The ISIS Caliphate: Salafism as a strategic asset?

I have yet to see any reference in the mainstream media to Monday’s publication by   the conservative foundation Judicial Watch of previously classified US intelligence documents obtained as the result of a freedom of information lawsuit   This inattention is alarming, because one of these documents provides some disturbing background behind the nightmarish Caliphate that is now being carved in blood across Syria and Iraq.

Take these observations contained in an information report on Syria by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) dated August 12 2012   on the ‘general situation’ in Syria in the summer of 2012:

  • ‘Internally, events are taking a clear sectarian direction
  • The Salafist, The Muslim Brotherhood, and AQI [Al Qaeda in Iraq] are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria.
  • The West, Gulf countries, and Turkey support the opposition, while Russia, China, and Iran support the regime.
  • AQI supported the Syrian opposition from the beginning, both ideologically and through the media.  
  • AQI had major pockets and bases on both sides of the border to facilitate the flow of materiel and recruits.’

In a section on ‘the future assumptions of the crisis’, the report put forward the following hypothesis:

‘Development of the current events into proxy war: with support from Russia, China, and Iran, the regime is controlling the areas of influence along coastal territories…On the other hand, opposition forces are trying to control the eastern areas (Hasaka and Der Zor), adjacent to the western Iraqi provinces (Mosul and Anbar), in addition to neighboring Turkish borders.    

Western countries, the Gulf States and Turkey are supporting these efforts.   This hypothesis is most likely in accordance with the data from recent events, which will help prepare safe havens under international sheltering, similar to what transpired in Libya when Benghazi was chosen as the command center of the temporary government.’

So in the summer of 2012, opposition forces in which Salafi/AQI elements were the ‘major forces’ were seeking to control territory in eastern Syria with the support of the Gulf States, Turkey – and Western countries.     And the DIA was suggesting that such assistance might take the form of a safe haven, constructed under the rubric of a Libya-style no fly zone!     And what would these ‘safe havens’ be like? Well the DIA offered the following possibility:

‘If the situation unravels there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist Principality in eastern Syria (Hasaka and Der Zor), and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion (Iraq and Iran).’

Might the world’s leading democracy have a problem with a ‘Salafist Principality’ for sectarian/strategic reasons?   Not as far as we can tell from this document, at least in Syria.   Iraq was another matter, however, because such an enclave so close to the Iraqi border would benefit al-Qaeda:

‘ This creates the ideal atmosphere for AQI to return to its old pockets in Mosul and Ramadi, and will provide a renewed momentum under the assumption of unifying the jihad among Sunni Iraq and Syria, and the rest of the Sunnis in the Arab world against what it considers one enemy, the dissenters.‘    

This might even result in:‘ The renewing facilitation of terrorist elements from all over the Arab world entering into Iraqi arena.’

The DIA’s assessment was ‘unevaluated intelligence’, so we don’t know how other agencies or the administration itself responded to the information that it provided.   Nevertheless the published document tells us that some elements in the US government at least:

1. Knew that al-Qaeda/Salafism was the dominant element in an opposition that it was still insisting at the time was largely ‘moderate’
2. That its allies regarded a ‘Salafi Principality’ as a potential strategic asset in order to combat and reverse the ‘Shia expansion’ and bring about regime change in Syria.
3. That the US might be prepared to support these developments through the construction of a ‘safe haven’ protected by western air power.

In the event, the no fly zone proved politically impossible. But the proxy war prediction proved to be horribly accurate. And so did the Salafi Principality scenario – in the shape of the ISIS Caliphate in Syria and Iraq, a ‘Salafist Principality’ that now makes al-Qaeda seem like ‘moderates’.

At the very least, you would think that these documents would provoke a wider discussion about American foreign policy in Syria and the Middle East; about the long historical use by American intelligence agencies of jihadist/Salafist groups as strategic instruments; about the morality and the wisdom of supporting a ‘Salafist Principality’ while claiming that you were seeking to promote a moderate democratic opposition; about imperial collusion in a proxy war that was part of a wider sectarian conflict aimed at reversing ‘Shia expansion’ across the Middle East, which may threatens to wreak incalculable harm on the region   for decades; about the essential premises of the ‘war on terror’ in which al Qaeda can be an existential enemy in one country and a strategic asset in another.

But that would be an uncomfortable and unpleasant conversation to have.   It would entail asking all kinds of disturbing and questions that governments never like to answer.   So maybe we shouldn’t be surprised that these revelations   have so far passed largely unnoticed and uncommented on.

Because who in their right mind would want to get involved in a conversation like that?

Letter from Palmyra

Hey brother,

Greetings from Palmyra!   I’m telling you bro, this has been a good week for the Caliphate, because we are LIVING THE DREAM!       First we took Ramadi and you should have seen the Iraqi army run away from us!   Afterwards we killed the ones we caught and anyone else who was with the government – 500 in a few days!   Just lined ’em up next to a ditch and then bang, bang, bang, like those old pictures of the Nazis in the war books dude – check out the instagram I sent you!   That’s me third on the left with the Glock.

Then we drove Bashar’s troops out of Palmyra.     Now we’re livin’ it large bro, sittin’ on a lake of oil, enough American weapons to keep us going for years, Uncle Sam flying around up there trying to blow us up and they can’t even see us!     And next week we should be ready to clean out some heretics and smash to pieces a 2,000-year-old World Heritage Site!

Because let me  tell you something brother, those ruins are just stones and those stones are coming DOWN, because Daesh won’t stand for no IDOLS innit and no stoneworshipping Romans neither.

Anyway,   right now I’m just chillin’ with a latte, my AK and my Chinese motorbike beside me, and I’m thinking, the Caliphate is COOOL.   And I’m thanking Bashar, I’m thanking the House of Saud, I’m thanking Jordan, Turkey and America, for making this possible, for making this dream come true.

Because you know what?   I never knew how BORED I was till I came to the Caliphate.     I’ve been here eight months now and I have done so much killing and destroying I don’t even know myself.   Forget Call of Duty bro.   This is Playstation for real.   I mean if I’d stayed in Europe I could have killed a few cartoonists and had a bit of a laugh watching the kufar get their knickers in a twist about free speech and all before I got shot and went to paradise, but you know here bro, you can kill ANYBODY, and not just kill them, you get to MESS THEM UP!

I mean you can shoot ’em, cut their throats, push ’em off buildings, crucify them – even shoot ’em with a bazooka! And you know what it is really, really cool?   You can just keep on doing it and nobody tells ever tells you to stop.   Isn’t God just so great?

When this is over there won’t be any Shia or Yazidi or Christians or anyone, just PLUs bro,   all living under the Caliphate in one big happy family, just like in Islam for Dummies, because like my brother al-Britani says in his cool guidebook:

‘I cannot see a Baltimore riot springing up here anytime soon and that is a dead cert, not because those in charge will deal with matters with an iron first, but because there is no blur between right and wrong. What I mean by this is that citizens are not hypocritically led to believe that all cultures can coexist, and then have this belief torn apart by the bigoted reality on the ground. Everyone is judged with the right law (which is Islam), and told what is the truth (which is Islam), and the dangers and impracticalities of multiculturalism are well and truly nipped in the bud.’

Ain’t that the truth my brother?  Because who needs a ‘blur’ between right and wrong and all those ‘dangers and impracticalities’ when you got Islam?       So what are you waiting for bro?   Come on and do some jihad because jihad is not just a duty, it’s FUN.   Come and see the Caliphate for yourself.       You know you always wanted to see the world!

Where else can you get a perfect shish kibab served up by a slave girl whose family you wasted the week before?     And these aren’t women who tell you what to do brother.   Here they do what YOU say and you’ve always got Mr AK or Mr Glock to remind them what will happen if they don’t, right?

Like last August we buried some of those Yazidi heretics ALIVE along with their men, so their sisters  aint going to give you no backtalk, you know wot I’m sayin?  Anyway if you need a wife or two – maybe three! Then this is the place to come looking.   And if you got mates who are already married then tell them to come over with the wife and kids, because like brother al-Britani says, in the Caliphate

‘There are no classes promoting homosexuality, evolution, music, drama, interfaith and the rest of the rubbish taught in non-Muslim schools. Your child”s delicate mind is well and truly protected in the Caliphate.’

That’s right.   Nothing here to disturb a child’s delicate mind.     No smoking.   No alcohol.   No movies.   No music.     No homosexuals.   No drama. No trash.   No disorder.  Just a whole lot of killing! So bring your mates.     And bring your sister too.     Becaise you know a girl like that is too pretty to go around with her face uncovered.

And don’t worry about home comforts, dude.   Here in the Caliphate we got the the most succulent shawarmas, and fruity cocktails to die for.   Transport?     Within a few years we’ll have high speed trains from Damascus to Baghdad,   zeppelins, microlites, cable cars – whatever our ‘witty entrepeneurs’ can come up with!

So what are you waiting for brother?     Come over here and build the dream.

And remember: God is great, and he’s on our side.

Your brother S.

ps. how about that Messi goal?


Pamela Geller’s free speech bloodfest

The aborted assault by two would-be jihadists on the ‘Muhammad art contest’ at the Curtis Culand Center in Garland, Texas on Sunday has added another grim chapter to a screechingly dishonest ‘free speech versus Islam’ debate that continues to gain deadly traction from one country to the next.   First things first: there is no doubt that the two ‘jihadists’ would have perpetrated a Charlie Hebdo-style massacre had not they not been shot dead first.     That’s what they went there to do, and that objective deserves nothing but contempt and outrage.

But what about the event itself.     What was it trying to do?   The contest was sponsored by the American Freedom Defence Iniatiative (AFDI), a ‘counterjihadist ‘ organization, whose president Pamela Geller   told   CNN yesterday, ‘ Islamic jihadis are determined to suppress our freedom of speech violently. They struck in Paris and Copenhagen recently, and now in Texas.’

To say that Geller is not a particularly appealing figure does not begin to describe her.         The Southern Poverty Law Center describes her as the ‘anti-Muslim movement’s most visible and flamboyant figurehead’ who is ‘relentlessly shrill and coarse in her broad-brush denunciations of Islam’.   Few people familiar with her track record or her website Atlas Shrugged will find much reason to differ from this judgement.

In the past Geller has suggested that the teenagers murdered by Anders Breivik on Utoya Island deserved what they got because they expressed solidarity with Gaza; that Obama is a Muslim who once had sex with a ‘crack whore’; and that Muslims who pray five times a day are ‘cursing Christians and Jews five times a day.’

Geller did not choose the Culwell Center by accident.   In January this year, just over a week after the Charlie Hebdo murders,   the Chicago-based Islamic multimedia organization Sound Vision staged its annual ‘Stand With the Prophet in Honour and Respect’ conference at the same center.   The conference took place just over a week after the Charlie Hebdo murders, and its specific message ‘Stand with the Prophet Against Terror and Hate.’   was supported by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).

The conference was intended to raise funds to educate young Muslims on how to counter Islamophobia, and its Facebook page explained its intentions in the following terms:

‘Prophet Muhammad inspires love and devotion in the hearts of Muslims, peace be upon him. Unfortunately, Islamophobes have turned him into an object of hate. The fight in defense of our Prophet against the $160 million Islamophobia machine is continuous, and groups like ISIS and Boko Haram only increase the media”s ammunition to incriminate Muslims. Let us stand against terrorism and hate together with the Prophet and his path of mercy, peace and blessings be upon him.’

The conference was loudly denounced by leading figures in ‘counterjihadist’ circles such as Frank Gaffney as yet another sinister Muslim attempt to silence free speech and Islamicize American society, and the AFDI staged a ‘Free Speech Rally’ outside the event.   Some 2,000 people attended that rally and waved American flags at the attendees, many of whom also waved American flags at the conference.

But Geller clearly wanted to make a more compelling statement, and so in February she announced that she would be staging the First Annual Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest at the same center, in order, as she put it, ‘to show how insane the world has become — with people in the free world tiptoeing in terror around supremacist thugs who actually commit murder over cartoons. If we can”t stand up for the freedom of speech, we will lose it — and with it, free society.

A noble and courageous stance?   Not really, because Geller is not Voltaire, except insofar as Voltaire couldn’t stand Islam either.     And her concerns were not so much with free speech per se, but in using the issue as a pretext to stage a very deliberate provocation aimed at advancing her a very specific loathing of Islam and a ‘counterjihadist’ narrative that presents violent Islamist extremism as part of a broader Islamic assault on western civilisation.

To give the statement a bit more clout and publicity, she also invited Gert Wilders, the peroxide-blonde Dutch Islamophobe who is cut very firmly from the same cloth.     Wilders was star speaker at the Culwell Center on Sunday, where he told the audience   that depicting Muhammad was ‘ an act of liberation’ in a ‘clash between civilization and barbarism.’   How so? Because

‘Our Judeo-Christian culture is far superior to the Islamic one. I can give you a million reasons. But here is an important one. We have got humor and they don’t….Islam does not allow free speech, because free speech shows how evil and wrong Islam is. And Islam does not allow humor, because humor shows how foolish and ridiculous it is.’

The fun-loving imp went on to tell his audience

‘I am not saying that there are no moderate Muslims. Fortunately, there are Muslims who do not live according to the Islamic commands. But there is no moderate Islam!…Let us de-islamize our societies!   No more Islam, no more mosques, no more Islamic schools. It is time for our own culture and heritage.’

All this was necessary because

‘Moderation in the face of evil is evil. This is not what our age needs. We must uncap our pens; we must speak words of truth. We are facing a determined enemy who is striving through all means to destroy the West and snuff out our traditions of free thought, free speech, and our Judeo-Christian values.

Here are some of the ‘words of truth’ that The Daily Beast correspondent observed:

‘One cartoon featured a minimalist cartoon desert and, in the foreground, Muhammad suspended in the fetal position on a pencil skewering his entire body; another had “Islam, religion of peace” written across a man juggling severed heads; another featured Muhammad wearing a green turban with eyes that look bewitched, open-jawed snakes coming out of his neck; another had a grumpy Muhammad in black turban holding a bloody, serrated knife, captioned: “when it comes to religion… I”ve got the edge.” ‘

I’m sorry, call me a humourless dick and a closet jihadist enslaved in a state of mental Dhimmitude, but I don’t see how these caricatures have anything to do with any form of   ‘truth’, except the truth of bigots.   They have nothing to do with combating extremism, because they are extremist.   They don’t have much to do with humour either, except the sniggering laughter of hatemongering frauds, who have hijacked and debased the whole notion of free speech as a common social good and transformed it into a deliberate provocation.

That doesn’t mean that I regard the two would-be murderers as devout Muslim believers seeking to express their hurt and indignation at the latest ‘insult to the Prophet’, anymore than I regard the murders in Paris or Copenhagen as such.   You don’t respond to insults against your religion by killing the person who insulted it.     That is the logic of moral imbeciles – or tyrants.

So let’s not give these murderers any legitimacy whatsoever.   They – and the organizations they support or subscribe to – know perfectly well that every act of violence in response to the ‘drawing Muhammad’ culture wars is likely to bring more hatred and loathing towards Muslims in general, and European and American Muslims in particular.     They actively seek this outcome because they believe that the great ‘war’ they have been seeking will be best served by promoting hatred and division.

This is an agenda that Geller and her gang of provocateurs are only too willing to serve, and they see the ‘Muhammad cartoons’ as a useful vehicle in promoting it.     They aren’t defending ‘civilisation’ or ‘free speech’ – they are debasing these terms and weaving them into their own ‘war’ – a war fuelled by an extremist agenda of bigotry, hatred and discrimination.

They might say that their war is fought with laughter and humour rather than bullets.   But I suspect that their humour is intended to invite bullets, and there is nothing very funny about that at all.




Genocide Memorial Day

If you’re in London this Sunday, and anywhere near University College London, I’m one of the speakers at an event organized by the Islamic Human Rights Commission to commemorate Genocide Memorial Day.   I’ll be talking about the expulsion of the Moriscos from seventeenth century Spain.

Here are the details:

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Six years ago, IHRC decided it was imperative to set aside a day to remember the genocides, genocidal acts and genocidal policies of the modern era. Coinciding with the anniversary of the end of Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, Genocide Memorial Day was born

WATCH ONLINE AT IHRC.TV – tweet questions and comments to @IHRC using the hashtag #GMD2015 or post on our Facebook

This year will see this event being synchronised with partner Genocide Memorial Day events in Paris, Amsterdam (click here), Brussels (click here) and Jerusalem.

Please click here to watch the trailer for Genocide Memorial Day 2015

Confirmed Speakers:

Xain  Storey – Journalist and historian. Speaking on First Nations of North America
Maria-Jose Lera – Professor at Seville  University.Speaking on genocide of Jews and Muslims in Andalucia
Matt Carr – Author and journalist speaking on genocide of Moriscos (Muslim converts to Christianity) in Andalucia

WHEN:  Sunday, 18 January from 12pm – 4pm

WHERE:  University College London, Cruciform Lecture Theatre, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT

Nearest stations: Euston Square (Metropolitan, Circle, Hammersmith and City Line), Euston (Northern, Victoria, London Overground Line), Warren Street (Northern, Victoria Line) and Goodge Street (Northern Line)

Entry is FREE. Refreshments will be provided. PLEASE CLICK HERE TO RSVP and register your attendance

GMD rejects the notion that there is a hierarchy of victims depending on their background. It seeks to hold people accountable by highlighting those people and power structures responsible for perpetrating genocidal acts and by remembering the victims.

The theme of Genocide Memorial Day 2015 is STEPS LEADING TO GENOCIDE. It intends to bring to attention the political, social and economic processes that precede all genocides and which provide an indicator of looming crisis.



For further information, here’s the website