Today is 9.11.14, thirteen years exactly since the attack by al-Qa`idah-affiliated Muslims that killed almost 3,000 Americans. In a speech last night President Obama explained his belated articulation of a strategy to defeat (the) Islamic State, or IS—which he calls ISIL, the “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” (also known as ISIS, “the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham/[Greater] Syria”). POTUS made two assertions in particular that relate to the beliefs and activities of IS: 1) “ISIL is not Islamic. No religion condones the killing of innocents…;” and 2) “ISIL is certainly not a state” since it “is recognized by no government nor by the people it subjugates. ISIL is a terrorist organization, pure and simple” with “no vision other than the slaughter of all who stand in its way.”
Are these statements accurate? Regarding the first: besides its very name, Islamic State has now published three issues of its “Dabiq” magazine—two of which I have closely analyzed in previous blogposts. To summarize my takes on the first two: the name “Dabiq” is taken from a Hadith (saying of Muhammad’s) referring to a future apocalyptic battle between Muslims and “Romans”—understood as Western, Christian forces; both cite the Qur’an and the Hadiths numerous times (far more than the two Qur’anic citations mustered by the much-ballyhooed anti-IS fatwa put out by British imams); pan-Islamic ideas are trumpeted as far more legitimate than the “colonial” nation-state boundaries extant in the Middle East; historical examples of Islamic empires (Umayyads and Abbasids, in particular) are adduced as precedent for IS’s caliphate; and the ancient Muhammadan pattern ofhijrah to a safe zone—in this case, the IS–is recommended to Muslims everywhere.
In the third issue of “Dabiq,” subtitled “A Call to Hijrah,” Islamic State doubles down on dissemination of Islamic doctrines. The Qur’an is quoted 8 times; 35 Hadiths are presented; 17 different Islamic scholars are put forward (most notably Ibn Taymiyyah and Ibn Kathir). The progenitor of Islamic State, Abu Mus`ab al-Zarqawi, is quoted 6 times and given the status of “martyr.” The liquidation of the treacherous Syrian Shu`aytat tribe—killing all the men and taking the women and children as ghanimah, or “war booty”—is justified on the basis of the example of Muhammad, who ordered that two men who stole his camels were punished by having “their hands and feet cut off, their eyes…pulled out with hot iron, and they be thrown out on …an area covered with black stones near Madinah…so they would ask for water to drink, but not be given any…until they died” (“Dabiq,” #3, p. 14).
Islamic eschatology is once again given top priority, after its prominent explication in issue 1 but its side-lining in the second issue. “Sham,” or Greater Syria, is called the “Land of Malahim,” or “epic battles”—most notably al-Malhamah al-Kubra, the “Great Battle” which will take place at Dabiq, the town in northern Syria which the Islamic State recently “liberated.” Syria is “linked…with many of the events related to al-Masih [“the Messiah,” Jesus], al-Mahdi, and the Dajjal.” The restored caliphate will be leading the charge against the evil Western forces, of course. But to get up to strength to do so, IS needs not just more jihadists but more educated Muslims, with their families, to build the infrastructure of the Islamic State—hence the many paged herein devoted to convincing Western Muslims of the need forhijrah, or “emigration” to its domains. Thus, refuting Obama’s second assertion, that IS is not a state, “Dabiq” extolls the Islamic education of youth, the many abandoned homes available for occupancy, the social services which the new caliphate can provide. “Do not be a slave to work, but come on hijrah for jihad and your needs will be met.” Indeed, “the life of jihad is not possible until you pack and move to the khilafah.” The final pages of “Dabiq” #3 are devoted to the decapitation of James Foley: Obama, supporter of “Yazidi Satanism and Peshmergan Zionism,” is blamed primarily, although Foley himself is also impugned for “glorifying crusaders” (his journalistic work in war zones) and for espionage. Foley is shown with a knife at his throat—but not actually beheaded. So don’t take the word of the Vatican,conservatives or atheists that ISLAMIC State is, well, Islamic—just read the ISLAMIC State’s publications. It also clearly has a vision—a profoundly Islamic, albeit Sunni fundamentalist, one. Whether Western politicians—notably, but not only, Obama—deny the clear causal link between Islam and global terrorism out of ignorance, rejection of reality or shrewd Machiavellian realpolitick is debatable. But whatever the reason, it’s become not just tiresome and annoying but injurious both to the American people (who are becoming increasingly bitter toward both Democrats’ and Republicans’ political correctness on this issue) and to our transnational efforts to stem such terrorism (failing to address root causes is a recipe for continuing disasters, not solutions). Mr. Foley and Mr. Sotloff lost their heads, in large part because our leaders have lost not only their minds, but their spines. But even their lies cannot hide the truth.
Since the second part of my title quotation comes from Tolkien (spoken by the Elf Glorfindel at the Council of Elrond, referring to Saruman), I leave you with a scene from “Return of the King” in which the Orcs besieging Minas Tirith launch the severed heads of Gondorian soldiers back into the city–much as the Muslim Ottomans did in real-life sieges of Christian cities. Perhaps Victor Davis Hanson is right to ask whether the Orcs are winning. But I still hold out hope that Western civilization will produce, if not an Aragorn, at least some Boromirs to save us.
“FOR GONDOR!” One of the most stirring parts of the “Lord of the Rings” movies!