Whilst I welcome the decision that Britain has welcomed a UN resolution designed to weaken Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.
The United Nations Security Council gave unanimous approval to the document, which was drawn up by the UK.
It backed sanctions on individuals recruiting, financing, supplying weapons, or fighting for Islamic State (IS) and linked groups.
The UK Ministry of Defence has revealed that its Joint Rivet surveillance aircraft has been operating in Iraq.
The reconnaissance plane had been operating in the region for the last few weeks, a spokeswoman said, helping to “build an understanding of the humanitarian situation and the associated ISIL (also known as IS) threat”.
“The intelligence and insight it has provided has guided our humanitarian efforts giving us an accurate picture of what is going on the ground so that we could best deliver aid to the Yazidi people.
The hot potato of the day has to be for me is how will world leaders address of the increase presence of Islamic State(ISIS) in Iraq which in my opinion has more than one leader with no base or constitution and why so many young people are being attracted in joining various Jihadist Groups.
I would like some acknowledgement that “we” the West, are in some measure to blame. After all, “we” did invade, overthrow a secular dictator, ostracise the experienced Civil Servants, and ensure the candidates for Presidential Election were acceptable to the transnational corporations. Val McDermid expressing sensible concerns that when you arm people you think are the goodies, they may actually be as bad as the baddies, and that in any event you escalate the use and possession of lethal weapons. All wanted super dooper diplomatic initiatives, though these were unspecified, and a longer term strategy for the Middle East. Nobody mentioned Russia and China. It was all “The West”. On Russia in particular, I am horrified that “the West’s” focus on “Aid Convoys” from Russia to Eastern Ukraine appear to be blinding intelligent people from considering the importance of the diplomatic role Russia could play
There are so many think tanks out there with little or no solutions to address the wider issue which affects some ethnic communities which the FarRight groups are quick enough to jump on the bandwagon to spread their hatred of Muslims and Islam what their lack of understanding of the Koran from some intellectually challenged people.
Ironically the UK has banned some Islamic groups but failed to ban groups like English Defence League, (EDL) British First (BF), British National Party (BNP) and United Kingdom Independence Party(UKIP) no doubt some will argue that those group will go underground well folks wake up they have in some cases gone underground but only surface to spread their vile messages to their lieutenants then disappear letting their foot soldiers taking the can who are already brainwashed is the only way to describe them.
Intriguingly I read two articles which really sums it up in a nutshell for me when it began with:
The US and the UK can’t defeat ISIS Arab states have to take the lead The destruction of this caliphate must come from a Muslim led force
On Friday last week, as he became the fourth US president in succession to authorise airstrikes in Iraq, Barack Obama effectively said the world’s most powerful terrorist group, ISIS, was an Arab problem and that regional leaders would have to deal with it.
“The nature of this [ISIL / ISIS] problem is not one that the US military can solve,” he said, offering the clearest indication of his thinking. “[W]e can then be one of many countries that deal with the broader problem that ISIL poses,” he said during the press conference, but the US was not going to take the lead.
Over the last year ISIS has captured territory that is now larger than Great Britain. It is among the fastest-growing and richest terrorist groups of all time. After initially funding its efforts with extortion, smuggling and private donations, it literally struck gold in June when it made off with $400m in cash and gold from the central bank in Mosul. Since then it has also captured oil fields and earns up to £3m a day by selling the resource on the black market. The group also has a modernised arsenal from the weapons and vehicles it has captured from the Iraqi army. Even the well-trained and feared Kurdish forces are being pushed back in places.
The plight of Iraq’s minorities, especially the Yazidis, has struck a chord strong enough to raise demands that the USA and UK should intervene to help such groups and destroy ISIS. I don’t say this as a blind anti-interventionist – I supported the invasion of Afghanistan to get rid of the Taliban and heavy military intervention in Syria to avoid a humanitarian crisis – but such a course of action would be foolhardy and counter-productive. On this, President Obama is absolutely right: the problem posed by ISIS cannot be solved by US military.
A wide-scale military operation spear-headed by the US or UK to defeat ISIS is doomed to failure. In fact they welcome the prospect. “Don’t be cowards and attack us with drones,” a spokesman for the group told Vice News. “Instead send your soldiers, the ones we humiliated in Iraq. We will humiliate them everywhere, god willing,” he added. ISIS would love the United States and UK to invade with soldiers or to step up aerial bombardment across the country.
There are two key reasons why I oppose such action. Firstly, aerial bombardment won’t make much difference, and may well lead to extensive civilian casualties. ISIS are well-versed in fighting an established army – in Syria – and constantly move around equipment and people. In case of (a highly unlikely) ground war, they would bog down American and British troops in a costly and draining ground war stretching over years, if not decades.
To reiterate, ISIS aren’t a rag-tag bunch of rebels hiding in caves, as al-Qaeda is largely reduced to now. It is a well-equipped urban guerilla army fighting on several different fronts and winning in most of them. While Saddam Hussain’s army barely put up a fight against American troops, the warriors of Islamic State would relish fighting them on their holy land.
A western-led attack on ISIS would also be counter-productive because of the inevitable blowback. The establishment of a caliphate has not just made ISIS more attractive than al-Qaeda, it also puts us in a deep quandary. To put it bluntly, the US or UK cannot be seen as cheerleading the destruction of the most successful caliphate in recent times.
It doesn’t matter how many imams or Muslims across the world have distanced themselves from ISIS, the destruction of this caliphate must come from a Muslim-led force. Otherwise the symbolism is such that we would be fending off terrorist attacks forever. To offer one example of their popularity – while not one Indian Muslim has been found fighting with al-Qaeda (in a country with the world’s second largest Muslim population), ISIS has not only inspired imams but attracted four Indian Muslim fighters already. The symbolism of a caliphate cannot be underestimated, and neither can the symbolism of its destruction.
I suspect Obama knows this. This is why there is hesitation across the American and British administrations, and why he said Arab leaders had to lead the charge against ISIS instead. The airstrikes authorised by Obama last week were limited, solely to help Kurdish armed forces fighting ISIS in northern Iraq. The British government isn’t even debating the prospect of joining its ally in these airstrikes and Labour opposes any such action outright.
There’s a reason, too, why we can afford to take a step back from this conflict. In contrast to al-Qaeda, the focus of the Islamic State is inward. It wants to consolidate territory across the Middle East before it takes on the might of the United States. It’s ironic that Saudi Arabia, which sponsored Wahhabism for decades, is now threatened by a group based on its ideology. We should let it deal with the consequences.
The ISIS leader was NOT trained by the CIA or Mossad, and Snowden didn’t say it
There are three common rules when people discuss politics:
1) they are willing to believe anything on the internet if it confirms their prejudices
2) they don’t want to accept people of their tribe do awful things
3) they find a way to blame America or the UK for most of the world’s problems
A recent example: the claim that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi the self-proclaimed leader of Islamic State in Syria and Iraq – was funded or trained by the CIA or Israel’s Mossad, and that this was apparently revealed by Edward Snowden.
Stories claiming this hoax have gone viral all over the web (example 1, example 2, example 3). This is simply not true. In fact I asked the reporter Glenn Greenwald, who has had more contact with Snowden than most people this question directly.
Furthermore, Edward Snowden’s lawyer called this claim a hoax too.
So where did ISIS money and the guns come from?
I explain this briefly in my New Statesman article:
After initially funding its efforts with extortion, smuggling and private donations, it literally struck gold in June when it made off with $400m in cash and gold from the central bank in Mosul.
Since then it has also captured oil fields and earns up to £3m a day by selling the resource on the black market.
The group also has a modernised arsenal from the weapons and vehicles it has captured from the Iraqi army. Even the well-trained and feared Kurdish forces are being pushed back in places.
But America is still to blame, right?
In some ways, yes. The New York Times recently reported:
The Pentagon says that Mr. Baghdadi, after being arrested in Falluja in early 2004, was released that December with a large group of other prisoners deemed low level. But Hisham al-Hashimi, an Iraqi scholar who has researched Mr. Baghdadi’s life, sometimes on behalf of Iraqi intelligence, said that Mr. Baghdadi had spent five years in an American detention facility where, like many ISIS fighters now on the battlefield, he became more radicalized.
From there he joined al-Qaeda, and later split off into his own group which later became ISIS and Islamic State.
But what about all the pictures?
If you see any pictures, supposedly of al-Baghdadi meeting someone (like John McCain!), they’re also fake. These pics never reveal their source, time, date or location. Unless a pic does that, so it can be verified, it’s a fake.
Here is the history of the vile terrorist group and remember the quote:
“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out Because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out Because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out Because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me”.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is a jihadist group, widely regarded as a terrorist organisation. In its self-proclaimed status as a caliphate, it claims religious authority over all Muslims across the world and aspires to bring much of the Muslim-inhabited regions of the world under its direct political control, beginning with territory in the Levant region, which includes Jordan, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Cyprus, and an area in southern Turkey that includes Hatay. The group has been officially designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, the European Union, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Syria, and Lebanon, and has been widely described as a terrorist group by Western and Middle Eastern media sources, including Amnesty International
The group, in its original form, was composed of and supported by a variety of Sunni Arab terrorist insurgent groups, including its predecessor organizations, Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) (2003–2006),Mujahideen Shura Council (2006–2006) and the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) (2006–2013), other insurgent groups such as Jeish al-Taiifa al-Mansoura, Jaysh al-Fatiheen, Jund al-Sahaba and Katbiyan Ansar Al-Tawhid wal Sunnah, and a number of Iraqi tribes that profess Sunni Islam.
ISIS grew significantly as an organization owing to its participation in the Syrian Civil War and the strength of its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Economic and political discrimination against Arab Iraqi Sunnis since the fall of the secular Saddam Hussein also helped it to gain support. At the height of the 2003–2011 Iraq War, its forerunners enjoyed a significant presence in the Iraqi governorates of Al Anbar,Nineveh, Kirkuk, most of Salah ad Din, parts of Babil, Diyala andBaghdad, and claimed Baqubah as a capital city. In the ongoing Syrian Civil War, ISIS has a large presence in the Syrian governorates of Ar-Raqqah, Idlib and Aleppo.
ISIS is known for its extreme and brutally harsh interpretation of the Islamic faith and sharia law and has a record of horrifying violence, which is directed at Shia Muslims, indigenous Assyrian (Chaldo Assyrian), Syriac and Armenian Christians,Yazidis, Druze, Shabakis and Mandeans in particular. It has at least 4,000 fighters in its ranks in Iraq who, in addition to attacks on government and military targets, have claimed responsibility for attacks that have killed thousands of civilians. SIS had close links with al-Qaeda until 2014, but in February of that year, after an eight-month power struggle, al-Qaeda cut all ties with the group, reportedly for its brutality and “notorious intractability”.
ISIS’s original aim was to establish a caliphate in the Sunni-majority regions of Iraq. Following its involvement in the Syrian Civil War, this expanded to include controlling Sunni-majority areas of Syria. A caliphate was proclaimed on 29 June 2014, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi—now known as Amir al-Mu’minin Caliph Ibrahim was named as its caliph, and the group was renamed the Islamic State.
The group has had a number of different names since its formation in early 2004 as Jamāʻat al-Tawḥīd wa-al-Jihād, “The Organization of Monotheism and Jihad” (JTJ). These names are underscored in the following paragraphs.
In October 2004, the group’s leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi swore loyalty to Osama bin Laden and changed the name of the group to Tanẓīm Qāʻidat al-Jihād fī Bilād al-Rāfidayn, “The Organization of Jihad’s Base in the Country of the Two Rivers“, more commonly known as “Al-Qaeda in Iraq” (AQI). Although the group has never called itself “Al-Qaeda in Iraq”, this name has frequently been used to describe it through its various incarnations.
In January 2006, AQI merged with several smaller Iraqi insurgent groups under an umbrella organization called the “Mujahideen Shura Council“. This was little more than a media exercise and an attempt to give the group a more Iraqi flavour and perhaps to distance al-Qaeda from some of al-Zarqawi’s tactical errors, notably the 2005 bombings by AQI of three hotels in Amman. Al-Zarqawi was killed in June 2006, after which the group’s direction shifted again.
On 12 October 2006, the Mujahideen Shura Council joined four more insurgent factions and the representatives of a number of Iraqi Arab tribes, and together they swore the traditional Arab oath of allegiance known as Ḥilf al-Muṭayyabīn (“Oath of the Scented Ones”).[b] During the ceremony, the participants swore to free Iraq’s Sunnis from what they described as Shia and foreign oppression, and to further the name of Allah and restore Islam to glory.
On 13 October 2006, the establishment of the Dawlat al-ʻIraq al-Islāmīyah, “Islamic State of Iraq” (ISI) was announced. A cabinet was formed and Abu Abdullah al-Rashid al-Baghdadi became ISI’s figurehead emir, with the real power residing with the Egyptian Abu Ayyub al-Masri. The declaration was met with hostile criticism, not only from ISI’s jihadist rivals in Iraq, but from leading jihadist ideologues outside the country. Al-Baghdadi and al-Masri were both killed in a US–Iraqi operation in April 2010. The next leader of the ISI was Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the current leader of ISIS.
On 9 April 2013, having expanded into Syria, the group adopted the name “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant”, also known as “Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham”.
The name is abbreviated as ISIS or alternately ISIL. The final “S” in the acronym ISIS stems from the Arabic word Shām (or Shaam), which in the context of global jihad refers to the Levant or Greater Syria. ISIS was also known as al-Dawlah (“the State”), or al-Dawlah al-Islāmīyah (“the Islamic State”). These are short-forms of the Arabic name for the “Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham”; it is similar to calling “the United States of America” “the States”.
ISIS’s detractors, particularly in Syria, refer to the group using the Arabic acronym “DAESH” a term which it considers derogatory. ISIS reportedly uses flogging as a punishment for people who use the acronym.
On 14 May 2014, the United States Department of State announced its decision to use “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” (ISIL) as the group’s primary name. The debate over which acronym should be used to designate the group, ISIL or ISIS, has been discussed by several commentators. Ishaan Tharoor from The Washington Post concluded: “In the larger battlefield of copy style controversies, the distinction between ISIS or ISIL is not so great.”
On 29 June 2014, the establishment of a new caliphate was announced, with Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi named as its caliph, and the group formally changed its name to the “Islamic State”.
ISIS is a violent extremist group that follows al-Qaeda’s hard-line ideology and adheres to global jihadist principles. Like al-Qaeda and many other modern-day jihadist groups, ISIS emerged from the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood, the world’s first Islamist group dating back to the late 1920s in Egypt. ISIS follows an extreme anti-Western interpretation of Islam, promotes religious violence and regards those who do not agree with its interpretations as infidels and apostates. Concurrently, ISIS (now IS) aims to establish a Salafist-orientated Islamist state in Iraq, Syria and other parts of the Levant. ISIS’s ideology originates in the branch of modern Islam that aims to return to the early days of Islam, rejecting later “innovations” in the religion which it believes corrupt its original spirit. It condemns later caliphates and the Ottoman Empire for deviating from what it calls pure Islam and hence has been attempting to establish its own caliphate. However, there are some Sunni commentators, Zaid Hamid, for example, and even Salafi and jihadi muftis such as Adnan al-Aroor and Abu Basir al-Tartusi, who say that ISIS and related terrorist groups are not Sunnis at all, but Kharijite heretics serving an imperial anti-Islamic agenda.
Salafists such as ISIS believe that only a legitimate authority can undertake the leadership of jihad, and that the first priority over other areas of combat, such as fighting against non-Muslim countries, is the purification of Islamic society. For example, when it comes to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, since ISIS regards the Palestinian Sunni group Hamas as apostates who have no legitimate authority to lead jihad, it regards fighting Hamas as the first step toward confrontation with Israel.
From its beginnings the establishment of a pure Islamic state has been one of the group’s main goals. According to journalist Sarah Birke, one of the “significant differences” between Al-Nusra Front and ISIS is that ISIS “tends to be more focused on establishing its own rule on conquered territory”. While both groups share the ambition to build an Islamic state, ISIS is “far more ruthless … carrying out sectarian attacks and imposing sharia law immediately”. ISIS finally achieved its goal on 29 June 2014, when it removed “Iraq and the Levant” from its name, began to refer to itself as the Islamic State, and declared the territory which it occupied in Iraq and Syria a new caliphate.
In mid-2014, the group released a video entitled “The End of Sykes–Picot” featuring an English-speaking Chilean national named Abu Safiyya. The video announced the group’s intention to eliminate all modern borders between Islamic Middle Eastern countries; this was a reference to the borders set by the Sykes–Picot Agreement during World War I.
On 13 October 2006, the group announced the establishment of the Islamic State of Iraq, which claimed authority over the Iraqi governorates of Baghdad, Anbar, Diyala, Kirkuk, Salah al-Din, Nineveh, and parts of Babil. Following the 2013 expansion of the group into Syria and the announcement of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, the number of wilayah provinces which it claimed increased to 16. In addition to the seven Iraqi wilayah, the Syrian divisions, largely lying along existing provincial boundaries, are Al Barakah, Al Kheir, Ar-Raqqah, Al Badiya, Halab, Idlib, Hama, Damascus and the Coast.
In Syria, ISIS’s seat of power is in Ar-Raqqah Governorate. Top ISIS leaders, including Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, are known to have visited its provincial capital, Ar-Raqqah.
After significant setbacks for the group during the latter stages of the coalition forces‘ presence in Iraq, by late 2012 it was thought to have renewed its strength and more than doubled the number of its members to about 2,500, and since its formation in April 2013, ISIS has grown rapidly in strength and influence in Iraq and Syria. Analysts have underlined the deliberate inflammation of sectarian conflict between Iraqi Shias and Sunnis during the Iraq War by various Sunni and Shiite actors as the root cause of ISIS’s rise. The post-invasion policies of the international coalition forces have also been cited as a factor, with Fanar Haddad, a research fellow at the National University of Singapore‘s Middle East Institute, blaming the coalition forces during the Iraq War for “enshrining identity politics as the key marker of Iraqi politics”.
ISIS’s violence is directed particularly against Shia Muslims and indigenous Syriac-Aramean, Assyrian and Armenian Christians. In June 2014, The Economist reported that “ISIS may have up to 6,000 fighters in Iraq and 3,000–5,000 in Syria, including perhaps 3,000 foreigners; nearly a thousand are reported to hail from Chechnya and perhaps 500 or so more from France, Britain and elsewhere in Europe”. Chechen fighter Abu Omar al-Shishani, for example, was made commander of the northern sector of ISIS in Syria in 2013.
By 2014, ISIS was increasingly being viewed as a militia rather than a terrorist group. As major Iraqi cities fell to al-Baghdadi’s cohorts in June, Jessica Lewis, an expert on ISIS at the Institute for the Study of War, described ISIS as “not a terrorism problem anymore”, but rather “an army on the move in Iraq and Syria, and they are taking terrain. They have shadow governments in and around Baghdad, and they have an aspirational goal to govern. I don’t know whether they want to control Baghdad, or if they want to destroy the functions of the Iraqi state, but either way the outcome will be disastrous for Iraq.” Lewis, who was a US Army intelligence officer in Iraq and Afghanistan, has called ISIS “an advanced military leadership”. She said, “They have incredible command and control and they have a sophisticated reporting mechanism from the field that can relay tactics and directives up and down the line. They are well-financed, and they have big sources of manpower, not just the foreign fighters, but also prisoner escapees.”
ISIS’s annual reports reveal a metrics-driven military command, according to the Institute for the Study of War, which is “a strong indication of a unified, coherent leadership structure that commands from the top down”. Middle East Forum‘s Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi said, “They are highly skilled in urban guerrilla warfare while the new Iraqi Army simply lacks tactical competence.” Seasoned observers point to systemic corruption within the Iraq Army, it being little more than a system of patronage, and have attributed to this its spectacular collapse as ISIS and its allies took over large swaths of Iraq in June 2014.
Hillary Clinton stated: “The failure to help build up a credible fighting force of the people who were the originators of the protests against Assad—there were Islamists, there were secularists, there was everything in the middle—the failure to do that left a big vacuum, which the jihadists have now filled.”
During the Iraq War, the US Armed Forces had never faced an organized militant force as effective. Douglas Ollivant, a former Army Cavalry officer who later handled Iraq for the White House National Security Council, said, “They were great terrorists. They made great car bombs. But they were lousy line infantry, and if you got them in a firefight, they’d die. They have now repaired that deficiency.” Like other analysts, Ollivant credits the civil war in Syria for their striking improvement in battlefield ability since the Iraq War: “You fight Hizballah for a couple of years, and you either die or you get a lot better. And these guys just got a lot better.” Another major weapon in ISIS’s tactical armoury is control of rivers, dams, and water installations.
ISIS runs a soft-power program, which includes social services, religious lectures and da’wah—proselytizing—to local populations. It also performs civil tasks such as repairing roads and maintaining the electricity supply.
The group is also known for its effective use of propaganda. In November 2006, shortly after the creation of the Islamic State of Iraq, the group established the al-Furqan Institute for Media Production, which produced CDs, DVDs, posters, pamphlets, and web-related propaganda products. ISIS’s main media outlet is the I’tisaam Media Foundation, which was formed in March 2013 and distributes through the Global Islamic Media Front (GIMF). In 2014, ISIS established the Al Hayat Media Center, which targets a Western audience and produces material in English, German, Russian and French. In 2014 it also launched the Ajnad Media Foundation, which releases jihadist audio chants.
ISIS’s use of social media has been described by one expert as “probably more sophisticated than [that of] most US companies”. It regularly takes advantage of social media, particularly Twitter, to distribute its message by organizing hashtag campaigns, encouraging Tweets on popular hashtags, and utilizing software applications that enable ISIS propaganda to be distributed to its supporters’ accounts. Another comment is that “ISIS puts more emphasis on social media than other jihadi groups. They have a very coordinated social media presence.” Although ISIS’s social media feeds on Twitter are regularly shut down, it frequently recreates them, maintaining a strong online presence. The group has attempted to branch out into alternate social media sites, such as Quitter, Friendica and Diaspora; Quitter and Friendica, however, almost immediately removed ISIS’s presence from their sites.
A study of 200 documents—personal letters, expense reports and membership rosters captured from Al-Qaeda in Iraq and the Islamic State of Iraq was carried out by the RAND Corporation in 2014. It found that from 2005 until 2010, outside donations amounted to only 5% of the group’s operating budgets, with the rest being raised within Iraq. In the time-period studied, cells were required to send up to 20% of the income generated from kidnapping, extortion rackets and other activities to the next level of the group’s leadership. Higher-ranking commanders would then redistribute the funds to provincial or local cells that were in difficulties or needed money to conduct attacks. The records show that the Islamic State of Iraq was dependent on members from Mosul for cash, which the leadership used to provide additional funds to struggling militants in Diyala, Salahuddin and Baghdad.
In mid-2014, Iraqi intelligence extracted information from an ISIS operative which revealed that the organization had assets worth US$2 billion, making it the richest jihadist group in the world. About three quarters of this sum is said to be represented by assets seized after the group captured Mosul in June 2014; this includes possibly up to US$429 million looted from Mosul’s central bank, along with additional millions and a large quantity of gold bullion stolen from a number of other banks in Mosul. However, doubt was later cast on whether ISIS was able to retrieve anywhere near that sum from the central bank, and even on whether the bank robberies had actually occurred.
ISIS has routinely practised extortion, by demanding money from truck drivers and threatening to blow up businesses, for example. Robbing banks and gold shops has been another source of income. The group is widely reported as receiving funding from private donors in the Gulf states, and both Iran and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki have accused Saudi Arabia and Qatar of funding ISIS, although there is reportedly no evidence that this is the case.
The group is also believed to receive considerable funds from its operations in Eastern Syria, where it has commandeered oilfields and engages in smuggling out raw materials and archaeological artifacts. ISIS also generates revenue from producing crude oil and selling electric power in northern Syria. Some of this electricity is reportedly sold back to the Syrian government.
Since 2012, ISIS has produced annual reports giving numerical information on its operations, somewhat in the style of corporate reports, seemingly in a bid to encourage potential donors.
Jama’at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad (abrreviated JTJ or shortened to Tawhid and Jihad, Tawhid wal-Jihad, sometimes Tawhid al-Jihad,Al Tawhid or Tawhid) was started in about 2000 by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and a combination of foreigners and local Islamistsympathizers. Al-Zarqawi was a Jordanian Salafi who had traveled to Afghanistan to fight in the Soviet-Afghan War, but he arrived after the departure of the Soviet troops and soon returned to his homeland. He eventually returned to Afghanistan, running an Islamic militant training camp near Herat.
Al-Zarqawi started the network with the intention of overthrowing the Kingdom of Jordan, which he considered to be un-Islamic according to the four schools of Sunni Islamic jurisprudence. For this purpose he developed numerous contacts and affiliates in several countries. Although it has not been verified, his network may have been involved in the late 1999 plot to bomb the Millennium celebrations in the United States and Jordan. However, al-Zarqawi’s operatives were responsible for the assassination of US diplomat Laurence Foley in Jordan in 2002.
Following the US-led invasion of Afghanistan, al-Zarqawi moved westward into Iraq, where he reportedly received medical treatment in Baghdad for an injured leg. It is believed that he developed extensive ties in Iraq with Ansar al-Islam (“Partisans of Islam”), a Kurdish Islamic militant group based in the extreme northeast of the country. Ansar allegedly had ties to Iraqi Intelligence;Saddam Hussein‘s motivation would have been to use Ansar as a surrogate force to repress secular Kurds fighting for the independence of Kurdistan. In January 2003, Ansar’s founder Mullah Krekar denied any connection with Saddam’s government.
The consensus of intelligence officials has since been that there were no links whatsoever between al-Zarqawi and Saddam, and that Saddam viewed Ansar al-Islam “as a threat to the regime” and his intelligence officials were spying on the group. The 2006 Senate Report on Pre-war Intelligence on Iraq concluded: “Postwar information indicates that Saddam Hussein attempted, unsuccessfully, to locate and capture al-Zarqawi and that the regime did not have a relationship with, harbor, or turn a blind eye toward al-Zarqawi.”According to Michael Weiss, Ansar entered Iraqi Kurdistan through Iran as part of Iran’s covert attempts to destabilize Saddam’s government.
Following the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, JTJ developed into an expanding militant network for the purpose of resisting the coalition occupation forces and their Iraqi allies. It included some of the remnants of Ansar al-Islam and a growing number of foreign fighters. Many foreign fighters arriving in Iraq were initially not associated with the group, but once they were in the country they became dependent on al-Zarqawi’s local contacts.
Goals and tactics
The stated goals of JTJ were: (i) to force a withdrawal of coalition forces from Iraq; (ii) to topple the Iraqi interim government; (iii) to assassinate collaborators with the occupation regime; (iv) to remove the Shia population and defeat its militias because of its death-squad activities; and (v) to establish subsequently a pure Islamic state.
JTJ differed considerably from the other early Iraqi insurgent groups in its tactics. Rather than using only conventional weapons and guerrilla tactics in ambushes against the US and coalition forces, it relied heavily on suicide bombings, often using car bombs. It targeted a wide variety of groups, especially the Iraqi Security Forces and those facilitating the occupation. Groups of workers who have been targeted by JTJ include Iraqi interim officials, Iraqi Shia and Kurdish political and religious figures, the country’s Shia Muslim civilians, foreign civilian contractors, and United Nations and humanitarian workers. Al-Zarqawi’s militants are also known to have used a wide variety of other tactics, including targeted kidnappings, the planting of improvised explosive devices, and mortar attacks. Beginning in late June 2004, JTJ implemented urban guerrilla-style attacks using rocket-propelled grenades and small arms. They also gained worldwide notoriety for beheading Iraqi and foreign hostages and distributing video recordings of these acts on the Internet.
JTJ claimed credit for a number of attacks that targeted Iraqi forces and infrastructure, such as the October 2004 ambush and killing of 49 armed Iraqi National Guard recruits, and for a series of attacks on humanitarian aid agencies such as the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. It conducted numerous attacks against US military personnel throughout 2004, and audacious suicide attacks inside the high-security Green Zoneperimeter in Baghdad. Al-Zarqawi’s men reputedly succeeded in assassinating several leading Iraqi politicians of the early post-Saddam era, and their bomb attack on the United Nations Mission’s headquarters in Iraq led the UN country team to relocate to Jordan and continue their work remotely.
The group took either direct responsibility or the blame for many of the early Iraqi insurgent attacks, including the series of high-profile bombings in August 2003, which killed 17 people at the Jordanian embassy in Baghdad, 23 people, including the chief of the United Nations Mission to Iraq Sérgio Vieira de Mello, at the UN headquarters in Baghdad, and at least 86 people, including Ayatollah Sayed Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim, in the Imam Ali Mosque bombing in Najaf. Included here is the November truck bombing, which killed 27 people, mostly Italian paramilitary policemen, at the Italian base in Nasiriyah.
The attacks connected with the group in 2004 include the series of bombings in Baghdad and Karbala which killed 178 people during the holy Day of Ashura in March; the failed plot in April to explode chemical bombs in Amman, Jordan, which was said to have been financed by al-Zarqawi’s network; a series of suicide boat bombings of the oil pumping stations in the Persian Gulf in April, for which al-Zarqawi took responsibility in a statement published by the Muntada al-Ansar Islamist website; the Maycar bomb assassination of Iraqi Governing Council president Ezzedine Salim at the entrance to the Green Zone in Baghdad; the June suicide car bombing in Baghdad which killed 35 civilians; and the September car bomb which killed 47 police recruits and civilians on Haifa Street in Baghdad.
Foreign civilian hostages abducted by the group in 2004 include: Americans Nick Berg,Eugene Armstrong and Jack Hensley; Turks Durmus Kumdereli, Aytullah Gezmen and Murat Yuce; South Korean Kim Sun-il; Bulgarians Georgi Lazov and Ivaylo Kepov; and BritonKenneth Bigley. Most of them were beheaded using knives. Al-Zarqawi personally beheaded Berg and Armstrong, but Yuce was shot dead by al-Masri and Gezmen was released after “repenting”.