Wednesday, January 27, 2016

ISIS essays just for you

Here's an essay most of you haven't seen. It's about an ISIS magazine. It's, Aaron MacLean, "I read the latest issue of the ISIS magazine so you don't have to," Washington Free Beacon, January 27, 2016. I have done light editing. Take a look:

I can’t recommend it for those who want to sleep soundly, but I spent a chunk of my snowed-in weekend [in the USA] perusing the latest issue of the Islamic State’s magazine, Dabiq. As others have aptly noted, what is most conspicuous about this release is what it doesn’t mention, considering the preoccupations of election season in America: not a single mention of Trump, nor a single mention of Guantanamo Bay. American liberals may believe these to be great boons to Jihadi recruiting, but the terrorists don’t seem to have received that memo.
As with past issues, a significant takeaway continues to be that this piece of propaganda is far from spittle-inflected or the product of obvious madmen. It has the production standard of a decent alumni magazine, prose that is disconcertingly near-literate, and analysis that is rooted in accurate readings of early Islamic sources—frequently woven together with pronouncements from figures like the late founder of ISIS, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (killed in 2006 during a JSOC operation) which grants to the deceased murderer’s words an atmosphere of scriptural legitimacy.
Among the obsessions of this issue are the evils of the Shia, the misguided quality of other “jihad claimants” like al-Qaeda and the “nationalist Taliban,” and, of course, the success and continued expansion of ISIS around the globe, from California to “Khurasan.” As ever, the intellectual game is to fit the puzzle pieces of current events into the worldview and liturgical language of the 7th and 8th centuries A.D. (or, the 1st and 2nd centuries A.H., as Dabiq’s editors would prefer). When a contributor writes, “Just as the Roman Empire never fully fell, but merely adopted new names, the Safawiyyah [Safavids, i.e. Persians or Twelver Shia, roughly] thrive…” he is not trying to be cute, but casting contemporary players into preset roles in an world-historical battle between good and evil.
This appeal is having some success, as we see emphasized in the issue’s foreword, a paean in honor of Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, the San Bernardino killers who appear to have pledged their allegiance to ISIS on Facebook during the attack. Noting a Quranic injunction directing husbands and wives to enjoin one another in proper religious conduct, and some sayings of Muhammad that praise husbands who wake their wives in the night to pray, and vice versa, the editors muse: “How much more deserving of Allah’s blessing are a husband and wife who march out together to fight the crusaders in defense of the Khilafah [Caliphate]!” The piece is illustrated with the revolting juxtaposition of a picture of the crib of Malik and Farook’s child (caption: “Syed and his wife did not hold back from fulfilling their obligation despite having a daughter to care for”) and a photograph of Syed lying face down in the street, hands tied behind his back, and quite dead (caption: “Syed Rizwan Farook after attaining shahadah [martyrdom]”).
And on it goes, for more than 50 sweaty, fetishistic—but nonetheless informative—pages. A detailed argument, again with extensive citation of early texts, about why clerics in service to the Saudi royal family must be murdered. A “know your enemy” historical feature on the aforementioned “Safawiyyah.” A round-up of military operations around the globe, which predictably emphasizes successes while soft-pedaling losses like Ramadi. A tribute to the departed Jihadi John, smoked late last year by a coalition drone, a death that was far better than he deserved. A women’s interest piece—often a good idea in publishing—on the finer points of proper conduct when your jihadi husband achieves martyrdom (“Ihdad [mourning] – according to the Shari’ah – is for the widow to stop adorning herself with jewelry, perfume, decorative clothing…”). An essay on the Quranic obligation to jihad. The cover story, a deep dive into the perfidious origins of Shi’ism—founded by a Jew!—the abject “perversion” of both al-Qaeda and the Taliban for failing to target Shia, and a rather involved discussion of whether Shia religionists are apostates or simply infidels from the very get-go. It’s a real think piece. Then some words from “the crusader Michael Morell,” presumably reprinted without permission. And an interview with Islamic State’s “wali,” or governor, for “Khurasan”—essentially Afghanistan and chunks of its neighbors.
It is fashionable both to declare that all of this is “un-Islamic”—as if it were for us to judge!—and that, in any event, organizations like ISIS don’t pose an “existential” threat to Americans—or to America at least, as plenty of Americans have indeed had their existences threatened or ended by adherents of some version of the preceding. But on 9/11, and many times since, we learned the hard way that a handful of properly indoctrinated terrorists on a shoestring budget can deal historic levels of death and havoc. For several years, people speculated about how much worse it could have been if the terrorists had used the resources of states—nuclear or biological or chemical weapons—instead of jetliners. This consideration was made with a view to dealing with al-Qaeda (which is still out there, by the way) an organization that was significantly less wealthy than ISIS is today.
My comment: ISIS is not only wealthy. It's got a leadership structure that's articulate, sophisticated and computer-savvy. 
We don't know how successful ISIS will be. We don't know how much damage they'll do. But we do know they're dangerous.
They know what their goals are. They know how to rationalize those goals. They know how to sell those goals sufficiently to attract new recruits. They know how transform their goals into action.
In other words, they are a formidable force. It would be unwise to underestimate their potential for evil.
It is inevitable that ISIS should attack America. America is the 'Big Satan'. Its 'day of evil' will come.
If you are Jewish, come home to Israel. Make aliyah. You'll be safer in Israel than America.

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