Tag Archives: sectarianism

The Islamic State Planned For Sectarian War in Iraq From the Beginning

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 13 October 2017

The Iraqi Kurdish authorities arrested Mustafa Haji Muhammad Khan (Hassan Ghul) on 23 January 2004. Khan had been dispatched to Iraq by Nashwan Abdulbaqi (Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi), one of the key military officials of al-Qaeda “central” (AQC), to function as AQC’s intermediary with Ahmad al-Khalayleh (Abu Musab al-Zarqawi), the founder of the Islamic State movement. Khan replaced Abdallah al-Kurdi, the first envoy sent by Abdulbaqi. Al-Kurdi had failed to establish any footing to do his job effectively, but Khan, a battle-hardened jihadist from Baluchistan, earned a measure of respect from al-Khalayleh and facilitated a productive conversation between AQC and al-Khalayleh. Al-Khalayleh, possessed of a pathological anti-Shi’ism, wrote a seventeen-page memo to Usama bin Ladin explaining his strategy to defeat the Americans by starting a total war between the sects in Iraq. That memo, in digital form, was given to Khan, and Khan had it in his possession when he was captured. The letter was translated and publicized by the State Department, and is reproduced below with minor editions for clarity and some interesting sections highlighted in bold. Continue reading

How the Islamic State’s Founder Justified Murdering Shi’a Civilians

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 5 October 2017

Ahmad al-Khalayleh (Abu Musab al-Zarqawi)

The Islamic State’s founder, Ahmad al-Khalayleh (Abu Musab al-Zarqawi), took the anti-Shi’ism within jihadi-salafism, and moved it to ideological centre-stage in his campaign to implement a shari’a regime in Iraq. In a speech on 18 May 2005, “The Return of Ibn al-Alqami’s Grandchildren”, al-Khalayleh cast the Shi’a as the internal enemies of Islam. Al-Alqami, a Shi’a, was the vast vizier of the Abbasid caliphate and allegedly opened the gates to allow the Mongols to sack Baghdad in 1258. In al-Khalayleh’s telling, the Iraqi Shi’a repeated this in 2003 by welcoming the Americans—a piece of sectarian incitement first used by Saddam Husayn. Al-Khalayleh makes reference to Shi’a figures conspiring in the American project for a New Iraq, something unalterably opposed not only by al-Khalayleh but most Iraqi Sunnis and their “resistance” groups, who objected to their loss of primacy in the aftermath of Saddam, flatly rejecting the demographic facts of Iraq that grant them a smaller share of power than they feel is their due. This political grievance is secondary to al-Khalayleh, however. Al-Khalayleh advances a cosmic, theological argument. To al-Khalayleh, the existence of the Shi’a is a standing affront to the “true” faith and a temptation for Sunnis to fall into apostasy, and since the need to defend the faith itself is above the protection of human life, the shedding of the blood of Shi’a civilians licit. This is the intellectual universe in which al-Khalayleh and his successors dwell. Excerpts from the speech are republished below. Continue reading

Leader of New Al-Qaeda Group in Syria Speaks

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on February 9, 2017

hashem-al-shaykh-2

After a series of intra-insurgent clashes beginning on 19 January 2017 in northern Syria, al-Qaeda’s rebranded presence, Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (JFS), annexed several groups and clerics—and a number more since—on 28 January in a merger that took on the name Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS). JFS followed the pattern of its parent branch, the Islamic State, and did not monopolize the leadership posts in HTS, leaving the emir post to Hashem al-Shaykh (Abu Jabbar). Al-Shaykh is a former senior official of Ahrar al-Sham, an insurgent group that also has links to al-Qaeda and has been the primary bridge between the mainstream rebellion in Syria and al-Qaeda. Al-Shaykh gave his first speech as General Leader of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham on 9 February, and Bilad al-Sham Media put out a transcript (reproduced below) and picture (above). Continue reading

The Founder Lays Out The Islamic State’s Vision

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on January 12, 2017

Two of the very few pictures of Hamid al-Zawi (Abu Umar al-Baghdadi) in existence. The picture on the right, taken after al-Zawi was killed in April 2010, is most often used in Islamic State media.

Two of the very few pictures of Hamid al-Zawi (Abu Umar al-Baghdadi) in existence. The picture on the right, taken after al-Zawi was killed in April 2010, is most often used in Islamic State media.

Looking through others matters, I discovered this video of a speech by Hamid al-Zawi (Abu Umar al-Baghdadi), the first emir of the Islamic State when it was founded in 2006, entitled, “This Is Our Doctrine,” a neat summary of the speech’s content. As it transpires this is al-Zawi’s third speech and dates to 13 March 2007. There is more to the speech than this section that a supporter of the Islamic State chose to excerpt, but the excluded parts seem extraneous at this vantage point—relevant in the week it was released, but no more. At all events, the video seemed an interesting contribution to what the Islamic State actually believes, so a transcript is reproduced below. Continue reading

The Inaugural Address of the Islamic State’s New Spokesman

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on December 9, 2016

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Taha Subhi Falaha (Abu Muhammad al-Adnani) was killed near al-Bab in northern Syria on 30 August in an airstrike by the U.S.-led Coalition. One of Falaha’s roles was the Islamic State’s official spokesman. On 5 December, IS announced that it has a new spokesman, Abu Hassan al-Muhajir, and he gave an inaugural speech. That speech, entitled, “You Will Remember What I Have Told You,” was printed in the fourth issue of Rumiyah on 7 December. Rumiyah seems to have replaced the English-language Dabiq magazine—probably because the village of Dabiq has been lost. The speech is reproduced below with some editions for spelling, some additions for explanation, and some especially notable sections highlighted in bold.
Continue reading

Looking At the Islamic State’s Past, Seeing its Future

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on August 27, 2016

Michael Ware

Michael Ware

Only the Dead documents the experience of Michael Ware, an Australian journalist who arrived in Iraq in early 2003 and spent eleven months-per-year there for seven years. Ware made contact soon after the fall of Saddam Hussein with those resisting the new order, at a time when the Americans were struggling to map such forces.

Ware established communication with the more nationalist-Islamist forces. Once in that milieu, the globalist jihadists, who were working in the shadows, a small, foreign-dominated force towards which even many insurgents were guarded, found him. The leader of the jihadists, Ahmad al-Khalayleh, became something of an obsession for Ware as he stepped onto the world stage with his gruesome tactics as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Zarqawi, the “Shaykh of the Slaughters,” would found an organization that became a movement and then burst Iraq’s frontiers, known to us now as the Islamic State (IS).

In tracking Zarqawi and his men, Ware presents some incredible footage and gives some snapshots from the fascinating days, whose effects we are all still feeling, when the Iraqi insurgency was taking root. Continue reading

Dehumanization and Murder in Assad’s Prisons

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on August 19, 2016

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The picture above “went viral” on Thursday. The boy, five-year-old Omran Daqnees, was pulled from a building in rebel-held eastern Aleppo City after an airstrike either by the regime of Bashar al-Assad or Russia.

Like Alan Kurdi last September, Omran’s is hardly a unique case—twelve children were treated at just that one medical centre in Aleppo on Wednesday. But it seemed to capture something of the indiscriminate brutality that has been visited on the Syrian population, which rose against Assad five-and-a-half long years ago.

On the same day this shocking image came to global attention, Amnesty International released a report documenting in greater detail the monstrous scale of the cruelty and murder inflicted on Syrians who fall into the regime’s grasp. Continue reading