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Is the Islamic Caliphate State (Dawlat al-Khilafah al-Islamiyah) Islamic?

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The Islamic Caliphate State is the fourth stage in the development of an Islamic Jihadi terrorist group. Historically, there was the Jama’at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad (the uniqueness and Jihad group), established by Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi, Jordanian citizen with a Palestinian identity.

Al-Zarqawi promised once he achieve these goals, he would establish an “Islamic Emirate.” In June 2006, Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi was killed, and Abu Ayub al-Masri (Abu Hamzah al-Muhajir), an Egyptian citizen, took his place and established the Dawlat al-Islam fil-Iraq (the Islamic State in Iraq=ISI). Its military leader was Abu ‘Umar al-Baghdadi. In April 2010, both al-Masri and al-Baghdadi were killed, and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi took the leadership of the Islamic State in Iraq.

In April 2013 al-Baghdadi decided to withdraw from al-Qaeda and to expand his organization’s name from the Islamic State in Iraq (ISI) to the Islamic State in Iraq and greater Syria (al-Dawlah al-Islamiyah fil-Iraq wal-Sham=Da’esh, ISIS). On June 29th 2014, al-Baghdadi has coroneted himself as Caliph Ibrahim, Amir al-Mu’minin, being a descendent of Prophet Muhammad. He also declared the establishment of the Islamic Caliphate State (ICS), with the aim to topple down Arab-Islamic regimes, as the first stage. From that date on, there is no longer ISIS or ISIL or DAESH, but ICS. Those who continue to define it with these names, prove the inability to understand the situation and the complexities posed by this organization.

Who or what is ICS?

It is a Salafi-Takfiri organization characterized by an un-selective Jihad terrorist operations with the aim of bringing back the 7th century Islamic rule of the Fourth Califs (al-Khulafa’ al-Rashidun) as the ideal Islamic rule to humanity. At the end of 2015, it has become the largest and strongest Islamic Organizations with more than fifty Islamic groupings operating under its leadership, a proto-state that has representations in at least thirty states in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. It has become the most important and influential non-state player in the entire international relations, and its political influence is perhaps more dangerous than its operational, being an attractive model of imitation for the Muslim believers.

Western political leaders, the media and the cultural-academic elite do not understand the situation. Every time there is a Jihad attack, they respond in the same routine way: Islam is the religion of peace, and Muslims are in fact not extremists. This reality is confusing and embarrassing: how does one determine this when the subject itself says he is Islamic and all his declarations, behavior, ideology and acts are Islamic? Something is really deeply odd, let alone confusing and embarrassing, relating to this issue when it comes to Islam. Western leaders are determined never to connect the dots and never to declare the obvious.

Construct and organization

ICS is an Islamic Salafī-Takfīrī organization that takes its ideology from Islam and acts exactly according to Islamic teachings. It is Islamic in its character, ideology, and objectives. Its political system and its governmental branches are purely Islamic. The flag, the anthem, and the rulings are all in accordance to Islamic teaching. They abide by Islamic commandments and they use a religious Islamic counseling. ICS has state symbols: a flag; passport; maps of political objectives; coin, and all other parameters of states. Most important is the educational system based on the Madrasah Islamic framework. It runs the political economic and social governmental machinery exactly according to the Islamic teachings.

Its uppermost religious-political institute is Majlis al-Shûra lil-Mujāhidīn, the religious Counseling Council that dictates their activity. It confirms, after studying the Islamic Scriptures, the horrific executions and slaughtering of the infidels, confirm by Fatawā, Islamic religious rulings. There is Majlis al-Sharī’ah, the Constitutional Council that deals with the constitutional, security, finance, and general administration aspects. There is also al-Majlis al-‘Askari, the Military Council, the central body of the military activity and operations.

Beheadings and massacres

Two verses from the Qur’an call to behead the Kuffār whenever and wherever they are. Sûrat Muhammad, 47:4, declares: “So when you clash with the infidels smite their necks until you overpower them… until war shall have come to an end.” Sûrat al-Anfāl, 8:12, declares: “I shall fill the hearts of the infidels with terror. So strike off their heads on their necks and every fingertips.” ICS also follows the Qur’anic teachings that terrorizing Islamic enemies brings success to the Muslims, since Allah commands acts of terror against the infidels. Sûrat al-‘Imrān, 3:151, declares: “We shall strike terror into the hearts of the infidels… Hell is their residence…” Sûrat al-Anfāl, 8:12, declares: I shall fill the hearts of the infidels with terror…” Sûrat al-Anfāl, 8:60, declares: “Prepare against them whatever arms and cavalry you can muster, that you may strike terror in the enemies of Allah and your own…” Sûrat al-Hashr, 59:2, declares: “Allah came upon the people of the Book, and filled their hearts with terror.”

ICS also follows Muhammad’s example who ordered the execution by beheading of seven hundred men of the Jewish Banu Qurayza tribe in Medina. There are also many other examples of Muhammad’s orders to behead the enemy of Islam, appear in his biography by Ibn Ishāq, The life of Muhammad. Crucifixion is another part of beheadings. ICS members love chopping the heads off while their victims are crucified. By that they follow the Qur’an (Sûrat al Mā’idah, 5:33). Muslims are to fight the infidels, as Allah heals the hearts of the believers (Sûrat al-Taubah, 9:14–6).

Khalid Ibn al-Walid is one of the uppermost heroes and models of ICS. During the first internal war, the Ridda, in 632–3, he beheaded, burned and massacred all those tribes, men, women, children and the elderly, who left Islam after Muhammad’s death. For his utmost cruelty, he received an honorary name: Sayf al-Islām, the sword of Islam. In 633 he massacred and beheaded tens of thousands of Persian prisoners in the battle of the Red River, in Southern Persia. It was him who declared at the battle of Yarmuk, year 636: “we are a people who drink blood, and we know that there is no blood more delicious than the Byzantine blood.” Following that, one of ICS members, named Khalid (!) has eaten the heart of a Syrian soldier.

There are more. The Umayyad dynasty have massacred and beheaded all the clan of Ali’s family, including little babies. The Umayyad themselves where all massacred by Abbas Dynasty in 750. The Ottoman Empire used the most horrific inhuman acts of massacres and beheadings in the occupation of Constantinople and Athens. They operate the first modern genocide of the Armenians and the Greeks. What the Muslims done to the Buddhists in India is one of the darkest chapters in human history.

ICS follows these examples by herding and marching off hundreds and thousands of male hostages each time, where they shoot them in the head and throw them into the river one by one; or when they put them on lines and in trenches the victims dig, and shoot them by machine guns. However, what the Islamic Caliphate State members love extremely most is all kind of beheadings, with small knives, and then cheerfully show the heads, play football with the heads, or pile them in the main streets and roundabouts. They also educate their youth, ordering small kids to learn the profession of beheading or shooting. It is all done while quoting verses from the Qur’an that justify the massacre and shouting “Allāhu Akbar” against the infidels.

The Islamic hostility to the Cross is an unwavering fact of life, one that is very much indicative of Islam’s innate hostility to Christianity. It has started with Muhammad’s repugnance to the Cross who called it piece of idolatry; it has continued with the “Pact of Umar” which forbade the display of the Crosses, and it has culminated to a new peak with the ICS members slaughtering men on the cross. In their “communiques to the West” ICS leaders have declared: “We will conquer Rome, break your crosses, and enslave your women… we will cast terror into the hearts of the cross worshippers.” In Libya, one of Islamic Caliphate State leaders has declared: “We will fight you until Jesus descends, breaks the cross, and kills the pig.”

ICS members are excellent narrators. The main idea is to legitimize beheadings, slavery, and gang-rape by reference to Islamic history and theology, being a powerful narrative of Jihād Fī-Sabīlillāh. Moreover, beheadings are done by the use of the most important Islamic weapon, the sword, with the symbolism of blood ritual. On February 3, 2015, ICS has released a video claiming to show horrifying burning of the captured Jordanian pilot, Maaz al-Kassasbeh. The video is entitled, “Healing the Believers Chests,” a slogan taken from the Qur’an (Sûrat al-Taubah, 9:14). The basis for this is Muhammad’s declaration from the Hadith (Sahīh Bukhārī, 1:11:626).

The problem is not with Muslims, as they clearly and utterly declare their objectives and how to obtain them. They don’t hide behind, and they reveal their world mindset openly. The problem is exactly with the West that does not wish even to discuss the situation concerning Islam and Muslims. It is not a sign of tolerance when one deliberately silences himself against reality; is it rational when one artificially differentiates between Islam as a peaceful religion and “extremists” who high-jacked Islam? Doesn’t it show that we have lost our freedoms purposely and consciously and that we are in a deep state of intimidation in front of the villain?

Slavery and rape

The enslavement of infidel women for sexual purposes is central aspect of Islamic civilization, from the Qur’an, the highest scriptural authority, to Muhammad, the ultimate role model for all Muslims. It constitutes a central part in Islamic history as much as to current events in “Islamic Tribal Anarchic Winter,” mistakenly called “Arab Spring.” Islamic sex slavery is religiously sanctioned by the Sharī’ah. The mainstream of Islamic jurisprudence has justified and supported this practice on the basis of Islam’s canonical sources, including Muhammad’s own example and teaching.

The Sharī’ah, permits the enslavement, selling, and rape of infidel women captured during Jihad wars, being legitimately gained booty, “what your right hand possess” (Sûrat al-Nisā’, 4:3). Sex-rape of captive women was very common during Islamic history and it was performed frequently, as these slave-concubines were considered equivalent to animals. The grammar use of the word “Ma” in this context relate to things or animals, not to human beings. Muslim exegetes agree that once a true Islamic State is established, those living in Dār al-Harb have no rights to their life or their wealth. Therefore, Muslims are allowed to go to these nations and take their wealth and to keep their women as slaves.

As it is against Islam to rape Muslim women, it is permitted, even encouraged to rape all others captured. In the battle of Hunain, the Muslims were reluctant to have intercourse with the female captives in the presence of their husbands who were infidels. So Allah sent down the Qur’anic verse (Sûrat al-Nisā’, 4:24). This verse relieved the Muslims of this restraint by giving them permission to have sex with captive women, at all conditions, even if the women were already married. Abd-al-Hamid Siddiqui, the translator of Sahīh Muslim (8:3433), commented on this tradition, saying: When women are taken captive, their previous marriages are automatically annulled. Sexual intercourse with these women is lawful. The women of the Banu Mustaliq were sold into slavery following their rape. They were “excellent Arab women, and we desired them” (Sahīh Muslim, 8:3371). The prophet of Islam, his companions, and the Muslims used war to collect women for personal sexual use and for slave trading.

An article published in Foreign Policy in September 2014, begins with: “Of the many terrifying stories emerging from Islamic State-occupied Iraq and Syria, the violence directed toward women is perhaps the most difficult to contemplate.” This perhaps sums up the entire issue. It is arguable whether it is more horrifying than beheadings and mutilations in public with sadistic pictures of the victims posted online. It is arguable whether it is more intimidating than herding thousands of infidels and cold-bloodedly shooting them just for the fun of it, while shouting “Allāhu Akbar.” It is arguable whether it is more abhorring than forcing religious minorities to convert to Islam, while showing crucified men. Still, the reality of women, tortured, raped, sold to slavery of very short miserable life is humiliating.

Although sexual violence, enslavement, and rape were the most generic atrocity committed during wars in history, common to all cultures and civilizations, ICS wholly based its activities on Islamic law. These women being desired spoils of war are treated not only like animals, but their short living miserable life is worth less than animals, when the slavery marketplace is full of fresh flesh.

Islamic law makes crystal clear that conquered infidel sex slaves are one of the rewards for those waging Jihad. It is in the Sharī’ah, whom Muslims are ordered to totally emulate, and it is a common fixture of Islamic history. Majid Khadduri explained the idea of “spoils:”

The term spoil (Ghanīma) is applied specifically to property acquired by force from non-Muslims. It includes, however, not only property (movable and immovable) but also persons, whether in the capacity of asra (prisoners of war) or sabi (women and children), If the slave were a woman, the master was permitted to have sexual connection with her as a concubine.

In the fourth edition of the magazine Dabiq, ICS promotes sex slavery as an Islamic practice that conforms to the teaching and example of Muhammad and his companions, and in fact Islamic history. Slavery and young girls’ sex-trade is common now in its occupied territories. It is recorded that the price of each Captured Yazidi girl is $12. An investigation done by Clarion Project reveals that forty-two Yazidi girls were sold by the ICS in Syria for 2000 dollars. At the end of 2014 the slave market in Iraq was by age: A woman aged thirty to forty cost $63; girls aged ten to twenty were priced at $126; girls from one to nine were sold for $168. As ICS members take new towns also in Syria, the market of sex-slavery girls is routine and commonplace.

The horrific thing is that ICS has openly established, organized, and institutionalized a state-sanctioned system of sexual slavery. It is not intended to be a temporary war-time tactics, but a peace-time Islamic institution. It is to recall that contrary to historical evidence, this is not the “usual” women-rape and abuse perpetrated during wars all along history. This is exactly the Islamic tradition to take booty from the vanquished, and it is a deliberate tactic to demolish and degrade the enemy, the infidels, through organized slavery and women rape.

Members of ICS regularly declare that according to Islam they are allowed to rape the Kuffār. This is ‘Ibādah, a way of worshipping Allah. The systematic rape of women and girls has become deeply enmeshed in the organization and the radical theology of the Islamic State. Yazidi women and girls who escaped the Islamic State, and the examination of the group’s official communications, illuminate how the practice has been enshrined in the group’s core tenets. It has developed a detailed bureaucracy of sex slavery and trade slavery. This is a “theology of rape,” an integral part of the doctrine and practice of all along the Islamic history and reproduced in the ICS. One has also to recall, there is no male rapist in Islam but seducing woman, whose penalty is death by stoning.

Sheikh Yasir al-‘Ajlawni states that Muslims fighting to topple the regime of the infidel, Bashar Assad in Syria are permitted to capture and have sex with all non-Sunni women, including Shia Muslims, Alawites, Christians, Druze, and Yazidis. The same approach comes from Boko Haram, the Nigerian Islamic organization that performs horrific atrocities like the ICS. Its leader also believes that Allah permits the Mujāhidīn to enjoy free sex slavery, after abducting three hundred “infidel” schoolgirls to be sold in the sex slave market.

One can also relates to the issues of crime and punishment to examine the similarities between ICS and the law of Islam, according to the Sharī’ah. The punishment for blasphemy (insulting Allah, Muhammad, and the religion of Islam) is death. The punishment of adultery (if marries) is death by stoning, and if not married 100 lashes. The punishment of slender and drinking alcohol is 80 lashes. The Punishment of stealing is amputation of hand. The punishment of banditry (theft) is amputation of hand and foot. The punishment of murder in banditry is death by crucifixion.  

Summary

One can conclude the issue in one sentence: ICS is the top model of Islam and Islamic teachings. So ingrained in violence in the religion that Islam has never really stopped being at war either with other religions or with itself. Muhammad inspired the Muslims to battle the infidels promising all desires in this world and the Hereafter, and threatened them with Hell if they did not. Muslims were laying siege to towns; massacring its men, raping and enslaving their women; enslaving and converting their children; and taking the property of others. Fighting, violence booty, women enslavement, and rape is the main of Arab-Islamic political culture through history. This is exactly how ICS acts and behaves.

The refusal of Western political leaders, the media, and the cultural elite to open their eyes to reality and protect Western nations from ICS is one of the biggest betrayal. Boko Haram leader also believes that Allah permits the Mujāhidin to slaughter and behead all the infidels, and to enjoy free sex slavery.

Indeed, the Islamic Caliphate State is Islamic. It follows Islam and acts according to Islam. To say it is not Islam is exactly to say the Nazi ideology was not Germany, or the Shinto was not Japanese, or that Islam does not exist as a political religion. ICS is the great winner in contemporary international relations, and the free world contributes the lion’s share to this success by denying its connection to Islam and by not willing to fight it seriously.

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Burning Planet: Climate Fires and Political Flame Wars Rage

MD Staff

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Economic and political polarization will rise this year, as collaboration between world leaders, businesses and policy-makers is needed more than ever to stop severe threats to our climate, environment, public health and technology systems. This points to a clear need for a multistakeholder approach to mitigating risk at a time when the world cannot wait for the fog of geopolitical disorder to lift. These are the findings of the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report 2020, published today.

The report forecasts a year of increased domestic and international divisions and economic slowdown. Geopolitical turbulence is propelling us towards an “unsettled” unilateral world of great power rivalries at a time when business and government leaders must focus urgently on working together to tackle shared risks.

Over 750 global experts and decision-makers were asked to rank their biggest concerns in terms of likelihood and impact and 78% said they expect “economic confrontations” and “domestic political polarization” to rise in 2020.

This would prove catastrophic, particularly for addressing urgent challenges like the climate crisis, biodiversity loss and record species decline. The report, produced in partnership with Marsh & McLennan and Zurich Insurance Group, points to a need for policy-makers to match targets for protecting the Earth with ones for boosting economies – and for companies to avoid the risks of potentially disastrous future losses by adjusting to science-based targets.

For the first time in the survey’s 10-year outlook, the top five global risks in terms of likelihood are all environmental. The report sounds the alarm on:

  • Extreme weather events with major damage to property, infrastructure and loss of human life
  • Failure of climate-change mitigation and adaptation by governments and businesses.
  • Human-made environmental damage and disasters, including environmental crime, such as oil spills, and radioactive contamination.
  • Major biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse (terrestrial or marine) with irreversible consequences for the environment, resulting in severely depleted resources for humankind as well as industries.
  • Major natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, and geomagnetic storms.

It adds that unless stakeholders adapt to “today’s epochal power-shift” and geopolitical turbulence – while still preparing for the future – time will run out to address some of the most pressing economic, environmental and technological challenges. This signals where action by business and policy-makers is most needed.

“The political landscape is polarized, sea levels are rising and climate fires are burning. This is the year when world leaders must work with all sectors of society to repair and reinvigorate our systems of cooperation, not just for short-term benefit but for tackling our deep-rooted risks,” said Borge Brende, President of the World Economic Forum.

The Global Risks Report is part of the Global Risks Initiative which brings stakeholders together to develop sustainable, integrated solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges.

Systems-level thinking is required to confront looming geopolitical and environmental risks, and threats that may otherwise fall under the radar. This year’s report focuses explicitly on impacts from rising inequality, gaps in technology governance, and health systems under pressure.

John Drzik, Chairman of Marsh & McLennan Insights, said: “There is mounting pressure on companies from investors, regulators, customers, and employees to demonstrate their resilience to rising climate volatility. Scientific advances mean that climate risks can now be modeled with greater accuracy and incorporated into risk management and business plans. High profile events, like recent wildfires in Australia and California, are adding pressure on companies to take action on climate risk at a time when they also face greater geopolitical and cyber risk challenges.”

To younger generations, the state of the planet is even more alarming. The report highlights how risks are seen by those born after 1980. They ranked environmental risks higher than other respondents, in the short- and long- terms. Almost 90% of these respondents believe “extreme heat waves”, “destruction of ecosystems” and “health impacted by pollution” will be aggravated in 2020; compared to 77%, 76% and 67% respectively for other generations. They also believe that the impact from environmental risks by 2030 will be more catastrophic and more likely.

Human activity has already caused the loss of 83% of all wild mammals and half of plants – which underpin our food and health systems. Peter Giger, Group Chief Risk Officer, Zurich Insurance Group warned of the urgent need to adapt faster to avoid the worst and irreversible impacts of climate change and to do more to protect the planet’s biodiversity:

“Biologically diverse ecosystems capture vast amounts of carbon and provide massive economic benefits that are estimated at $33 trillion per year – the equivalent to the GDP of the US and China combined. It’s critical that companies and policy-makers move faster to transition to a low carbon economy and more sustainable business models. We are already seeing companies destroyed by failing to align their strategies to shifts in policy and customer preferences. Transitionary risks are real, and everyone must play their part to mitigate them. It’s not just an economic imperative, it is simply the right thing to do,” he said.

The Global Risks Report 2020 has been developed with the invaluable support of the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Advisory Board. It also benefits from ongoing collaboration with its Strategic Partners Marsh & McLennan and Zurich Insurance Group and its academic advisers at the Oxford Martin School (University of Oxford), the National University of Singapore and the Wharton Risk Management and Decision Processes Center (University of Pennsylvania).

Annex

Respondents were asked to assess: (1) the likelihood of a global risk occurring over the course of the next 10 years, and (2) the severity of its impact at a global level if it were to occur.

These are the top 5 risks by likelihood over the next 10 years:

  • Extreme weather events (e.g. floods, storms, etc.)
  • Failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation
  • Major natural disasters (e.g. earthquake, tsunami, volcanic eruption, geomagnetic storms)
  • Major biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse
  • Human-made environmental damage and disasters

These are the top 5 risks by severity of impact over the next 10 years:

  • Failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation
  • Weapons of mass destruction
  • Major iodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse
  • Extreme weather events (e.g. floods, storms, etc.)
  • Water crises

Global risks are not isolated, and so respondents were asked to assess the interconnections between pairs of global risks.

These are the top most strongly connected global risks:

  • Extreme weather events + failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation
  • Large-scale cyberattacks + breakdown of critical information infrastructure and networks
  • High structural unemployment or underemployment + adverse consequences of technological advances
  • Major biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse + failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation
  • Food crises + extreme weather events

Short-term risks: percentage of respondents who think a risk will increase in 2020:

  • Economic confrontations = 78.5%
  • Domestic political polarization = 78.4%
  • Extreme heat waves = 77.1%
  • Destruction of natural resource ecosystems = 76.2%
  • Cyberattacks: infrastructure = 76.1%

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Anti-Russian Ideology of Central Asian Salafi-Jihadi Groups: Causes and Consequences

Uran Botobekov

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Uzbek jihadists in Syria

Russia and Muhajireen are both interventionists in Syria

The Russian military intervention in the Syrian civil war has strengthened the anti-Russian ideological wave of the al-Qaeda-aligned Central Asian and North Caucasian Salafi-Jihadi groups fighting alongside the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) against the Bashar al-Assad regime. After the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011, fueled by the Arab Spring protests, several hundred Central Asian Islamic radicals, calling themselves Muhajireen (Migrants, i.e. Sunni foreign fighters), performed a Hijrah (the migration of Muslims for Jihad) in response to the call of al-Qaeda to Syria.

Since then, Syria’s northwest Idlib province, long a hotbed of armed resistance and the heartland of al-Qaeda-linked operations has become a real-life shelter for Muhajireen from the former Soviet Union and Chinese Xinjiang. Among them, the Uzbek groups Katibat al-Tawhid wal Jihad (KTJ) and Katibat Imam al-Bukhari (KTB), Uighur fighters of Turkestan Islamic Party (TIP), as well as Chechen’s Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar (JMA) and Ajnad al Kavkaz (AK) are affiliated with al Qaeda. They share al Qaeda’s ideological doctrine and consider its leader Ayman al-Zawahiri their ideological mastermind. The activities of TIP and KTJ jihadists, which have remained loyal to al Qaeda but simultaneously subordinate to HTS, indicate that they have become a link between al Qaeda and HTS after their formal detachment of ties. That is, today they coordinate all their military operations in Syria and conduct them under the leadership of the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the largest Sunni jihadist group, controlling most of Idlib province which is the last major opposition stronghold.

At the beginning of the Syrian jihad, the ideology of the Central Asian Salafi groups was not particularly distinguished by anti-Russian hostility but after the Russian invasion of Syria in support of the Bashar al-Assad regime in 2015, Central Asian jihadists and the Russian military found themselves on opposite sides of the front line and became sworn enemies. This was also facilitated by the fact that many Uzbek and Tajik Muhajireen came from Russia, where they worked as labor migrants and were often discriminated against by Russian nationalists. They also experienced moral and psychological humiliation by the corrupt Russian police, local officials and employers. Some Mujahideen admitted on the social networks Telegram and Odnoklassniki that the unfair Russian reality inflicted unbearable humiliation which contributed to their migration to Syria and joining jihadist groups.That is, the anti-Russian ideology of the Central Asian Salafi-Jihadi groups appeared not only because of the radicalization of their religious views but also as a response to discrimination by Russian nationalists and the invasion of Russian troops in Syria.Thus, over the past five years, al Qaeda’s Takfiri ideology of conducting global jihad against the infidel regimes of the West has been supplemented by the anti-Russian ideology of the Central Asian Muhajireen.

Abu Saloh, former leader of Katibat al-Tawhid wal Jihad, a famous ideologist of anti-Russian jihadism. His fighters swore allegiance to al Qaeda

In order to better understand the roots and causes of the anti-Russian ideology of the Central Asian Sunni extremist movements, it is necessary to analyze the Khutbah preaching (Sermons) of their leaders and famous ideologists during Jumma Namaz (Muslim Friday Prayer Service), which they actively disseminate on the Internet in Uzbek, Russian, Tajik, Kyrgyz, and Arabic.

Characteristic features of the Muhajireen’s anti-Russian ideology

Over the past five years, Idlib has become not only the real-life shelter for Russian-Speaking foreign fighters but also the place of fueling the aggressive anti-Russian ideology of the Central Asian Salafi-Jihadi groups. It’s interesting to note that they are actively using the Russian entrepreneur Durov’s social networking Telegram channel to widely disseminate anti-Russian ideology. Central Asian Muhajireen have the radio station “Voice of Sham” which also has the website “www.muhajeer.com” and provides daily updates over ten channels on Telegram through which they praise holy Jihad and spread anti-Russian propaganda.

Leaders and ideologues of the Central Asian Salafi-Jihadi groups advance the idea that al-Qaeda’s global network needs more support from like-minded Muslims around the world, who are willing to help its jihad. Therefore, in order to catalyze support, mobilize the base, and expand awareness of the Syrian jihad, they are waging an active “anti-Russian ideological war” on the Internet. Jihadist websites are designed to entice, inform, and rally Russian-speaking Muslims to join in the fight to safeguard Islam in Syria.

The ideologues and propagandists of al Qaeda-linked Central Asian movements seek to use Moscow’s heavy hand to recruit new fighters and accumulate financial resources.Each time after the Russian aviation’s scorched-earth tactics and indiscriminate bombing of civilian areas in the province of Idlib, the anti-Russian ideology of Central Asian jihadists intensifies on the Internet.

KTJ former leader Abu Saloh (his real name Sirojiddin Mukhtarov), who possesses excellent oratory skills and deep knowledge of the Quran, is the fiery voice of the anti-Russian ideology. He urges his listeners to establish religiously pure communities governed by a strict Salafi reading of Sharia or Islamic law.He regards modern post-Soviet countries in Central Asia to be illegitimate and desires not only the overthrow of these states but the creation of a new theocratic state in their place that unites all Muslims and, ultimately, a global Islamic Caliphate.In his opinion, the ideal conditions for conducting jihad today arose precisely in Syria and the Muslim Ummah should achieve an inevitable victory over the enemies of Islam by which he means not only the West but also the Bashar al-Assad’s regime, its military and political patrons, Russia and Iran. Abu Saloh believes that the victory of the Ahlus Sunnah (Sunni Islam) begins precisely with the holy land of Sham, where the Prophet Muhammad and his Sahaba (companions) shed their blood to raise the banner of jihad.

Abu Yusuf Muhojir, leader of Katibat Imam al-Bukhari, is an ardent foe of Russia. His group swore allegiance to Taliban

In the last video published on December 26, 2019, on Telegram, entitled “Appeal from the Blessed Sham to the Muslim Ummah” he calls on Muslims of Central Asia and Russia to make financial donations for jihad. He argues that jihad can be done in the path of Allah against the infidels in three ways: by one’s life, wealth, and speech. If Central Asian migrant workers in Russia make financial donations to support jihad in Syria, then Allah will consider them as participants in holy jihad who have fulfilled their mission to the Almighty. Participation in the wealth jihad will atone for their sins before Allah on Judgment Day. Therefore, migrant workers are required to participate in the wealth jihad, even while in Russia, he said. He calls on Central Asian Muslims not to become slaves of Russian kafirs (infidel) and warns that jihad is an obligation of every Muslim and that any Muslim who denies its sanctity should be considered as a kufr (unbeliever in Allah).

It should be noted that Russia accused Abu Saloh of the terror attack on St. Petersburg’s metro in April 2017 and the Kyrgyz authorities blamed him for the attack on the Chinese Embassy in Bishkek on August 30, 2016.He and his Uzbek-speaking fighters from the Fergana Valley of Central Asia swore allegiance to al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Another well-known ideologist of Central Asian jihadism and a vocal critic of Russian occupation of Sham is the KIB’s leader Abu Yusuf Muhojir. On January 3, 2020, he posted his video message on the KIB’s webpage on Telegram entitled “Appeal from the mountain range Jebel al-Turkman of Latakia.”He claims that only jihad can to protect the Islam Ummah from Russia’s and Iran’s oppressors and free our occupied land of the blessed Sham from the terrorists of the Nusayri regime (Alawites).Following the concepts of the militant Salafi ideology, Abu Yusuf Muhojir regards violent jihad as an obligation for all Muslims and seeks to engage in jihad in both Khorasan and Sham, where opportunities have arisen.Then he quotes the Quran’s Surah of Al-Ankabut (The Spider) in Arabic and says that Allah is testing Muslims in Sham, and that only jihad will help us to pass this test with dignity. In conclusion, he said neither America nor Russia can close the path of holy jihad since jihad is the path to Allah. If the Mujahideen get killed in the jihad, he affirms that Allah himself will guide them and admit them to Paradise. Furthermore, Uzbek militants ofKIB have sworn allegiance to the Taliban and are conducting jihad in both Syria and Afghanistan.On March 22, 2018, the US State Department designated KIB a global terrorist organizations.

The root of the Jihadists’ anti-Russian ideology

The so-called “media activists” (Faruk Shami, Muhammad Jazira, Gulyam Muhammad,Saad Muhtor, Abdul Aziz Kazanly) who live and work among the Central Asian jihadists in Syria play a significant role in increasing anti-Russian ideology. They organize live broadcasts, interviews with leaders of Central Asian and Caucasian Salafi-Jihadi groups on YouTube and Instagram, and translate theological works of al Qaeda’s ideologues from Arabic into Russian, Uzbek, Tajik, Kyrgyz and Uighur.

One of the channels called “Mujahideen of Sham” in Kyrgyz on the Telegram, for instance, published short information: “Russian kafirs, who were the enemies of our ancestors, bombed the city of Sarakib on December 21, 2019, as a result of which they were killed more 120 innocent Muslims of Sham.” Further, this channel posted an audio message from a Kyrgyz Muhajir to the Russian military: “Oh, Russian infidels, keep your eyes peeled, we are attacking to shed your blood. As you love vodka, Zina (illicit sexual relations), so we are in a hurry to die in the name of Allah to stop the kafirs’ invasion on Islamic lands.”

Al Qaeda-linked Central Asian jihadists sometimes use some historical events of the Russian colonial policy of the 18-19 centuries in Central Asia to rally support for the Islamist agenda and radicalize those sympathetic to the plight of Muslims in Syria. The same channel “Mujahideen of Sham” writes: “Russian Tsarist forces, which killed tens of thousands of Kyrgyz during the Genocide of 1916, today are massacring innocent Muslims of the blessed Sham. The colonial policy of the Russian Empire continues. Make dua (prayer) for Muslims of Sham.” It is probably about the ‘Urkun’ (“Exodus”) tragedy 1916, when 150 thousand Kyrgyz died during the uprising against Russian Tsarist forces and a mass exodus to China. Such information is aimed at winning the hearts and minds of Central Asian jihadists who are familiar with historical events.

Translation of books, essays and videos of medieval and modern jihadi thinkers from Arabic into Russian and local languages and its distribution on the Telegram channel is an important part of the work of Central Asian jihadists. Spreading classic works of Salafi-Takfiri thinkers help legitimize anti-Russian Jihadi ideology and stoke the fire of jihad. Crucial spiritual nourishment for Central Asian Muhajireen are the essays of Ibn Taymiyyah, Abd al-Wahhab, Sayyid Qutb, Abdullah Azzam, Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, Sulayman al-ʿAlwān, Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, Abu Qatada al-Filistini and other scholars of Salafism. This clearly indicates the ideological affinity of Central Asian Muhajireen with transnational Islamic fundamentalist groups that utilize sacred violence in their war against Russia and the West. Moreover, KTJ, KIB, and TIP explicitly try to define its ideological and operational agenda as being intimately tied to an integrated effort of al Qaeda aimed at asserting the global dominance of Islam through armed jihad.

Despite the fact that the Central Asian jihadists are seen as a small cog in the transnational Sunni-Jihadi network, they are actually drawing up and spreading anti-Russian ideology in the post-Soviet space and the Middle East alongside Chechen and Uighur jihadists. They are using pejorative terms in reference to Russia such as “Russian terrorists,” “Russian bandits,” “Russian pig executioners,” as well as pejoratives directed toward Vladimir Putin such as “Putin is a killer,” “Putin is a war criminal,” and “Slaves of Putin’s Chef Prigozhin,” as well a variety of generalized pejoratives comparing Russians to Fascists, swine and vermin. 

The anti-Russian ideology of the Central Asian jihadists in Syria has gone far beyond the national and geographical framework and they are trying to create the image of Putin’s Russia as an enemy of the entire Muslim Ummah.The Russian military operation in support of the Bashar al-Assad regime, the destruction of hospitals, schools, and other social facilities in Idbil by Russian aircraft, the flow of refugees towards the Turkish borders, the deaths of hundreds of civilians, children and women from the bombing create a favorable background for strengthening the trend of anti-Russian ideology among the Muhajireen in Syria.

Muhajireen’s propagandists also skillfully manipulate the historical rivalry between Sunnis and Shia. The analysis showed that they consider the enemies of Ahl al-Sunna of all Nuseyrites, Rafidites and their ally Russian Crusaders. The Jihadi ideologists claim that Russia is a leading player in the global conspiracy to destroy Ahl al-Sunna in Sham, and therefore helps Nuseyrites. The call to defend the last stronghold of Ahl al-Sunna gives them the opportunity to recruit new militants from the Sunni population of Central Asia and Russia.

At the same time, some facts of atrocities and heinous crimes perpetrated by Russian mercenaries of the Wagner group and Iranian proxy militias in Syria, which became public knowledge, create spaces for promoting Central Asian Jihadi ideas. Recently, after a video appeared on the Internet in November 2019 in which four Russian mercenaries tortured, stabbed and beheaded a Syrian man, Russian President Putin has become the main target of criticism of Salafi-Jihadi agitators from the former Soviet countries. This gave Central Asian jihadists a reason to accuse Putin’s Russia of using terror policy against Islam and the Muslims of Sham.

In order to foment jihadist sentiments in the Russian speaking Eurasian region, Salafi-Jihadi ideologists are manipulating the strongman Putin’sphrase that “Syria has become a field for testing the latest Russian weapons systems.” They regularly publish victims’ photographs of Russian air bombing, which are intended to rally support for the Islamist agenda and radicalize those sympathetic to the plight of Sunni Muslims in northwest Syria. They wonder “how much longer will Putin’s terrorists be testing their weapons in Syria and using civilian Muslims as living targets?”

Conclusion

The Central Asian Muhajireen’s anti-Russian ideology and the aggressive imposition of global Jihadi ideas on the internet undoubtedly pose a threat to Russia’s national security but, at the same time, the major actors of the Syrian conflict, primarily Russia, Iran and the Syrian government must understand that further tightening the screws of the Syrian war, exacerbating the humanitarian catastrophe and a new mass influx of refugees, will lead to further strengthening of anti-Russian and anti-Shiite ideology. Because of this, Central Asian Jihadi groups, following the strategy of al Qaeda, are trying to infiltrate local Sunni communities of Syria, build influence there by expressing the interests of the Ansar (natives).

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Intelligence

U.S. vs Iran, a Cybersecurity Update

Dr.Luciano Magaldi

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The relationship between the United States and Iran has perhaps reached a very low levein in recent weeks, following the 1979 Khomenist Revolution and the occupation of the US Embassy in Tehran by Iranian students.

According to American sources, on 20th June the United States launched offensive cyber-operations against Iranian intelligence computer systems, the same day that the US President, Donald J. Trump, had before ordered a military attack and then revoked the order before it actually left.

The United States Cyber Command – a department recently promoted by Trump as a unified combat command under the direction of the Department of Defense – allegedly attacked the computer systems used to control missile and rocket launches.

Such a cyberattack would have been the White House‘s response to the actions of the Iranian authorities who, the day before, had shot down an American spy drone – a Global Hawk produced by Northrop Grumman – as it was guilty of violating the airspace of the Islamic Republic.

After accusations and threats to each other, the US President decided to impose new sanctions on Iran and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. That was not welcomed by the Government of Tehran, which spoke, earlier, of “end of diplomatic path with the United States” and announced that it had exceeded the uranium enrichment limit imposed by the JCPOA – Joint Comprehensive Plan of Iran Nuclear Deal – from which the United States unilaterally exited in May 2018.

It remains to be seen, therefore, after the escalation of the last few weeks, whether the United States will try to make more and more use of cyber-attacks to solve the delicate international issues, primarily the Iranian one.

After the cyber-space was recognized as a strategic domain by NATO in 2016, on par with land, water, sky and space, it has been increasingly seen that countries use this domain to plead their own interests and also to carry out operations – this new type of military activity should not come as a surprise, because you only have to look at the National Cyber Strategy, published in September 2019 by the US, which shows that there has been a paradigm shift from what was the protection of American interests in the cyber space, moving from a more classical deterrence to the purpose of defence to a more offensive deterrence.

The fact that this document was only published last September suggests that the field of cybersecurity is fundamentally new and still to be explored.

On the one hand, cybernetic space is a totally man-made space and where you can have very high levels of ambiguity, through non-identification strategies from where attacks start, on the other hand, it is one of the most unregulated space at the level of behaviour that all countries shoud adopt with the specifice the responsibilities in cyber-operations.

This is a field in which the international law must be adapted as it is vital to understand how international law applies to the cyber-space and to see how it can be applied in practice: there is a long-time discussion between experts in the United Nations about cyber-space and, moreover, you can conduct operations that may fall into the category of attacks that are below the threshold of the use of force. So, it is still unclear whether a cyber-attack can be responded to with a classic attack byusing any classic military tools.

That is why American cybersecurity policy has changed in recent years, starting with the different pillars on which the National Cyber Strategy is based:

1) defending the homeland by protecting networks, systems, functions and data;promote American prosperity by fostering a secure digital economy and promoting strong domestic innovation;

2) preserving peace and security by strengthening the ability of the United States – along with allies and partners – to deter and, if necessary, punish those who use cyber-tools for malicious purposes;

3) expansion of American influence abroad to extend the key principles of an open, reliable and secure Internet.

Within the cyber-space, the United States have adopted a so-called “continuous engagement” – an ongoing commitment to counter possible threats even before they can materialize through targeted attacks, with the transition from a defensive to an offensive approach, with the American presence in the cyber-space that will more and more increas in order to actively dissuade potential enemies.

Historically, the United States are not new to carrying out cyber-attacks on Iran, in fact, as early as 2010, the United States and Israel are believed to have spread a virus, created by the US Government, to slow down the process of enriching uranium in Iran’s nuclear power plants.

That cyber-attack of the United States against the Iranian intelligence unit is part of a context that has seen Washington’s intensifying cyber-operations also against Russia and Iran – it is important to be aware of the cybersecurity space for their own interests and that they have had a particularly aggressive posture in this area.

The United States and Iran are two of the world’s most advanced, active and capable hacking powers at a time when governments regularly use cyber-attacks to achieve important goals and shape geopolitics.

Tensions between the two countries and their allies have produced a long history of extraordinary cyber-attacks in addition to traditional kinetic warfare – for these reasons, Iran’s revenge for the killing of General Qassim Suleimani could also be served on the ground of cyber-war.

Christopher Krebs, director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency – CISA – of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, warned the entire community to re-investigate Tehran’s tactics, procedures and techniques in detail in cyberspace, after reporting the increase in the activity of malicious cyber-attacks directed against the American companies and government agencies.

The hackers of the Iranian regime have increasingly used destructive windshield wipers in order to spear phishing, email scam to gain unauthorized access to sensitive data – it is a hackerial attempt to decode a common user password across multiple accounts before switching to a second password that allows you to circumvent account lockouts.

This is an attack that leverages the likelihood that people can use the same username and password to access multiple applications, sites, and services – in fact, cyber-criminals are able to get the details of stolen accounts from a platform and implement the bots needed to log into many other accounts with the same credentials.

Once they have found a way to log in, the criminals will break the account by making fraudulent purchases or stealing confidential information – before the 2015 nuclear deal was negotiated between the United States, Iran, Europe, Russia and China, Iranian hackers regularly targeted American financial companies and critical infrastructure.

Over the past year, Iran and the United States have repeatedly targeted each other in hacking operations – Iranian government hackers have attempted to breach President Trump’s re-election campaign: in fact the U.S. Cyber Command reportedly warned against Iran’s paramilitary force attacks during a period of high tensions, earlier this year.

More than 150 American sites have already been victims of defacement by Iranian hackers also because of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had promised “a strong vengeance” for Suleimani’s killing – this is a modern conflict, to date not only threatened but it is a long-time a cyber war – in recent days, hackers of Tehran have hacked the website of the Federal Depository Library Program – FDLP – with a defacement operation, leaving a message stating that “this is only a small part of Iran’s cyber-capabilities.”

The attack targeted a “weak” target, but it is a sign that the Islamic Republic’s cyber-army has been activated to strike US-linked targets, any critical infrastructure in particular..

The U.S. cyber-army believe, in fact, that the attacks could take place in five ways:

– DDoS attacks, in which you flood a site with access requests and crash it.

– data deletion (or wiper attack), actions to delete data in infected databases.

– attacks on industrial control systems, information-related operations and as well as cyber espionage.

The latter two to steal data for use then in physical, military actions – for example, by committing targeted murders or attacks on infrastructure.

But the Islamic Republic could suffer from the American reaction far more damage than it could cause: it has already happened in the past, as confirmed by the head of the “cyber police” in Tehran, General Kamal Hadianfar, who admitted that Iran in 2017 suffered 296 serious cyber-attacks against paramount infrastructures and on several occasions some experts in the field were mysteriously dead.

In conclusion, after sanctions and threats on both sides, could we really lead to an escalation of cyber-attacks and, because of that, does it seem to be a new Cold War ?

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