit of the Egyptian people, leading to a wildly popular military coup in 2013;
  • the present-day economic collapse of Turkey under big-talking Islamist Prime Minister Erdogan;
  • the genocidal campaigns of Khartoum’s military campaigns against its own citizens, causing more than a million casualties;
  • and the ongoing Iraqi and Syrian jihad-driven bloodbaths.

Everywhere one looks there are good reasons for Muslims to question the Islamic revivalist creed. The outcomes of more than two centuries of theological fervor are not looking good. Muslim states are not realizing the utopian goals set by these movements.  Indeed the opposite is the case: again and again, wherever revivalist movements have gained the ascendancy, human misery has only increased. Too many Muslim states continue to be models of poverty and economic failure, despite all those female heads being covered up.

One inevitable consequence of this trend is disenchantment with Islam, and a growing sense of alienation from the religion. The manifest failure of the revivalist creed creates a sense of anxiety that Islam is under threat, not from the infidel West, but from reputational damage caused by the revivalists themselves.  It is a case of the cure being worse than the disease.


Fasten your seat-belts: the world will be in for quite a ride in the years to come, as Muslims – who constitute around a quarter of the world’s population – struggle to make theological sense of the trashing of their religion’s utopian vision.  It is one thing to blame the infidels for this – or the proxy tyrants which revivalists claim the West has foisted on the Muslim world – what is more threatening by far is the damage being done to Islam’s name by revivalist Muslims themselves.

Read more

Dr Mark Durie is a theologian, human rights activist, Anglican pastor, a Shillman-Ginsburg Writing Fellow at the Middle East Forum, and Adjunct Research Fellow of the Centre for the Study of Islam and Other Faiths at Melbourne School of Theology. He has published many articles and books on the language and culture of the Acehnese, Christian-Muslim relations and religious freedom. A graduate of the Australian National University and the Australian College of Theology, he has held visiting appointments at the University of Leiden, MIT, UCLA and Stanford, and was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities in 1992.

Walid Phares: We Are At War With Jihadist Ideology

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Walid Phares:

A film that triggered the “Jihad against Walid Phares”

According to analysts looking at the roots of the CAIR-led and Iranian supported bashing campaign against me in March and in October of 2011, this appearance in the movie “America at Risk” along with other major statements exposing the Muslim Brotherhood and their fronts in the US, was one of the triggers to the attacks. Another trigger was the movie “Iranium.” More to come.


At the tenth anniversary of 9/11, Professor Walid Phares comments in the movie “America at Risk: The War with no name”, produced by Newt and Callista Gingrich, were posted in one compilation. As we thank the producers of this powerful film, the excerpts are offered to educate the public at this important benchmark of American history. Professor Phares reminds us that the 9/11 Commission asked why America wasn’t prepared by its academia for the nature of the threat. He explains that the precursors to the Jihadists rose in the 1920’s under the Muslim Brotherhood and the Wahhabis and later on under the Khomeinists. Phares argues that the Jihadists use all means at their disposal: diplomacy, military, and petrodollars when they decide to do so. The US is dealing with strategies developed by the Jihadists worldwide and in the homeland. He explains that the most important counter strategy for the US to develop is to identify the ideology of the Jihadists, without which the conflict cannot be won.

Choudary urges fanatics to scrounge for holy war

choud620_1674690aBy STEPHEN MOYES: SCROUNGING hate preacher Anjem Choudary has told  fanatics to copy him by going  on benefits — urging: “Claim your Jihad Seeker’s  Allowance.”

He cruelly ridiculed non-Muslims who held down 9-to-5 jobs all their lives  and  said sponging off them made plotting holy war easier.

The Sun secretly filmed him over three meetings also saying leaders such as  David Cameron and Barack Obama should be KILLED, grinning as he  branded  the Queen “ugly” and predicting a “tsunami” of Islamic immigrants  would sweep  Europe.

Father-of-four Choudary, who has praised terrorist outrages, pockets more  than £25,000 a year in benefits — £8,000 more than the take-home pay of some  soldiers fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan.

He laughed as he told supporters:

“You find people are busy working the whole of their life. They wake up at 7  o’clock. They go to work at 9 o’clock. They work for eight, nine hours a  day.  They come home at 7 o’clock, watch EastEnders, sleep, and they do that  for 40  years of their life. That is called slavery.

“And at the end of their life they realise their pension isn’t going to  pay  out anything, the mortgage isn’t going to pay out anything.

He went on: “People will say, ‘Ah, but you are not working’.

“But the normal situation is for you to take money from the kuffar.

“So we take Jihad Seeker’s Allowance. You need to get support.”

Figures obtained by The Sun in 2010 showed the extremist cleric received £15,600 a year in housing benefit to keep him in a £320,000 house in  Leytonstone, East London.

He also got £1,820 council tax allowance, £5,200 income support and £3,120  child benefits — equivalent to a taxed salary of £32,500.

In another bile-filled rant, the scrounger said Mr Cameron, Mr Obama and the  leaders of Pakistan and Egypt were the shaitan (devil).

He added: “What ultimately do we want to happen to them? Maybe I’m the only  one who wants the shaitan to be killed. The shaitan should be finished.  There  should be no shaitan.

“All should be obedience to Allah, or you have no right to call yourself  Muslim.” At a three-hour meeting in a community centre in Bethnal Green,  East  London, he insisted it was wrong to deny any aspect of Islam — including jihad  or ultra-strict sharia law.

He told a 30-strong crowd: “We are going to take England — the Muslims are  coming.”

He gloated that the 9/11 terror attacks “shook the enemy” and claimed white  supremacists wished they had the “fortitude” to fly planes into buildings.  He  went on to proclaim: “You must hate in your heart — Cameron, Obama, all  that  they worship.

Read more at The Sun with video

The Salafi Crusades

greenfield121012By Daniel Greenfield

Empires leave behind a mess when they leave. And that mess acts as the building blocks of a new empire. One empire falls and another rises in its place. It’s an old story and it is what we are seeing in the Middle East.

The Islamist resurgence was fed by the collapse of two world powers, the USSR and the US. The fall of the Soviet Union robbed the Arab Socialist dictatorships of their support. The last of these, Syria, is now under siege, by Sunni Islamist militias after becoming an Iranian Shiite puppet.

Egypt’s Sadat had made the move to the American camp early enough to avoid the fate of Syria or Iraq, but instead his successor, Mubarak, encountered the fate of the Shah of Iran. With the fall of Egypt, Syria is the last major Arab Socialist holdout, and if it falls, then the Middle East will have shifted decisively into the Salafi column.

Unlike the Soviet Union, the United States has not actually collapsed, but its international influence is completely gone. Bush was accused of many things, but impotence wasn’t one of them. Obama however gave the Taliban a premature victory with a pullout deadline, ineptly waffled over the Iranian and Arab protests, before eventually getting on board with the latter, and allowed the UK and French governments to drag him into a poorly conceived regime change operation in Libya.

The Palestine UN vote, China’s South China Sea aggression and Karzai’s growing belligerence were just more reminders that no one really cared what the United States thought anymore. America had ceased to matter internationally as a great power. It still dispensed money, but its government had become an inept tail being wagged by Europe and the United Nations.

The loss of American influence was felt most notably in the Middle East, where its former oil patrons took the opportunity to back a series of Salafi crusades, the political Islamist version of which was known as the Arab Spring. The rise of political Islamists in democratic elections was however only one component of a regional strategy that depended as much on armed militias as on the ballot box.

In Egypt, protests followed by elections were enough to allow the Salafis, a category that includes the Muslim Brotherhood, to take over. That was also true in Tunisia. In Libya, a new American client, the government put up a fight, little realizing that Obama wasn’t Putin, but a horrible mashup of Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Henry Wallace. Instead of getting American backing, Gaddafi got American bombs, and the Islamist militias, armed and funded by Qatar with Obama’s blessing, got Libya. In Benghazi they repaid the help they received from Obama and Stevens by humiliating the former and murdering the latter.

In Syria, the Muslim Brotherhood’s militias are racing the Al-Qaeda linked militias to the finish line in Damascus

In Syria, the Muslim Brotherhood’s militias are racing the Al-Qaeda linked militias to the finish line in Damascus, while Western pundits prattle reassuringly about a moderate and secular Syrian opposition, which is as moderate and secular as Egypt’s Morsi.

The regional snapshot of the Arab Spring isn’t reform, but a land rush as secular governments affiliated with Russia and the United States fall, to be replaced by believers in an emerging Islamist Caliphate. The Arab Spring isn’t 1848; it’s 638, the Mohamedan expansion at the expense of the ailing Byzantine Empire, a rampage that eventually ended in the Islamization of the Middle East. For Salafis, this is their opportunity to Re-Islamize the Middle East under the full force of Islamic law.

The Muslim world does not keep time by European progressive calendars. It isn’t out to recreate the republican revolutions that secularized and nationalized Europe; rather it is trying to undo the secondhand European effects of those revolutions on the Middle East. The left is celebrating this as a triumph for anti-imperialism, but it’s just a matter of replacing one empire with another.

Muslim imperialism and colonialism were far more brutal and ruthless

Muslim imperialism and colonialism were far more brutal and ruthless, as the Indians could tell you, and if the Salafis have their way, and they are having their way for the moment, it will be the beginning of a new wave of global conquests, with old sheiks using oil money from the decadent West to outfit militias of young men with top quality American and Russian weapons before sending them off to die, while they wait for news of the new caliphate and bed down with their eight wife.

This isn’t an entirely new game. Bin Laden was playing it for decades and Salafi crusaders have been fighting the Ottoman Empire and massacring Shiites for centuries. The notion of them extending their power into Cairo would have been absurd, but for the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the backlash from the efforts to modernize its former major cities which created a modernized Islamist movement inspired by Nazi politics and funded by Nazi money. A movement that we know as the Muslim Brotherhood. It took the Brotherhood a good 80 years, but they finally took Cairo.

The notion of the Salafis threatening the Middle East and the whole world would have been even more absurd if American oil companies hadn’t rewarded their tribal allies with inconceivable wealth while turning a blind eye to their ambitions. And the notion that the Salafi crusade would ever extend to Europe would have been even more absurd, if not for the jet plane and the liberal immigration policies of Socialist governments with aging populations looking for a tax base and a voting base.

The Salafis, despite their feigned obsession with the purity of the desert, have piggybacked their conquests entirely on Western technologies and policies, from the wire transfer to the jet plane to the cell phone to liberal political correctness and Third Worldism. The Salafi crusades were never any match for 19th Century policies and weapons, except in the occasional brief conflict. But they are a match for 21st Century policies and the accompanying unwillingness to use the full force of modern weaponry on people that a century ago would have been considered bloody savages, but today are considered potential peace partners.

Read more at Canada Free Press

Daniel Greenfield is a New York City writer and columnist. He is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and his articles appears at its Front Page Magazine site.

Daniel can be reached at:

Turkey, Closest to Leading the Middle East

by Şenay Yıldız Akşam January 7, 2013

Translation of the original text: Ortadoğu liderliğine en yakın ülke Türkiye Translated by Elif S. Gürbey

N.B.: This translation from Turkish includes numerous changes in the text by Daniel Pipes to improve the presentation and to make it more accurate.

Founder and president of the Middle East Forum, Daniel Pipes is well known for his work on the Middle East and political Islam. Pipes, an award-winning columnist for the National Review and Jerusalem Post, writes commentaries and articles about the Middle East in leading media organizations such as the BBC, Al Jazeera, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post. After visiting Turkey last month, Pipes, who has 12 books and numerous articles on Islam, Syria, and the Middle East, published an article in National Review Online titled “Talking Turkey.” We talked with him [in mid-December] about his impressions of Turkey and his expectations from the Middle East.

– When were you in Turkey the last time? I was in Turkey two weeks ago. I visited in 2007 as well. My first visit to Turkey was in 1972. I spent the summer of 1973 trying to learn Turkish while living in Istanbul’s Üsküdar quarter … but I was not very successful at it.

How long did you stay in Turkey before writing your last article, “Talking Turkey”? Did you meet anyone from the government? I stayed in Turkey for 5 days. My request to meet members of the AKP did not succeed. However, I was able to meet with representatives of the CHP (Republican People’s Party) and the Gülen movement.

Considering your visits to Turkey, what kind of difference do you see between now and then? Two major changes occurred in the last 40 years. First, economic development, especially in Istanbul: there are so many new buildings, businesses, and global brands. This differs completely from the Turkey I saw 40 years ago, which was quite separated from international business. Second, Islam. The religiosity of people in Turkey was semi-visible then. If it was necessary to go to mosques or other places to see them, now they are everywhere.

Do you mean women who wear headscarf? Yes, the turban [headscarf] symbolizes this phenomenon. Many observers used to see Turkey as a European country with a different language. As someone interested in the history of Muslims, I always saw Turkey as a Muslim Middle Eastern country. The Atatürk revolution impressed me and I began writing a book comparing it with the Meiji transformation in Japan. I find it strange to see Turkey as European just because a small part of its territory is in Europe. Would Morocco controlling Gibraltar make it a European country? I think not.

2055– Does Turkey fit exactly into the Middle East? Yes, Turkey is historically, culturally, religiously, commercially, and politically a part of the Middle East.

Do you think Islam’s visibility is negative? I have no opinion if people want to pray, fast, and on pilgrimage to Mecca. I do, however, have an opinion on attempts to implement the Shari’a. The Shari’a causes great suffering, sorrow, and pain. In the past [Necmettin] Erbakan and now [Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan is moving toward Islamic law and I think this a terrible development.

– Do you really think Erdoğan is heading toward Sharia? Almost everybody I spoke to in Turkey told me, “Turkey will never be a country where hands are cut off, of burqas or jihad. Erdoğan, Gül, Davutoğlu, Arınç, and Gülen all know that and accept the order Ataturk implemented 80-90 years ago. They are only trying to create a more religious environment within that order.” Among those I spoke to, only an Alevi person did not subscribe to this opinion. According to him, Erdoğan and Gül aspire to apply Islamic law. “It will take a very long time,” he noted, “but it is their objective.” I agree with this view.

– As someone who lives in Turkey, I am having hard time to understand how you can see implementation of Shari’a. What makes you so skeptical about the AK Party’s goals? Gül and Erdoğan were members of Erbakan’s Virtue Party in the 1990s; and although he failed to achieve his objectives because he was removed from power by the military, Erbakan clearly intended to apply the Shari’a. The question now is: Did Gül and Erdoğan only change their tactics to maneuver better than him – or did they really abandon his objectives? I do not believe they altered their goals. I grant that I am speculating here because I cannot read their minds but it makes more sense to conclude that they only changed tactics.

As I see it, these lieutenants of Erbakan learned a lesson from his mistakes and are now implementing his policies more intelligently. Erdoğan is a more capable and sophisticated version of Erbakan. Should the AKP stay in power, the implementation of Islamic law will begin. The result will not look like Afghanistan under the Taliban, the Islamic Republic of Iran, or Saudi Arabia but the Shari’a will give direction to the social order.

I expect the AKP to rule for a long time, in part because the opposition in Turkey is so weak. It is reduced to hoping for divisions between Gül and Erdoğan, or Gülen and the AKP. The intellectual base of the CHP and the other parties is weak.

 Can you clarify your comment in your last article, that you heard that the AKP aspires “to create a post-Atatürk order more than an anti-Atatürk order”? Does the AKP leadership really accept the order established by Atatürk? I have my doubts. I think, deep in the leaders’ hearts, they want step by step to erase Ataturk’s accomplishments. In this sense, Erdoğan is the anti-Atatürk. Let me add that I have no problem with the removal of Atatürk from walls, quotations, and celebrations. It seems odd that a person who died 75 years ago remains ubiquitous. In the United States, I would not welcome seeing George Washington everywhere.

– Turkey is in leadership struggle for the Middle East. Do you think that Turkey can be the greatest power in the Middle East? Turkey absolutely is the best candidate right now for Middle East leadership. Given its population, the ruling party’s vision, its economic strength, and its intellectual capacity, Turkey is the country closest to leading the Middle East.

– What do you think of highly controversial Gülen movement? I never met Gülen, though he lives near me in Philadelphia. I know a number of people from the movement. It is highly sophisticated, intellectual, and impressive, especially the hundreds of schools. In my opinion, its objective is to make Islam the primary component that regulates people’s lives, and it works for this very carefully and cleverly.

Islamism in Turkey is far more intellectual than, for example, in Egypt. Take a look at Mohamed Morsi: in a few months, he tried to do more than the AKP has attempted in ten years, and for that reason, he is in great danger. Egypt faces so many problems, from a sinking economy to violent protests on the streets. In contrast, Gülen builds schools and has a media empire, which is much more impressive than Muslim Brotherhood, Khomeini, or the Taliban. For me, the most powerful feature that separates Islam in Turkey from other countries is capable leadership.

– The Arab Spring began with high hopes; at this point, do you think it brought spring to the Arabs? I never call it “Arab Spring”; the term Arab uprising is much more accurate. The Arab Middle East was surprisingly stable between 1970 and 2010, with little change of the dictators in charge. These regimes lacked an ideology or vision, so they—except for Syria—established good relations with the U.S. government. Following the incident in Tunisia in December 2010, the Islamists have increased their power. I believe this worsens things for the people of the region: dictators are bad enough but Islamists are even worse. Dictators kill tens of people; Islamists kill hundreds or thousands.

– Why are you contrasting Islamists and Americans? Islamism is the third totalitarian movement. We beat the fascist and communist threats; now we have to defeat the Islamists.

– Saudi Arabia is very close partner of the United States. No, Canada is a close partner. Saudi Arabia is only a tactical partner. The U.S. and Saudi governments work together but differ in everything from ways of life to long-term ambitions.

– Do you criticize Saudi Arabia? Yes, the government in Saudi Arabia is horrible. I am uncomfortable with the extent of privileges given to Saudi Arabia in Washington.

– You have a very negative, inflexible position about Islam? No, I am not negative about Islam, but I am negative about Islamism. A government, a movement, or a people who seek ways to implement Islamic law fully are rather a small minority in nearly every country. They are not the majority, and yes, I am negative about them. My motto is; radical Islam is a problem moderate Islam is the solution.

– Which countries you can think of in the Middle East that can implement a moderate version of Islam? Governments such as Iran, Turkey, and Tunisia that followed a moderate version of Islam are gone. Nowadays, the closest example is Algeria. The AKP and Gülen movement try to look like moderate, but they are not because both want to implement Shari’a.

– In the mission statement of the Middle East Forum’s Legal Project, of which you are the founder, it says, you “work to protect the right in the West to freely discuss Islam, radical Islam, terrorism, and terrorist funding..” But Islam is not the only religion in the Middle East, so why do you not show same concern about Christianity and Judaism? I do not see Islamism is comparable to anything in Judaism or Christianity. As I mentioned earlier, I see it comparable to Communism and Fascism. I see Islamism as far more a bigger threat than Jewish nationalism or a fundamentalist Christianity. You can criticize Jews and Judaism, Christians and Christianity without facing danger. However, you risk your life criticizing Islam.

Egyptian Cleric Threatens Christian Copts with Genocide

By Raymond Ibrahim

Islamic leaders continue to portray the popular protests against President Morsi and his recently passed Sharia-heavy constitution as products of Egypt’s Christians. Recently, Muslim Brotherhood leader Safwat Hegazy said in an open rally, as captured on video:

A message to the church of Egypt, from an Egyptian Muslim: I tell the church — by Allah, and again, by Allah — if you conspire and unite with the remnants [opposition] to bring Morsi down, that will be another matter…. our red line is the legitimacy of Dr. Muhammad Morsi. Whoever splashes water on it, we will splash blood on him.”

Dr. Wagdi Ghoneim

More recently, Dr. Wagdi Ghoneim — who earlier praised Allah for the death of the late Coptic Pope Shenouda, cursing him to hell and damnation on video — made another video, entitled, “A Notice and Warning to the Crusaders in Egypt,” a reference to the nation’s Copts, which he began by saying, “You are playing with fire in Egypt, I swear, the first people to be burned by the fire are you [Copts].” The video was made in the context of the Tahrir protests against Morsi: Islamic leaders, such as Hegazy and Ghoneim, seek to portray the Copts as dominant elements in those protests; according to them, no real Muslim would participate. Ghoneim even went on to say that most of the people at the protests were Copts, “and we know you hid your [wrist] crosses by lowering your sleeves.”

The heart of Ghoneim’s message was genocidal: “The day Egyptians — and I don’t even mean the Muslim Brotherhood or Salafis, regular Egyptians — feel that you are against them, you will be wiped off the face of the earth. I’m warning you now: do not play with fire!”

Along with trying to incite Egypt’s Muslims against the Copts, and threatening them with annihilation, Ghoneim made other telling assertions, including:

  • Addressing the Christians of Egypt as “Crusaders,” once again showing Islam’s simplistic, black-and-white vision, which clumps all Christians — of all nations, past and present, regardless of historical context and denomination — as one, in accordance with an Islamic tradition that states “All infidels are one religion.”
  • Comparing Christian Copts to animals: “Respect yourselves and live with us and we will protect you… Why?… because Allah has forbidden me to be cruel to animals. I’m not trying to compare you to animals … but if I am not cruel to animals or plants, shall I be cruel to a soul created by Allah? You are an infidel in Allah’s sight — and it is for him to judge you. However, when you live in my country, it is forbidden for me to be unjust to you — but that doesn’t mean we are equal. No, oh no.”
  • Telling Copts: “I want to remind you that Egypt is a Muslim country…. if you don’t like the Muslim Sharia, you have eight countries that have a Cross on their flag [in Europe], so go to them. However, if you want to stay here in Egypt with us, know your place and be respectful. You already have all your rights — by Allah, even more than Muslims… No one investigates your homes, no one investigates your churches. In fact, in the past, the Islamic groups used to fake their IDs and put Christian names on them when they would go out for [jihadi] operations, so that when the police would catch them, they would see they are Christians and be left alone.” Ghoneim misses the irony of what he says: Police know that Egyptian Christians are not going to engage in terror; Egyptian Muslims are suspect.
  • Saying, in mocking tones, towards the end: “What do you think — that America will protect you? Let’s be very clear, America will not protect you. If so, it would have protected the Christians of Iraq when they were being butchered!” — a reference to the fact that, after the U.S. ousted Saddam Hussein, half of Iraq’s Christian population has either been butchered or fled the nation, and all under U.S. auspices.
  • Claiming that the Copts are only four million while the Muslims are 85 million — even as Coptic Orthodox Church registries maintain that there are more than 15 million Copts, and most outside analysts say 10 million, in Egypt— and adding that Morsi was only being nice by saying, as he did during one of his speeches: “There are no minorities in Egypt.” Ghoneim fails to explain, if Copts are so few — four million compared to 85 million — how could they be so influential, and flood the Tahrir protests with such large numbers?
  • Mocking new Coptic Pope Tawadros—not surprising considering his great hate for the former Pope—by claiming that the new Pope urged Copts to protest; that the new Pope wants to see Morsi and Sharia law fall, and by adding, “Is it not enough that you have all those monasteries?”


Watch Raymond Ibrahim talk with Robert Spencer about what’s going on in Egypt, the plight of Coptic Christians, Islamic Revivalism, the Muslim Brotherhood and more:

Jihadist Doctrine Teaches West How to Defeat Them

Sayyid Imam al-Sharif

Sayyid Imam al-Sharif

By Ryan Mauro

The seemingly endless supply of martyrdom-seeking jihadists makes it tempting to abandon the battlefields, but withdrawal does not come without cost. For many Muslims, victory is a display of approval from Allah and defeat is judgment. One success can inspire a generation, while a series of undeniable losses can cause re-examination of the jihad’s merits.

The monotheistic religions have a history of viewing victories against insurmountable odds as miracles and defeats as divine punishment. The Terrorism & Homeland Security: 7th Edition textbook by Jonathan R. White explains that in the year 624, Mohammed and his followers fought a superior army from Medina that was unhappy with their raiding of caravans.

“It was a small battle, but politically important. Because of their victory at Badr, Muslims increasingly came to believe that God was on their side and that their cause would be championed in heaven,” White writes. Mohammed and his followers subsequently conquered Mecca.

The Muslim world has a much better memory than the West. Whereas most American students can name more Jersey Shore cast members than presidents, Muslim students can name battles, Caliphs and Islamic theologians. The Battle of Badr’s lesson is still valued today, as evidenced in that Iran named one of its proxies in Iraq as the Badr Brigade.

The U.S. withdrawal from Lebanon following the 1983 Marine barracks bombing and from Somalia following the 1993 ambush is seen as modern-day equivalents of the Battle of Badr. Long after most Americans forgot about the incidents, jihadists continue to reference them as proof that Allah was on their side against the “paper tiger.”

The galvanizing impact of jihadist victories is very difficult to reverse because of their emphasis on patience, faith and long-term thinking. The pain of a subsequent setback is dwarfed by the joy of the previous win. The only answer is a Western winning streak against the jihadists that cannot be denied or effectively spun.

A January 2011 letter by Adam Gadahn, an American that is now a senior Al-Qaeda member in Pakistan, shows that the unshakeable public confidence of some Al-Qaeda leaders is a farce.

He is demoralized over Al-Qaeda’s recent losses, particularly in Iraq where, for them, things seemed to be going so well. He pondered whether this was a “punishment by God on us because of our sins and injustices.”

Al-Qaeda’s massacring of Muslims is what offended Allah, he concluded. If Al-Qaeda were advancing, he would have concluded that Allah had blessed his group’s conduct.

Top Islamists feel the same way. Sayyid Imam al-Sharif, more commonly known as “Dr. Al-Fadl,” is a long-time mentor of Ayman al-Zawahiri, the current leader of Al-Qaeda. His works are widely respected and considered authoritative, particularly his 1988 jihadist text, “The Essential Guide for Preparation.”

In 2007, he rocked the jihadist world by authoring a text from his Egyptian jail cell titled, “The Document of Right Guidance for Jihad Activity.” Its criticism of Al-Qaeda is so scathing that Zawahiri had to publicly respond.

Al-Fadl argued that Al-Qaeda’s misfortunes since the September 11, 2001 attacks showed that Allah did not endorse the group’s jihad. He wrote:

“Allah, may He be praised, says that the Muslims’ misfortunes are because of themselves, and bin Laden and al-Zawahiri say they are because of America. Let the Muslims consider who they are going to follow: Allah, or bin Laden and al-Zawahiri?”

He blames Al-Qaeda for “every drop of blood that was shed or is being shed in Afghanistan and Iraq.” He criticized the 9/11 attacks as not only a violation of Sharia Law but idiotic:

“Ramming America has become the shortest road to fame and leadership among the Arabs and Muslims. [To] cross the ocean to go to your enemy in its own home and destroy one of its buildings, and it destroys the Taliban state—and then you claim to be a mujahid [holy warrior]—only an idiot would do such a thing.”

Read more at Radical Islam

Ryan Mauro is’s National Security Analyst and a fellow with the Clarion Fund. He is the founder of and is frequently interviewed on Fox News.

Syrian Jihadist Group Threatens United States

by IPT News 

Syrian al-Nusrah front

Syrian al-Nusrah front