The Islamic State of Irak and al-Sham also known as ISIS, is a jihadi organisation with members from different countries. It is fighting the Syrian regime, the Iraki government forces and other terrorist groups. It shares the same ideaology with Al-Qaeda but not the same strategic points of view. ISIS now has an estimated force of 6000-7000 fighters in Syria and 5000-6000 fighters in Irak most of them are Syrians and Irakis with a small percentage of foreigners coming from Africa, Europe and Asia. Before it becomes what it is today, ISIS had a past that forged its position in the Middle-Eastern battlefield. In fighting, the Islamic State is using the same strategy of the other organised rebels since the 1970s, it consists of an All-in attack and an All-out retreat relying on surprise, speed and agility, for example (classic), if a group of fighters want to hijack a military convey they will be in a hiding position at a turn in the road (a dead point, no camera can get to it and neither a monoscope) and at one precise moment they come all of a sudden out emptying their AK-47’s magazines on the target vehicule in a way that makes the victim don’t understand from where the rounds are fired because the firing is continues and can last for more than 5minutes for a group of 6, until the soldiers are dead and the terrorists go back home happy with the catch.
In 2004, after starting the ”Unity and Jihad group” to fight the American occupation, Abu-Mosaab Al-Zarqawi was put by Ossama Bin Laden, former Al-Qaeda Leader, as the head of Al-Qaeda in Irak. Two years later, in 2006, Al-Zarqawi announced, in a video podcast, the setting up of a ”Jihadi Council” presided by Abdullah Rachid Al-Baghdadi.
After the assasination of Al-Zarqawi, Abu-Hamza Al-Muhager was elected the new leader and by the end of 2006, the Islamic State of Irak was founded and presided by Abu-Omar Al-Baghdadi. 4years after that, in 2010, the US-Marines assasinated both of the two leaders Abu-Omar Al-Baghdadi and Abu-Hamza Al-Muhager. And few days after the mourning, the Jihadi Council have chosen Abu-Bakr Al-Baghdadi to fill in the position.
In 2011, with the ongoing arab springs that quacked that part of the globe, Abu-Bakr announced in a video podcast that ”Al Nosra” in Syria is an extention of the Islamic State of Irak and that the two organisations are now under the same name ”The Islamic State of Irak An Al-Sham”, but ”Al Nosra” refused to be part of this newly named group and the two of them were active seperately in Syria.
The Islamic State does not have a pronounced sponsorship from a certain country, experts are analysing that funding is coming to ISIS from wealthy people in the Gulf countries, Irak, Syria and the USA and local sources as well. Some other experts are saying that the ISIS surge may be a move from the Syrian president Bachar Al-Assad to turn down the international pressure against his regime by legitimizing his actions under the embrella of fighting terrorism. He may be protecting ISIS as well since he said in a press release that any attack on ISIS on the Syrian territory by a western country (meaning the US) is an infraction of Syria’s independance.
The Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham now extends its reign over the eastern provinces of Syria and the northern part of Iraq. Its construction was accompanied by a long procession of executions, crucifixions, beheadings, punishments of any kind for those who are unwilling to comply with an archaic Islam. Where it rules, for example in the Syrian province of Raqqah, teaching philosophy and theology is prohibited because these materials are “not in accordance with the laws of God.” and women no longer have any role in the public space. The Islamic State, nevertheless, does not hesitate to provide its propaganda on the internet; Rafiq Abu-Musab, communication responsible, worked on a story revealing how the leaders of the Islamic state using methods of population control, similar to those of the Nazi regime: the man is “rehabilitated” by the punishment and sentenced to whip.
So, How did we get here?
In April 2013, Al-Baghdadi, the 6th “Caliph” of muslims, by unifying the force by its own organization to that of another group fighting in Syria, it will challenge the authority of al Qaeda. His ambition is to bring together a maximum of rebels not only to lead the fight against the Syrian regime but, more importantly, to assert its conquests as the true leader of the Sunnis. Its purpose is to hold territory and expand gradually, noting that ISIS is controlling a huge territory in the north of Irak and eastern Syria. The most appalling violence is the tool of this organisation. Al-Baghdadi knows well this violence since he started his “jihadist career” in one of the most ruthless groups opposed to the American presence in Iraq back in 2003. For this reason the network had ended up being ostracized by other Iraqi movements and had been largely decimated.
The Americans left Irak in 2011 leaving the country in complete chaos, and that has enabled the group to recover and make new fans and recruit new fighting members. The story behind a charismatic leader is tempting indeed, and al-Baghdadi will embody a dream of conquest, where the loser is mercilessly crushed. Rallying, Islam becomes a pretext for robbery and murder – in these war-torn countries for decades, the wealth extracted by force or those collected by the looting of banks, especially when Mosul was taken, are all bargains. Added to this is the payment of a salary of a few hundred dollars a month, which is bound to attract the young unemployed. Estimates of the numbers of ISIS show about 30 to 20 thousand men, would have recently joined 6,000 others, including 1,000 foreigners.
To these is added the easy riches down outside funds, from May 2013. The oil monarchies of the Gulf Arab-Persian by ‘patrons’ interposed, then contributed to provide all the necessary logistics for the Islamic State actions. For them, regardless of the means used provided they hoped that al-Baghdadi is involved in the fighting against the Shiites, and thus against Iran for regional supremacy. The ”Caliph” launched raids by attacking where the enemy was in position outnumbered and retreating where the enemy is well prepared. ISIS also benefited from the decline of authority, whether in Syria, due to civil war, or Iraq, where political corruption and favoritism Maliki, former Prime Minister, has rankled some Sunni tribes in northern Iraq.
In Kurdistan (north Irak), Iraki government forces attacked the weaknesses of the opposing defense (Kurdish defenses extend over an arc of about 1000 km, and concave, flat is not easy to defend) and was able to exploit some weaknesses in the Kurdish commander, who also led President Barzani to dismiss several Kurdish military officials.
With its success, and no doubt, a victim of its excesses, Al-Baghdadi has crossed the line. Martyrdom of Christians and Yazidis, some of whom were buried alive, coupled with the attack of the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan, has transformed the nature of the conflict and the international community can indeed tolerate such atrocities, including mass executions of civilians.
Already great moral leaders condemn unequivocally, the Islamic state – as the Pope Francis and the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh, who proclaimed that ISIS is the “No. 1 enemy of Islam “. Second, the French, British and American powers must step from Kurdistan and elsewhere, a pitiless and unequal struggle against an inflaming desire of starting the Islamic State long waited by muslims around the world that is triggered by racism and critical religionism the muslims face around the world. Western powers must simultaneously tell their opinions that the fight will be long and difficult, and a substantially different nature from that which continues to oppose al-Qaeda. Third, while adopting particular tactics (high mobility of forces, refusal of a fixed front, possible use of human shields against the proliferation of air strikes …), has many vulnerabilities – the hostility of part of the population, mostly shiites and some sunnis who agree that violence is not what Islam is about, or other armed groups in the region, the elongation of the device from Aleppo to Tikrit, the use of repetitive tactics, launching raids from vulnerable fixed bases and threat consistent with a shot or a commando operation to kill its leaders. The international community is not frustrated with ISIS. It must make clear that it wishes to eradicate and that of its officers, and act accordingly but I think it is still early to choose sides with this lack of information, if ISIS is against Al-Qaeda then the western forces should sponsor it to eradicate the Bin-Laden remains from the Middle-East.
Ultimate Attack Strategy:
Since the 1970’s, rebel groups and organisations have a common attack strategy that rely on speed and efficiency of execution with more damage. Examples of this simple strategy are many and varied depending on many factors and the most important one is the climate and how fighters are adapted to it (a Pakistani fighter will beat an american soldier in Afghanistan, but the chances of the fighter are far less when they are on American soil). A live an fascinating example is when Al-Qaida fighters attacked a US base in Afghanistan with only a few AK47s and AK45s with limited ammo. They gathered in the mountains around the base with a number of approximately 200 fighters, they approached the base step by step in the broad daylight, the weather was so hot that guards on top of the base spend more time changing their clothes than keeping watch of the surrounding area. The fighters approached so fast and started shooting, the shooting continued unstoppingly for the next 20minutes, meanwhile, American soldiers are having trouble securing the base because the fighters are already in. The staff, then, had no choice but to evacuate the base using helicopters. By minute 30, the base is under control of the fighters, Al-Qaida pick-ups and trucks hurried to the base and got as much ammo, data, vehicules and military equipment as possible before the US AirForce bombs it to ashes, and they succeeded. A similar example, and a recent one, happened in Tunisia in the mountain of Chaambi, kasserine abck in 2013.
As military and political experts believe, the Islamic State uses an all-in all-out strategy where, like street football, the attack lines are themselves the defense lines. The solidiers attack as one entity and defense as one entity but they have a mixed defense strategy which is basically to retreat if the fighters are not well covered or if they have a plan B and to attack if their backs are against the wall believing that GOD protects them from enemy bullets. Latly in Irak, only 400 ISIS fighters exterminated a wave of 25,000 Iraqi solidiers. That is one thing that the West and the world needs to know, ISIS fighters are not to be underestimated.
What makes western army solidiers shocked and confused is that there will be always someone who carries the gun of a dead fighter, and most times that someone is a child forced to act or a teenager who want to see how action movies look like in the real world.
Why the world knows about it NOW ?
It is in great part the beheading videos that went viral and the news braodcasted in mainstreem media. Most people didn’t watch the execution videos of ISIS fighters but it’s the media and bologsphere as well as social media that triggered the discussion about it.
And of course the surge of journalists with a motto ”if it bleeds, it leads” are excited to cover the ongoing Syrian conflict made its place in the daily press, and reporters cannot talk about Syria or Middle East without mentioning ISIS.
To know more about the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham, we need to know someone from the inside, which is impossible, but journalist Jürgen Todenhöfer who was on a journey inside the Islamic State with his son and he has some first impressions. The top five impressions od ISIS are:
1.) THE WEST IS DRAMATICALLY UNDERESTIMATING THE THREAT EMANATING
2.) THE INFLUX OF NEW FIGHTERS JOINING ISIS IS GROWING DAILY
3.) THE “ISLAMIC STATE” SEEMS TO FUNCTION AS WELL AS ANY OTHER TOTALITARIAN COUNTRY IN THIS REGION
4.) ISIS ISN’T JUST AIMING AT CONQUERING THE MIDDLE EAST AND, EVENTUALLY, THE REST OF THE WORLD. RATHER, THEY WANT THE LARGEST “RELIGOUS CLEANSING” IN THE HISTORY OF MANKIND
5.) ISIS CANNOT BE DEFEATED WITH BOMBS OR MISSILES
More details about his jouney and his 7 impressions can be found on this blog http://juergentodenhoefer.de/seven-impressions-of-a-difficult-journey/?lang=en