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Thursday, August 14, 2014

ISIS's Calculated Brutality

The Washington Post recently published this analysis of ISIS's strategy (h/t Pirate's Cove):
Last week, as the forces of the Islamic State crept within 40 miles of Irbil, fear settled over the urbane Kurdish capital. People had heard of the militants’ brutality — of the crucifixions, the beheadings, the mass killings. They were understandably frightened, Kurdish journalist Namo Abdulla told The Washington Post. Some began to flee. Others made for the mountains. The killers were coming. 
In the last week, images of the Islamic State’s savagery have been inescapable. News exploded yesterday of an image of a young boy, the son of an Australian member of the Islamic State, hoisting a severed head beside his proud father. 
... The glorification of extreme violence using social media is one of the defining aspects of the Islamic State. The Sunni militants wield savagery like a tool, analysts say. It’s neither extemporaneous nor undisciplined. It’s concerted. It’s tactical. It’s evil. And that’s the point. 
“There’s a strategic reason behind the executions,” wrote the Washington Institute’s Aaron Zelin. “And the gruesome pictures posted online for all to see.” 
The seeds of today’s brutality were perhaps sown long ago in a 2006 book called “The Management of Savagery,” wrote expert Lawrence Wright in the New Yorker. The book, written by a radical Islamist thinker named Abu Bakr Naji, details patterns of “abominable savagery” witnessed in both the Islamic State and its earlier incarnations. According to this English translation, it calls for an “administration of savagery” and a merciless campaign to polarize the population, attract adherents and establish a pure Sunni caliphate. “We must make this battle very violent, such that death is a heartbeat away, so that the two groups will realize that entering this battle will frequently lead to death,” the book says. 
Long before the Islamic State, such was the vision of a savage killer named Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The Jordanian, an early rival of Osama bin Laden, wanted war between the two major sects of Islam — Sunnis and Shiites. And “for his purposes,” wrote Wright, “there was no better venue than the fractured state of Iraq, which sits astride the Sunni-Shiite fault line.” 
That agenda, however, clashed with the vision of bin Laden. He eventually brought Zarqawi under his leadership in 2004, giving birth to al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) — a precursor of the Islamic State. It clashed frequently with the al-Qaeda command over its propensity for brutality. A bullet was good enough for killing, said bin Laden’s lieutenant. Why decapitate? 
“What they failed to grasp was that, for Zarqawi and his network, savagery — particularly when directed at other Muslims — was the whole point,” Wright wrote in the New Yorker. “The ideal of this movement, as its theorists saw it, was the establishment of a caliphate that would lead to the purification of the Muslim world.” 
Observers, including British analyst Alastair Crooke, say the “The Management of Savagery” set out the very ideology that the Islamic State has now carried out. Indeed, one of the first steps the book suggests is a “plundering of resources,” which the Islamic State pursued with the same fervency of its violent acts. 
But then, Crooke says, the book calls for “massacring the enemy and making him frightened.”
The article goes on to explain that the brutality was also intended to be polarizing--to assist in obtaining recruits, and increase sectarian tensions and violence. A PDF of the book is apparently available here.

Lawrence Wright's article at the New Yorker concludes:
Naji proposed a campaign of constant harassment of Muslim states that exhausted the states’ will to resist. He suggested concentrating on tourist sites and economic centers. Violent attacks would create a network of “regions of savagery,” which would multiply as the forces of the state wither away, and cause people to submit to the will of the invading Islamist force. Naji believed that a broad civil war within Islam would lead to a fundamentalist Sunni caliphate. 
Zarqawi was killed by an American bomb, in 2006. American forces, along with a movement of Sunni tribes who rejected Al Qaeda, called the Awakening, bottled up his movement in Iraq; but the revolution in Syria created a new opportunity. 
The movement is led now by an elusive figure named Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Reflecting its expanding turf, A.Q.I. changed its name to the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham. Zawahiri urged ISIS to stay out of Syria, leaving it to the designated Al Qaeda affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra. Characteristically, ISIS engaged in shocking brutality, even against rival Islamist groups. In 2013, it took over the provincial capital of Raqqah, in northern Syria, on the banks of the Euphrates—the first real victory in the rebellion—and once again drew many foreign jihadists to its cause. Zawahiri couldn’t tolerate the insubordination of Baghdadi’s troops, and in February of this year Zawahiri booted ISIS out of the Al Qaeda consortium. By that time, ISIS had returned to Iraq and taken over Fallujah, the first major city in the country to fall under its rule. 
According to one estimate, in the Long War Journal, ISIS now controls a third of Iraq. The strike has been so sudden and surprising that other forces haven’t yet responded, but they will. And then the long-sought goal of Zarqawi and his progeny—a vast war inside Islam—will become a reality.
We cannot ignore this and hope it goes away. Terresa Monroe-Hamilton writes at the Noisy Room blog:
I am going to take you into hell today… not because I revel in the horror of it all (like you, I would rather turn away), but because I believe you cannot fight true evil unless you know what you are up against. I am going to show you what very few other sites will and it will rock your world — it will make you sick and will bring tears to your eyes. It will anger you beyond belief as well. Welcome to Christian genocide via the brutal Caliphate and ISIS.
President Obama has now ordered limited strikes on the Levant (ISIS) in Iraq after a massive outcry from Christians worldwide screaming for the end of the genocide there. It is said there are over 200,000 Christians in Iraq and most of them are missing. Either they have fled, converted or more likely they have been beheaded or crucified. Crosses are being torn down from churches and homes are being marked for death to those who live there or come back, simply because they are Christian. And in retaliation for Obama calling for strikes last night, ISIS has called for attacks on US interests worldwide. They have also vowed that their evil black flag will fly above the White House[.]
I will warn you that the photos she has posted are NSFW, and not for the weak of stomach.

The lesson here is that surrender is useless, and this evil is not going away.

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