Observations on the New Islamic State Video ‘Structure of the Caliphate’

structure of the CaliphateMEF, by Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi  •  Jul 6, 2016
Cross-posted from Aymennjawad.org

Readers of this blog will have known that a long-standing interest of mine has been the structure of Islamic State (IS) administration, focusing primarily on internal documents. To mark the start of Eid, IS has released via its central media outlet al-Furqan Media a video on the very subject, entitled ‘Structure of the Caliphate’. Below are some observations of mine:

1. The list of “wilayas” (provinces) of the Islamic State in the screenshot at right is particularly interesting. In total, IS counts 35 wilayas: 19 inside Iraq and Syria and 16 outside of Iraq and Syria. Most notably, despite widespread speculation of IS gearing up towards announcing a new wilaya in the Philippines and claims that IS is now operating as a wilaya in the Philippines, there is no mention of the Philippines as a wilaya. Nor is there any mention of Tunisia, Indonesia, Somalia and Bangladesh: countries where IS has also claimed operations. The last real expansion on the geographic stage on the international level was the Caucasus wilaya a year ago.

In my view, the lack of new wilaya announcements reflects an IS strategy of avoiding wilaya announcements because they lack credibility without realisation of governance and administration on the ground akin to the system in place in IS-controlled territories in Iraq and Syria. With the exception of Libya (though this too is now in doubt with the attacks on the IS stronghold of Sirte), the wilaya projects abroad have been disastrous in so far as achieving administration on the ground (Arabic: tamkeen). Internal dissent in IS (which I will discuss in a later post using some unseen internal documents) long recognized this problem, and advised against wilaya announcements and that allegiance pledges should be taken secretly. While the latter point has not been heeded, IS now seems more cautious in translating allegiance pledges into the creation of new provinces.

The term Wilayat al-Sahel (Coast Province) featured in a claim of attacks in Tartous and Jableh, but is not mentioned in this video.

In terms of other wilayas, it should be noted that Wilayat al-Bahrain (for eastern Saudi Arabia) and Wilayat al-Sahel (for the coastal areas of Tartous and Latakia in Syria) are absent, despite references to such entities in IS propaganda elsewhere.

2. The diwans, committees and offices listed in the video generally correspond to the documentary evidence I have uncovered but naming is not always consistent. For example, the office for public relations and tribes sometimes comes under the diwans designation in the documents. Likewise, the investigations and studies office has also appeared as a diwan (Diwan al-‘Eftaa wa al-Buhuth). In addition, no mention is made of the Diwan al-Wilaya or the Idarat Aama (‘General Administration’) on the more local level. Certain functions do not always come under the same diwans, and sometimes names for separate diwans come up, raising issues of how centralized administration truly is and how much autonomy wilayas have. For example, I have previously seen documents that talk of the Diwan al-‘Aqarat (“Real Estate Diwan”). There is also no mention of the General Supervisory Committee (Al-Lujna al-Aama al-Mushrifa) that has issued wider notifications to the wilayas, diwans and committees, though it appears to be the same as the Delegated Committee (Al-Lujna Al-Mufawwadha) mentioned in the video, to which more serious matters can be referred by the wali in addition to responsibilities for supervising other committees.

3. Functions of Diwans can overlap in ways not mentioned in the video. For example, the Diwan al-Hisba is well known for enforcing Islamic morality, but it can also deal with issuing temporary exit permits for residents of IS territories and Internet security regulations. Some functions are not mentioned, like the Diwan al-Rikaz’s management of activities, or that the Hijra Committee manages border crossings for temporary visitors to IS territory in places like Dabiq.

4. The media section makes no reference to Amaq News, which arguably fits in with the modus operandi of an IS “auxiliary outlet” whereby links to IS are not officially admitted, even as most observers now recognize the outlet’s real function.

5. Note the mention of the Distant Provinces Administration, whose name first emerged in leaked documents during the controversy of dissent in the Yemeni affiliates.

Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi is a research fellow at Middle East Forum’s Jihad Intelproject.


Here is the video (source: http://jihadology.net/2016/07/06/new-video-message-from-the-islamic-state-the-structure-of-the-caliphate/)

Also see:

The Strategic Threat of Islamic State Child-Fighters

9343By Brian Fairchild, February 25, 2016


  • The Islamic State regards its child-fighters as central to its grand strategy because they constitute the caliphate’s next generation, and it operates an extensive educational/training infrastructure that routinely produces them. Child-fighters are deployed as equals to adult fighters and assigned missions as suicide bombers, combatants, and as cold-blooded executioners.  Their participation in violent operations is accelerating, and they will increasingly confront coalition forces on the battlefield, as well as on American soil in terrorist operations.  They constitute one of America’s least understood strategic threats, but the U.S. is currently ill-prepared to deal with them.

On February 9, 2016, the US Director of National Intelligence testified before congress that the number of foreign fighters flocking to Syria and Iraq in the past few years is “without precedent”, reaching over 38,200 from 120 nations, including, at least, 6,900 from Western countries.  This explosion is both alarming and historic.  Western European leaders in particular were stunned by the November 2015 attacks in Paris, and they fear the worst is yet to come – intelligence indicates that the Islamic State is currently planning simultaneous attacks against several European cities.

But the explosion of foreign fighters tells only part of the story.  There has also been a qualitative change in their character – they are more ideologically extreme, and much more brutal than the jihadists of al Qaeda.  Because of the Islamic State’s (IS) widely disseminated propaganda of beheadings, crucifixions, rape, torture, the revival of slavery, and the inhumane execution of prisoners, there can be no doubt that, even before they leave home, the thousands of radicalized Western Muslims that continue to flood into the Islamic State do so fully understanding and embracing its barbaric ideology and actions.

Of particular note, and the subject of this analysis, is that the Islamic State has intentionally and strategically focused its barbaric ideology on the most impressionable and vulnerable segments of its ever expanding population – its children, who constitute one of America’s least understood strategic threatsThe evidence indicates that the number of pre-teen and early-teen child-fighters involved in combat and violent attacks is increasing.

NOTE:  This report uses the time-tested intelligence analysis format of Facts, Findings, and Forecast.  It will provide relevant facts from primary sources and then make general findings from those facts.  Finally, it will forecast likely future strategic developments based on these facts and findings. 


Islamic State strategy regarding child-fighters:

The Islamic State uses child-fighters as a fundamental part of its grand strategy.  In the 12th issue of its official Dabiq magazine, the Islamic State revealed, for the first time, that a strategic document titled Management of Savagery:  The Most Critical Stage through Which the Umma Will Pass “describes very precisely the overall strategy” that it has followed for over a decade.  Indeed, it gives this strategic guide high praise stating that when its revered leader, Abu Musab az-Zarqawi read it, he commented – “It is as if the author knows what I’m planning.”[1] 

Management of Savagery, published in 2004 specifically to provide salafi jihadis with a strategic guide on how to successfully create a new Islamic caliphate, emphasizes that training Muslim youth in sharia law and military skill is one of the most important strategic goals for the jihad.  So important, in fact, that it ranks fifth out of 12 key requirements it must accomplish to establish the caliphate.  Indeed, the fifth requirement emphasizes the importance of:   

  • Raising the level of faith and combat efficiency during the training of the youth of the regionand establishing a fighting society at all levels and among all individuals by means of making them aware of its importance.”

Management of Savagery insists that brutal violence against enemies must be constantly used, and that the education of Muslim youth must not be confined to the classroom, but that the caliphate’s next generation of leaders and fighters must be taught in the furnace and brutality of war, declaring:

  • Active jihad is the greatest means of educating the MuslimsBy its means, true leaders will be brought forth… That is because speaking on the pulpit is easy and in the newspaper even easier and in books even easier than that. As for having (one’s) home destroyed and one’s family made homeless and one’s mother and sister torn to pieces, only the most extraordinary men are capable of (bearing) that.  Great leaders and hardened troops will not come forth save in an atmosphere like this.”[2]

Proof that the Islamic State has followed this strategic guidance is found in its own statements and videos, as well as in the reporting of journalists, the United Nations, and NGOs (Non-governmental organizations).

For example, the Islamic State has explicitly echoed much of the Management of Savagery’s guidance in its article The Lions of Tomorrow, which appeared in the March 2015 issue of Dabiq magazine, in which it said:

  • “…there is a new generation waiting in the wings, eagerly anticipating the day that it is called upon to take up the banner of īmān. These are the children of the Ummah of jihad…The Islamic State has taken it upon itself to fulfill the Ummah’s duty towards this generation in preparing it to face the crusaders and their allies in defense of Islam and to raise high the word of Allah in every land. It has established institutes for these ashbāl (lion cubs) to train and hone their military skills, and to teach them the book of Allah…”[3]

Islamic State Educational Infrastructure:

The militarization of pre-teens and early teens is also well documented by journalists, the United Nations, and Non-Governmental Organizations:

  • A new study conducted by Georgia State University researchers and published by the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, reveals that the Islamic State employs child soldiers in a uniquely different way than child soldiers were used in African conflicts where they were coerced into service and used as fodder. The Islamic State does not recruit children out of desperation to replace lost adult fighters, but treats them as equals “fighting alongside, rather than in lieu of, adult males and their respective patterns of involvement closely reflect one another”.  Highlighting their fundamental value as the caliphate’s next generation, the study concludes that the Islamic State:
  • “…is integrating children into its project in a way that is more reminiscent of a state than a non-state actor. It’s thinking with the long term in mind. It’s not just bringing children into its ranks and using them immediately on the battlefield. What it’s doing is bringing them in, indoctrinating them, training them, spending a lot of time instilling them with jihadist ideology.”
  • Children are so important to the future of the Islamic State that in every location it rules, one of its first actions is to establish a system to indoctrinate them. According to a local teacher, after it took control of Deir az-Zor, Syria, the Islamic State shut down schools until all teachers could be re-educated according to its religious and ideological doctrine, and the curriculum could be radically adjusted.  When the schools re-opened, gone were chemistry, physics, philosophy, the social sciences and math, replaced by courses on Islamic law, the biography of the Prophet Muhammad, biographies of Islamic leaders, and English translations of the Qur’an and the Hadith (sayings of the Prophet).
  • The June 2014 Human Rights Watch research paper “Maybe We Live, and Maybe We Die” revealed that “both children and adults who fought with ISIS consistently reported seeing children 13 years old or younger undergoing the same training and performing the same military duties as adults.”
  • During the period of July to September 2014, the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq received confirmed reports that children as young as 12 or 13 received military training.
  • Yet another UN report described a school in Raqqa that trains over 350 boys between the ages of 5 and 16 “for combat roles”. This report emphasized that the Islamic State systematically uses education as a tool of indoctrination to ensure that the children grow up to be its loyal next generation, and it highlighted the fact that “children are gathered for screenings of videos depicting mass executions of Government soldiers, desensitizing them to extreme violence”.

Islamic State child-fighters are increasingly involved in violent attacks:

Islamic State schools and training centers are succeeding as a production line for fighters.  Rising statistics show that once child-fighters are indoctrinated with jihadist ideology, they kill for the caliphate.  From January 1, 2015 to January 31, 2016, at least 89 child-fighters died while fighting in battles, and sixty-six percent of them were between 8-16 years old.[4]

Worse, their participation in violent operations is accelerating:

  • On a month-by-month basis, the rate of young people dying in suicide operations rose, from six in January 2015 to 11 in January 2016. The rate of operations involving one or more child or youth is likewise increasing; there were three times as many suicide operations involving children and youth in January 2016 as the previous January (2015).”[5]

Child-fighter Executioners:

In a phenomenon unique to the Islamic State, it has specifically groomed pre-teen and early teens to be cold-blooded executioners:

  • In March 2015, Islamic State videos highlighted two non-Arab boys estimated to be under 11, executing kneeling prisoners by shooting them in the back of the head. This execution was featured in the article The Lions of Tomorrow that appeared in issue 8th issue of Dabiq magazine:
  • It is these young lions to whom the Islamic State recently handed over two agents caught spying for Russian Intelligence and an agent caught spying for the Israeli Mossad, to be executed and displayed as an example to anyone else thinking of infiltrating the mujāhidīnAs expected, the kuffār were up in arms about the Khilāfah’s use of “child soldiers.”[6]
  • In a May 4, 2015 video a Caucasian boy of 14 is shown calmly selecting and loading a 9mm handgun and then executing a kneeling prisoner. Afterwards, he makes a statement vowing terror attacks around the world.
  • In mid-July 2015, an Islamic State video highlighted a boy of no more than ten years old beheading an Islamic State prisoner.
  • On February 6, 2016, the Islamic State released a video of an English-speaking boy around 10 years old beheading a prisoner and threatening the United States.
  • On February 10, 2016, the Islamic State released a video of a four year old boy, pressing the detonator button to blow-up Islamic State prisoners handcuffed inside a car. The boy, Isa Dare, is the son of a radical mother who emigrated from Britain to Syria with Isa in 2012.

Child-fighter combatants:

  • In January 2015, an 11 year old suicide bomber named Abu Imara al Omri drove a truck laden with explosives into a group of Syrian soldiers in the town of Ghazi.
  • In early July 2015, the Islamic State celebrated a 14 year old suicide bomber by the name of Omar Hadid al-Muhammadi who killed 50 Kurdish militants in northern Syria by driving a truck filled with explosives into a military checkpoint.
  • In October 2014, Islamic State twitter accounts praised their youngest “martyr”, a 10 year old boy who was killed by coalition air strikes in Syria while fighting alongside his jihadi father.
  • In March 2015, a 13 year old French boy was described as the youngest French “martyr” when he was killed while on patrol at an Islamic State border post in Western Syria near the city of Homs.
  • In August 2014, a news article highlighted a young radical fighter named Younes Abaaoud, the 13 year old brother of Abdelhamid Abaaoud who was the Belgian ring leader of the November 2015 Paris attacks, who smiles for the camera as he holds his right index finger aloft while holding an AK-47 in his left hand.
  • In November 2014, a video documents two French boys that look younger than 10, brandishing weapons and speaking fluent French telling other children “Over there, you’re in a country of infidels. Here, we’re mujahedeen. We’re in Syria, we’re in Raqqa here. It’s war here”.

Child-fighter lone wolves:

  • In the November 18, 2015 issue of Dabiq magazine, the Islamic State lauded young jihadis for conducting attacks in their countries, specifically praising their youth and inexperience:
    • “They did not use a younger age or lack of training as an excuse to be mere bystanders. They sacrificed their souls in the noblest of deeds in pursuit of Allah’s pleasure…Amongst these brave knights of tawhīd and jihad was fifteen-year-old Farhad Khalil Mohammad Jabar, who on “2 October 2015” struck the crusaders of Australia and killed one of their personnel…”
  • In October 2015, Australian police revealed that a 12-year-old boy is suspected of helping Farhad Jabar attack the police officers in Australia.
  • On April 23, 2015, British police arrested a 14 year old boy and charged him with 2 counts of inciting a person to commit an act of terrorism overseas. The boy, inspired by the Islamic State, was taken into custody after encouraging an attack against police officers in Australia.   It was through the boy’s online communications with two 18 year olds in Australia that police uncovered an active plot by the two Aussie teenagers to run over a police officer with an automobile after which they would finish him off with knives, and then take his gun and go on a shooting spree.
  • On May 27, 2015, A 14-year-old boy from Austria plead guilty to terrorism charges and was sentenced to a two year jail term for downloading bomb-making plans onto his PlayStation and for contacting Islamic State militants in Syria.
  • On April 5, 2015, British anti-terrorist police arrested a 14 year old boy who was preparing for an act of terrorism on behalf of the Islamic State.


  • The Islamic State’s strategic guide (Management of Savagery), as well as its declarations and actions reveal that it develops child-fighters as an essential part of its grand strategy designed to produce the caliphate’s next generation of “great leaders and hardened troops”.
  • The Islamic State asserts that its child-fighters are religiously sanctioned. It explains in the Lions of Tomorrow, that today’s child-fighters are no different than the child-fighters that fought for the prophet Muhammad in Islam’s very first caliphate:  (NOTE:  Translations in parentheses were added by author for clarity) :
  • “As expected, the kuffār (infidels) were up in arms about the Khilāfah’s (Caliphate’s) use of “child soldiers.” Yet this was the Sunnah (teachings, deeds, and sayings) of Allah’s Messenger (the prophet Muhammad)…who would allow those capable from amongst the young Sahābah (Muhammad’s companions) to participate in his battles against the mushrikin (polytheists)… And just as the children of the Sahābah stained their swords with the blood of yesterday’s tāghūt (tyrant)…so too will the children of the Khilāfah stain their bullets with the blood of today’s tawāghīt (tyrants)…”
  • Under Islamic State rule the indoctrination of youth is routinely carried-out via an extensive educational/training infrastructure that successfully produces child-fighters who are deployed in the same manner as adult fighters: They fight and die side-by-side with their adult counterparts as suicide bombers, combatants, and executioners.
  • During the first year of the caliphate, all Islamic State executioners were adult males. But, in March 2015, the Islamic State embarked on a calculated program to highlight pre-teen and early-teen executioners.  This did not occur by happenstance, but because the caliphate finds unique value in using child-fighters in this role to terrorize its enemies, and to use as propaganda to recruit additional children.
  • The Islamic State undoubtedly employs a selection process to identify child-fighters who are religiously, ideologically, and physically able to participate in higher level operations. Participating in executions to demonstrate their commitment and loyalty is likely part of this process.  Indications are that this selection process was also used to select the fighters who conducted the Paris attacks.  This was revealed when an Islamic State video, released after the attacks, highlighted the fact that all of the Paris attackers had previously executed prisoners.
  • The Islamic State actively and successfully encourages young radical Muslims around the world to conduct lone wolf attacks in their countries by expending enormous resources to propagandize, radicalize, and recruit them. It is estimated that the Islamic State and its supporters produce 90,000 messages on social media each day.
  • Islamic State child-fighters are not limited by nationality and race to only Arab children from Iraq and Syria, but they hail from numerous countries, including: Tunisia, Tajikistan, Morocco, Yemen, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Libya, Lebanon, France, Australia, Britain, Belgium, and Austria.


  • Because the Islamic State regards child-fighters as its next generation, it will continue to indoctrinate and use them operationally throughout the areas it controls as long as the caliphate remains. The fact that these child-fighters are purposely groomed to take on the mantle of leadership in an environment where death and brutality are routine ensures the continuation of violent jihad for, at least, the next 25 years.
  • Islamic State child-fighters will increasingly confront coalition forces on the battlefields of Iraq and Syria and all the other areas the Islamic State controls (i.e. Libya, Nigeria, Yemen), as well as in terror operations in the U.S. and abroad.
  • Inevitably, child-fighters will be used in terror operations in the United States. When this occurs, the Islamic State will likely maximize the propaganda value of these operations by ensuring that they are as brutal and horrific as possible.
  • The United States is particularly vulnerable to attacks by Islamic State child-fighters because they are generally not considered to be threats, and they can easily enter the United States, either documented as the children of adult travelers, or via human smuggling networks. Once in-country they can easily be hidden in plain site by support networks and can carry-out their operational tasks unmolested.
  • Because they have not heretofore been considered threats, there are currently no intelligence or law enforcement mechanisms, databases, or operations to track or neutralize child-fighters.
  • The U.S. legal system is not designed to deal with cold-blooded pre-teen and early-teen suicide bombers and combatants. S. law currently protects all children under the age of 18 “minors” who cannot be given the death penalty in murder cases, and who must be afforded special legal considerations such as having a parent present during questioning, and serving prison time in juvenile facilities.  As confrontation with child-fighters increases in the near future, new legal mechanisms will have to be created to deal with this new threat.

Brian Fairchild was a career officer in CIA’s Clandestine Service.  He has served in Asia, Southeast Asia, Europe, the Arabian Peninsula, and Afghanistan.  Mr. Fairchild writes periodic intelligence analyses on topics of strategic importance.

[1] The Revival of Jihad in Bengal, Dabiq Magazine, Issue 12, November 2015, footnote 2, page 39.

[2] The Management of Savagery:  The Most Critical Stage through Which the Umma Will Pass, published online in 2004, Abu Bakr Naji, p. 58.

[3] The Lions of Tomorrow, Islamic State, Dabiq magazine, Issue 8, March 30, 2015, pgs. 20-21.

[4] Depictions of Children and Youth in the Islamic State’s Martyrdom Propaganda, 2015-2016, Mia Bloom, John Horgan, and Charlie Winter, Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, CTCSentinel, February 2016, Vol 9, Issue 2, pgs. 29-32

[5] Depictions of Children and Youth in the Islamic State’s Martyrdom Propaganda, pg. 31

[6] Lions of Tomorrow, pg. 20

Radical Canadian Imam: “Rome Will Be Conquered”

by IPT News  •  Feb 23, 2016

A radical Canadian imam called for Muslims to “look forward” as “Rome will be conquered,” in a Friday sermon posted on the Internet on Feb. 16 and translated by the Middle East Monitoring Research Institute (MEMRI).

“The prophecies of the Prophet Muhammad came true. But some prophecies have not come true yet. Look forward to it, because the Prophet Muhammad said that Rome would be conquered! It will be conquered,” preached Imam Shaban Sherif Mady.

Mady, based in Edmonton, also spoke of restoring the “rightly-guided” Islamic Caliphate.

His reference to conquering Rome mirrors a similar call by Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

“This is my advice to you. If you hold to it you will conquer Rome and own the world, if Allah wills,” Baghdadi preached in an attempt to garner more recruits to ISIS.

Mady’s Facebook page reveals the extent of his radicalism, boasting a cover photo featuring Muslim Brotherhood leaders including ousted Egyptian President Mohammad Morsi and Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

1360In one photo, Mady is shown signalling the infamous Muslim Brotherhood four-fingered salute.

On Tuesday, Mady shared a Hamas propaganda video on his Facebook page depicting terrorists sniping and killing Israeli soldiers, issuing threats to Israelis in Hebrew and Arabic. Mady captioned the video by writing: “Qassam (Hamas’ terrorist wing), the earth’s best soldiers.”

1361Moreover, on Feb. 13, Mady posted photos of Hamas terrorists celebrating “the martyrdom of Imam Hassan al Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood,” according to an Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) translation.

A day later, Mady shared a gruesome video of a wounded woman and called for the destruction of Israel.

“Israel is a terrorist state, in its government and people…The Intifada continues until we restore all of free Palestine…And Jerusalem is the capital of righteous Islamic Caliphate,” Mady wrote in the caption accompanying the video.

Mady was a scholar at Egypt’s Al-Azhar University and served with the Egyptian Ministry of Education. He is now an imam in Edmonton and has preached extremely radical Friday sermons in the past to his Muslim congregation in Edmonton, reports CIJ News.

He recently praised Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for welcoming Muslim refugees, but also called on Allah to destroy enemies of the faith:

“Why (was the Muslim Brotherhood movement was designated as) a terrorist organization? Because it calls for the return of the Caliphate (Islamic State). If so, I’m an operative of the Muslim Brotherhood, I’m a terrorist… (O Allah) to those who want to harm Islam and the Muslims, make their animosity annihilate themselves, make them kill themselves, destroy them completely, annihilate them all, like you did to the peoples of A’d and Thamoud…O Allah, support all mujahideen in any place around the globe.”

Dutch Intelligence Report Exposes Horrors of Daily Life Under ISIS

by Abigail R. Esman
Special to IPT News
February 4, 2016

1349When the leaders of ISIS declared the caliphate of the Islamic State in June 2014, the world already had a strong idea of who they were: a jihadist group so violent, so barbaric, so extreme, that even al-Qaida, with whom they had once been affiliated, wanted nothing more to do with them.

But as the world soon learned, it would get even worse.

The founding of the Islamic State brought some of the most inhumane violence of modern civilization: captives held in cages and burned alive; beheadings captured on video and broadcast on the Internet; mass enslavement and rape of non-Muslim women; and the genocide of Iraq’s Yazidi tribe.

Coupled with this has been a perverse propaganda campaign that makes the Caliphate look like a teenage summer camp, aimed at recruiting Westerners to join the jihad and enjoy life in their idyllic, Allah-blessed commune-on-the-sea. And for thousands of Western Muslims, it has worked, either by inducing them to make the journey, or hijrah, to Syria and Iraq, or by motivating them to carry out terrorist attacks on Western towns and cities.

This is what we know.

What we have not known has been the reality of life in the Islamic State, including the social order, the availability of housing and health care and other basic necessities and the treatment of women and children.

A new report by the Dutch Intelligence Service (AIVD) now shines a spotlight into the heart of the Islamic State, its workings, and the psychology of its leaders. The picture it paints is no less terrifying than one might expect, a society increasingly paranoid and totalitarian, devoid of human empathy, lacking in the most vital resources, and yet somehow, still surviving through a combination of propaganda, lies, oppression, violence, and the profound power of delusion.

It is that delusion which seems most apparent in the AIVD report: the myth of a life of comfort and companionship and a coziness with God that ISIS’s propaganda promulgates, promotes, and perpetuates on social media; the delusion of those who manage to equate murder and enslavement with religious duty and moral good; and those delusions with which ISIS leaders fill the minds of children raised in their domain – and so, build and secure the future of their narrative and their jihad.

“Violence is inherent to ISIS,” the report says. “On a daily basis, it is practiced, glorified, and preached.” Through that violence has emerged a state (such as it is) that is at once overbearing, tyrannical, and powerful and yet, at its core, vulnerable, fragile, and afraid.

Following are highlights of the AIVD report, which was compiled on the basis of 18 months of research.


While many Westerners make hijrah not to fight, per se, but for the glory of living in a true Muslim state, the reality that greets them is not what they likely anticipate, the AIVD reveals. Constant bombardments from Assad troops, allied forces, and Russia mean that every day is lived in perpetual fear and danger. The trauma this brings to children, especially, and particularly those who travel to the caliphate with their parents from the West, is incalculable.

Moreover, despite photographs ISIS distributes on the Internet of houses with exquisite views and happy families, most homes are in disrepair. There are food shortages. Medical care is as minimal as one might expect in a war zone that receives no legal imports or medicines, where there are excruciatingly few doctors or nurses, and daily streams of wounded. Electricity is also scarce; most homes can rely on only an hour or two of power every day.

And while all men receive a state salary (with supplements for wives and children), those salaries were recently halved – an unwelcome development for Caliphate citizens at a time when oil income has fallen and prices for basic necessities, especially food, skyrocket.


Men and women are separated on arrival, according to the AIVD. Men are required to swear allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-proclaimed caliph, before being interrogated to ensure they aren’t spies. They are then sent into military training. Though not all men sign up to fight, all must be prepared to join the battle if called upon and participate actively “in ISIS-led executions, torture, and rape.”

From here, they are generally able to select their own roles, be it as marketing advisers, bus drivers, doctors, or warriors. Some, however, are assigned roles. Reports the AIVD, “specifically-selected men can be trained by ISIS and sent back to stage attacks in Europe.”


While many women make hijrah with the idea of joining in battle, in actuality women are forbidden to participate in what is viewed as men’s work. They also cannot work closely with men who are not family, a law that further bars them from the battlefield.

They have their own parts to play in the Caliphate, the most important of which is childbearing: as many and as fast as possible. Reports the AIVD, “Mothers are [then] required to raise their sons to be ISIS fighters. Daughters, for their part, are to marry fighters and, with the same purpose as their own mothers, to bear children.”

In addition, women can play an active role in recruiting, largely through social media. Others join the all-women Al-Khansaa brigade, which enforces sharia law as it applies to women, be it their manner of dress or their public behavior. “If a woman is apprehended by the brigade and convicted, then another woman carries out the punishment,” the AIVD report explains. “Hence even Western women who have joined Al-Khansaa will execute the lashings of women who have, according to ISIS, violated rules and boundaries.”


It is the children, however, who suffer most in the Islamic State – children whose lives are made of daily confrontations with death and agony and fear. Nonetheless, shockingly more and more Western families are making their way to ISIS territory with their children, or with pregnant mothers wishing to give birth there. And then there are the children born not just to ISIS brides, but to rape victims and sexual slaves such as the Yazidis.

But where most boys of 7- or 8 years of age may go on fishing trips with their fathers or play soccer in local parks, these frequently are brought to observe public executions and beatings. Parents may pose their child with the head of a beheaded enemy. At school, they learn English, Arabic, and the tenets of ISIS doctrine alongside lessons in the use of firearms and “execution practice.” By the age of 9, girls are expected to cover themselves in public, while their male schoolmates are ushered off to training camps to learn to fight.

“Children take an increasingly frequent role in ISIS propaganda,” states the report. “In various execution videos made by the group in the first half of 2015, boys between the ages of ten and twelve served as executioner, shooting or beheading prisoners. The use of children in propaganda fits the strategy of ISIS, which largely hopes to use media images to shock and so, gain attention. Through this propaganda, which is often picked up by regular mass media, it becomes clear that parents who travel to the ISIS territory have a fully realistic view of what awaits their children when they get there.”

The Overview

Increasingly, it appears that life in the Caliphate is becoming tougher. A growing paranoia and fear that disillusioned fighters might leave and counter their propaganda with the truth – not to mention a concern about spies attacking from within – haunts ISIS leaders. They are cracking down in response. It is becoming harder and harder to leave the Islamic State, even for temporary, medical reasons.

Similarly, contact between residents of the Caliphate and those on the outside is being increasingly controlled. “Since July, 2015, it is no longer permissible to use wireless internet in Raqqah,” according to the report. “The Internet can only be accessed through ISIS-approved Internet cafes, where careful watch is kept over which sites are visited. In some cases, permission must be granted by a military leader or emir to spread information to the outside. Whoever fails to observe these rules must appear before a sharia court.”

Such measures ensure that the myth of an idyllic state continues, along with the flow of new warriors and the women who will give birth to them.

Ultimately, concludes the intelligence agency, “the so-called caliphate of ISIS stands far from what the organization purports it to be. The region that is occupied by ISIS is not a holy state or ideal society in its infancy. ISIS functions as a totalitarian regime. Whoever emigrates to the ISIS territory makes a conscious, deliberate choice to take part in an organization, an institution that commits terrorist activities and conducts attacks in Europe. In practice, this means that men as well as women who join the Islamic State, armed or otherwise, take part in ISIS’s jihad.”

Abigail R. Esman, the author, most recently, of Radical State: How Jihad Is Winning Over Democracy in the West (Praeger, 2010), is a freelance writer based in New York and the Netherlands.

It’s Not ISIS We Need to Beat — It’s the Caliphate

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Frontpage, by Daniel Greenfield, Dec. 29, 2015:

A recent report by, of all places, the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, found that the Syrian rebels were mostly Islamic Jihadists and that even if ISIS were defeated there were 15 other groups sharing its worldview that were ready to take its place.

And that’s just in Syria.

The official ISIS story, the one that we read in the newspapers, watch on television and hear on the radio, is that it’s a unique group whose brand of extremism is so extreme that there is no comparing it to anything else. ISIS has nothing to do with Islam. Or with anything else. It’s a complete aberration.

Except for the 15 other Jihadist groups ready to step into its shoes in just one country.

Islamic Supremacist organizations like ISIS can be graded on the “Caliphate curve”. The Caliphate curve is based on how quickly an Islamic organization wants to achieve the Caliphate. What we describe as “extreme” or “moderate” is really the speed at which an Islamic group seeks to recreate the Caliphate.

ISIS is at the extreme end of the scale, not because it tortures, kills and rapes, but because it implemented the Caliphate immediately. The atrocities for which ISIS has become known are typical of a functioning Caliphate. The execution of Muslims who do not submit to the Caliph, the ethnic cleansing and sexual slavery of non-Muslims are not aberrations. They are normal behavior for a Caliphate.

The last Caliphate, the Ottoman Empire, was selling non-Muslim girls as sex slaves after the invention of the telephone.  A New York Times report from 1886 documented the sale of girls as young as twelve, one of them with “light hazel eyes, black eyebrows and long yellow hair”. An earlier report from theLondon Post described Turks, “sending their blacks to market, in order to make room for a newly-purchased white girl”. This behavior is not a temporary aberration, but dates back to Mohammed’s men raping and enslaving non-Muslim women and young girls as a reward for fighting to spread Islam.

The ISIS behaviors that we find so shocking were widely practiced in even the most civilized parts of the Muslim world around the time that the Statue of Liberty was being dedicated in New York City.

To Muslims, the end of slavery is one of the humiliations that they had to endure because of the loss of the Caliphate. Europeans forced an end to the slave trade. The British made the Turks give up their slaves. The United States made the Saudis give up their slaves in the 1960s. (Unofficially they still exist.) When the Muslim Brotherhood took over Egypt, its Islamist constitution dropped a ban on slavery.

The Muslim Brotherhood is on the moderate side of the Caliphate curve not because it doesn’t want to bring back the Caliphate, it does, or because it doesn’t want to subjugate non-Muslims, it does, but because it wants to do so gradually over an extended period of time using modern political methods.

But whether you take the long road along the Caliphate curve or the short one it still ends up in the same place. Everyone on the Caliphate curve agrees that the world, including the United States, must be ruled by Muslims under Islamic law and that freedom and equal rights for all must come to an end.

ISIS is just doing right now what the Muslim Brotherhood would take a hundred years to accomplish.

We are not at war with ISIS. We are at war with everyone on the Caliphate curve. Not because we choose to be, but because like Hitler’s Thousand Year Reich or Communism’s vision of one world under the red flag, the Caliphate is a plan for imposing a totalitarian system on us  to deprive us of our rights.

The Nazis and the Communists had a vision for the world. So do the Islamic Supremacists who advocate the restoration of the Caliphate. All three groups occasionally played the victim of our foreign policy, but they were not responding to us, they were trying to bring about their positive vision of an ideal society.

Nazi, Communist and Islamist societies just happen to be living nightmares for the rest of us.

No one on the Caliphate curve is moderate. Some on the Caliphate curve are just more patient. They put up billboards, create hashtags and try to ban any criticism of their ideology as Islamophobic. But that’s just Caliphatism with a human face. And that makes them a much more dangerous enemy.

ISIS is in some ways our least dangerous enemy. We haven’t defeated ISIS, because we haven’t even tried. Instead Obama fights a war in which 75 percent of strikes on ISIS are blocked and leaflets are dropped 45 minutes before a strike on oil tankers warning ISIS to flee. If we were to fight ISIS by the same rules as our wars in the last century, the Islamic State would have been crushed long ago.

A insta-Caliphate like ISIS isn’t hard to beat. The global networks of Al Qaeda employing more conventional terror tactics are a trickier force because they are embedded within the stream of Muslim migration. And the Muslim Brotherhood is the trickiest of them all because it is so deeply embedded within Muslim populations in the West that it represents and controls those populations.

What ISIS accomplishes by brute force, the Muslim Brotherhood does by setting up networks of front groups. Both ISIS and the Brotherhood control large Muslim populations. ISIS conquers populations in failed states. The Muslim Brotherhood however exercises control over populations in the cities of the West. We could bomb Raqqa, but can we bomb Dearborn, Jersey City or Irvine?

This is where the Caliphate curve truly reaches its most terrifying potential.

The original Islamic expansionism was so devastating not because it managed to seize control over the hinterlands of Arabia, but because it conquered and subjugated civilized cities such as Alexandria, Constantinople, Jerusalem, Athens and Delhi. ISIS envisions repeating these conquests and more, but if it succeeds it will not be because of its military strategy, but because it targets have been colonized.

We can destroy ISIS tomorrow, but we will still be in an extended war with a hundred other groups who all have a vision for restoring the Caliphate. This war will never end until we crush their supremacist agenda by demonstrating that we will never again allow such a horror to exist on this earth. As long as Muslim groups hold out hope for a restoration of the Caliphate this war, in its various forms, will go on.

We are not at war with an organization, but with the idea that Muslims are superior to non-Muslims and are endowed by Allah with the right to rule over them, to rob them, to rape them and enslave them. ISIS is the most naked expression of this idea. But it’s an idea that everyone on the Caliphate curve accepts.

Until we defeat this racist idea, new Islamic groups will constantly keep arising animated by this vision. Wars fueled by supremacist beliefs have historically only ended when the illusion of superiority was destroyed by utterly defeating and humiliating the attackers. It worked with Japan and Nazi Germany.

Our war now will not end until we destroy the supremacist faith in the Caliphate curve.


Watch Muslims, in their own words, vowing to to install a worldwide Caliphate:

The Isis papers: leaked documents show how Isis is building its state

The leaked Islamic State document sets out a blueprint for a building a state

The leaked Islamic State document sets out a blueprint for a building a state

Blueprint lays bare new contours of Islamic state, complete with civil service, regional government and Soviet levels of economic control.

Guardian, by Shiv Malik, Dec. 7, 2015:

A leaked internal Islamic State manual shows how the terrorist group has set about building a state in Iraq and Syria complete with government departments, a treasury and an economic programme for self-sufficiency, the Guardian can reveal.

The 24-page document, obtained by the Guardian, sets out a blueprint for establishing foreign relations, a fully fledged propaganda operation, and centralised control over oil, gas and the other vital parts of the economy.

The manual, written last year and entitled Principles in the administration of the Islamic State, lays bare Isis’s state-building aspirations and the ways in which it has managed to set itself apart as the richest and most destabilising jihadi group of the past 50 years.

The Isis papers: a masterplan for consolidating power


Together with other documents obtained by the Guardian, it builds up a picture of a group that, although sworn to a founding principle of brutal violence, is equally set on more mundane matters such as health, education, commerce, communications and jobs. In short, it is building a state.

As western aircraft step up their aerial war on Isis targets in Syria, the implication is that the military task is not simply one of battlefield arithmetic. Isis is already far more than the sum of its fighters.

The document – written as a foundation text to train “cadres of administrators” in the months after Isis’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, declared a “caliphate” in Iraq and Syria on 28 June 2014 – sketches out how to organise government departments including education, natural resources, industry, foreign relations, public relations and military camps.

Dated some time between July and October 2014, it details how Isis will build separate training camps for regular troops and veteran fighters. Veterans, it says, should go on a fortnight’s refresher course each year to receive instruction in the “latest arts of using weapons, military planning and military technologies”.

It says they will also be given a “detailed commentary on the technologies” of the enemy and “how the soldiers of the state can take advantage of them”.

The statecraft manual recommends a department for administering the military camps, a complex arrangement that, as described, goes well beyond the capabilities of al-Qaida in Afghanistan during the time it plotted the 9/11 attacks.

The document reveals for the first time that Isis always intended to train children in the arts of war. Isis propaganda from this year has clearly shown children being drilled, and even made to shoot captives.

But the text, authored by an Egyptian called Abu Abdullah, is explicit about the intention to do so from mid- to late 2014. Children, it says, will be receive “training on bearing light arms” and “outstanding individuals” will be “selected from them for security portfolio assignments, including checkpoints, patrols”.

The text highlights the need for Isis to achieve a unified culture encompassing foreigners and natives and sets out the need for self-sufficiency by establishing its own independent “factories for local military and food production” and creating “isolated safe zones” for providing for local needs.

The document came from a businessman working within Isis via the academic researcher Aymenn al-Tamimi, who has worked over the past year to compile the most thorough log of Isis documents available to the public.

For safety reasons, the Guardian cannot reveal further information about the businessman but he has leaked nearly 30 documents in all, including a financial statement from one of Isis’s largest provinces.

Isis has suffered military setbacks in recent weeks, and some Sunni Arabs from Raqqa have indicated that its statecraft might be better on paper than it is in practice.

But Tamimi said the playbook, along with a further 300 Isis documents he has obtained over the past year, showed that building a viable country rooted in fundamentalist theology was the central aim. “[Isis] is a project that strives to govern. It’s not just a case of their sole end being endless battle.”

Gen Stanley McChrystal (retired), who led the military units that helped destroy Isis’s predecessor organisation (ISI) in Iraq from 2006 to 2008, said: “If it is indeed genuine, it is fascinating and should be read by everyone – particularly policymakers in the west.

“If the west sees Isis as an almost stereotypical band of psychopathic killers, we risk dramatically underestimating them.

“In the Principles in the administration of the Islamic State, you see a focus on education (really indoctrination) beginning with children but progressing through their ranks, a recognition that effective governance is essential, thoughts on their use of technology to master information (propaganda), and a willingness to learn from the mistakes of earlier movements.

“It’s not a big departure from the works of Mao, the practices of the Viet Minh in Indochina, or other movements for whom high-profile actions were really just the tip of a far more nuanced iceberg of organising activity.

Charlie Winter, a senior researcher for Georgia State University who has seen the document, said it demonstrated Isis’s high capacity for premeditation.

“Far from being an army of irrational, bloodthirsty fanatics, IS [Isis] is a deeply calculating political organisation with an extremely complex, well-planned infrastructure behind it.”

Lt Gen Graeme Lamb, former head of UK special forces, said the playbook carried a warning for current military strategy.

Referring to sections of the statecraft text in which Isis repeatedly claims it is the only true representatives of Sunni Arab Muslims in the region, Lamb said it was all the more important to ensure wider Sunni leadership in the fight with Isis, or risk “fuelling this monster”.

“Seeing Daesh [Isis] and the caliphate as simply a target to be systematically broken by forces other than Middle Eastern Sunnis … is to fail to understand this fight.

“It must be led by the Sunni Arab leadership and its many tribes across the region, with us in the west and the other religious factions in the Middle East acting in support.

“It is not currently how we are shaping the present counter-Isis campaign, thereby setting ourselves up for potential failure.”

Also see:

ISIS ‘Mein Kampf’ Blames Israel for Global Terrorism

Islamic State promoting and "end of the world" battle. (Photo : Google Commons)

Islamic State promoting and “end of the world” battle. (Photo : Google Commons)

Experts poring over secret Islamic State dossier found in Pakistan’s tribal badlands; Arutz Sheva gains an exclusive look.

Arutz Sheva, By Sara A. Carter, American Media Institute, 8/16/15:

Intelligence officials are comparing a newly discovered secret Islamic State document to Hitler’s “Mein Kampf,” as it blames Israel for the rise of the Islamic State and crowns U.S. President Barack Obama as the “Mule of the Jews.”

Found in Pakistan’s remote tribal region by American Media Institute (AMI), the 32-page Urdu language document promotes an “end of the world” battle as a final solution. It argues that the Islamic leader should be recognized as the sole ruler of the world’s 1 billion Muslims, under a religious empire called a “caliphate.”

“It reads like the caliphate’s own Mein Kampf,” said a U.S. intelligence official, who reviewed the document. “While the world is watching videos of beheadings and crucifixions in Iraq and Syria the Islamic State is moving into North Africa the Middle East, and now we see it has a strategy in South Asia. It’s a magician’s trick, watch this hand and you’ll never see what the other is doing.”

Retired U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency Director Gen. Michael Flynn and other U.S. intelligence officials confirmed the authenticity of the document based on its unique markings, specific language used to describe leaders and the writing style and religious wording that matched other Islamic State records.

Flynn said the undated document, “A Brief History of the Islamic State Caliphate (ISC), The Caliphate According to the Prophet,” is a campaign plan that “lays out their intent, their goals and objectives, a red flag to which we must pay attention.”

The document serves as a Nazi-like recruiting pitch that attempts to unite dozens of factions of the Pakistani and Afghan Taliban into a single army of terror.  It includes a never-before-seen history of the Islamic State, details chilling future battle plans and urges al-Qaeda to join Islamic State.

Its tone is direct: “Accept the fact that this caliphate will survive and prosper until it takes over the entire world and beheads every last person that rebels against Allah. This is the bitter truth, swallow it.”

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal center for human rights who heads Center’s Digital Terrorism and Hate Project, compares the Islamic State threats in the document to the rise of Nazism pre-World War II.

The brutal killing of a teacher and three children at the Ozar Hatorah school in Toulouse in 2012 by an Algerian Islamist was a major signal to the Jewish community that Europe was no longer safe and that not enough was being done to curtail the rise of anti-semitism, he said.

“It’s important to remember what our founder, Wiesenthal said, ‘it often starts with the Jews but it never ends with the Jews,” Cooper said. “As a matter fact [Islamic State] did not create anti-semitism but they are taking advantage of it, and they are building on it.”

The document advocates creating a new terrorist army in Afghanistan and Pakistan to trigger a war in India and provoke an Armageddon-like confrontation with the United States. It also details Islamic State’s plot to attack U.S. soldiers as they withdraw from Afghanistan and target America diplomats and Pakistani officials and blames the rise of jihadi organizations on the establishment of Israel.

“No sooner had the British government relinquished control of Israel, Ben-Gurion, the leader of the Jews, declared the independence of the State of Israel, triggering a global migration of Jews to the Jewish State, and launching the systematic persecution of Palestinian Muslims who had to abandon their homes and migrate,” the document states.

The document discloses the history of Islamic State dating back to the early 1990s and explains why in 2011 its leader, Abu Bakr al- Bagdhadi, unleashed car bombs to avenge Osama bin Laden’s death, and boasts about the suicide rates of American soldiers.

“Urban centers across Iraq exploded with car bombs and IED’s. The losses inflicted upon Americans, apostates, and heretics were unprecedented, as were the suicide rates amongst U.S soldiers,” the document states. “This state of affairs forced Mule of the Jews, U.S President Obama to announce an exit plan.”

The battle plan to “end the world” is described in six phases (three of which have already passed) – ripping pages from al-Qaeda’s original plans to defeat the west, in a graphic illustration of how ISIS sees itself as the true heirs to Osama Bin Laden’s legacy.

  • Phase 1 “Awakening” 2000-2003: Islamic State calls for “a major operation against the U.S. .. to provoke a crusade against Islam.”
  • Phase 2 “Shock and Awe” 2004 – 2006: Islamic State will lure U.S. into multiple theatres of war, including cyber-attacks and establish charities across the Muslim and Arab world to support terrorism.
  • Phase 3 “Self-reliance” 2007-2010: Islamic State will create “interference” with Iraq’s neighboring states with particular focus on Syria.
  • Phase 4 “Reaping/extortion/receiving” 2010-2013: Islamic State will attack “U.S and Western interests” to destroy their economy and replace the dollar with silver and gold and expose Muslim governments’ relations with Israel and the U.S.
  • Phase 5 Declaring the Caliphate 2013-2016: Not much details offered here. The document just says, “The Caliphate According to The Prophet.
  • Phase 6, Open Warfare 2017-2020:  Islamic State predicts faith will clash with non-believers and “Allah will grant victory to the believers after which peace will reign on earth.”

The document urges followers of al-Qaeda and the Taliban to join the Islamic State in overthrowing Arab governments who have relations with the U.S. and Israel, unlike al-Qaeda, which believed it was “important to weaken the U.S before launching an armed revolt in Arab states and establishing a caliphate.”

In response to the document, a senior ranking Israeli official said that in the Middle East the world faces two threats – from Islamic State and from Iran. “We need not strengthen one at the expense of the other. We need to weaken both and prevent the aggression and arming of both,” he warned.

Alistair Baskey, deputy spokesman for the White House’s National Security Council said Islamic State is being monitored “closely to see whether their emergence will have a meaningful impact on the threat environment in the region.”

The document builds on evidence that Islamic State is expanding into the region where the September 11 attacks were born. A united Taliban, backed by the hundreds of millions of dollars of Iraqi oil revenue now enjoyed by Islamic State, would be a “game-changer,” officials said.

The document warns that “preparations” for an attack in India are underway and predicts that an attack will provoke an apocalyptic confrontation with America: “Even if the U.S tries to attack with all its allies, which undoubtedly it will, the (entire global Muslim community) will be united, resulting in the final battle.”

A war in India would magnify Islamic State stature and threaten the stability of the region, said Bruce Riedel, a senior fellow with the Brookings Institution who served more than 30 years in the CIA. “Attacking in India is the Holy Grail of South Asian jihadists.”

Pakistan Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry denied the presence of Islamic State in the region, calling it only “a potential threat.”

Unlike al-Qaida, whose focus was the United States and other western nations, the document said Islamic State leaders believe that’s the wrong strategic goal. “Instead of wasting energy in a direct confrontation with the U.S., we should focus on an armed uprising in the Arab world for the establishment of the caliphate,” the document said.

The failure to target the radical Islamic ideas has given the group breathing room to spread throughout the world much like Hitler did.

“We did a lousy job predicting what Hitler was going to do in the 1920s, 1930s – honestly, we blew it,” Cooper said. “It’s hard to take seriously or believe that such hatred was real or would be possible. They made jokes about Jews, degraded Jews but nobody believed that they would be capable of what they were saying.  So now, when groups, like [Islamic State] come along and say they are going to do A B and C, you have to take them for their word.”

Birthday for A Caliphate



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Caliphate is Reborn — Western Stupidity Continues

isisdabiqGates of Vienna, by , June 23,2015:

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

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

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

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

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

Read more

Also see:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If they did that:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The ISIS economy just got a huge boost

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

screenshot 2015-05-26 11.48.34 (1)

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

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

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

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

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


Western Officials Alarmed as ISIS Expands Territory in Libya

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

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

MAY 31, 2015:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mullar Omar Bio Draws Subtle Distinctions with “Caliph” AbuBakr

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also see:

The Islamic State Caliphate is Pure Islam

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

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

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

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

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

The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse.

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

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

We concluded:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CSP, by Aaron Kliegman, March 19, 2015:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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