Featured Post

US action against Islamic State based on wrong assumptions

ISIS is indeed Islamic, and it certainly does have a vision beyond slaughtering those in its way

Yesterday president Obama finally laid out his strategy for the defeat of the Islamic State terror group. During his address to the nation he made the following remarks:

“Now let’s make two things clear: ISIL is not ‘Islamic.’ No religion condones the killing of innocents, and the vast majority of ISIL’s victims have been Muslim. And ISIL is certainly not a state. It was formerly al Qaeda’s affiliate in Iraq, and has taken advantage of sectarian strife and Syria’s civil war to gain territory on both sides of the Iraq-Syrian border. It is recognized by no government, nor the people it subjugates. ISIL is a terrorist organization, pure and simple. And it has no vision other than the slaughter of all who stand in its way.”

This statement contains two factual errors that underline Obama’s general lack of knowledge and understanding of the Middle East and Islam. His statement about ISIL being not Islamic and Islam being a religion that rejects the killing of innocents is rather strange for someone who was raised as a Muslim. That’s because the Quran contains 109 verses that call upon Muslims to wage war against innocent nonbelievers.

Here is for example one of these verses that clearly shows that ISIL’s recent beheadings, crucifixions and other atrocities are based on the holy book of Islam.

Quran (5:33) – “The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His messenger and strive to make mischief in the land is only this, that they should be murdered or crucified or their hands and their feet should be cut off on opposite sides or they should be imprisoned; this shall be as a disgrace for them in this world, and in the hereafter they shall have a grievous chastisement”

The other 108 verses can be found here.

The second error in Obama’s understanding of ISIL is his claim that the organization has no vision other than slaughter of all that stand in its way.

In fact ISIL has a clear vision. The group envisioned the establishment of a new Islamic Empire (Caliphate) and bases its actions on Islamic teachings about the end of days. Here is what analyst Jennifer Dyer wrote about ISIL’s vision:

(ISIL leader) Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, has a very specific vision, and he isn’t just using the 20th-century tracts written by others to influence impressionable young men in his quest for power. His career of conquest has been political and territorial, in the sense understood by Westerners, but his ideological allusions are religious and apocalyptic. He means it when he says “millah Ibrahim.” (Abraham’s community) He sees ISIS as carving the path that will bring millah Ibrahim to its full geographic fruition as the end-state of the age.*

This is why it’s so important to understand that ISIS stands for Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham. “Sham” is largely coterminous with what the West calls the Levant, but it has meanings for Islam that are both historical and eschatological. Al-Baghdadi, a doctoral scholar of Islam and one-time cleric from Tikrit, Iraq, grew up steeped in those meanings, as thoroughly as it is possible for anyone to be.

You can read more about ISIL’s vision here.

It took the Obama administration months to develop a strategy against the Islamic State. The fact that this strategy is now based on wrong assumptions and fundamental misunderstanding of the organization doesn’t bode well for the military action that aims to root out ISIL.

Misunderstanding the threat that ISIL poses could be lethal. There are pundits who think ISIL doesn’t pose a real threat to the Jewish state in Israel itself, because the organization doesn’t possess planes or rockets. This is obviously nonsense since we saw ISIL seize heavy weaponry and even a Scud rocket in Mosul. The same could happen elsewhere. A week ago in addition, ISIL captured an air force base in Syria.

But even without heavy weapons ISIL poses a lethal threat to Israel and to the free world as a whole. We learned this today 13 years ago when a bunch of Al Qaeda terrorists attacked the United States with no more than box cutters. The result was 3000 deaths, an unprecedented worldwide crisis and a war that continues until this very day.

About the Author
Yochanan Visser is a freelance journalist and director of Missing Peace Information, an independent news agency. He wrote a book about the cognitive war against Israel in the Dutch language. In December 2014 he became the Middle East Correspondent of Western Arizona USA