The leader of the Islamic State (IS), Ibrahim al-Badri (Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi), appeared in an eighteen-minute video on 29 April, the first time Al-Ibrahim has appeared since 4 July 2014 when he gave the Friday prayer at the Nuri Mosque in Mosul, days after IS had announced the restoration of the caliphate. Al-Ibrahim has given semi-regular speeches over the years, but with these two exceptions they have been audio addresses. The video was released by IS’s premier media outlet, Al-Furqan Media Foundation, which is also the group’s oldest media platform. An English translation was released by IS’s Halummu outlet and is republished below with some interesting and/or important sections, plus names of IS operatives, highlighted in bold. Continue reading
A lengthy document—roughly sixty pages and 12,000 words—was published online on 21 February 2019 containing biographies of twenty-seven senior Islamic State (IS) officials, past and more recent. Those bios that are dated were written between October 2018 and the time of publication, with one exception that was written in the summer of 2018. The author claims to be an IS veteran. While longevity is difficult to prove, the fact that the author provides heretofore unseen images of some of the IS leaders suggests that at a minimum he is an IS operative. Continue reading
Film review of The Final Year (2018)
The Final Year, a new documentary film directed by Greg Barker, tracks the closing stages of the administration of President Barack Obama in 2016. Senior officials are followed and interviewed, and the White House is watched as it tries to react to daily events. Much of the substance contained in the film was knowable in real time, but it is very useful to have these officials on record—on video, no less—explaining the assumptions and thought processes they were operating with as they made decisions that led to a series of such intense disasters around the world. This is especially interesting since the ripple effects from these catastrophes ultimately set the conditions for the election of Donald Trump and dismantling of much of the Obama legacy. Continue reading
With the triumph of relativism and the current economic woes of the West, the sense that Western civilization is unique and in some respects—to use an old-fashioned word—better than the alternatives, and worth defending and exporting, is waning. But Bernard Lewis’ The Muslim Discovery of Europe suggests a longer view in which Europe, while containing all the faults of previous civilizations, has been one of the few to begin the process of correcting those faults, and has corrected many more than any other civilization.
One feature of European civilization that stands out as unique is curiosity. Continue reading
Fouad Ajami once said Syria was the “first YouTube war“. An academic study called Syria “the most socially mediated civil conflict in history“. From the start of the Syrian war, the media and propaganda dimension has been of immense importance, impacting the course of the war on the ground and affecting the policy of foreign States who could make a decisive difference in the conflict. Continue reading
To clear a few things up. Whether or not HAMAS’ central command ordered the kidnapping and murder of the three Israeli teens is largely irrelevant: the real trigger for this round of fighting was the escalation in HAMAS’ rocket attacks—more than 450 since January and nearly 100 on the day before Operation PROTECTIVE EDGE began—and HAMAS’ construction of tunnels into Israel designed to enable further atrocities against her civilians.
All rhetoric about the cruel, arbitrary Israeli blockade that would not even allow in cement to the people of Gaza who needed it to create jobs and to reconstruct their schoolrooms and homes is now overthrown and we see the truth: what little cement did get into Gaza was siphoned off by a tyrannical and aggressive elite to build tunnels to murder civilians and bunkers to protect themselves and their weapons. More than that, they used child labour that killed 160 children to construct these tunnels. HAMAS might well have miscalculated, as some have said—it might have intended only for a minor set of Israeli strikes to rally the “resistance”—but that only underlines the recklessness and wickedness of the organization. HAMAS knows it cannot win this war so they intend to get as many Gazans as possible killed to mobilize global political pressure against Jerusalem for concessions on the blockade—that HAMAS can then use to reequip for another war in its never-ending quest to destroy the Jewish State.
The key aspect of this war that has gotten nothing like the attention it deserves is Clerical Iran. Continue reading