Monday, June 23, 2014

#ISIS is Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's Dream Come True in Iraq

The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) is not an "offshoot" or an "affiliate" of al-Qaeda in Iraq. It is al-Qaeda in Iraq, updated and expanded into Syria, with new leadership at the helm. Very few media outlets have resisted using the false characterization of ISIS as an abandoned stepchild of Ayman al Zawahiri. At most there's a leadership quarrel at the top levels of organization, without which no one would be saying how much more horrible is ISIS than al-Qaeda. It's a stupid and malicious program of downplaying the evil and significance of al-Qaeda's global jihad. IBD is one of the few outlets that truly gets it, as seen in its piece the other day, "#ISIS Coming to America: 'See You in New York'."

However, this morning's Los Angeles Times does an excellent job of putting ISIS in the context of al-Qaeda's religious and ideological program for the global holy war. See, "Long-dead militant's battle plan resurrected in Iraq":
ISIS in many ways seems better equipped for a long, complex insurgency than its precursor organization of a decade ago, Zarqawi's Al Qaeda in Iraq. Rebranded as the Islamic State of Iraq after Zarqawi was killed in a U.S. airstrike in 2006, the group exploited a U.S. military occupation to rally its fighters. Its current incarnation has railed against the Iraqi government that was formed during the U.S. occupation and has been led by Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, a Shiite who critics say has systematically marginalized minority Sunnis.

Now headed by Abu Bakr Baghdadi, a reclusive former teacher, the group added Syria to its name to reflect its widening ambitions. In March 2013, ISIS seized the Syrian city of Raqqah, the first provincial capital it held, and by taking several more cities in eastern Syria over the last year the group has gained what Zarqawi wanted but never had: a safe haven in which to hide fighters and plot major operations.

In his 2004 letter to Al Qaeda leadership, Zarqawi lamented his inability to invite large numbers of foreign Islamic militants to Iraq to help fight U.S. and Iraqi forces.

"What prevents us from [calling] a general alert is that the country has no mountains in which we can take refuge and no forests in whose thickets we can hide," he wrote. "Our backs are exposed and our movements compromised."

Thanks to its conquests in Syria, analysts say, ISIS has become a magnet for foreign radicals, particularly from Europe. The influx of eager fighters has allowed the group to dramatically increase the pace of its attacks in Iraq over the last 18 months even as it continues to battle President Bashar Assad's troops in Syria.
Read the whole thing at the link.

Remember, Zarqawi personally beheaded numerous hostages and al-Qaeda in Iraq gained notorious propaganda victories by posted those to online videos, an early exploitation of social media, before Twitter was invented. Bare Naked Islam has Zarqawi's execution of American contractor Nicholas Berg here, "AMERICAN ‘Leftist’ NICK BERG’S BEHEADING (WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES)." Today's mass beheadings by ISIS forces advancing toward Baghdad are not new, only a more widespread campaign of terror that has been the hallmark of al-Qaeda's totalitarian jihad.

Al-Qaeda in Iraq's leadership struggle began in 2005, when Zawahiri wrote a letter to Zarqawi warning against building flamboyant "cults of personality," though seeking compromise on the organization's ideological program. See Long War Journal, "Dear Zarqawi: A Letter from Zawahiri, and a Constitutional Compromise." And that is key: Today ISIS in Iraq is securing the Islamic caliphate that has been the stated goal of al-Qaeda since the days of Osama bin Laden. See Walid Phares on that, for example, "Bin Laden’s Dream of a Caliphate Lives On," and Tara Servatius, "The Realization of Osama bin Laden's Dream."

In 2011, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger warned that the Arab Spring revolution would bring the most fundamental change in international politics "we have known since World War Two." In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood came to power following the elections of June 2012, but was later ousted when the military toppled the government of Mohamed Morsi last year. But now with ISIS establishing a quasi-state stretching from Raqqah in Syria to Mosul in Iraq and beyond, Zarqawi's dream of the Islamic caliphate is coming to fruition, as brutal as ever, and with an endless supply of jihadists ready to die in the name of Allah.