Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Isis

Notes and tidbits posted on FB and Twitter. Part 99

Note 1: I take notes of books I read and comment on events and edit sentences that fit my style. The page is long and growing like crazy, and the sections I post contains months-old events that are worth refreshing your memory.

Il y a trop de pauvre gens: Je demande Equite’ au lieu d’egalite’ pour commencer. Un sens pragmatique que tout le monde sent qu’ils ne sont pas egaux ou ne le veulent pas

Too many poor people that elite classes require that they are needed: apply equitable laws and refrain from the non pragmatic “equality” rhetoric. 

The range of grievances in quality and a quantity increases with mastering the language.

All those invented new jargon by gang youth are symptoms of their inability to articulate in common language their new grievances and sorrows to a community that does not share their life-styles

Writing is the best means of expressing our list of doleances, as we feel a lack of quick verbal intelligence for effective communication of our miseries, or inability to associate with people and feel comfortable in gathering

Il y a toujours, faute de mieux, la passion de l’echec et ca arrive un peu au tard. Une passion est une passion et vaut mieux que nulle

Le probleme majeur du regime Syrien durant la period 2011-14 c’ est qu’ il bombardait les villes des Syriens civils du Nord, et quotidiennement avec des barils devastateurs. Pour quelles raisons? Pour qu’ ils fuient dans les campagnes et la Turkie? Et les Islamistes provenaient en premier temps a la survie des restant.
Al Nusra et ISIS partagent les memes positions sur le status des femmes: ma fi 3akel
Pour recevoir les revenus de l’ association de “charite'” Al Ihsan a Idlib, les veuves etaient forcees de se soumettre aux dictats de Ahrar Al Cham, allie’ d’ Al Nusra.
Et les fils-peres celibataires? A qui peuvent-ils s’ adresser pour secour? Bein sure, a la grande-mere si elle est tolerante.
Quel espece de voleur serait-il s’ il avoue pendant l’ interrogation? Ce ne serait plus drole
Robe de soir transparent? A tout? Quelles instructions l’ industrie de la mode donne-t-elle aux males? Sorte of “Warning” tags
Les courts supremes ont un mal fou a definir l’ obscenite’: Ils sont tous d’ accord quand meme.
There is no avoiding the total silence of coming major cataclysms: We pray for some noises to avoid death 
Reasonable people know about experimental concepts, requirements, and limitations.
L’avenir, cette etrange menace: Mon fils veut etre President d’une Republique. 
If you are interested in a topic, write about it…” Good or bad, at least you reached a position on the topic. 
The environment of reading needs to acquires a festive feeling and joy. And if you got the habit of writing, you’ll write a couple of articles just by reading and perusing a few book strewn around you…
Writing was my best means to bypass the world of rational thinking and discovering the wide set of emotional intelligence.
Take any story of any colonial period, change the names of the colons and settlers to the after independence autochtones, and the story can stand alone, unchanged, same background, same content, same dialogue, same psychological framework.

Forcing face-to-face negotiations with extremist factions are bearing fruits

Question: Can you resume fighting, with the same abstract zeal, after you were squarely militarily defeated, surrendered and negotiated for your life and potential freedom?

Facts on the ground are proving that after surrender negotiation you become more reflective on your previous behavior and start a respectful communication with your previous hated enemy.

USA/Israel strategy and purpose is to maintain this abstract hatred within the extremist factions and prevent any face-to-face communication and negotiations. Iran discovered this evil strategy and worked to counter it.

USA/Israel are scared shit of Iran because it demonstrated the determined capacity to sustain long-term strategies against current obstacles and sustained campaign of “denigrement” (heaping on them all kinds of evil behavior)

Iran has infused to Hezbollah of Lebanon, the Syrian army and Russia this patient capacity to sustain long-term strategy consequences against short-term impatient reactions that the world community is pressuring them to behave accordingly.

USA/Israel can plan for the long-term, but their arrogance in the last 3 decades robbed them from the capacity to sustain any long-term planning with any consistency to destabilizing the Middle-East.

The Syrian regime negotiated countless agreements with extremist factions, after they were militarily and economically cornered, to transfer to the province of Edleb (north-west province of Syria bordering Turkey) and secure its internal security and start the reconstruction.

Hezbollah of Lebanon defeated Al Nusra in the eastern mountain chains of Lebanon (Jroud Ersaal) and negotiated with 1,000 fighters, and 7,000 other extremist supporters, to move to Edlib with their families.

The same happened with Daesh on Lebanon borders (Jroud Al Qaa3) and negotiations allowed 300 fighters to transfer with their families to the border city with Iraq of Boukamal.

USA expressed its ire with this negotiation that it bombed the bridge on the way to prevent the convoy to resume its transfer across the eastern desert stretch in the Euphrates.

In all these negotiations, Syria agreed upon them and provided the necessary buses to accomplish the transfer across her territory.

In the Edleb province, those factions that were allowed to transfer are putting the pressure on the “original” Al Nusra faction to ease up on its control and restrictions on the daily life of the people.

Eventually, with sustained period of peace, Al Nusra there will eventually sit down for meaningful political settlement with Syria administration. Regardless of Turkey refusal, but simply because the people got used to a peaceful life and refuse to resume this mindless war.

Additionally, the Syrian army and its allies are barely finding mush stubborn Daesh fighters’ resistance in their advances. Daesh fighters, when receiving order from their leaders in Raqq to resist, prefer to flee to neighboring towns, hoping that their eventual surrender to Syria Army will save their families from extermination.

Iraq, under the influence of USA, refrained to open channels of communications with Daesh (ISIS) and its victories and liberation of towns and cities resulted in countless casualties on both sides.

It is Not realistic to believe that military victories can eradicate the latent extremist abstract ideology.

While Syria and Lebanon managed to open lines of communications with extremist factions and secure the long-term appeasement of these factions, Iraq may still frequently face reactions of terrorist suicide attacks from Daesh for many years to come.

Note: On August 28, 2017, Lebanon celebrated its Second Liberation Day from concentrations of terrorist factions on all its borders. It can boast to be the first State of achieving this result, with enormous engagement of Hezbollah resistance forces and the Syrian army.

The First Liberation Day is on May 24, 2000 when Israel withdrew unilaterally from south Lebanon without any negotiation after 27 years of occupation since 1982. Israel suffered huge casualties by the Lebanese resistance forces



‘What the Isis jihadis lose in strength from the air strikes they may gain in legitimacy’

Note: Since 2014, the picture has changed drastically in perspective and on the ground. This international war on Syria that dispatched 300,000 fighters from around the world is being defeated by the Syrian people, its army and Hezbollah fighters, backed by Russia and Iran. The nemesis were USA, France, UK, Israel, Turkey, Saudi Kingdom.
Qatar supported Turkey financially to insure the logistics to the extremist Islamic factions in weapons, fighters and almost everything.
Lebanon, Iraq and Syria are very close to liberate their territories from ISIS.
Protest against the US air strikes in Raqqa, Syria, 26 September 2014.
Protest against the US air strikes, Raqqa, Syria, 26 September 2014. Photograph: Reuters

Since Islamic State (Isis) were formed in their current incarnation in April last year, they have had a dilemma: how to gain legitimacy from the local population while continuing to be ruthless and genocidal against fellow Sunnis.

The decision by the American-led coalition to strike against Isis while overlooking the Assad regime seems to have resolved this dilemma for the jihadist organisation. What Isis will lose in terms of strength and numbers as a result of the air strikes they might gain in terms of legitimacy.

Air strikes against Isis were inevitable, as the group’s advances towards Baghdad, Erbil and northern Syria seemed irreversible by local forces. But the way the US-led coalition, which the UK has now joined, has conducted itself so far threatens to worsen the situation in favour of Isis.

Most importantly, by overlooking the regime of Bashar al-Assad, which caused the death of nearly 200,000 Syrians, the air strikes create the perception that the international coalition is providing a lifeline to the regime. Despite repeated reassurance by Washington, such a perception is likely to become entrenched if the Assad regime begins to fill the vacuum left by the offensive against Isis, especially that there has been no evidence yet that the opposition forces are part of the military strategy against Isis.

The regime might deliberately step up its campaign in some areas to retake areas it has recently lost to the jihadist group to reinforce that perception, as Syrian officials were quick to issue statements that the regime had been briefed about the air raids before they were launched.Many Syrian rebel factions, including ones directly financed by the Americans and the Gulf states, expressed reservations about, or opposition to, the air strikes, including Harakat Hazm, Division 13, Suqour al-Sham.

The significance of such statements is that they are issued by groups currently operating in areas outside Isis control but which are adjacent to Isis front lines. That makes them more capable than other groups of being part of potential ground forces to attack Isis under air cover. Even though some of these groups made such pronouncements mostly for practical reasons, since they are the ones who will bear the consequences of any failure to dislodge Isis as they fight on the ground, they are also concerned that the international campaign will aid the Assad regime.

Regionally, the offensive against Isis has received a similar cynical reaction from groups and people in the Middle East. The Muslim Brotherhood, including prominent figures such as Doha-based Yusuf al-Qaradawi, condemned the attacks inside Syria.

Arab countries that have participated in the international military campaign (Not in soldiers) including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan, have been particularly criticised for failing to push for a formula that undermines Isis and Assad at the same time. In comparison, Iran opposed the air strikes against Isis in Syria while Turkey made it clear that the offensive would fail without moves to undermine the Assad regime, including a no-fly zone. (Turkey is becoming the main culprit in sustaining Al Nusra terrorists in north west Syria)

These attitudes mean that Isis are set to gain from the international campaign against them, if the current strategy does not change. Based on conversations with people from eastern Syria, including Isis members and sympathisers, the offensive against Isis seems to have already achieved one thing for the jihadi group: to push some Isis members who were on the periphery into their core, and neutralise some of their Islamist opponents.

Many of Isis members are new to the group and they are still ideologically uncertain. But since Isis are now face to face with a numerically exaggerated alliance led by Washington, Isis members who could otherwise shift away from the group have become more determined adherents.

Isis can afford to lose their supply lines, infrastructure and many of their members – who are likely to be among the ones who recently joined it – as long as they can compensate by achieving popular recognition. They are already adapting to the campaign, reducing checkpoints (now mostly mobile) to a minimum and relocating weapons warehouses to safe areas in both Iraq and Syria.

People inside Syria say most of the bases or facilities hit by air strikes had been already emptied. While the air raids will surely undermine Isis’s ability to generate revenue by disrupting supply lines from factories or oilfields, Isis can survive without such easy-money resources. Also, it is important to highlight that Isis have established an intricate sleeper cell system that has not been unveiled, even when they felt secure in their territories.

Legitimacy for the fight against Isis cannot be achieved by simply having Sunni countries involved in it, but, rather, by addressing the true reasons that drove tens of thousands of Syrians to rise up against the regime.

Regardless of who is involved in the campaign, the perception is that the allies have overlooked the acts of the Assad regime over the past three years and quickly assembled a major international coalition against a group that the Syrian rebels have been fighting since last summer.

Unless the strategy against Isis shifts to a broader one that appeals to the local communities, the fight against it is doomed.

(Note: the USA still air bomb the Syrian army when it approaches ISIS strongholds)

Hassan Hassan is an analyst with the Delma Institute, a research house in Abu Dhabi. @hxhassan

Who is dangerously wrong about ISIS and Islam?

Note: In all religions, there are factions that seek interpretations and those that want to adhere literally to the words. What if initially the language had no punctuation in the first place?

On Monday, The Atlantic unveiled a new feature piece by Graeme Wood entitled “What ISIS Really Wants,” which claims to expose the foundational theology of the terror group ISIS, also called the Islamic State, which has waged a horrific campaign of violence across Iraq, Syria, and Libya over the past year.

The article is researched, and makes observations about the core religious ideas driving ISIS — namely, a dark, bloodthirsty theology that revolves around an apocalyptic narrative in which ISIS’s black-clad soldiers believe they are playing a pivotal role.

Indeed, CNN’s Peter Bergen published a similar article the next day detailing ISIS’s obsession with the end times, and cited Wood as an “excellent” source, quoting a passage from his article with the kicker “Amen to that.”

Posted on February 18, 2015

Despite this, Wood’s article has encountered staunch criticism and derision from many Muslims and academics who study Islam.

After the article was posted online, Islamic studies Facebook pages and listserves were reportedly awash with comments from intellectuals blasting the article as, among other things, “quite shocking.”

The core issue, they say, is that Wood appears to have fallen prey to an inaccurate trope all too common in many Western circles: that ISIS is an inevitable product of Islam, mainly because the Qur’an and other Islamic texts contain passages that support its horrific acts.

In his article, Wood acknowledged that most Muslims don’t support ISIS, as the sheer number of Muslim groups who have disavowed the terrorist organization or declared it unIslamic is overwhelming.

Yet he repeatedly hints that non-literal Islamic arguments against the terrorist group are useless because justifications for violence are present in texts Muslims hold sacred.

“…simply denouncing the Islamic State as un-Islamic can be counterproductive, especially if those who hear the message have read the holy texts and seen the endorsement of many of the caliphate’s practices written plainly within them.”

Wood writes. “Muslims can say that slavery is not legitimate now, and that crucifixion is wrong at this historical juncture. Many say precisely this. But they cannot condemn slavery or crucifixion outright without contradicting the Koran and the example of the Prophet.”

Although Wood qualifies his claim by pointing briefly to the theological diversity within Islam, Islam scholars argue that he glosses over one of the most important components of any faith tradition: interpretation.

Jerusha Tanner Lamptey, Professor of Islam and Ministry at Union Theological Seminary in New York, told ThinkProgress that Wood’s argument perpetuates the false idea that Islam is a literalistic tradition where violent texts are taken at face value.

“That’s very problematic to anyone who spends any of their time dealing with the diversity of interpretations around texts,” Lamptey said.

“Texts have never been only interpreted literally. They have always been interpreted in multiple ways — and that’s not a chronological thing, that’s been the case from the get-go … [Wood’s comments] create the [impression] that Islam is literalistic, backward-minded, and kind of arcane or archaic, and we’ve moved past that narrative.”

Lamptey also said that Wood’s argument overlooks other Quranic verses that, if taken literally, would contradict ISIS’s actions because “they promote equality, tolerance.”

She pointed to surah 22:39-40 in the Qur’an, which connects the permission for war with the need to protect the houses of worship of other religions — something ISIS, which has destroyed several Christian churches, clearly ignores.

“ISIS exegetes these verses away I am sure, but that’s the point,” she said. “It’s not really about one perspective being literal, one being legitimate, one ignoring things…it’s about diverse interpretations.

But alternative ones tend to not gain any footing with this kind of black-and-white rhetoric. It completely delegitimizes them.”

Shakir Waheib, a senior member of the al-Qaida breakaway group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), left, next to a burning police vehicle in Iraq's Anbar Province

Shakir Waheib, a senior member of the al-Qaida breakaway group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), left, next to a burning police vehicle in Iraq’s Anbar Province

Wood, of course, didn’t accidentally invent the idea that violent passages in Islamic texts make the religion especially prone to violence, or that ISIS’s supposedly Islamic nature is evidence of deeper issues within the tradition.

These concepts have been around for some time, but are becoming increasingly popular among two groups that usually find themselves ideologically opposed — namely, right-wing conservatives and the so-called “New Atheists,” a subset of atheism in the West.

Leaders from both camps have pointed to violent passages in the Qur’an as evidence that Islam is a ticking time bomb. Rev. Franklin Graham, son of famous evangelist Billy Graham, has regularly attacked Islam using this logic, and recently responded to questions about the Qur’an on Fox News by saying that Islam “is not a religion of peace” but a “violent form of faith.”

Similarly, talk show host and outspoken atheist Bill Maher sparred with Charlie Rose last September over ISIS, saying that people who disavow the group as unIslamic ignore the supposed “connecting tissue” between ISIS and the rest of Islam, noting “The Qur’an absolutely has on every page stuff that’s horrible about how the infidels should be treated.”

It is perhaps for this reason that Fox News and several other conservative outlets fawned over Wood’s article after it was published, as did prominent “New Atheists” Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins.

But while these positions are widespread, Lamptey noted that they are also potentially dangerous because they play directly into ISIS’s plans. By suggesting that Islam is ultimately beholden to specific literal readings of texts, Lamptey said Wood and other pundits inadvertently validate ISIS’s voice.

“[Wood’s position] confirms exactly what people like ISIS want people to think about them, which is that they are the only legitimate voice,” she said. “It echoes that rhetoric 100%. Yes, that is what ISIS says about themselves, but it is a different step to say ‘Yes, that is true about the Islamic tradition and all Muslims.’”

Nihad Awad, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, expressed a similar sentiment in an interview with Raw Story on Tuesday. He argued that in addition to Wood’s piece being “full of factual mistakes,” its de facto endorsement of literalistic Quranic interpretations amounts to an advertisement for ISIS’s horrific theology.

“Scholars who study Islam, authorities of Islamic jurisprudence, are telling ISIS that they are wrong, and Mr. Wood knows more than what they do, and he’s saying that ISIS is Islamic?” Awad said.

“I don’t think Mr. Wood has the background or the scholarship to make that dangerous statement, that historically inaccurate statement. In a way, I think, he is unintentionally promoting ISIS and doing public relations for ISIS.”

Awad also noted that Wood used “jihad” and “terrorism” interchangeably, which implicitly endorses ISIS’s argument that their savage practices (terrorism) are a spiritually justified religious duty (jihad).

In addition, there is a major issue with Wood’s offhand reference to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as “the first caliph in generations”: although a caliphate can be established by force, a caliph, by definition, implies the majority support of Muslims (which ISIS does not have) and caliphates are historically respectful of other religious traditions (which ISIS certainly is not).

Lamptey also noted that Wood’s position is demeaning, because it renders invisible the overwhelming majority of Muslims whose theologies rebuke violent atrocities.

Among other things, Wood’s piece extensively quotes Bernard Haykel, a Princeton scholar the journalist relies on heavily throughout the article, who says Muslim leaders who condemn ISIS as unIslamic are typically “embarrassed and politically correct, with a cotton-candy view of their own religion.”

This stands in stark contrast to the bold statements from respected Muslim scholars all over the globe challenging ISIS’s Islamic claims, and Lamptey says such comments can be read by many Muslims as having their peaceful devotion to their own religion second-guessed by people who believe they’re simply “overlooking things.”

“[Wood and others think moderate Muslims] they’re not ‘real’ Muslims, but ‘partial’ Muslims, or even apostate,” she said. “The majority of [Muslims] do not subscribe to [ISIS’s] view of their religion. But they do subscribe to the idea of emulating the Prophet Muhammad, upholding the text, and upholding the tradition, but come up with very different end points about what that looks like.”

“It’s not like these Muslims are ‘kind-of Muslims.’ They’re Muslims who are committed to the prophetic example in the texts and the Qur’an,” she added.

Other Islam scholars say this narrative breeds suspicion of Muslims as a whole. Mohammad Fadel, Associate Professor & Toronto Research Chair for the Law and Economics of Islamic Law at the University of Toronto, told ThinkProgress that these arguments entertain the notion that all Muslims are just one literal reading away from becoming terrorists.

“There already is the background … that stresses the idea that Muslims lie about what they believe,” Fadel told ThinkProgress. “That they really have these dark ambitions, but they just suppress them because of their own strategic purposes of conquest. They pretend to be nice. They pretend to be sympathetic to liberal values, but as soon as they get the chance, they’re going to enslave us all. The idea here is that they’re all potential followers of ISIS.”

“On first reading [Wood’s article] seemed to suggest that a committed Muslim should be sympathetic to ISIS, and protestations to the contrary either are the result of ignorance or the result of deception.” he said. “That’s not helpful, and potentially very dangerous.”

Granted, Fadel and Lamptey agreed that a discussion of ISIS’s apocalyptic theology is important, and were hesitant to single out Haykel. But they remained deeply concerned about the popularity of Wood’s framing, and challenged his assertion that ISIS is a “very Islamic” institution that is somehow representative of the global Muslim community.

“Yes, [ISIS is] Islamic in that they use Islamic sources to justify all their actions,” Fadel said. “But I think the question that bothers most Muslims is the idea that just because someone says they are Muslim or that their actions are representative of Islam doesn’t make it so. Just because a group can appropriate Islamic sources and Islamic symbols, and then go around doing all sorts of awful things, doesn’t mean that they get to be the ones who define for the world what Islam means.”

“Muslims who reject ISIS aren’t doing it because they’re bad Muslims. They just have a compelling version of Islam that they think is much better.”

Note 1: A thousand years before the schism between Catholics and Protestants, Islam had undergone extensive scholarly dialogue between interpretation and literal comprehension of the Koran, and this confrontation lasted for centuries and dozens of voluminous books were written and studied for centuries

Note 2: All these violent factions rely on the biased Hadith (what people said about what Mohammad said or did after his death) and Not in the Koran

Note 3: A few comments on FB:

  • Yuval Orr I didn’t read Wood’s article as suggesting that ISIS is “right.” I read it instead as an attempt to place the group within a framework of apocalyptic beliefs found in the particular strain of Islam to which it adheres.
    Andrew Bossone What does “strain of Islam” even mean? Do they follow a particular school of interpretation that developed over the last 1200 years? I can’t help but lump this guy into a group of people who aren’t scholars of a field doing some research and acting like one. Kareem Abdul Jabbar put it pretty well when he compared ISIS as a representative of Islam to the KKK is of Christianity.
    Here’s another article that explains what’s wrong with Wood’s writing:…/isis-and-academic-veil


In which way this new Islamic State is Islamic?

The conventional wisdom suggests a violent reading of the Quran is at the heart of Islamic State’s political violence – but it’s wrong.

It is difficult to forget the names, or the images, of James Foley, Steven Sotloff, David Haines, Alan Henning and Peter Kassig.

The barbaric beheadings between August and November 2014, in cold blood and on camera, of these five jumpsuit-clad western hostages by the self-styled Islamic State, or Isis, provoked widespread outrage and condemnation.

However, we should also remember the name of Didier François, a French journalist who was held by Isis in Syria for ten months before being released in April 2014.

François has since given us a rare insight into life inside what the Atlantic’s Graeme Wood, in a recent report for the magazine, has called the “hermit kingdom” of Isis, where “few have gone . . . and returned”.

And it is an insight that threatens to turn the conventional wisdom about the world’s most fearsome terrorist organisation on its head.

“There was never really discussion about texts,” the French journalist told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour last month, referring to his captors. “It was not a religious discussion. It was a political discussion.” (Rare are the ISIS members know much of their religion) 

According to François, “It was more hammering what they were believing than teaching us about the Quran. Because it has nothing to do with the Quran.”

And the former hostage revealed to a startled Amanpour: “We didn’t even have the Quran. They didn’t want even to give us a Quran.”

The rise of Isis in Iraq and Syria has been a disaster for the public image of Islam – and a boon for the Islamophobia industry.

Here, after all, is a group that calls itself Islamic State; that claims the support of Islamic texts to justify its medieval punishments, from the stoning of adulterers to the amputation of the hands of thieves; and that has a leader with a PhD in Islamic studies who declares himself to be a “caliph”, or ruler over all Muslims, and has even renamed himself in honour of the first Muslim caliph, Abu Bakr.

The consequences are, perhaps, as expected.

In September 2014, a Zogby poll found that only 27 per cent of Americans had a favourable view of Islam – down from 35 per cent in 2010. By February 2015, more than a quarter of Americans (27 per cent) were telling the pollsters LifeWay Research that they believed that life under Isis rule “gives a true indication of what an Islamic society looks like”.

Yet what is much more worrying is that it isn’t just ill-informed, ignorant or bigoted members of the public who take such a view. “The reality is that the Islamic State is Islamic. Very Islamic,” wrote Wood in his widely read 10,000-word cover report (“What Isis really wants”) in the March issue of Atlantic, in which he argued, “The religion preached by its most ardent followers derives from coherent and even learned interpretations of Islam.”

Bernard Haykel of Princeton University, the only scholar of Islam whom Wood bothered to interview, described Muslims who considered Isis to be un-Islamic, or anti-Islamic, as “embarrassed and politically correct, with a cotton-candy view of their own religion”, and declared that the hand-choppers and throat-slitters of Isis “have just as much legitimacy” as any other Muslims, because Islam is “what Muslims do and how they interpret their texts”.

Many other analysts across the political spectrum agree and have denounced the Obama administration for refusing, in the words of the journalist-turned-terrorism-expert Peter Bergen, to make “the connection between Islamist terrorism and ultra-fundamentalist forms of Islam”. Writing on the CNN website in February, Bergen declared, “Isis may be a perversion of Islam, but Islamic it is.”

“Will it take the end of the world for Obama to recognise Isis as ‘Islamic’?” screamed a headline on the Daily Beast website in the same month. “Which will come first, flying cars and vacations to Mars, or a simple acknowledgment that beliefs guide behaviour and that certain religious ideas – jihad, martyrdom, blasphemy, apostasy – reliably lead to oppression and murder?” asked Sam Harris, the neuroscientist and high priest of the “New Atheism” movement.

So, is Isis a recognisably “Islamic” movement? Are Isis recruits motivated by religious fervour and faith?

The Analyst

“Our exploration of the intuitive psychologist’s shortcomings must start with his general tendency to overestimate the importance of personal or dispositional factors relative to environmental influences,” wrote the American social anthropologist Lee Ross in 1977.

It was Ross who coined the phrase “fundamental attribution error”, which refers to the phenomenon in which we place excessive emphasis on internal motivations to explain the behaviour of others, in any given situation, rather than considering the relevant external factors.

Nowhere is the fundamental attribution error more prevalent, suggests the forensic psychiatrist Marc Sageman, than in our navel-gazing analysis of wannabe terrorists and what does or doesn’t motivate them. “You attribute other people’s behaviour to internal motivations but your own to circumstances. ‘They’re attacking us and therefore we have to attack them.’” Yet, he tells me, we rarely do the reverse.

Few experts have done more to try to understand the mindset of the young men and women who aspire to join the blood-drenched ranks of groups such as Isis and al-Qaeda than Sageman. And few can match his qualifications, credentials or background.

The 61-year-old, Polish-born psychiatrist and academic is a former CIA operations officer who was based in Pakistan in the late 1980s. There he worked closely with the Afghan mujahedin. He has since advised the New York City Police Department on counterterrorism issues, testified in front of the 9/11 Commission in Washington, DC, and, in his acclaimed works Understanding Terror Networks and Leaderless Jihad, closely analysed the biographies of several hundred terrorists.

Does he see religion as a useful analytical prism through which to view the rise of Isis and the process by which thousands of young people arrive in Syria and Iraq, ready to fight and die for the group?

“Religion has a role but it is a role of justification,” he tells me. “It’s not why they do this [or] why young people go there.”

Isis members, he says, are using religion to advance a political vision, rather than using politics to advance a religious vision. “To give themselves a bit more legitimacy, they use Islam as their justification. It’s not about religion, it’s about identity . . . You identify with the victims, [with] the guys being killed by your enemies.”

For converts to Islam in particular, he adds, “Identity is important to them. They have . . . invested a lot of their own efforts and identity to become this ‘Muslim’ and, because of this, identity is so important to them. They see other Muslims being slaughtered [and say], ‘I need to protect my community.’” (A recent study found that converts to Islam were involved in 31 per cent of Muslim terrorism convictions in the UK between 2001 and 2010.)

Sageman believes that it isn’t religious faith but, rather, a “sense of emotional and moral outrage” at what they see on their television screens or on YouTube that propels people from Portsmouth to Peshawar, from Berlin to Beirut, to head for war zones and to sign up for the so-called jihad.

Today, he notes archly, “Orwell would be [considered as foreign fighter like] a jihadi,” referring to the writer’s involvement in the anti-fascist campaign during the Spanish civil war.

Religion, according to this view, plays a role not as a driver of behaviour but as a vehicle for outrage and, crucially, a marker of identity. Religion is important in the sense that it happens to “define your identity”, Sageman says, and not because you are “more pious than anybody else”.

He invokes the political scientist Benedict Anderson’s conception of a nation state as an “imagined political community”, arguing that the “imagined community of Muslims” is what drives the terrorists, the allure of being members of – and defenders of – the ultimate “in-group”.

“You don’t have the most religious folks going there,” he points out. Isis fighters from the west, in particular, “tend to have rediscovered Islam as teenagers, or as converts”; they are angry, or even bored, young men in search of a call to arms and a thrilling cause. The Isis executioner Mohammed Emwazi, also known as “Jihadi John” – who was raised and educated in the UK – was described, for instance, by two British medics who met him at a Syrian hospital as “quiet but a bit of an adrenalin junkie”.

Sageman’s viewpoint should not really surprise us. Writing in his 2011 book The Black Banners: the Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against al-Qaeda, the Lebanese-American former FBI agent Ali H Soufan, who led the bureau’s pre-9/11 investigation into al-Qaeda, observed: “When I first began interrogating al-Qaeda members, I found that while they could quote Bin Laden’s sayings by heart, I knew far more of the Quran than they did – and in fact some barely knew classical Arabic, the language of both the hadith and the Quran. An understanding of their thought process and the limits of their knowledge enabled me and my colleagues to use their claimed piousness against them.”

Three years earlier, in 2008, a classified briefing note on radicalisation, prepared by MI5’s behavioural science unit, was obtained by the Guardian. It revealed: “Far from being religious zealots, a large number of those involved in terrorism do not practise their faith regularly. Many lack religious literacy and could . . . be regarded as religious novices.” The MI5 analysts noted the disproportionate number of converts and the high propensity for “drug-taking, drinking alcohol and visiting prostitutes”. The newspaper claimed they concluded, “A well-established religious identity actually protects against violent radicalisation.”

As I have pointed out on these pages before, Mohammed Ahmed and Yusuf Sarwar, the two young British Muslim men from Birmingham who were convicted on terrorism charges in 2014 after travelling to fight in Syria, bought copies of Islam for Dummies and The Koran for Dummies from Amazon prior to their departure. Religious novices, indeed.

Sageman, the former CIA officer, says we have to locate terrorism and extremism in local conflicts rather than in grand or sweeping ideological narratives – the grievances and the anger come first, he argues, followed by the convenient and self-serving ideological justifications.

For example, he says, the origins of Isis as a terror group lie not in this or that Islamic book or school of thought, but in the “slaughter of Sunnis in Iraq”. He reminds me how, in April 2013, when there was a peaceful Sunni demonstration asking the Shia-led Maliki government in Baghdad to reapportion to the various provinces what the government was getting in oil revenues, Iraqi security forces shot into the crowds. “That was the start of this [current] insurrection.”

A pro-Isis demonstration in Mosul, Iraq, in June 2014. Photo: Associated Press

Before that, it was the brutal, US-led occupation, under which Iraq became ground zero for suicide bombers from across the region and spurred the creation of new terrorist organisations, such as al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI).

Isis is the “remnant” of AQI, Sageman adds. He believes that any analysis of the group and of the ongoing violence and chaos in Iraq that doesn’t take into account the long period of war, torture, occupation and sectarian cleansing is inadequate – and a convenient way of exonerating the west
of any responsibility. “Without the invasion of Iraq, [Isis] would not exist. We created it by our presence there.”

The Spy

Like Marc Sageman, Richard Barrett has devoted his professional life to understanding terrorism, extremism and radicalisation. The silver-haired 65-year-old was the director of global counterterrorism operations for MI6, both before and after the 11 September 2001 attacks, and he subsequently led the al-Qaeda and Taliban monitoring team at the United Nations between 2004 and 2013.

Unlike Sageman, however, Barrett partly sympathises with Graeme Wood’s and Bernard Haykel’s thesis that “the Islamic State is Islamic”. He tells me that some Isis followers “are clearly convinced they are following Allah’s will” and he insists: “We should not underestimate the extent of their belief.” However, Barrett concedes that such beliefs and views “will not be the only thing that drew them to the Islamic State”.

The former MI6 officer, who recently published a report on foreign fighters in Syria, agrees with the ex-CIA man on the key issue of what motivates young men to join – and fight for – groups such as Isis in the first place. Rather than religious faith, it has “mostly to do with the search for identity . . . coupled with a search for belonging and purpose. The Islamic State offers all that and empowers the individual within a collective. It does not judge and accepts all with no concern about their past. This can be very appealing for people who think that they washed up on the wrong shore.”

Whether they are unemployed losers or well-educated professionals, joining Isis offers new recruits the chance to “believe that they are special . . . that they are part of something that is new, secret and powerful”.

While Barrett doesn’t dismiss the theological angle in the way that Sageman does, he nevertheless acknowledges, “Acting in the name of Islam means that, for the ignorant at least, the groups have some legitimacy for their actions . . . They can pretend it is not just about power and money.”

This irreligious lust for power and money is a significant and often overlooked part of the Isis equation. The group – often described as messianic and uncompromising – had no qualms about demanding a $200m ransom for the lives of two Japanese hostages in January; nor has it desisted from smuggling pornography into and out of Iraq, according to Louise Shelley, director of the Terrorism, Transnational Crime and Corruption Centre at George Mason University in Virginia. (Shelley has referred to Isis as a “diversified criminal operation”.)

Then there is the often-ignored alliance at the heart of Isis between the so-called violent Islamists, led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and the remnants of Saddam Hussein’s secular Ba’athist regime – an alliance that Barrett has referred to as a “marriage of convenience”.

If Isis is the apocalyptic religious cult that Wood and others believe it is, why was Baghdadi’s deputy in Iraq Abu Muslim al-Afari al-Turkmani, a former senior special forces officer in Hussein’s army? Why is Baghdadi’s number two in Syria Abu Ali al-Anbari, a former major general under Hussein?

“The Ba’athist element was certainly very important . . . as it gave the Islamic State military and administrative capability,” Barrett says. “It also made it possible [for Isis to] take Mosul so quickly and cause defections and surrenders from the Iraqi army. There was and continues to be a coincidence of interest between Islamic State and other anti-government Sunni groups.”

Here again, it seems, is the fundamental attribution error in play. We neglect to focus on the “interests” of groups such as Isis and obsess over their supposedly messianic and apocalyptic “beliefs”. The “end of times” strain may be very strong in Isis, Barrett warns, but: “The Ba’athist elements are still key in Iraq and without them the Islamic State would probably not be able to hold on to the city of Mosul.”

Baghdadi’s appointment as leader of Isis in 2010 was orchestrated by a former Ba’athist colonel in Hussein’s army, Haji Bakr, according to another recent study produced by Barrett, in which he noted how Bakr had “initially attracted criticism from fellow members of the group for his lack of a proper beard and lax observance of other dictates of their religious practice”. Nevertheless, pragmatism trumped ideology as Bakr’s “organisational skills . . . and network of fellow ex-Ba’athists made him a valuable resource” for Isis.

Apparently, Baghdadi’s supposed caliphate in Iraq and Syria was less the will of God and more the will of Saddam.

The Theologian

Perhaps the most astonishing achievement of Isis has been not the sheer size of the territory it has captured, but the way in which it has united the world’s disparate (and often divided) 1.6 billion Muslims against it.

Whether Sunni or Shia, Salafi or Sufi, conservative or liberal, Muslims – and Muslim leaders – have almost unanimously condemned and denounced Isis not merely as un-Islamic but actively anti-Islamic.

Consider the various statements of Muslim groups such as the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation, representing 57 countries (Isis has “nothing to do with Islam”); the Islamic Society of North America (Isis’s actions are “in no way representative of what Islam actually teaches”); al-Azhar University in Cairo, the most prestigious seat of learning in the Sunni Muslim world (Isis is acting “under the guise of this holy religion . . . in an attempt to export their false Islam”); and even Saudi Arabia’s Salafist Grand Mufti, Abdul Aziz al ash-Sheikh (Isis is “the number-one enemy of Islam”).

In September 2014, more than 120 Islamic scholars co-signed an 18-page open letter to Baghdadi, written in Arabic, containing what the Slate website’s Filipa Ioannou described as a “technical point-by-point criticism of Isis’s actions and ideology based on the Quran and classical religious texts”.

Yet buffoonish right-wingers such as the Fox News host Sean Hannity continue to refer to the alleged “silence of Muslims” over the actions of Isis and ask, “Where are the Muslim leaders?” Meanwhile, academics who should know better, such as Princeton’s Bernard Haykel, insist that the leaders of Isis “have just as much legitimacy as anyone else”.

Legitimacy, however, “comes through endorsement by religious leaders. If Sunni Islam’s leaders consider Isis inauthentic, then that is what it is,” says Abdal Hakim Murad, who teaches Islamic studies at Cambridge University and serves as the dean of the Cambridge Muslim College, which trains imams for British mosques.

The blond-haired, 54-year-old Murad is a convert and is also known as Timothy Winter (his brother is the Telegraph football writer Henry). Murad has been described by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre in Jordan as “one of the most well-respected western theologians”, whose “accomplishments place him amongst the most significant Muslims in the world”.

The religious world, whether Muslim, Jewish or Christian, is “packed with fringe and fundamentalist groups that claim the mantle of total authenticity”, Murad tells me. To accept those groups’ assertions at face value is “either naive or tendentious”.

He continues: “Just as Christianity in Bosnia 20 years ago was not properly represented by the churchgoing militias of Radovan Karadzic and just as Judaism is not
represented by West Bank settlers who burn mosques, so, too, Islam is not represented by Isis.”

Contrary to a lazy conventional wisdom which suggests that a 1,400-year-old faith with more than a billion adherents has no hierarchy, “Islam has its leadership, its universities, its muftis and its academies, which unanimously repudiate Isis,” Murad explains. For the likes of Haykel to claim that the Isis interpretation of Islam has “just as much legitimacy” as the mainstream view, he adds, is “unscholarly”, “incendiary” and likely to “raise prejudice and comfort the far-right political formations”.

As for Isis’s obsession with beheadings, crucifixions, hand-chopping and the rest, Murad argues: “With regard to classical sharia punishments, the religion’s teachings in every age are determined by scholarly consensus on the meaning of the complex scriptural texts” – rather than by self-appointed “sharia councils” in the midst of conflict zones.

Many analysts have laid the blame for violent extremism among Muslims at the ideological door of Salafism, a regressive and ultra-conservative brand of Islam, which owes a great deal to the controversial teachings of an 18th-century preacher named Muhammad Ibn Abd al-Wahhab and which today tends to be behind much of the misogyny and sectarianism in the Muslim-majority world. Yet, as even Wood concedes in his Atlantic report, “Most Salafis are not jihadists and most adhere to sects that reject the Islamic State.”

Salafists tend to be apolitical, whereas groups such as Isis are intensely political. Even the traditionalist Murad, who has little time for what he has deemed the “cult-like universe of the Salafist mindset”, agrees that the rise of extremism within the movement is a consequence, rather than a cause, of violence and conflict.

“The roots of Isis have been located in rage against . . . the 2003 occupation of Iraq. Before that event, Salafist extremism was hardly heard of in Syria and Iraq, even though the mosques were full in those countries,” Murad says. “Angry men, often having suffered in US detention, have reached for the narrowest and most violent interpretation of their religion they can find. This is a psychological reaction, not a faithful adherence to classical Muslim norms of jurisprudence.”

In the view of this particular Muslim theologian, Isis owes a “debt to European far-right thinking”. The group’s “imposition of a monolithic reading of the huge and hugely complex founding literature of the religion is something very new in Islamic civilisation, representing a totalitarian impulse that seems closer to European fascism than to classical Islamic norms”.

The Radical

Raised in Toronto, the son of Indian immigrant parents, Mubin Shaikh went from enjoying a hedonistic teenage lifestyle involving drugs, girls and parties to embracing a militant and “jihadist” view of the world, full of hate and anger.

He felt as though he “had become a stranger in my own land, my own home”, Shaikh told PBS in 2007, referring to an identity crisis that helped spark his “jihadi bug”. After 11 September 2001, he wanted to fight in Afghanistan or Chechnya because: “It felt like the right thing to do.”

It is a familiar path, trodden by the likes of Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the brothers accused of bombing the Boston Marathon, as well as Chérif and Saïd Kouachi, the Charlie Hebdo attackers in Paris. (A former friend of Chérif said that the younger, pot-smoking Kouachi “couldn’t differentiate between Islam and Catholicism” before he became radicalised by “images of American soldiers humiliating Muslims at the Abu Ghraib prison”, as the New York Times put it.)

Yet Shaikh eventually relinquished his violent views after studying Sufi Islam in the Middle East and then boldly volunteered with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service to infiltrate several radical groups in Toronto.

The bald and bearded Shaikh, now aged 39 and an adviser to Canadian officials, tells me it is “preposterous” to claim that the killing of Christians and Yazidis by Isis is rooted in Islamic scripture or doctrine. If it was, “Muslims would have been doing those sorts of things for the past 50-plus years. Yet we find no such thing.”

He offers three distinct explanations for why Isis should not be considered or treated as an “Islamic” phenomenon. First, Shaikh argues, “The claim that Isis is ‘Islamic’ because it superficially uses Islamic sources is ridiculous, because the Islamic sources themselves say that those who do so [manifest Islam superficially] are specifically un-Islamic.”

He points to an order issued by the first and original Muslim caliph, Abu Bakr, which declared: “Neither kill a child, women [nor] the elderly . . . When you come upon those who have taken to live in monasteries, leave them alone.”

Takfiris are those who declare other Muslims to be apostates and, for Shaikh, “It is the height of incredulity to suggest that they [members of Isis] are in fact ‘Islamic’ – an opinion shared only by Isis and [Islamophobes] who echo their claims.”

As for Baghdadi’s supposed scholarly credentials, Shaikh jokes, “Even the devil can quote scripture.”

Second, he argues, it is dangerous to grant Isis any kind of theological legitimacy amid efforts to formulate a coherent “countering violent extremism” (CVE) strategy in the west. “It is quite possibly a fatal blow in that regard because, essentially, it is telling Muslims to condemn that which is Islamic.” It is, he says, a “schizophrenic approach to CVE which will never succeed”.

Third, Shaikh reminds me how the former US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld often included verses from the Bible at the top of the intelligence briefings that he presented to President George W Bush. “Could we say [Iraq] was a ‘Christianity-motivated war’? How about verses of the Bible [reportedly] engraved on to rifles for use in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars?”

The former radical points out that highlighting only the role of religion in the radicalisation process to the exclusion of, or above, other factors is short-sighted. “Fear, money . . . adventure, alienation and, most certainly, anger at the west for what happened in Iraq . . . [also] explain why people join [Isis],” he tells me.

Shaikh therefore wants a counterterrorism approach focused not merely on faith or theology, but on “political, social and psychological” factors.

The Pollster

What Dalia Mogahed doesn’t know about Muslim public opinion probably isn’t worth knowing. And the former Gallup pollster and co-author, with the US academic John L Esposito, of Who Speaks for Islam? What a Billion Muslims Really Think, based on six years of research and 50,000 interviews with Muslims in more than 35 countries, says that the survey evidence is clear: the overwhelming majority of the world’s Muslims reject Isis-style violence.

Gallup polling conducted for Mogahed’s book found, for instance, that 93 per cent of Muslims condemned the terror attacks of 11 September 2001. The 40-year-old Egyptian-American scholar tells me, “In follow-up questions, Gallup found that not a single respondent of the nearly 50,000 interviewed cited a verse from the Quran in defence of terrorism but, rather, religion was only mentioned to explain why 9/11 was immoral.”

The 7 per cent of Muslims who sympathised with the attacks on the twin towers “defended this position entirely with secular political justifications or distorted concepts of ‘reciprocity’, as in: ‘They kill our civilians. We can kill theirs.’”

It is thus empirically unsound to conflate heightened religious belief with greater support for violence. Mogahed, who became the first hijab-wearing Muslim woman to hold a position at the White House when she served on Barack Obama’s advisory council on “faith-based and neighbourhood partnerships”, says that she was “surprised” by the results, as they “flew in the face of everything we were being told and every assumption we were making in our counterterrorism strategy”.

As for Haykel’s claim that Islam is merely “what Muslims do and how they interpret their texts”, Mogahed is scathingly dismissive. “If Islam is indeed ‘what Muslims do’, then certainly numbers should be a powerful factor dictating which Muslims we see as representing it,” she says. “Isis is a tiny minority whose victims are, in fact, mostly other Muslims.

“By what logic would this gang of killers, which has been universally condemned and brutalises Muslims more than anyone else, get to represent the global [Muslim] community?”

The former White House adviser continues: “Any philosophy or ideology, from Christianity to capitalism, has normative principles and authorities that speak to those norms. Each also has deviants who distort it to meet political or other goals. If I deny the existence of Christ but call myself a Christian, I’d be wrong. If I say the state should usurp all private property and redistribute it equally among citizens but call myself a capitalist, I would be wrong. Islam is no different.”

Echoing Murad, Mogahed points out, “Islam’s authorities have loudly and unanimously declared Isis un-Islamic.” Because of this, “Making a claim that violates normative principles of a philosophy, as defined by those with the authority to decide, is illegitimate.”

What about Haykel’s claim that Isis fighters are constantly quoting Quranic verses and the hadith, or traditions from the life of the Prophet, and that they “mug for their cameras and repeat their basic doctrines in formulaic fashion and they do it all the time”? Why do they do that if they don’t believe this stuff – if it isn’t sincere?

“The Quran [and] hadith according to whom?” she responds. “As interpreted by whom? As understood by whom?”

Mogahed, who served as the executive director of the Gallup Centre for Muslim Studies until 2012 and who now works for the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU) and runs her own consulting firm based in Washington DC, argues that Isis uses Islamic language and symbols today for the same reason as Palestinian militant groups used the language of secular Arab nationalism in the 1960s and 1970s.

“Any organisation uses the dominant social medium of its society,” she says. “Today, the dominant social currency in the Arab world is Islam. More than 90 per cent of Arab Muslims say religion is an important part of their daily life, according to Gallup research. Everyone, not just Isis, speaks in Islamic language, from pro-democracy advocates to civil society groups fighting illiteracy.”

For Mogahed, therefore, “a violent reading of the Quran is not leading to political violence. Political violence is leading to a violent reading of the Quran.”

In a recent despatch from Zarqa in Jordan, birthplace of the late AQI leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and “one of the country’s most notorious hotbeds of Islamic radicalism”, Foreign Policy magazine’s David Kenner sat down with a group of young, male Isis supporters.

“None of them appeared to be particularly religious,” Kenner noted. “Not once did the conversation turn to matters of faith, and none budged from their seats when the call to prayer sounded. They appeared driven by anger at humiliations big and small – from the police officers who treated them like criminals outside their homes to the massacres of Sunnis in Syria and Iraq – rather than by a detailed exegesis of religious texts.”

It cannot be said often enough: it isn’t the most pious or devout of Muslims who embrace terrorism, or join groups such as Isis. Nor has a raft of studies and surveys uncovered any evidence of a “conveyor belt” that turns people of firm faith into purveyors of violence.

Religion plays little, if any, role in the radicalisation process, as Sageman and countless experts testify. It is an excuse, rather than a reason. Isis is as much the product of political repression, organised crime and a marriage of convenience with secular, power-hungry Ba’athists as it is the result of a perversion of Islamic beliefs and practices. As for Islamic scholars, they “unanimously repudiate” Isis, to quote Murad, while ordinary Muslims “universally condemn” Baghdadi and his bloodthirsty followers, in the words of Mogahed.

The so-called Islamic State is, therefore, “Islamic” in the way the British National Party is “British” or the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea (DPRK) is “democratic”. No serious analyst considers the latter two entities to be representative of either Britishness or democracy; few commentators claim that those who join the BNP do so out of a sense of patriotism and nor do they demand that all democrats publicly denounce the DPRK as undemocratic. So why the double standard in relation to the self-styled Islamic State and the religion of Islam? Why the willingness to believe the hype and rhetoric from the spin doctors and propagandists of Isis?

We must be wary of the trap set for us by Baghdadi’s group – a trap that far too many people who should know better have frustratingly fallen for. A former US state department official who has worked on counterterrorism issues tells me how worried he is that the arguments of the Atlantic’s Wood, Haykel, Bergen and others have been gaining traction in policymaking circles in recent months. “It was disconcerting to be at [President Obama’s Countering Violent Extremism summit in February] and hear so many people discussing the [Atlantic] article while the president and others were trying to marginalise extremist claims to Islamic legitimacy.”

Mogahed is full-square behind her former boss’s decision to delink violent extremism from the Islamic faith in his public pronouncements. “As [Obama] recently remarked, giving groups like Isis religious legitimacy is handing them the ideological victory they desperately desire,” she says. This may be the most significant point of all to understand, as politicians, policymakers and security officials try (and fail) to formulate a coherent response to violent extremism in general and Isis in particular.

To claim that Isis is Islamic is egregiously inaccurate and empirically unsustainable, not to mention insulting to the 1.6 billion non-violent adherents of Islam across the planet. Above all else, it is dangerous and self-defeating, as it provides Baghdadi and his minions with the propaganda prize and recruiting tool that they most crave.

Mehdi Hasan is a presenter for al-Jazeera English and an NS contributing writer. Tom Holland will reply to this essay in the next New Statesman.

Andrew Bossone posted this link on FB
March 10, 2015

One of the best analyses I’ve read so far. Certainly better than the weak stuff in the Atlantic.
In summary, IS is more of a criminal enterprise than religious cult.

It attracts losers from abroad who are having an identity crisis and local people who have been abused.

It formed directly as a result of a brutal occupation and through the organizational remnants of Saddam Huessein’s Baathist regime.

Every religious group and individual with any legitimacy as well as the masses of Muslims have denounced the group as un-Islamic, while a handful of wannabe analysts claiming to know the religion from the outside have called it the true face of Islam.



Answers to the secrets of how Daesh and Al Nousra were created:

Bashar al Ja3fari, Ambassador of Syria to the UN, submitted the documents

The Syrian government met with Syrian oppositions in Moscow and reached agreement on several points in order to resolve the civil war politically.

Bashar al Jaafari, heading the government delegation, released this document on how ISIS and the various Islamic extremist movements fighting in Syria and Iraq were created.

What Italian PM discovered in Iraq Kurdistan when he visited this province in 2009?

Who are the US organizations that planned for the Syrian upheavals under the name of aiding the democratic process in Syria?

Why the Turkish prosecutor Aziz Takji and 5 judges were released from their functions?

Who is this British media company located in central London is officially promoting the Islamic extremist movements of Daesh (ISIS) and Al Nusra?

What is the relationship between Administrative Contact in Texas and the ISIS news bulletins?

A user's photo.
Syria ambassador to UN: Dr. Bashar al Jaafari

أجوبة مفاجئة عن أسرار داعش والجهاديين في بيان السفير الدكتور بشار الجعفري في اللقاء التشاوري
ماذا اكتشف وزير الدفاع الإيطالي السابق السيناتور “ماريو مورو” عندما كان يقوم بزيارة إلى كردستان العراق عام 2009؟؟
من هي المنظمات غير الحكومية المرتبطة بالمخابرات الامريكية التي خطّطتْ للثورة السورية تحت اسم مساعدة برنامج سورية للديمقراطية؟؟
لماذا أقيل النائب العام التركي السابق “عزيز تاكجي” من منصبه مع خمسة من وكلاء النيابة؟؟
من هي الشركة البريطانية وسط لندن صاحبة التسجيل الرسمي لموقع “منبر الأنصار” في سنتر لندن، وهو الموقع الإلكتروني الذي يصف نفسه علناً بأنه المنبر الإعلامي للجهاد والجهاديين؟؟
ماهي علاقة شركة “سوفتلاير تكنولوجيز” الاميريكية في دالاس وموقع “المؤمنون” الذي ينشر أخبار داعش والنصرة والتنظيمات التكفيرية الأخرى ؟؟؟
ماهي العلاقة بين شركة “أدمينستراتيف كونتاكت” في ولاية تكساس الاميريكية والموقع الرسمي لداعش ؟؟
في أي شارع من غزة هو العنوان المسجل لموقع “المنبر الإعلامي الجهادي” لصاحبه طارق عبد الذي ينشر أخبار داعش؟؟
هذه أسئلة ستجدون أجوبتها في بيان الدكتور بشار الجعفري رئيس وفد حكومة الجمهورية العربية السورية في اللقاء التشاوري .. وأجوبة هذه الأسئلة تكشف لكم نكتة محاربة داعش التي تدعيها دول الغرب التي ترضع داعش والنصرة وكل منظمات الجهاد الدموي وتربيها كل شبر بندر وتغير لها حفوضاتها وتلقنها ابجدية الارهاب وتقوم بتجنيد القتلة في داعش وتحميها كما تحمي الأم ولدها
بيان السفير الدكتور بشار الجعفري
رئيس وفد حكومة الجمهورية العربية السورية
في اللقاء التشاوري – موسكو
السيد ميسر اللقاء التشاوري الثاني في موسكو،
البروفسور فيتالي نعومكن،
يطيب لي أن أتوجه إليكم، باسم وفد حكومة الجمهورية العربية السورية، بكل الشكر والتقدير للجهود الكبيرة التي بذلتموها للتحضير لعقد هذا اللقاء. والشكر موصول لأفراد فريقكم المميز وللأصدقاء الروس ممثلين بوزارة الخارجية لوقوفهم إلى جانب الشعب السوري ولدعوتهم الكريمة لنا جميعاً للحضور إلى العاصمة الجميلة موسكو، وكذلك لتنظيم وتيسير هذا اللقاء التشاوري.
كما وأغتنم هذه الفرصة، أيضاً، لتقديم التهاني بمناسبة عيد الفصح المجيد.
أستهل كلمتي بموافقة الحكومة السورية على جدول الأعمال المُقدّم من الميسر وفقاً للتسلسل الوارد فيه.
السيد الميسر،
السيدات والسادة الحضور،
لم يعد يخفى على أحد أنه، بعد مضي أربع سنوات ونيف على بداية الأزمة في سورية، أضحت صورة ما يجري فيها واضحة للجميع بأبعادها
وللأصدقاء الروس ممثلين بوزارة الخارجية لوقوفهم إلى جانب الشعب السوري ولدعوتهم الكريمة لنا جميعاً للحضور إلى العاصمة الجميلة موسكو، وكذلك لتنظيم وتيسير هذا اللقاء التشاوري.
كما وأغتنم هذه الفرصة، أيضاً، لتقديم التهاني بمناسبة عيد الفصح المجيد.
أستهل كلمتي بموافقة الحكومة السورية على جدول الأعمال المُقدّم من الميسر وفقاً للتسلسل الوارد فيه.
السيد الميسر،
السيدات والسادة الحضور،
لم يعد يخفى على أحد أنه، بعد مضي أربع سنوات ونيف على بداية الأزمة في سورية، أضحت صورة ما يجري فيها واضحة للجميع بأبعادها الداخلية، والعربية، والإقليمية، والدولية، وبات الجميع يعلم أنّ ما تتعرض له بلادنا، سورية، من إرهاب منظم يرتكب أبشع أنواع الجرائم بحق البشر والحجر ويدمّر البنية التحتية إنما يرمي أساساً إلى تقويض الدولة وبنيانها السياسي والاقتصادي والاجتماعي والثقافي بما يخدم أجندات أعداء الوطن الذين يريدون تصفية حساباتهم القديمة – الجديدة معه….
والسؤال الذي يطرح نفسه اليوم هو التالي: هل هناك بيننا من يختلف معنا في توصيف حقيقة ما يجري أنه إجرام وقرصنة وإرهاب منظم بحق الشعب السوري ومكتسباته؟ هل الاعتداء على الشعب السوري بكافة مكوناته، وسرقة المتاحف والآثار والنفط والغاز، واستهداف محطات وخطوط الكهرباء ووسائل النقل، وتدمير البنية الصناعية للبلاد بما في ذلك تفكيك وسرقة المصانع ونقلها إلى تركيا، والاعتداء على دور العبادة، واختطاف الآلاف من المواطنين، ونهب الممتلكات العامة والخاصة، وتدمير المشافي والمدارس وحرمان مئات الآلاف من أبنائنا من الحق في التعلم والرعاية الصحية، وتجنيدهم، بدلاً من ذلك، في صفوف الجماعات الإرهابية، وذبح البشر من قبل قطعان الإرهابيين والمرتزقة، هل هذا كله يندرج تحت عنوان ثورة شعبية؟
منظم بحق الشعب السوري ومكتسباته؟ هل الاعتداء على الشعب السوري بكافة مكوناته، وسرقة المتاحف والآثار والنفط والغاز، واستهداف محطات وخطوط الكهرباء ووسائل النقل، وتدمير البنية الصناعية للبلاد بما في ذلك تفكيك وسرقة المصانع ونقلها إلى تركيا، والاعتداء على دور العبادة، واختطاف الآلاف من المواطنين، ونهب الممتلكات العامة والخاصة، وتدمير المشافي والمدارس وحرمان مئات الآلاف من أبنائنا من الحق في التعلم والرعاية الصحية، وتجنيدهم، بدلاً من ذلك، في صفوف الجماعات الإرهابية، وذبح البشر من قبل قطعان الإرهابيين والمرتزقة، هل هذا كله يندرج تحت عنوان ثورة شعبية؟
لا يمكن لعاقل أن يقتنع بأن ثورة تقوم في دولة ما ومن قادتها “أبو عمر الشيشاني” و”أبو صهيب الليبي” و”أبو بكر البغدادي” و”أبو جون البريطاني” و”أبو عبد الله الأردني” و”أبو طلحة الكويتي” و”أبو غوثان السعودي” و”أبو الزهراء التونسي” و”أبو حفصة المصري” و”أبو أيوب العراقي” و”أبو حفتر الأفغاني” و”أبو عبد الرحمن الكندي”، و” أبو الوليد الأسترالي”، و”أبو مروة الفرنسي” و”أبو حذيفة الإيرلندي” و”أبو هريرة الأمريكي” والقائمة تطول …؟ ويأتيك بعد كل ذلك من يتحدث عن “ثورة سورية” …!
ألا يدلّ ذلك على وجود تدخل إرهابي خارجي في الشأن السوري الداخلي، في إطار مخطط مُعدٍّ مسبقاً لتفكيك الدولة السورية؟ وإذا كان هناك من ما زال يشكّك بهذه الحقيقة، فبإمكانه العودة إلى الرأي العام الغربي الذي بدأ يفضح حكوماته الواحدة تلو الأخرى، إذْ صدر مؤخراً في فرنسا كتابان مهمّان، الأول بعنوان “الطرق إلى دمشق” من تأليف كل من “جورج مالبرونو” و”كريستيان شينو” يثبت فيه هذان الكاتبان ضلوع المخابرات الفرنسية ووزير الخارجية الفرنسي الحالي في استخدام السلاح الكيميائي في غوطة دمشق في آب 2013، والثاني بعنوان “عاصفة على الشرق الأوسط الكبير” بقلم السفير الفرنسي السابق “ميشيل رينبو” الذي أورد في الصفحة 397 منه ما يلي، وأقتبس: “أنه في شهر كانون الثاني من العام 2014 روى وزير الدفاع الإيطالي السابق السيناتور “ماريو مورو” أنه كان يقوم بزيارة إلى كردستان
السورية؟ وإذا كان هناك من ما زال يشكّك بهذه الحقيقة، فبإمكانه العودة إلى الرأي العام الغربي الذي بدأ يفضح حكوماته الواحدة تلو الأخرى، إذْ صدر مؤخراً في فرنسا كتابان مهمّان، الأول بعنوان “الطرق إلى دمشق” من تأليف كل من “جورج مالبرونو” و”كريستيان شينو” يثبت فيه هذان الكاتبان ضلوع المخابرات الفرنسية ووزير الخارجية الفرنسي الحالي في استخدام السلاح الكيميائي في غوطة دمشق في آب 2013، والثاني بعنوان “عاصفة على الشرق الأوسط الكبير” بقلم السفير الفرنسي السابق “ميشيل رينبو” الذي أورد في الصفحة 397 منه ما يلي، وأقتبس: “أنه في شهر كانون الثاني من العام 2014 روى وزير الدفاع الإيطالي السابق السيناتور “ماريو مورو” أنه كان يقوم بزيارة إلى كردستان العراق عام 2009 فزار ورشة بناء وسأل عن الغاية من تشييد كل هذه المباني فكان الجواب إنها للاجئي الحرب في سورية …”، انتهى الاقتباس، أي أن ذلك حصل قبل عامين من بداية الحرب على سورية. وبمعنى آخر فإن التخطيط للعدوان على بلادنا كان قد بدأ قبل كل ما وصف بالربيع العربي. وأورد الكاتب أيضاً، وأقتبس: “أن الثورة السورية قد خُطّطتْ بمساعدة برنامج سورية للديمقراطية الذي تموّله إحدى المنظمات غير الحكومية المرتبطة بالاستخبارات الأمريكية”، انتهى الاقتباس.
ألم نطّلع مؤخراً على ما قاله النائب العام التركي السابق “عزيز تاكجي” أنه أُقيل من منصبه مع خمسة من وكلاء النيابة المسؤولين بسبب كشفهم عمليات إرسال شاحنات السلاح إلى الإرهابيين في سورية، كما أنه تم اعتقال الضابط الذي قام بتفتيشها وهي في طريقها من مدينة أضنة إلى أنطاكيا ومنها إلى الإرهابيين في سورية، وأنه فُصل ستة من ضباط وعناصر الشرطة الذين أشرفوا على عملية التفتيش. وقد أكد محافظ أضنة “حسين عوني جوش” أن تلك الشاحنات تتبع فعلاً لجهاز المخابرات التركي وأن أردوغان هو الذي اتصل به حينها وطلب منه إنهاء احتجازها فوراً بعد أن زعم أردوغان أن تلك الشاحنات تنقل مساعدات إنسانية إلى سورية؟
ألم نستمع إلى إقرار قادة الدول الغربية خلال جلسة اعتماد مجلس الأمن للقرار 2178 بأن الآلاف من مواطنيهم قد توجهوا إلى سورية للقتال فيها؟ ألم نقرأ التقرير الذي أصدره فريق الخبراء الخاص بليبيا والمنشأ بموجب قرار مجلس الأمن 1970 وكذلك تقرير لجنة قرار مجلس الأمن 1267 حول تنظيم القاعدة بشأن السفينتين اللبنانية “لطف الله 2” والليبية “انتصار” اللتين كانتا تنقلان السلاح للإرهابيين من ليبيا إلى سورية عبر لبنان؟
ألم نلحظ حجم الترويج الإعلامي غير المسبوق لبعض أشكال الإرهاب من خلال تسجيل شركات تابعة لتنظيمات إرهابية تملك مواقع علنية مكشوفة وبأسماء جهادية مثل “منبر الأنصار” وهو الموقع الإلكتروني الذي يصف نفسه علناً بأنه المنبر الإعلامي للجهاد والجهاديين، والشركة صاحبة التسجيل الرسمي للموقع هي شركة بريطانية تدعى “هارد أنترنت” مقرّها في “تريسترام سنتر” بلندن، وموقع “المؤمنون” الذي ينشر أخبار داعش والنصرة والتنظيمات التكفيرية الأخرى وتملكه شركة أمريكية تدعى “سوفتلاير تكنولوجيز” مقرها في دالاس بولاية تكساس الأمريكية. وأمّا الموقع الرسمي لداعش فهو مسجل في ولاية تكساس الأمريكية باسم شركة “أدمينستراتيف كونتاكت”. وكذلك “المنبر الإعلامي الجهادي” وهو موقع إلكتروني ينشر أخبار داعش مسجل باسم شخص فلسطيني يُدعى “طارق عبد” وعنوانه غزة شارع الثلاثين مركز الطيران، والشركة تحمل اسم صاحبها ومسجلة في تشيلي- سانتياغو، والقائمة تطول أيضاً …؟
أليس من المستغرب عدم إغلاق بعض الحكومات العربية والإقليمية والدولية لمواقع إلكترونية تروّج وتحرّض وتجنّد إرهابيين للقتال في سورية علماً بأن هذه الحكومات قادرة على إغلاق هذه المواقع بكبسة زر؟ وماذا عن عدم التزام حكومات السعودية وقطر والأردن وتركيا وإسرائيل وفرنسا والولايات المتحدة الأمريكية وبعض الدول الأخرى بتنفيذ قرارات مجلس الأمن ذوات الأرقام 2170 و2178 و2199 ذات الصلة بمنع تجنيد وتمويل وتدريب وتسليح وإيواء وتسهيل عبور الإرهابيين إلى الأراضي السورية والعراقية؟
هل الاعتداءات الإسرائيلية على سورية هي لمصلحة الشعب السوري؟ أليس العدو الإسرائيلي هو المستفيد الأول مما يجري في سورية؟ أليس الغطاء الإسرائيلي لإرهاب جبهة النصرة في منطقة فصل القوات في الجولان السوري المحتل وجنوب سورية يبعث على التساؤل حول هوية المحرك والمستفيد مما يجري؟
نقولها وبكل وضوح أنه إذا لم تلتزم تلك الحكومات بتنفيذ مضمون قرارات مجلس الأمن آنفة الذكر فإن الإرهاب سيقوّض تنفيذ أيّ حل سياسي ويطيل من معاناة الشعب السوري.
أيها السيدات والسادة،
إذا كان ما نطمح إليه هو الوصول إلى الأفضل فهل ما شهدته البلاد من كوارثٍ ودمارٍ ومصائبٍ وسفكٍ للدماء واستقدام ونشر الإرهاب وتهجير للمواطنين واستهداف للجيش والقوات المسلحة هو انتقال نحو الأفضل؟ وهل ما وصلت إليه بلادنا اليوم هو أفضل مما كانت عليه؟
إن بوصلة اجتماعنا هذا هي مصلحة الشعب السوري وإنهاء معاناته، فالحكومة السورية عملت وما زالت تعمل لتحقيق ذلك عبر مكافحة الإرهاب لعودة الأمن والأمان وإجراء الإصلاحات الضرورية لإحداث الانتقال نحو الأفضل، وهو ما نفترض أن يكون نقطة التقائنا مع شركائنا في الوطن من أصحاب النوايا الحسنة.
إن الحكومة السورية تنتظر من شركائها في المعارضة موقفاً واضحاً لا لبس فيه وأفعالاً ترقى إلى مستوى المسؤولية الوطنية، لنعمل معاً لإقامة الحوار الوطني الذي يتم فيه البحث عن الصيغ والآليات المناسبة والملائمة لتحقيق المصالح الوطنية العليا للدولة السورية إيماناً منّا بأن الحوار الوطني هو الطريق الوحيد للوصول إلى حل سياسي يهدف إلى إعادة الأمن والاستقرار للعباد وللبلاد.
أيها السيدات والسادة،
إن الواقعية السياسية والانتماء الوطني يقتضيان منا جميعاً العمل بصدقٍ وجدٍّ لمواجهة الأزمة وتداعياتها الخطيرة على وطننا. وقد يكون المخرج لذلك أن نوحد جهودنا للوصول إلى قواسم مشتركة
إن الحكومة السورية تنتظر من شركائها في المعارضة موقفاً واضحاً لا لبس فيه وأفعالاً ترقى إلى مستوى المسؤولية الوطنية، لنعمل معاً لإقامة الحوار الوطني الذي يتم فيه البحث عن الصيغ والآليات المناسبة والملائمة لتحقيق المصالح الوطنية العليا للدولة السورية إيماناً منّا بأن الحوار الوطني هو الطريق الوحيد للوصول إلى حل سياسي يهدف إلى إعادة الأمن والاستقرار للعباد وللبلاد.
أيها السيدات والسادة،
إن الواقعية السياسية والانتماء الوطني يقتضيان منا جميعاً العمل بصدقٍ وجدٍّ لمواجهة الأزمة وتداعياتها الخطيرة على وطننا. وقد يكون المخرج لذلك أن نوحد جهودنا للوصول إلى قواسم مشتركة وقراءة موحدة تضمن الانتقال إلى حوار سياسي ذي مصداقية يُتوّج بحلٍّ سياسي يحقق تطلعات جميع السوريين بالحفاظ على سيادة سورية ووحدتها أرضاً وشعباً واستقلالها السياسي بعيداً عن أي تدخل خارجي.

Did George W. Bush created ISIS? George Not that smart. But Satan Cheney and his team

Jeb Bush replied by repeating his earlier criticism of President Obama: that Iraq had been stable until American troops had departed.

“When we left Iraq, security had been arranged,” Bush said. The removal of American troops had created a security vacuum that ISIS exploited. “The result was the opposite occurred. Immediately, that void was filled.”

“Your brother created ISIS” is the kind of sound bite that grabs our attention, because it’s obviously false yet oddly rings true.

Bush didn’t like it: he offered a retort and then left the stage. Meanwhile, Ziedrich had started a conversation that rippled across Twitter, Facebook, and any number of American dinner tables. Who is actually right?

Here is what happened:

In 2003, the U.S. military, on orders of President Bush, invaded Iraq, and nineteen days later threw out Hussein’s government.

A few days after that, President Bush or someone in his Administration decreed the dissolution of the Iraqi Army. (Israel was extremely relieved: Iraqi army was the best trained and equipped in the Arab World).

This decision didn’t throw “thirty thousand individuals” out of a job, as Ziedrich said—the number was closer to ten times that. Overnight, at least  250,000  Iraqi men—armed, angry, and with military training—were suddenly humiliated and out of work.

This was probably the single most catastrophic decision of the American venture in Iraq.

In a stroke, the Administration helped enable the creation of the Iraqi insurgency. Bush Administration officials involved in the decision—like Paul Bremer and Walter Slocombe—argued that they were effectively ratifying the reality that the Iraqi Army had already disintegrated. (A silly argument that many could fall in)

This was manifestly not true.

I talked to American military commanders who told me that leaders of entire Iraqi divisions (a division has roughly ten thousand troops) had come to them for instructions and expressed a willingness to cooperate.

In fact, many American commanders argued vehemently at the time that the Iraqi military should be kept intact—that disbanding it would turn too many angry young men against the United States. But the Bush White House went ahead.

Many of those suddenly unemployed Iraqi soldiers took up arms against the United States. We’ll never know for sure how many Iraqis would have stayed in the Iraqi Army—and stayed peaceful—had it remained intact. But the evidence is overwhelming that former Iraqi soldiers formed the foundation of the insurgency.

On this point, although she understated the numbers, Ziedrich was exactly right. But how did the dissolution of the Iraqi Army lead to the creation of ISIS?

During the course of the war, Al Qaeda in Iraq grew to be the most powerful wing of the insurgency, as well as the most violent and the most psychotic. They drove truck bombs into mosques and weddings and beheaded their prisoners. But, by the time the last American soldiers had departed, in 2011, the Islamic State of Iraq, as it was then calling itself, was in a state of near-total defeat. The combination of the Iraqi-led “awakening,” along with persistent American pressure, had decimated the group and pushed them into a handful of enclaves.

Indeed, by 2011 the situation in Iraq—as former Governor Bush said—was relatively stable. “Relatively” is the key word here. Iraq was still a violent place, but nowhere near as violent as it had been. The Iraqi government was being run by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, a fervent Al Qaeda foe and ostensible American ally.

In this sense, Ziedrich is right again, at least notionally: some of the men fighting in ISIS were put out of work by the American occupiers in 2003. Still, it’s not clear—and it will never be clear—how many of these Iraqis might have remained peaceful had the Americans kept the Iraqi Army intact. One of the Iraqis closest to Baghdadi was Ibrahim Izzat al-Douri, a senior official in Saddam’s government until 2003. (Douri was reported killed last month—it’s still not clear if he was or not.)

It’s hard to imagine that Douri—or any other hardcore member of Saddam’s Baath Party—would have ever willingly taken part in an American occupation, whether he had a job or not. So, in this sense, Ziedrich is overstating the case. While it’s true that George W. Bush took actions that helped enable the creation of the Iraqi insurgency, and that some leaders of the insurgency formed ISIS, it’s not true that he “created” ISIS. And there’s a good argument to be made that an insurgency would have formed following the invasion of Iraq even if President Bush had kept the Iraqi Army together. He just helped to make the insurgency bigger.

But let’s get to Governor Bush’s assertion—that Iraq went down the tubes because of President Obama’s decision to pull out all American forces, and that Obama could easily have left behind a residual force that would have kept the peace.

I took up this issue last year in a Profile of Maliki, the Iraqi leader we left in place. Maliki didn’t really want any Americans to stay in Iraq, and Obama didn’t, either. But—and this is a crucial point—it seems possible that, if Obama had pushed Maliki harder, the United States could have retained a small force of soldiers there in noncombat roles. More than a few Americans and Iraqis told me this. They blame Obama for not trying harder. “You just had this policy vacuum and this apathy,” Michael Barbero, the commander of American forces in Iraq in 2011, told me, describing the Obama White House.

So, on this, Governor Bush isn’t entirely accurate, but makes a good point: the Obama Administration might have been able to keep some forces in Iraq if it had really tried.

And what if the Americans had stayed? Could a small force of American soldiers have prevented Iraq from sliding back into chaos, as Governor Bush claims? Americans like Barbero—and a number of Iraqis, as well—argue that the mere presence of a small number of American troops, not in combat roles, could have made a crucial difference. The idea here is that after the American invasion, which destroyed the Iraqi state, the Iraqi political system was not stable enough to act without an honest broker to negotiate with its many factions, which is the role that the Americans had played.

This much is clear: after 2011, with no Americans on the ground, Maliki was free to indulge his worst sectarian impulses, and he rapidly and ruthlessly repressed Iraq’s Sunni minority, imprisoning thousands of young men on no charges, thereby radicalizing the Sunnis who weren’t in prison. When, in June, 2014, ISIS came rolling in, anything seemed better than Maliki to many of Iraq’s Sunnis.

Could all that have been prevented? It’s impossible to know, of course, although President Obama, by sending American forces back to Iraq, seems at least implicitly to think so. Historians—along with Governor Bush and Ivy Ziedrich—will be arguing about the question for a long time.

Andrew Bossone shared this link

“At least two hundred and fifty thousand Iraqi men—armed, angry, and with military training—were suddenly humiliated and out of work.”

A college student in Reno started a conversation that rippled across Twitter, Facebook, and any number of American dinner tables. Who is actually right?|By Dexter Filkins

Ivy Ziedrich, College Student, Warms to Role as Jeb Bush Critic on ISIS


Ivy Ziedrich, a 19-year-old college student at the University of Nevada.
Ivy Ziedrich, a 19-year-old college student at the University of Nevada.Credit Nikita Lee

RENO, Nev. — On Wednesday afternoon, just as she sat down to watch TV and eat a corn dog, Ivy Ziedrich’s phone rang. It was her sister in Montana.

“I am so proud of you,” her sister said, “for yelling at a politician.”

It was the first inkling that Ms. Ziedrich, a 19-year-old college student with a passion for the debate team and the finer points of Middle Eastern policy, had gone viral.

Her confrontation with Jeb Bush, in which she told the former Florida governor a few hours earlier, “Your brother created ISIS,” was suddenly everywhere online, casting an unwelcome hue on President George W. Bush’s legacy from the war in Iraq.

“My sister started freaking out,” Ms. Ziedrich recalled.

In an interview, Ms. Ziedrich described a dizzying 24 hours of social media frenzy, her upbringing in a conservative Republican family, and the circumstances that prompted her to approach Jeb Bush, who was in Reno for a town hall-style meeting on Wednesday.

She had shown up with a few college friends uncertain of whether she wanted to ask anything at all. But as Mr. Bush spoke about the rise of the Islamic State, and put blame on President Obama for removing troops from Iraq, Ms. Ziedrich found herself becoming furious. ISIS, she believed, was the product of George W. Bush’s bungled war in Iraq.

“A Bush was trying to blame ISIS on Obama’s foreign policy — it was hilarious,” said Ms. Ziedrich, who attends the University of Nevada. “It was like somebody crashing their car and blaming the passenger.”

She acknowledged she was deeply nervous about walking up to him after the meeting and asking her question. “I get nervous any time I talk to an authority figure — he wants to be president of the United States,” she said.

Her question and his reply seemed to distill deep, lingering anger of the war in Iraq and encapsulate Mr. Bush’s political challenges as the brother of George W. Bush. Much online commentary has focused on her somewhat aggressive tone, a fact that Ms. Ziedrich finds a bit baffling.

“I wasn’t trying to be disrespectful,” she said. In fact, she said she is grateful that Mr. Bush responded, even if it did not exactly satisfy her.

Ms. Ziedrich, a high school debater who specialized in the parliamentary style and still helps coach her former team, said that all the attention she is garnering from those on the right (who thought she was rude) and those on the left (who want to canonize her) is confounding given her own political journey. Growing up in Northern California, she considered herself a conservative like her mother and father, who is a loyal Fox News viewer.

Then she identified as a libertarian and, ultimately, as Democratic, influenced by her time spent debating and by books like Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States.”

Speaking from her apartment, Ms. Ziedrich says she is busy juggling calls from old friends and media outlets.

“I am still trying to process all of this,” she said.

So far, her mother has expressed approval of the confrontation. But she hasn’t yet spoken with her father. “I am hoping he will be proud of me,” she said.




February 2020
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