The international relations is comprised by states that keep their national sovereignty and security by defending its borders and territories. The terrorism phenomenon is not new through history, but in contemporary politics, due to the sophisticated weapons, it endangers national security and exacerbates the international structure.
Islamic terrorism, which constitutes more than 90 percent of world terrorism, is the utmost lethal and must be taken highly seriously. There is no “impossible” when they consider options and scenarios, and they might use all kind of weaponry available to achieve their targets, from chemical to nuclear. All Muslim groups clearly declare: “we will win since you love life while we love death.” It is in accordance with the Qur’an declaration, in Sural al-Nisā’ (4:74) and Surat al-Taubah (9:111).
Therefore, it is a must to eliminate the political, religious, and managerial leaders of the terrorist organizations. It is a critical condition in the war on terror perpetrators as the most effective way in decreasing the terrorist organizations’ influence its ability to act. By leaders it means not only the top, but also the field leaders. Most important, this definition includes mainly religious leaders. In Islam as one can clearly observe the religious leaders, the Imams, are the most important, as they give the religious clearance and legitimization to the terrorists activity. They excel in spreading and disseminating the deep vicious incitement of hatred for the terrorists
The other side of the war on terrorist organizations are the Arab military regimes. Any observation will clearly exhibit that Arab military regimes were the best in fighting and containing effectively the Islamic movements and groups. Unfortunately, the US has helped to demolish the political coercive authoritarian order existing in the Middle East by removing the military regimes, in Iraq, in Egypt (thank to al-Sisi who has taken back the political power), in Libya, and in Yemen, and continues its policy to topple Asad regime in Syria. The result, the Middle has entered the age of Islamic Tribal Anarchic Winter, in which we find failed states, acute un-stability, and chaos in the entire area. The military regimes, although being oppressive and dictatorial, are the last and best chance of the Arab regimes to survive as relatively open states. The alternative are Islamic regimes ruled by and according to the Sharī‘ah.
Homicide bombing is a combined personal and group activity: The individual needs the organizational framework for the success of his action, while the organization cannot be effective without his activity. However, the most successful war against terrorist perpetrators is not against the individual, ‘the person with the belt’ which is a disposable raw material, but the organization itself. In order to succeed in the liquidation of terrorism, the elimination of the organization’s leadership, it is a crucially imperative to employ as a continuous strategy operations of the targeted killing.
The Old Testament has a clear answer: “Whoso sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed”. ‘The Iron Law of Oligarchy,’ formulated by the sociologist Michaels, teaches us that leaders wish to preserve their status and position in the organization, and will do everything to keep that aim. This is precisely the reason that their elimination is critical. Thompson proved this reality in his study on the British lessons in Malaysia and Vietnam.
It must be determined: the alternative to targeted killings is attacking the sites from which the terrorists set out, the implication of which would be huge damage to the surroundings. Anyone who understands that it is imperative to combat terrorism must also eliminate its leaders. And if someone raises the approach that these are political or religious leaders, the response should be loud and clear: Terrorist organizations have no political leaders. By definition they are illegitimate squads worthy of liquidation. Characterizing terrorist leaders as political leaders is a logical contradiction. Are Bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, Arafat, and Baghdadi political leaders? Were the leaders of the terrorist groups in Europe, Japan and South America political leaders? If so, why were they liquidated with extraordinary success?
Elimination of terrorist leaders is a necessity. One who is involved in indiscriminate murder cannot expect to be treated any differently. Nobody really serious would react to Bin Laden’s execution negatively; and this would be exactly the reaction to the Elimination of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. This demand also applies to religious leaders. Countries have two chains of command: The political echelon, which commands, and military echelon, which executes those commands. In contrast, there are three levels in the Islamic terrorist groups constituting a different type of subordination: The terrorist operational echelon; the command and logistical echelon; and the religious echelon, which affirms and legitimizes the homicide bombings through Fatawā’.
Another important commandment is to understanding terrorism sources that is to fight the educational and religious system. Beyond the pre-emptive activity, the main struggle is in the realm of interdiction of the educational and religious factors: abating the hatred transmitted to the youth from birth without even understanding why and creating effective alternatives to the Islamic “Istishhād (homicide) culture”.
The Muslims begin with the politics of the Jihadi ideology of hatred from birth. The children learn to hate before they learn anything else: At home, in school, in the Muslim Schools, Madāris, in youth movements, in summer camps, and in the mosques. They receive a gigantic dose of demonic venomous poison vis-à-vis the free world, and they hate the infidels because they are who they are. Hatred is in their food and drink and it is the fuel that directs and motivates the murders, the horrors of massacre and the lynching. That is why the “Third Generation,” those young Muslims who were born, raised, and educated in the West are the most extreme in Jihad activity.
The Arab-Islamic authoritarian regimes and the patrimonial political and religious leaders are aiming at channeling the rage and frustrations of the masses to the outsider enemy. These political systems horrify and oppress its inhabitants; keep them in poverty and wretchedness, without any hope of social progress and economic prosperity and are still in power by externalizing the guilt toward the outsider enemies, their embodiment: the US and Israel.
The situation has been challenged by Sa’ad Bin-Tefla:
The violence of slaughter, anarchy and bloodshed is a cultural phenomenon. The religious faction sets the rules: To achieve victory or martyrdom in order to restore the Islamic Empire, which stretched from China to Andalusia; the Arab media assists them by painting the world in black and white; and the Arab culture stokes the fire.
In the words of the intellectual Said al-Hamad of Bahrain
A ‘culture of backwardness,’ which dominates the Arab world led Arabs and Muslims into quixotic wars against the West. It also includes the ‘culture of terrorism,’ which adopts the approach of beheading and executing people; and the ‘culture of hatred’ which propagates in the minds and consciousness of the youth hatred for the world and for people whose opinions and thoughts are different than theirs.
The Tunisian thinker al-‘Afif al-Akhdar claims that
Islamist thought is incapable of accepting human thought. The world must condemn the Islamist education and media as an imperative step towards eliminating the ideology of terrorism.
The Iraqi intellectual, Dr. Kazem Habib points out the importance of fighting educational-religious incitement
Most of the religious schools, the large majority of the Imams in the world’s mosques, and most of the preachers on the Arab TV channels educate to violence and spread hatred and animosity towards people of other religions. They do not acknowledge the other; they do not show tolerance towards non-Muslims, and disseminate hatred against Muslims, treating them as Kuffār.
There are ample researches, documents and evidence of what is being taught in the Madāris and delivered in the mosques. Egypt has found an interesting solution to the fanatic religious preaching in the mosques. All religious preachers (Imams) are civil servants receiving their salaries from government, which tapes and films their preaching (Khutbah) as a precaution step. Any violation of the rules means they are fired and indicted to jail.
Bernard Lewis provides us with the insight that there is no supremacy of legal-religious authority in Islam like in Christianity, capable of imposing fixed religious laws on the terrorists. Each organization has the religious leadership that it accepts and each one can interpret the laws of the Qur’an and the Hadīth as he sees fit. They are fully convinced that their actions are compatible with the demands of Islam.
For that, it is important to emphasize three dimensions:
a) One must not treat the Apocalyptic Global Jihad Groups as a phenomenon of crime, which can be resolved by means of economic improvements. It is well proven: poverty leads to crime but never to terrorism.
b) One must not despair as if the war against fanatic terrorism cannot be won. Despite the mystification of terrorist activity and media’s glorification, it can and must be vanquished.
c) One must not create moral equivalence, and the media is the chief responsible for that, between the terrorists, who are the epitome of evil, and the countermeasures taken by retaliatory states, which express legitimate steps to preserve freedom and maintain security. The struggle is for its legitimate existence and it takes precedence over moral values. It must be fought; it can be prevailed.
Another important commandment is to avoiding terrorist institutionalization as a political power. Action must be taken to rout the terrorist organizations out before they are institutionalized, before they strike deep popular roots, and become a guerilla force that controls territories supported by the masses. The best proof to this is Israel’s failure to strike the Hezbollah organization and Hamas, before they became the central Shi’ite force in Lebanon and the admired Sunni force among the Palestinians. When these groups institutionalized, it is no longer possible to liquidate them.
The test in understanding the importance of an all-out war on terrorism is by of the following analogies:
a) What would you do if a terrorist is threatening your own family, and you have the weapon and the opportunity to liquidate him beforehand? Wouldn’t you put him down?
b) What would you do if you receive authorized evidence about a genuine possibility that your family will be hit, and you can liquidate the terrorist beforehand?
c) How would you react when you are being fired upon from a mosque or a hospital, and your family is being threatened to death? Wouldn’t you shoot back to save them?
d) Will you act in a pre-emptive manner when terrorists push baby carriages filled with explosive vests and missiles?
e) Will you make certain to strip-search pregnant woman, you know she is transporting explosives?
f) How will you act if terrorist leaders plan to liquidate civilians in homicide bombings, but are surround themselves with children for their personal protection?
The free world must change its lenient treatment of Muslim terrorism. The Saudi intellectual Mash’ari al-Dhaydi has written
The time has come for those who turn a blind eye to notice that the enemies of freedom have exploited the atmosphere of freedom to spread their religious fanaticism. People who disseminate this ideological-political platform are greatest enemies of freedoms. Fundamentalist terrorism knows no borders, and must be dealt with before it will be too late.
At the same time one needs put great efforts as to preparing an all-out war on the money transfer. There is no existence to any activity and organizations and other groups without money. He, who really wishes to combat terrorism effectively, must be prepared to exert all energies on the financial roots that support the Apocalyptic Global Jihad Groups. Terrorism is a monumental financial business, with a turnover of billions of dollars. Paradoxically, these funds can solve a significant portion of the social and economic problems in the Arab-Muslim countries. Rich Arab-Oil states fund terrorism as “protection money”, as a payoff in order to appease the threat and to distance it from them. Charity and welfare organizations are the most significant factors in terrorism and incitement, brainwashing the masses with colossal hatred and lies of ignorance.
The West cannot win the war against radical Islam merely with the most sophisticated military strategies. Winning requires understanding the role of Sharī‘ah in developing a global ideological and political movement supported by a parallel “Islamic” financial system to exploit and undermine Western economies and markets. This movement is the foundation and the major funding source for the political, economic, and military initiatives of the global Islamic movement. Sharī‘ah finance is the lethal weapon in the arsenal of Islam. The end goal is to impose that ideology worldwide, making the Islamic Ummah, supreme.
Experts have estimated the Islamist propaganda machine’s bill to be about 100 billion dollars during the last two decades alone, which makes it the largest propaganda machine in history, even larger than the communist propaganda machine during the Soviet era.
Many Arab-Muslim countries, especially Saudi Arabia, transfer funds donated for charitable causes to finance activities of radical Islamic terrorist groups. This method of funding is a pattern of action, as part of the Islamic concept of conducting “a holy war through financial means” (al-Jihād bil-Māl). Ample evidence shows that funds collected for charitable causes, including for the poor and the needy, find their way to terrorist hands.
Most of the activity is done through mosques and the religious institutions, purchased and financed by a huge flow of money: recruitment, socialization, ideological, indoctrination and preparation for and dispatch of terrorist homicide bombings. A cycle of guidance and activity is established, through electronic means and printed material, with internal focus of attention and externalization of the blame to the colonialist infidels.
The British researcher, Adams, proved in the mid-80’s that no organization can survive without funds and the flow of huge moneys. Once the monetary pipeline is closed, the organization is doomed. Money is the lifeblood flowing in the bodies of the terrorist organizations and enables their activity. They need and receive and are dependent on a huge flow of money, and unfortunately they get it. A confrontation in the economic and monetary realm is no less important than the operative military steps. The war on this matter must be conducted ruthlessly and systematically examining all of the Islamic charity organizations, most of which serve as a most vital conduit for the terrorist organizations. One ought not to be impressed by humanitarian and social activity because in practice, most of the money is earmarked for the families of homicide bombers, aid for imprisoned murderers, purchase of real estate and houses for families whose houses were destroyed and directly support of terrorism actions.
The optimal way to deal with terrorism and overcome it is by destroying its economic infrastructure and stopping the flow of money and toughening the control on money laundering. All of the various “charity funds” which work for terrorism must be liquidated, their funds confiscated and their heads convicted of directly supporting terrorism.
The challenge is not only to identify the charity organizations that support terrorism, but to convince the Free World’s governments to work out: to act decisively against banks that cooperate with them and to isolate economically and politically state-sponsored activity.
Last but not least is acting to consolidate international cooperation. This is perhaps the important pre-requisite, the aspired policy, and yet no less elusive issue. In the wake of the September 11, the traumatized world was promised that an international coalition would form, like the one against Hitler and the one against Saddam Hussein, in order to liberate the world from the nightmare of the new Huns. It yet did that not happen, and the march of the folly of irresponsible Western leaders, who are oblivion to the threatening situation, continue. Unfortunately, the free world has learned nothing and internalized nothing, and beyond verbal declarations there is no intention to take substantive action.
Fighting Islamic terrorism effectively is achieved only when the Free World unite its abilities, spiritual and physical. Winning over evil can truly cope with the challenges of the Islamic apocalyptic fanaticism. Paraphrasing Martin Luther King, ‘We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of cooperating against evil.’
Indeed, this is a matter of dead or alive in the case of Islam. Cooperation is really needed policy in the political, intelligence and security realms, with the objective of establishing a consortium of countries combating terrorism. As long as the cartel of ‘Global Jihad Groups’ exists, and the countries threatened by terrorism do not agree on a joint policy, Islamic terrorism will continue to succeed and thrive. The free countries must cooperate, to unite forces in a genuine profound manner in order to facilitate terrorism’s collapse. The war on terrorism is a war of nations supporting freedom against gangs crazed by fanatical ideology, lacking all human compassion and with no human inhibitions to achieving the objective of subduing the free world.
This is a war, which must end with a clear, unambiguous victory, without it the world will return to the darkness of the Middle-Ages, as the researcher Ferguson stress. Europe will not be saved, without American intervention, as it was the situation in two World wars. Thus recommendation of researchers is to consolidate a joint policy, not only concerning intelligence, which is already exists, but especially on the political echelon and the military activity. Otherwise, these fanatics will succeed in bringing their past of the 7th century into the future of our humanity.
Concluding remarks. Islamic Jihad is a worldwide strategic lethal threat. It is a plague, which may set on fire the whole world. If it is not stopped, it will succeed in bringing the Islamic past of the 7th century back to the future of humanity. The battlefield is horrible: any scenario is possible, even the most unimaginative and most unbelievable one: biological, chemical, and atomic warfare is potentially at the hands of fanatics, which are determined to use it. This is the new era of total terrorism, in which there are no human rules and no moral, and there is total de-humanization of “the infidels”.
The gravest mistake is to regard terrorism as criminal phenomenon, which can be solved by social concessions and economic improvements. The second grave mistake is to think that should be a combined policy of fighting terrorism and finding a political horizon. The war against terrorism is total, and the aim is to liquidate it, without any concessions. The third grave mistake is the pervasive despair that one cannot win out this war, and it will continue to be a painful part in modern life. The fourth grave mistake is making a moral equivalence between terrorist perpetrators, who are the total evil, and the counter-terrorist activity of governments. The fifth grave mistake is to deal with terrorism on the judicial ground. If so, it should be executed only in special military courts, and with special judicial procedures of emergency legislation.
The war over Islamic terrorism it can be won out with determination, resilience, and with decisiveness. If one does not initiate, not only the war erupts, but the price in human casualties and suffering will be unbearable. International organizations, negotiations, mediation and policy of appeasement are not only futile and useless, but encouraging these tyrants to continue with their deeds. Defensive measures will not succeed even in the short run. Its threats will definitely grow, and the price needed to fight against it in the future will be much higher.
Since the Free world is under existential threat, military power against brutal and vicious tyrants is demanded and it is crucial to be fought without hesitations and limitations. The natural desire to stability and adherence to peace is justified. But when it comes to paralyze the needed offensive against existential dangers of Islamic terrorism, it becomes a crime. The liquidation the terrorist groups’ leaders at all levels and preventing financial flaw to terrorist organizations are a crucial must.
However, if the Free World continues its oblivious policy as if Islamic terrorism, which has no mercy, no restraints, nor do they obey any basic human laws, is nothing serious, it would be defeated and lost. In the words of Amil Imani, Islam is a formidable enemy in a Trojan horse. Islam is based on hatred and war-mongering with the aim to conquer the world; to submit and subdue humanity; and to bring it back to their 7th century desert. Islam has penetrated the democracies with the aim of replacing civility and liberty with the barbarism of theocracy, and it aims to destroy all the virtues that freedom offer.
Muslims in Western democracies, Imani continues, exhibit incredible audacity as to shamelessly demand that their benevolent hosts surrender their liberties and legalize and adopt the Shari’ah. Once it is recognized, to any extent, it will reach out to submit free society to its laws and rulings. Islam is incompatible with democracy and liberalism; Islam is in total contrast to human rights, freedoms and basic civil liberties. The hydra of Islam is lashing out. It will devour the free world and it assuredly slaughter all who stand against them. Yet, the Free World does not listen; it ignores the lethal hazards; and it does nothing out of paralyzed fear. It is imperative that we fight this lethal danger with the same determination that we fought other enemies of freedom such as Nazism, Fascism, and Communism.
We need a new kind of leadership, committed, courageous, who is not afraid to face the truth, to tell the truth, and to mobilize and motivate for the truth, aimed at fighting back in order to keep our freedoms possibly our existence as free society. The model is the leadership of Winston Churchill in WWII. On May 15 1940, Churchill addressed his immortal speech, to tell his people the truth of “blood, sweat and tears”.
“What is our policy? Our policy is to wage an all-out war against evil and hideous terror very few of it has been existed in the dark history of human crime. You ask what is our objective? The answer is only one word: victory. Victory by all the means and the abilities we can allocate… Because without victory, there will be no existence to our nation… And there will be no power for the generations to come to push mankind forward. Let’s move forward together, with our combined power, and by God’s help we will prevail.”
After a New Massacre, Charges That ISIS Is Operating With Assad and the Russians
Authors: Anne Speckhard, Ardian Shajkovci
On July 25 in the Syrian province of Sweida a massacre began in the early morning. Ten jihadists from the so-called Islamic State entered Sweida town. They wore the traditional baggy trousers and loose-fitting overgarments of Druze men, but beneath the clothes they had hidden explosive vests. Three detonated in the main vegetable market, then one of them accompanied the many injured to the hospital and set off his explosive charge there. The other six suicide bombers were overcome before they could detonate, according to senior officials in the Druze community.
At the same time, hundreds of ISIS fighters entered three nearby villages, moving house-by-house slitting throats and shooting to death men, women and children. Some reported that the killers left a witness from each family alive to tell their hideous story. In all, 273 Druze were killed and 220 injured, Druze officials told us.
They strongly suspect that the attack by ISIS was carried out in cooperation with the Russian-backed Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad, and this is corroborated to some extent by ISIS prisoners we have interviewed who are being held by U.S.-allied Kurdish forces here in northern Syria. The Druse politicians and officials came here to try to forge an alliance with like-minded Kurds for mutual self-protection, which is when they told us the details of the massacre.
News of the atrocity has been reported internationally, but the story behind it still is not well understood.
The Druze are one of the smaller minorities in Syria, perhaps three percent of the population. But their reputation as fighters in the wars of the Levant goes back centuries. Altogether, they number about a million adherents of a monotheistic, Abrahamic faith mingling elements of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, but also beliefs in reincarnation. Long persecuted for their beliefs, they keep their scriptures secret.
Their lands and their strongholds traditionally have been in the mountains of Syria and Lebanon, although some Druze are in Jordan and a large contingent are in Israel. Many live outside the region as well, and fit easily into the secular West. (Amal Clooney, for instance, is from an influential Druze family in Lebanon.) In Syria, the hills east and south of Damascus officially are known as Jabal al-Druze, the Druze mountain, and the communities that live there are very close-knit.
To this day, Druze fighters are well represented in the militaries of Lebanon and Israel, and until recently of Syria as well. But when the Syrian uprising of 2011 turned violent, Druze leaders decided to stay neutral in the conflict. They called those serving in the Syrian army to desert and return home. Druze officials we spoke to, who did not want to be quoted by name, claim to have their own militia of 53,000 – reservists, military deserters and young men whom they have trained – ready to defend their Syrian heartland.
As the ISIS massacres in the Sweida region began just after dawn, mysteriously, telephone land lines and electricity in the area had been cut off. But the news spread by cell phone, and well-armed Druze men came out in droves to defend their population. “The big battle started around noon and lasted until 8 p.m,” said one Druze official who joined the fight.
According to the Druze politicians we talked to, there were approximately 400 combatants from ISIS, or Daesh as they are called here, facing thousands of individually armed Druze who rose to fight — and who did not take prisoners.
“Currently 250 Daesh are dead,” one Druze official told us. “There are no injured [ISIS fighters]. We killed them all and more are killed every day in ongoing skirmishes in which the Daesh attackers continue to come from the desert to attack. Every day we discover the bodies of injured Daesh who died trying to withdraw. Due to the rugged terrain, Daesh could not retrieve them with their four-wheel-drives. We have no interest to bury them.”
Of 10 known ISIS captives taken during the fighting, three were hanged immediately. Another was captured and hanged during skirmishes earlier this week. The Druze officials said that the Syrian authorities are demanding any surviving ISIS captives be turned over to them, but the Druze are refusing to do so.
The horror of the Sweida massacre in an area most considered safe—and in these last moments when ISIS rule in Syria appears to be all but over—was magnified when the Druze learned that some of their women and children had been taken captive by ISIS cadres. “Most of the Daesh attackers were killed,” a Druze official told us. “The only escapees were those who were kidnapped in the first village: 29 women, teenagers and babies.”
One 19-year-old student already has been beheaded by ISIS, which also quickly posted pictures of their Druze female captives and demanded that the Syrian regime stop attacking them and exchange ISIS prisoners held by the regime for these women and children.
In addition to the sensational pictures of the helpless women holding their hands above their heads in the desert, ISIS sent a video of one of their Druze captives, 35-year-old A Shalguinz, who delivered her baby in the desert.
“Daesh said they will make them sabaya [slaves] if the regime doesn’t’ give 100 prisoners to them and the regime refused,” one of our interlocutors told us.
People in the Middle East constantly speculate about the machinations of their governments and political parties, and rumors are taken seriously since verifiable facts often are hard or impossible to come by. But the Assad regime and ISIS at this moment have a coincidence of interests that is hard to mistake.
Assad currently is readying his troops and Russian- and Iranian-backed allies to attack the jihadist militants in Idlib, and the Druze leaders we talked to feel that their people were directly punished for not agreeing to join the Syrians in that operation.
Replaying the events that occurred prior to the slaughter and kidnapping, one Druze leader points out that about a week before the massacre, “Three Russian military officers came to the region to meet the political representatives of our area. They were meeting to create the 5th army in the region, exclusively for that region, so that all the young Druze who fled the Syrian Army and the Druze reservists are invited back.”
If the Druze have anything like as many as the 53,000 combatants they claim, obviously they could be hugely valuable to the regime’s army. But that was not going to happen.
“We don’t attack outside of our area. We only defend ourselves if necessary,” said the same official. “They came and said, ‘We’ll make the 5th battalion to protect the area. They can join the combat against al Nusra [al Qaeda linked jihadists] in Idlib,” he explained. “But the local representative answered them clearly, that they cannot join any Syrian Army to combat outside the mountain of the Druze, only defensive not offensive actions.”
Assad’s alleged complicity with ISIS is long, gruesome, and well documented. Recently he has had a policy of allowing armed militants to escape from cities in busses, ostensibly to reduce the risk of civilian casualties.
““It is known that Daesh militants in the suburbs of Damascus have been displaced to the east of Sweida in green buses by an agreement with the government: 1,400 Daesh were moved this way to the area east of Sweida and near the Tanf base of the Americans,” one of our Druze sources told us.
The U.S. garrison at al-Tanf sits on the strategic Baghdad-Damascus highway, located in Syria on the Iraqi border and within miles of the Jordanian border. This outpost has served as a launching point since 2016 for counter-ISIS operations including training for Syrian opposition factions fighting ISIS, al-Nusra and other jihadists.
“Adding to that, 1,000 combatants of Daesh came in a discreet way from the Yarmouk area [a Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus] to join the local Daesh, estimated at 2,000 to 3,000 combatants,” said one of the Druze officials who talked to us. “We know this by internal sources of the Syrian army. There are still some Druze of the army who leak this information to us.” In these transfers, ISIS fighters “have the right to take their individual Kalashnikov and three magazines. According to the government all of them came armed this way as the Syrian government gave them this safe passage to move to our area.”
“On the 24th of July most of the official checkpoints of the Syrian army around Sweida were withdrawn—all around the villages where the massacres occurred,” this Druze official told us. “They hit at 7 a.m., but at night something else was happening. Where the villages are—facing the Daesh area—the Syrian army withdrew the local weapons from the local protection militias. No one knew why. They also withdrew their checkpoint in the area and cut the electricity and local phone service. The regime was a spectator to the massacre.”
“We think there is complicity between Daesh and the regime,” another of the Druze leaders said. “It’s so obvious to us. The regime refused to send ambulances to assist the population. They cut the electricity as well and the local telephone service to make it difficult to communicate. They couldn’t cut the mobiles.”
One of the 10 captured ISIS attackers admits on an interrogation video shared by the Druze leaders that in the village massacres a man from the Syrian government guided them from house to house, knocking on the doors and calling the inhabitants by name so they would unwittingly open their doors to the ISIS attackers.
This is not the first time we have heard of such cynical and deadly complicity between the Assad regime and the ISIS terrorists it supposedly is fighting. We have interviewed, now, 91 men and women who defected from ISIS or were taken prisoner by the forces fighting it. They have told us that ISIS sold grain and oil to the Syrian government while in return they were supplied with electricity, and that the Syrians even sent in experts to help repair the oil facility in Deir ez Zour, a major city in southeast Syria, under ISIS protection. Early in the the revolution, Bashar al-Assad released al Qaeda operatives and other jihadists from his prison to make the case that he was fighting terrorists, not rebellious people hoping for democracy. One of those jihadists he released, known as Alabssi, was one of the ISIS leaders in the battle in Sweida.
In neighboring Iraq, ISIS has been declared militarily defeated since November 2017. President Donald Trump, in his state of the union speech in January this year, said, “I’m proud to report that the coalition to defeat ISIS has liberated very close to 100 percent of the territory just recently held by these killers in Iraq and in Syria.” But on the ground, U.S.-led coalition forces say that in the area patrolled by Americans and their close allies, around 1,000 ISIS militants are still at large. And an estimated 9,000 ISIS militants are still roaming free in Syria and Iraq. And in both places heinous attacks continue to occur.
Where did the fighters come from who carried out the massacre in Sweida? Ten ISIS fighters were captured and hundreds killed. According to our sources 83 ID cards were recovered. Most were Chechens, Palestinians from the Syrian camps, and some Saudis. There was a Moroccan and a Turkman among them, a Russian and a Libyan, as well as some Iraqis. Supposedly the brother of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS, commanded the assault.
The Chechens who were slain were all wearing suicide vests—as usual, our source said. Those who attacked in the center of Sweida wore suicide vests, but so did the snipers using powerful rifles to shoot from distant rooftops. “That’s where most our casualties came from,” said one of the Druze officials. “It seems ISIS is alive and well despite international reports that they are defeated, or nearly defeated.”
One of the officials will only speak to us anonymously out of concern the attack can be repeated. “If they kidnap one, they will kidnap more,” he worries. Some 114 villages and small towns are around Sweida with half a million Druze living there.
The leaders of Druze mountain tell us that they are now also appealing to the international community to be protected by an international force, as the Kurdish area is protected by the Americans, and to assist them to bring back the kidnapped women to their families.
“To safeguard our community and to protect the diversity in the future of Syria, we need to create a crescent against aggressors,” said one of the politicians. Running from north to south, including parts of Iraq, it would protect the Kurds, the Yazidis, Christians, and Druze. “The minorities are looking to the Coalition as the only credible force in the area,” he said, adding, “The crescent strategically speaking would also cut the Iranians from access to the regime.”
The world must decide whether or not to respond, but the record thus far does not hold out much hope.
Author’s note: This piece first published at the Daily Beast
The armed conflict between ISIS and al Qaeda has reached its climax
How Central Asian jihadists kill each other in Syria?
Exactly one year ago, on July 10, 2017, the Islamic state citadel of Mosul city was liberated and, as a result, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi solemnly announced that the Caliphate in Iraq had finally and irrevocably fallen.More than three months later, on October 17, 2017, the Kurdish combat units of the Syrian Democratic Forces, with the support of the aviation of the international anti-terrorist coalition led by the United States, drove out the Islamic State from the Syrian city of Raqqa.
But, as the terrorist attacks carried out by the supporters of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in July 2018 in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Canada showed, the Islamic state managed to regain its strength over the past year and further expanded the geography of its military operations. While victorious fanfares sounded, ISIS fighters successfully mastered the tactics of guerrilla warfare and deeply integrated into the Sunni population of the Middle East and Central Asia. Pinpoint terrorist strikes clearly indicate that the victory over the Islamic state is still far away and the jihadists are determined to take revenge. Today ISIS is conducting an intense offensive guerrilla war not only against Western countries and government regimes in the region but also against the Taliban and armed groups of alQaeda, who are its ideological rivals for leadership in the jihadist world.
In this brutal and intra-factional war between ISIS Islamist groups on the one hand, and al Qaeda and Taliban on the other hand, the jihadists of the Central Asia’s five countries, called the “Stans”, are actively participating.Islamists from the Fergana Valley, because of ideological confrontation, were divided into supporters of al-Baghdadi and Ayman al-Zawahiri and often commit terrorist acts against each other in Syria.
According to the Hayat Tahrir al Sham–affiliated information agency Ebaa, on July 9, 2018, an attack was carried out in Syria’s city Idlib against the amir’s house of the Central Asian terrorist group Katibat al Tawhid wal Jihad Abu Saloh. As a result of the attack, his wife and four-year-old son were killed. The Uzbek jihadists’ leader himself was not injured. Security officer Hayat Tahrir al-Sham Anas al-Sheikh said that the house of Abu Saloh was attacked by an armed Khawarij (al Qaeda uses the term “Khawarij” as a synonym for ‘extremist’ to describe members of the ISIS), who was detained by the security forces of the city after hot pursuit.During the interrogation, a member of the Islamic state confessed to the crime. He was recruited by ISIS in Turkey. Later “Khawarij” was executed, Ebaa agency reported.
This is not the first victim among the Central Asian jihadists as a result of an armed confrontation between ISIS and al Qaeda. On April 27, 2017, during the evening prayer in the mosque of a Syrian city of Idlib, leader of the al Qaeda-backed Katibat Imam al Bukhari Sheikh Salahuddin was killed by an ISIS militant who was from Uzbekistan. The Islamic State distributed the following statement via Telegram messenger in this regard, “The emir of detachment of Katibat al-Imam Bukhari, Sheikh Salahuddin, was punished according to Sharia law for all the betrayals he committed.”Two ISIS terrorists from Uzbekistan and Tajikistan who murdered the Sheikh Salahuddin were detained and executed.
Lately in the northwestern province of Idlib, which is the last stronghold of the Syrian armed opposition, terrorist attacks of ISIS militants on military and religious sites al Qaeda-backed Hayat Tahrir al-Sham sharply intensified.Lately in the northwestern province of Idlib, which is the last stronghold of the Syrian armed opposition, terrorist attacks of ISIS militants on military and religious sites of al Qaeda-backed Hayat Tahrir al-Sham sharply intensified.
Terrorist organizations from Central Asia such as Katibat al Tawhid wal Jihad, Katibat al-Imam Bukhari, as well as Uyghur groups from Chinese Xinjiang, the Turkestan Islamic Party and Katibat al-Ghuraba are located in Idlib.All of them were affiliated with al Qaeda and were fighting within the largest jihadist group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham. The Salafi-jihadi ideologues of the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham are making efforts to transform the Idlib province into an emirate ruled under Shariah.
According the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, 229 jihadists of al Qaeda were assassinated by ISIS terrorist attacks. Of these, 153 fighters belong to Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, al Qaeda-linked jihadist group Ahrar al-Sham, Jaysh al-Izza, and other factions operating in Idlib. 25 jihadists of Uzbek, Uyghur and Caucasian nationalities have been assassinated in the same ways.
Caliphate rising from the ashes
On July 12, 2018, ISIS’ media center Amaq issued the message with three images from an improvised explosive device attack in Idlib city. The target was Sheikh Anas Ayrout, the President of the Court of Appeal in Idlib, a longtime opposition figure and senior Sharia official who played a key role in the formation of the Syrian Salvation Government. Based on Shariah rule the Syrian Salvation Government is a civil authority formed in Idlib province in early November 2017 and backed by the rebel coalition Hayat Tahrir al-Sham.
A pinpoint attempt on such a high ranking religious and political figure indicates that the explosion was not accidental or chaotic.The al-Baghdadi militants have studied the possible routes of Sheikh Anas Ayrout and easily identified his car. They received from the Syrian Salvation Government information about when he would travel on this route.From this, it can be concluded that the Islamic state succeeded in introducing its agents into the military and religious structures of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and created a complex network of underground cells throughout Syria, including the Idlib province.
On July 13, 2018, the Islamic State’s propaganda machine released the information with several photos about the assassination of the Turkey-backed Sultan Murad Division rebel group’s leader Abu Ahmed al-Sansawi in Idlib city.ISIS’ photos clearly showed that the killing was a targeted assassination, during which the terrorists confidently pursued the car of al-Sansawi. This once again testifies that the underground ISIS network is organized at a high level, and they have mastered the tactics of guerrilla warfare.
The Media Center Amaq almost daily reports about Islamic state’s successful armed attacks on the positions of the “enemies of Islam” Hayat Tahrir al-Sham in the province of Idlib.Indeed, the guerrilla attacks and terrorist acts of the supporters of al-Baghdadi not only complicated the life of al-Qaeda-backed jihadists in Idlib, but they also caused a more serious threat to the security and defense of the entire armed Syrian opposition, than a possible attack by the Assad army and Iranian proxy Shiite militias with the support of Russian aviation.
On July 25, 2018, ISIS gunmen committed the bloodiest attack in Syria’s history in the southwestern Sweida province, killing 215 people and injuring 180 people.The sad reality is that the fighters of al Baghdadi survived the air strikes of the Western coalition and today continue to pour out streams of blood in Sham.They are trying to prove to the outside world and the entire Sunni jamaat that, despite the fall of Mosul and Raqqa, the military, human and organizational potential of the ISIS remains high.
Today, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and the Central Asian Salafi-jihadi groups have to fight on three fronts: with the armed forces of the Assad regime, the Iranian controlled Shiite proxy units and ideological opponents of the Islamic state.If the war with the first two is outlined by a clear front line, then the fight against ISIS is conducted as an invisible guerrilla war.
Since 2017, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham regularly conducts a security campaign to identify ISIS clandestine cells and eliminate its agents in the province of Idlib.But it is very difficult to solve the problem of ensuring the security.To intimidate those who support the emir of the overthrown Caliphate al Baghdadi and those who sympathize with him, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham began to publicly execute the ISIS prisoners of war.
On July 14, Anas Sheikh, a security officer inIdlib, told Eba news agency that in the village of Sarmin,Hayat Tahrir al-Sham executed 8 ISIS members led by their commander Abu Barra Sahili. As evidence, the group’s propagandists published a photo of executed terrorists.
On July 24, Eba agency reported that HTS militants destroyed a large cell of the Islamic state in the village of Jisr Shugur in the west of Idlib.As a result, the deputy amir of ISIS in Idlib Abu Said al-Shishani was captured and immediately executed. His photo was published on the Eba website.
Abu Said al-Shishani was the brother of ISIS military minister, Abu Omar al-Shishani (real name Tarkhan Batirashvili), a well-known Chechen terrorist and the closest military adviser to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.The US Treasury Department added Batirashvili to its list of “Specially Designated Global Terrorists”, and the US government announced a reward up to $5 million for information leading to his capture in 2015.
A sacrifice of the pure Islam
It should be noted that according to the direction of al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri,Hayat Tahrir al Sham and Central Asian jihadist groups avoided publicizing public executions of their enemies.But the difficult situation caused by the terrorist attacks of ISIS, apparently, forced the ideologists of al Qaeda to change the tactics of their propaganda.
In response, the jihadists of the Islamic state staged a wave of terror in the province of Idlib, as revenge for the murder of their members.They named their operation in honor of the murdered commander Abu Barra Sahili.Such a tradition was initiated by al Baghdadi himself.Earlier, ISIS carried out a military operation in honor of the lost military minister, Abu Omar al-Shishani, and in honor of the official spokesperson and senior leader of the Caliphate, Abu Mohammad al-Adnani.
The ideological rivalry and armed conflict between al Qaeda and ISIS for the leadership in the jihadist world has reached its peak.As is known, both terrorist groups are fighting for the purity of Islam.Both seek to establish Sharia laws, create an Islamic caliphate and to spread it around the world.ISIS ideologists consider the supporters of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham apostates and kaafirs (infidels).Al Qaeda described the supporters of the Islamic state as Khawarij (the early Islamic sect that was involved in the disruption of the unity of the Muslims and rebelled against the Khalifah).
From the analysis of ISIS activities over the last six months, it can be concluded that, firstly, the group leaders are trying to compensate for the loss of the Caliphate with abundant terrorist acts behind enemy lines and by expanding the geography of “the holy war.” Secondly, the supporters of the Islamic state managed to create at an advanced level an expanded underground network among Sunni Muslims in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkey, Yemen and Egypt. Thirdly, the publication of statements and press releases in the Amaq News Agency show that terrorist acts in different countries and regions are managed from a single ISIS center.
From a practical point of view, fighting between jihadists of the Islamic state and al Qaeda is beneficial to all countries that are fighting Islamist extremism and terrorism. A long and bloody confrontation will undoubtedly weaken the human, technical and financial potential of both Salafi-jihadi groups.
Total Catastrophe Demands Total Solution: Boko Haram and the Dilemma of Northeast Nigeria
The Boko Haram insurgency, far from being over and ravaging Northeastern Nigeria, has affected both the physical and social environment and led to displacing many residents of the Northeast from their homes. The Boko Haram insurgency, which can be traced back to the year 2009, has resulted in a grave humanitarian crisis with so many internally displaced persons in dire need of global intervention and assistance from donor agencies and states. The insurgency since 2013 has led to the displacement of 2.4 million people, including women and children making up the highest percentage most affected by the conflict. Food insecurity remains a major concern to the international community, with 5.2 million people in need of life-saving food assistance, especially those who are in IDP camps. Also, there is a growing health challenge being experienced by internally displaced persons. For instance, on 16 August 2017 a cholera outbreak was reported on the outskirts of Borno’s capital, Maiduguri, and later on in Dikwa and Monguno as well. Within just two weeks there were 125 suspected/confirmed cases as well as eight suspected cholera-related deaths. These health challenges facing IDPs won’t change in the foreseeable future due to the limited humanitarian aid from donor agencies. Thus, these entirely preventable diseases are becoming endemic throughout the northeast.
Also in August 2017 there were major attacks against civilians, including despicable suicide bombings inside of IDP camps. Over 10 suicide bombing attacks took place during the reported period in Borno alone. These attacks have understandably discouraged humanitarian agencies from deploying their aid workers to the theatre of the conflict. Considering the high risks posed by the Boko Haram insurgency, most aid workers are unwilling to work in the Northeast part of Nigeria entirely, which consequently means the fate of all the IDPs there, within camps and without, are at the mercy of Boko Haram.
In order to ensure that humanitarian actors can continue to address the most pressing needs, physical access must be improved in northeast Nigeria which will help reduce the dilemma confronting IDPs in the region. It was discovered that by August 2017 the lack of access in certain areas of northeast Nigeria prevented food security organizations from reaching over 337,000 affected persons. Furthermore, the unpredictable internal migration movements of IDPs continue to pose a grave challenge to humanitarian agencies’ ability to respond in a timely and targeted manner. There is a collective agreement by all the non-Boko Haram northeast stakeholders that a return to normalcy and comprehensive resettlement of all IDPs across the region is the penultimate goal, second only to ensuring stable economic growth for the region’s sustainable redevelopment as the ultimate fight against extremism. This collective agreement has led the federal government of President Muhammadu Buhari to intensify its efforts to bring normalcy to the region and resettlement of all IDPs by directly engaging selected Boko Haram-controlled areas. In the meantime, however, this engagement increases the instability (if also dynamism) of the IDP situation.
According to the UNHCR December 2016 Report, out of the estimated 176,000 Nigerians (a sub-set of the total 2.3 Million IDPs) who fled to neighboring countries (Cameroon, Chad, and Niger), only 17,000 have returned and under circumstances falling far short of international standards. In many of these cases, the returnees are being processed to join other IDPs in formal and informal camps. This above report shows a certain level of dynamism, as they indicate that the returns are beginning to happen spontaneously. For instance, 2016 governmental reports on return assessments indicated that an estimated total of 332,333 IDPs (47,476 IDP households) returned to northern Adamawa (Mubi North, Mubi South, Michika, Maiha, Hong and Gombi). IDPs in Yobe are also beginning to relocate to communities and camps close to their original communities and only Borno State currently has the slowest rates of IDP returns. This is on account of the intermittent progress being made by the Nigerian military to defeat Boko Haram and the fact that many IDPs indicated a strong willingness to return of their own accord to their home communities if safety and security was at least semi-guaranteed. However, the comprehensive and full resettlement and return of IDPs to their homes depends largely on the total defeat of Boko Haram insurgents. Despite progress by the Nigerian military, that total victory is far from achieved or guaranteed.
There is a dire need for infrastructural development in the region as the Boko Haram insurgency has resulted in the destruction of facilities and installations, especially healthcare and educational institutions throughout the northeast. This dearth of infrastructural development has generated immense concerns which led to the National Assembly putting forward a bill to begin engineering this essential development of the region. Most recently, there was the signing of the Northeast Development Commission Bill by President Buhari. This law provides for the establishment of the Northeast Development Commission (NEDC). How effective this will be in bringing meaningful development to the conflict-ravaged region depends largely on how much funding is diverted to it and how sincerely and honestly will the commission manage those funds?
Thus, the way forward to ensure lasting peace while overcoming the grave humanitarian crisis confronting the northeast part of Nigeria is for the federal government (through its military and executive branch) to intensify efforts and show a high level of commitment toward not only defeating Boko Haram insurgents but making the economic, social, and food security of all citizens there politically paramount. Humanitarian global actors should also increase their efforts by committing more personnel physically to the region, thus reinforcing the commitment of the Nigerian government. Finally, the management of the Northeast Development Commission (NEDC) should be free of corruption and manipulation when rebuilding the northeast, in order to avoid the pitfalls that bedeviled an earlier commission with similar mandate, the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). Until all parties involved, local and global, understand the holistic effort needed to not just overcome extremist elements but make Nigeria truly safe for all Nigerians, then the scourge of Boko Haram will continue.
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