Tag Archives: Islamic State of Iraq and Syria

Are There Any Good Guys Left In Syria?

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on May 30, 2014


The short answer is “yes”. The longer answer is, “It depends on how good you want,” and discovering the answer to that relies on having a strategic vision of what you want from Syria. Continue reading

Islamic State Claims the Leadership of Jihad

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on May 15, 2014

The Islamic State’s official spokesman, Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, gave a speech on March 7, 2014, entitled, “Then Let Us Invoke The Curse Of Allah Upon The Liars”. An English translation of the speech was made by Musa Cerantonio and is reproduced below. Continue reading

Who Are The Khawarij?

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on April 17, 2014


Since the Syrian rebellion went to war with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in January, there has been a parallel campaign of political warfare by the rebels and al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria, Jabhat an-Nusra, to delegitimize ISIS. This has often taken the form of referring to ISIS as Kharijites or the Khawarij.

This Khawarij are an ancient sect who broke from the Rashidun (Rightly-Guided) Caliphate in the name of righteous revolt in 658, and continued their campaign against the caliphate—by then in the hands of the Umayyads—for a century and more. Regarded as perhaps the first terrorists in Islamdom (by another definition it would be the Nizaris, a.k.a. “The Assassins”), the connotations of the Khawarij label are extremism and deviance, particularly a tendency to excommunicate (make takfir against) Muslims not only for sins that do not merit excommunication, but simply for reasons of political exclusivism. Continue reading

Hama: The Forgotten Front

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on April 12, 2014

Aftermath of the Hama massacre, 1982

Aftermath of the Hama massacre, 1982

Hama. The very word in the Syrian lexicon denotes violence and the immovability of the House of Assad. There, in 1982, Hafez al-Assad secured the title deeds to his dynasty. Hafez had intruded into the Lebanon during its time of sorrow and the “blowback”—which it turns out is not only for Americans—had sparked an uprising inside Syria led by the Muslim Brotherhood. Continue reading

ISIS’s Spokesman Attacks Al-Qaeda’s Ruling That ISIS Should Leave Syria

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on April 4, 2014

The spokesman of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, made a speech on 19 June 2013, a transcript of which is reproduced below. Al-Adnani’s speech was entitled, “Leave Them Alone with their Fabrications”. Continue reading

ISIS Rejects Al-Qaeda’s Command To Return To Iraq

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on April 3, 2014


The emir of the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, released an audio message on 14 June 2013, “Baqiya fil-Iraq wa-Sham” (Remaining in Iraq and Syria),[1] rejecting al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri’s decision to send his group back to Iraq and to leave ISI’s Syrian branch, Jabhat al-Nusra, in Syria as al-Qaeda’s branch in that country. A translation of al-Baghdadi’s speech was released by his group and is reproduced below. Continue reading

Al-Qaeda Rules on the Dispute Between ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on April 3, 2014

Ayman al-Zawahiri, September 2013, AFP/Getty Images

Ayman al-Zawahiri, September 2013, AFP/Getty Images

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the then-Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), released an audio statement on 8 April 2013 asserting his authority over Jabhat al-Nusra, which was set up as the Syrian wing of ISI. Al-Nusra’s leader, Abu Muhammad al-Jolani, rejected al-Baghdadi’s hostile takeover on 10 April and swore allegiance—renewed, in his telling—to al-Qaeda. The leader of al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, ruled on this matter in a letter dated 23 May 2013, which was released to, and translated by, al-Jazeera, on 9 June 2013. Al-Zawahiri’s letter is reprinted below with some editions for clarity and some important sections highlighted in bold. Continue reading