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Jabhat and IS “caliphate” by the numbers

Saturday, July 12th, 2014

[ by Charles Cameron -- large numbers don't fit well into small skulls, but we do what we can ]
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Charles Lister tweeted today:

The numbers are, for my humble self, staggering.

And you can’t lose $1.5 billion if you didn’t have $1.5 billion at some point to lose.

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How about the “caliphate”?

Here’s the Jabhat vs ISIS — now IS, aka the “caliphate” — comparison:

Among other things, ISIS “made off with £256 million in cash and a large amount of gold bullion from Mosul’s central bank during its takeover of the city” as the Telegraph reported. That’s a half billion dollars, give or take.

And now IS is presumably “worth” 2 billion. Give or take.

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To put those figures in perspective, let’s compare IS today with AQ in 2001:

Business Insider calculated bin Laden‘s ROI at the time of his death at 2,514,000 to 1:

Al-Qaida pulled off the Sept. 11 attacks for approximately $500,000, according to the 9/11 Commission report. By the end of fiscal 2011 the U.S. will have spent $1.3 trillion, or 9% of the national debt, fighting the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq according to the Center for Defense Information. But when it’s all said and done the total cost of the wars will make Bin Laden’s 2,514,000:1 return at the time of his death multiply dramatically. It has been projected by Nobel prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz and others that the lifetime cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars will run to approximately $3 trillion, or over 20% of current federal public debt, when long-term medical care for the wounded and other costs are factored.

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And here’s the current cost comparison with Iraqi losses:

Okay?

I have to confess my mind is a little bit numb with the numbers at this point.

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If I had time and talent, I suppose I’d make theis whole thing more comprehensible, at least to people like myself, by treating dollar amounts the way XKCD treats radiation — but I don’t, so here’s my attempt to give a wider overview, sorted in ascending order of magnitude to make it easier for me to notice how $millions become $billions become $trillions.

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Sources:

  • Lister, leaked audio [edited to add: but see comment #1 below]
  • Lister, Golani admits
  • Guardian, $2bn network
  • Telegraph, ISIS’ half-a-billion-dollar heist
  • Business Insider, Bin Laden’s ROI
  • Exec Summary, 9/11 Commission Report [see under "financing"]
  • BasNews, Iraqi costs
  • CIA, GDP Iraq (2013 est)
  • CIA, GDP Syria (2011 est)
  • CIA, GDP USA (2013 est)
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    Recommended Readings, hipbone version

    Monday, June 30th, 2014

    [ by Charles Cameron -- two superb pieces this week on Iraq and ISIS, deserving of a slow and grateful reading -- and a third on IS, the "caliphate" into which ISIS renamed itself just today ]
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    Peter J. Munson leads off my list with a wide-angle piece titled Iraq and the City of Man at War on the Rocks. It was the first of three terrific posts to catch my eye this week. Munson begins:

    Humans have been storytellers since time immemorial. Stories are how we make sense of our world. We reduce complex events to digestible, quite often self-indulgent, narratives. I heard one of those the other week when, speaking at a public change of command, Marine Corps Commandant General James Amos said, “If I were to give us a letter grade for Afghanistan… I’d say we did pretty darn good.” He paused, considering his words, and continued, “Iraq is going to turn out how it is going to turn out, but we sanctified the ground there. We sanctified the ground in Afghanistan…”

    Munson is by no means so sure.

    Blood and sacrifice are the key words of Munson’s piece, the blood sacrifices of so many American and allied soldiers, so many locals…

    He continues:

    One might imagine that with our blood, we purified the ground. There were certainly enough cases in which the cause of death was exsanguination. Disembodiment — a euphemism for death in a blast so violent that it resulted in the proverbial pink mist — must have also had a role in sanctification then, too. We are moved deeply and forever changed by the many selfless sacrifices that occurred on these grounds. In the end, though, most of these sacrifices came down to random pieces of bad luck that were never seen coming and nothing could have been done to avoid. Under the sun, especially the brutal, incessant sun of Mesopotamia

    A broad-sweep evaluation of recent Iraqi history follows:

    Once-routine, even cordial sectarian intermixing quickly fell apart as the extreme violence of a minority forced segregation and xenophobia. From 2004 through 2008, Iraq descended into chaos, even as over 100,000 American and coalition troops fanned out into the cities to keep the peace and kill the killers. When a fragile calm began to return, some imagined that eventually things would turn out livable.

    This is what we all hoped for. Closure. Validation. Peace. Sanctity. Humans reach for the City of God, but it is not to be had here on Earth. As Augustine wrote, “the earthly city is generally divided against itself by litigation, by wars, by battles, by the pursuit of victories that bring death with them or at best are doomed to death.” The city of man:

    desires an earthly peace… and it is that peace which it longs to attain by making war. For if it wins the war and no one survives to resist, then there will be peace, which the warring sections did not enjoy when they contended in their unhappy poverty for the things which they both could not possess at the same time. This peace is the aim of wars, with all their hardships; it is this peace that glorious victory (so called) achieves.

    There’s something deep, even timeless, about setting contemporary conflicts in the context of Thucydides or Augustine — more so, perhaps, than by reference to Clausewitz or Sun Tzu.

    Munson’s article is moving, necessary.

    **

    Zeroing in on current trends, Aaron Zelin‘s The War Between ISIS and al-Qaeda for Supremacy of the Global Jihadist Movement is the definitive backgrounder on its topic:

    Since the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) shot into the news after its takeover
    of Mosul, many have been confused over how to describe the group in relation to al-Qaeda,1the global jihadist organization best known for its audacious terror attacks against the West from the late 1990s through the mid-2000s. Relations between ISIS — and its prior incarnations, to be discussed — and al-Qaeda have been fraught with distrust, open competition, and outright hostility that have grown over time. The two groups are now
    in an open war for supremacy of the global jihadist movement. ISIS holds an advantage, but the battle
    is not over yet.

    Providing ample historical background for the events of recent weeks and days, Zelin focuses largely on the one-time street-thug al-Zarqawi, and pinpoints the fault-line early on when he writes:

    The indiscriminate versus strategic use of violence and takfir, most importantly that targeting the group’s Sunni base, became an important issue taken up by al-Qaeda in the following years. The main proponent of limiting takfir and knowing when to use it properly was Libi, who emphasized the sanctity of Muslim blood. [ ... ] More recently, in September 2013, Zawahiri released a pamphlet titled “General Guidelines for the Work of a Jihadi,” which codifies rules of engagement for al-Qaeda’s branches and highlights the limits and concerns that he and Libi previously raised with Zarqawi.

    Baghdadi, however, is no street-fighter — he’s a theologian-warrior. Joas Wagemakers reported a tract by the scholar Abu Hamam Bakr Bin ‘Abd al-’Aziz al-’Athari praising Baghdadi in Jihadica last September:

    Apart from al-Baghdadi’s family background, he is also a scholar of Islam according to al-Athari, having obtained an MA-degree in Qur’anic studies and a PhD in Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh) and having written a book on tawhid (the unity of God). This comination of Islamic knowledge and Prophetic descent makes him a special man indeed, al-Athari claims.

    Tim Furnish at MahdiWatch compares him to both Zawahiri and bin Laden thus:

    In addition, ISIS is, if anything, even more religious than AQ. Its leader, Ibrahim Awwad Ibrahim al-Badri, holds a PhD in fiqh, or Islamic jurisprudence (fatwa-issuing, in other words). By contrast, Usama bin Ladin was an engineer and Ayman al-Zawahiri is a medical doctor; and although both were/are profoundly Islamic in worldview and goals, they were/are laymen.

    As you know, my own special interest is in the theological side of things — so for me, those two comments add grace-notes to Aaron’s exemplary essay.

    **

    JM Berger’s ISIS Risks Everything to Declare a Caliphate brings us fully up to date with his account of today’s announcement of a Caliphate:

    On Sunday morning, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS, or ISIL, if you must) pronounced the reformation of the caliphate — the historical Islamic state that once stretched over much of the modern-day Muslim world — with ISIS emir Abu Bakr al Baghdadi as the man in charge.

    It’s arguably the boldest move yet by the group, which renamed itself simply The Islamic State. But if ISIS isn’t careful, this could be the moment when all of its gains in Iraq and Syria are squandered; when would-be allies are alienated; and when the group’s critics within the jihadi community were proven right all along.

    In the statement—released in Arabic, English, German, French, and Russian—ISIS claimed that it had fulfilled all the legal requirements for the caliphate and that all existing jihadi groups and indeed all Muslims around the world were religiously obligated to swear loyalty to the new Caliph Ibrahim (using the name provided by ISIS in the course of proving that Baghdadi has the required lineage for the title).

    Prior to this pronouncement, my assessment was that there was almost no way ISIS could exit June in worse shape than it entered the month, and that still holds. But July is beginning to look like an open question. ISIS, an al Qaeda breakaway group, had made a bold move to seize territory in Iraq that had resulted in tremendous gains in both equipment and money. Even if it lost all of the territory it gained in June, it would still retain many of those spoils, with new clout, status and physical assets to compete with the other jihadi groups operating in Syria and near the Iraq border.

    The declaration of the caliphate is a massive gamble that puts many of these gains at risk, although the potential benefits are also substantial.

    Berger then proceeds to give us “a quick rundown of the moving parts”, and notes:

    The pronouncement of the caliphate is sure to be wildly controversial on religious grounds, but ultimately it could cut either way. The backlash may harden the pro-AQ segment of the global jihadist movement against ISIS, especially with the announcement’s flat out demand that all other jihadist groups are religiously obligated to pledge loyalty to ISIS. But it will also generate some enthusiasm from footsoldiers and different segments of the global movement that see ISIS as a rising star.

    Like the other two posts recomended here, a must read IMO.

    **

    For another informed view, see Yassin Musharbash‘s A few Thoughts on the ISIS-”Caliphate”. Peter Neumann has some interesting comments in this Guardian piece. And my own background on earlier mentions of Baghdadi, the Dajjal and the caliphate was posted here.

    And that’s it — a week of powerful changes, and some fine reading to bring clarity out of the fog.

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    On ISIS and Crucifixion

    Wednesday, May 14th, 2014

    [ by Charles Cameron -- of capital punishment, shock value and terror ]
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    Images such as the one above have been proliferating in western media recently. That specific image came from a Fox News report of April 29th titled Al Qaeda-linked jihadists accused of hanging victims on crosses — an interesting article on two counts.

    First, the al-Qaeda-linked jihadists in question are apparently ISIS –

    The executions reportedly took place Tuesday in Raqqa, where the extremist group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIS, an Al Qaeda-linked network, has taken over the city

    – the group that refused Ayman al-Zawahiri’s guidance — in the words of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi:

    I have to choose between the rule of God and the rule of Zawahiri, and I choose the rule of God.

    — and which al-Qaeda has clearly distanced itself from:

    Al-Qaeda announces it is not linked to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, as it was not informed of its creation [and] did not accept it,” read Sunday’s statement, which criticised ISIL’s mode of operations. ISIL “is not a branch of al-Qaeda, has no links to it, and the [al-Qaeda] group is not responsible for its acts,” it added.

    That’s the first point of curiosity —

    **

    And the second?

    The said jihadists are “accused of hanging victims on crosses”. That’s intriguing wording, because it doesn’t say that they were crucified — “hung on crosses” could mean that, or it could mean no more than “displayed”… and indeed, the article gets fairly speciic about that:

    Al Qaeda-backed jihadists are hanging the bodies of executed enemies on crosses crucifixion-style in a town in Northern Syria, according to a Syrian opposition group.

    The executions reportedly took place Tuesday in Raqqa, where the extremist group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIS, an Al Qaeda-linked network, has taken over the city, according to Abu Ibrahim Alrquaoui, who identifies himself as a founder of a group called Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently.

    it says, and:

    Alrquaoui said he witnessed the executions himself, and took photographs that have since been posted on the group’s Facebook page, and are now being circulated on the Internet.

    The series of photographs show different men bound to crosses in what appears to be a public square area, though it could not be independently confirmed that the subjects were dead or, if they were, by what means the executions had been carried out. The pictures do not show any apparent signs of the men nailed to a cross, nor are there any obvious, visible signs of fatal wounds.

    and:

    Jihadists operating in Syria have previously been accused of shooting people in the head, then affixing them to crosses. In this latest case, the ISIS charged the seven men with espionage and attempted assassination of the group’s leaders, according to Alrquaoui.

    **

    The Daily Mail, on the other hand, under the heading Syrian rebels crucified: Islamic extremists execute two men in the most public way for ‘fighting against Muslims’, states quite directly:

    Islamic extremists have publicly crucified two Syrian rebels in northeastern Syria in revenge for a grenade attack on members of their group.

    I wasn’t there, and can’t say definitively whether the man in the photo was hung on a cross as described by Fox or crucified as the Daily Mail has it.

    **

    It’s a disturbing image, either way.

    Crucifixion wasn’t something the Romans dreamed up as a particularly painful way of death for a specific subversive rabbi two thousand odd years ago, it was simply one of the forms of the death penalty back then — and if images of crucifixions happening today carry a more that usual shock value, it is because that particular form of capital punishment is not one we are accustomed to, and because the rabbi who was crucified has had tremendous cultural and personal impact.

    The people doing the crucifying in this case — whether it was death by crucifixion or death by other means with crucifixion as display — presumably don’t share that sense of impact. The Qur’an denies that Jesus himself was crucified (Qur’an 4.157):

    they did not slay him, neither crucified him, only a likeness of that was shown to them

    And crucifixion is one of the forms of severe punishment known as “hudud” prescribed in the Qur’an (5.33):

    This is the recompense of those who fight against God and His Messenger, and hasten about the earth, to do corruption there: they shall be slaughtered, or crucified, or their hands and feet shall alternately be struck off; or they shall be banished from the land. That is a degradation for them in this world; and in the world to come awaits them a mighty chastisement

    **

    I hope to say more on hudud in another post — but meanwhoile, Prof. Ali Mazrui, one of the “Muslim 500“, writing on the set of punishments mentioned in this verse, suggests“:

    If God has been teaching human beings in installments about crime and punishment, and if there were no police, prisons, forensic science, or knowledge about DNA fourteen centuries ago, the type of punishments needed had to be truly severe enough to be a deterrent. Hence the hudud. Since then God has taught us more about crime, its causes, the methods of its investigation, the limits of guilt, and the much wider range of possible punishments.

    Did the Prophet Muhammad say, “My people will never agree on error”? If so we can take it for granted that Muslims of the future will be less and less convinced that the amputation of the hand is a suitable punishment for a thief under any circumstances. This is a prediction. I have not the slightest doubt that the Islam of our grandchildren will never accept penal amputation of the hands of thieves as legitimate any longer. On such issues doctrinal liberalism converges with social moderation.

    **

    Times change, and religions with them. Deuteronomy 21:18, 21 states:

    If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them: then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; and they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.

    — and although there are still some Christians in America who support the stoning of recidivist rebellious adolescents on the basis of these verses, they are certainly far outliers from the mainstream in this regard.

    **

    For your further consideration:

    J. Scott Harr, Kären M. Hess and Christine H. Orthmann, in their book, Constitutional Law and the Criminal Justice System tell us:

    History records many brutal methods of execution, including being buried alive, thrown to wild animals, drawn and quartered, boiled in oil, burned, stoned, drowned, impaled, crucified, pressed to death, smothered, stretched on a rack, disemboweled, beheaded, hanged or shot. In biblical times, criminals were stoned to death or crucified. The ancient Greeks, in a much more humane fashion, administered poison from the hemlock tree to execute criminals. The Romans, in contrast, used beheading, clubbing, strangling, drawing and quartering or feeding to the lions. During the Dark Ages, ordeals were devised to serve as both judgment and punishment. These ordeals included being submerged in water or in boiling oil, crushed under huge boulders or forced to do battle with skilled swordsmen. It was presumed the innocent would survive the ordeal; the guilty would be killed by it. Later, in France, the guillotine became the preferred means of execution.

    Societies have always struggled with balancing societal needs with socially accepted means of punishment. Although today’s methods are said to be more civilized, accounts of witnesses to executions raise doubts whether progress has been made. The death penalty has been an established feature of the American criminal justice system since Colonial times, with hanging often the preferred execution, especially on the frontier. Means of execution evolved as states sought more humane ways of killing their condemned—from hangings to the first electrocution in 1890, the invention of the gas chamber in 1923, the use of the firing squad and, finally, the addition of lethal injection, now the predominant method of execution in the United States.

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    A claim that al-Baghdadi is the Dajjal, maybe?

    Sunday, May 11th, 2014

    [ by Charles Cameron -- also, the split between AQC and ISIS in a nutshell: rival claims to the title of Amir al-Mu'minin ]
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    A site with the domain name “Horn of Satan” carries this banner at the head of each post.

    **

    I’m intrigued by an article in today’s Al Arabiya News by Dr Theodore Karasik, Is ISIS bigger than al-Qaeda?, in which he writes:

    Al-Baghdadi has designated himself as a global leader of the jihad fighters in particular and of Muslims in general, and as a herald of the Caliphate. Importantly, al-Baghdadi argues an apocalyptic viewpoint: “One should also beware of the likelihood of a false messiah claimant appearing among them, who would in fact be the Dajjal (Anti-Christ).”

    A mention of the Dajjal in the context of ISIS and al-Baghdadi merits a slightly closer look, so I searched on “One should also beware of the likelihood of a false messiah claimant appearing among them” and found Dr Karasik’s article and three other hits, all of them from the site called Horn of Satan. All three refer to the same post from January 21st 2014 on that site, Self Declared Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi of Isis the prophesied false Caliph?

    **

    Dr Karasik’s article appeared to be quoting al-Baghdadi as warning us against the arising of a false messiah, the Dajjal, but the Horn of Satan post appears to have a different slant:

    The Wahhabis usually disregard, downplay and even mock any importance for the lineage of Prophet Muhammed (saw) and they make secular equalitarian arguments against traditionalist Muslims in regards to this. But recently all of a sudden some of the takfiri Wahhabis of ISIS (a savage Khawarij cult group that is slaughtering Muslims in Syria, and made of mostly foreigners like Saudis and other takfiris from foreign countries), have been quite flashy in displaying a long name for their leader “Amir ul-Mu’minin – Abu Bakr Al-Husayni Al-Qurashi Al-Baghdadi”. Praise be to Allah, our Prophet (saw) taught us enough to respond to such false claimants.

    This is then followed by ahadith regarding the Dajjal from two of the major collections, Abu Dawud and Sahih Muslim. Commenting on the first of these in terms of its applicability to al-Baghdadi, the writer says:

    Whether this prophecy refers to him is a speculation although probable. But the meaning contained in it would still apply to him and the likes of him.

    One should also beware of the likelihood of a false messiah claimant appearing among them, who would in fact be the Dajjal (Anti-Christ). These Khawarij at present have their strength in a region between Iraq and Syria, and this is the place from which Dajjal would likely emerge.

    So the remark about “the likelihood of a false messiah claimant appearing among them” is not a warning from al-Baghdadi, as Dr Karasik implies when he introduces it with the phrase “al-Baghdadi argues an apocalyptic viewpoint: followed by a colon. It is a warning about al-Baghdadi as a possible Dajjal and and ISIS as a group from which such a figure might well be expected to arise.

    **

    And why select al-Baghdadi and ISIS or these dubious honors? The Horn of Satan site — which would appear to be the source of the English translation of the quote Dr Karasik uses — explains both the choice of the potential Dajjal…

    But recently all of a sudden some of the takfiri Wahhabis of ISIS (a savage Khawarij cult group that is slaughtering Muslims in Syria, and made of mostly foreigners like Saudis and other takfiris from foreign countries), have been quite flashy in displaying a long name for their leader “Amir ul-Mu’minin – Abu Bakr Al-Husayni Al-Qurashi Al-Baghdadi”

    and the geographic location, suggesting that ISIS might be the group from which the Dajjal would emerge:

    These Khawarij at present have their strength in a region between Iraq and Syria, and this is the place from which Dajjal would likely emerge.

    Here’s the somewhat enigmatic marked-up screengrab from what looks to be a FaceBook page, used in the Horn of Satan post to illustrate the “flashy .. long name” given to al-Baghdadi:

    FWIW, Musa Cerantonio is an Australian convert to Islam with a show on Saudi TV called “Ask the Sheikh, according to a December 2012 MEMRI bio. I suspect his FB page may have been taken down…

    **

    Within jihadist ranks, Mullah Omar of the Taliban was hailed as Amir al-Mu’minin after he donned the cloak, mantle and authority of the Prophet, so to speak — some of the statements I quote in that piece describing the event are a little over the top, and the word “authority” in my title should be read in the metaphoric sense of “mantle”.

    So Al-Qaida’s Ayman al-Zawahiri regards Mullah Omar as the Amir al-Mu’minin and ISIS gives al-Baghdadi the title — and there in a nutshell you have the split between AQC and ISIS, playing out on a battlefield near you in the fighting between ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra.

    Not that the title doesn’t have other claimants — both King Mohammed VI of Morocco and Sultan Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar III of Sokoto are also so styled.

    And the title is more closely related to the Caliphate than to the Mahdi…

    **

    As an aside — a “vending machine living in the clouds”…

    The Horn of Satan site has its own echatological component, which you’ll find in the final post of their series, Answering Muhammed bin Abdul Wahab’s Four Principles of Shirk, titled The Four Principles in Light of End Times Tribulations. It consists mainly of ahadith warning of the coming of the Dajja, with a brief intro para attacking the English language booklet of Muhammad ibn ?Abd al-Wahhab‘s Four Principles, saying:

    It opens the way for the enemies of Islam to attack the foundational doctrines of Islam. It is of the end time’s dajjalic plots that has deluded the modern day khawarij, into making true Muslims appear as polytheists and vice versa, and in making the path to heaven appear as hell and vice versa. It turns God into a vending machine living in the clouds, paving the way for people with such creed to be easily receptacle in taking dajjal as god.

    Also of potential interest — a page titled Educational Curriculum and Sources for Boko Haram (A Wahhabi sub-cult in Nigeria, which hosts extracts from Dr Ahmad Murtada‘s Boko Haram: Its Beginnings, Principles and Activities in Nigeria.

    Enough. And I’m a bit bleary-minded, I hope this makes sense.

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    Syria: the shifting sands

    Monday, April 28th, 2014

    [ by Charles Cameron -- two headlines, and one question where the answer may be an unpleasant surprise for AQ ]
    .

    SPEC Assad x2

    I’m certainly not the right person to verify what’s claimed by either of these articles, but for what they’re worth they do indicate two ways in which Assad might be gaining some advantage, one of them fairly overt and the other more covert.

    The London Times piece tells us:

    Four top rebel commanders in Syria have switched sides to join President Assad’s forces in a further sign of disarray in fragmenting opposition ranks.

    The men, from the Free Syrian Army (FSA), are thought to have become disillusioned with an opposition that is becoming increasingly dominated by Islamist factions and alliances. Islamists have been doing much of the recent fighting. There is also a strong sense that the recent gains made by Assad’s forces make it pragmatic for FSA officers to go back to the regime.

    That’s what I think of as the overt shift. It’s the covert shift, however, that I find more interesting. The piece in the Australian suggests:

    Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has infiltrated al-Qa’ida’s fighting force in Syria in a “Machiavellian” plot to divide the opposition and bolster his position, terrorism experts and rebel forces claimed yesterday.

    Regime officials are alleged to have penetrated the ranks of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), and helped hundreds of Iraqi Shia fighters to obtain false identity papers so they could enter Syria and fight for the Sunni terror group, according to leaked documents. [ ... ]

    By secretly enabling ISIS to carry out brutal terrorist attacks, Mr Assad is able to portray the three-year uprising against his rule as a plot by extremists rather than moderate freedom fighters. This puts Western allies in a difficult position, as fears grow that any military assistance to the rebels could end up in the hands of Islamist extremists.

    If this report is true, it raises a further question which the article itself doesn’t mention: Once these [pseudo-Sunni] Shia fighters have sufficiently damaged the rep of ISIS, and Assad’s first purpose in sending them has been accomplished, won’t they be both ideally positioned and seriously inclined to turn on their Sunni colleagues in ISIS?

    Hundreds of them? Is that phase two of this particular story?

  • Sun Tzu, 1.4: Warfare is one thing. It is a philosophy of deception.
  • Bukhari, 52.269: The Prophet said, “War is deceit.”
  • **

    Sources:

  • Islamist takeover fear drives rebel chiefs back to Assad
  • Assad teams up with al-Qa’ida

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