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Paris, AQ and IS

Friday, January 9th, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — just noting the apparent blurring of a significant distinction, although it’s still early to draw conclusions ]

Raffaello Pantucci tweets:

French TV interviewed Cherif Kouachi who states clearly I was directed by AQAP and funded by Awlaki. Same French TV channel spoke to Coulibaly who they say told them he was linked to ISIS. And Coulibaly claims that the brothers and himself were coordinated.

Here’s the video (in French) that Pantucci linked to:

DoubleTweet: equal-opportunity spoils of war

Friday, January 9th, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — as their respective flags testify, both Sunni and Shia benefit from our involuntary largesse ]


And yes — from here on out, DoubleTweet will be my term for DoubleQuotes formed of two tweets — particularly if, as here, they include visual elements and won’t fit my usual DoubleQuotes template.

Whose black banner is it, anyway? — and the Khawarij

Monday, December 29th, 2014

[ by Charles Cameron — a flag flapping in the wind, in the mind ]

You see this flag?

Who flies it?


The media often call it “the Islamic State flag” these days, and indeed in the photo above, it’s a convoy of IS / Daesh vehicles that’s flying it.

But in the recent 13th issue of Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula‘s magazine, Inspire, that same flag is used as an icon for both Mohammad Jawlani, the emir of AQ’s Iraqi branch, Jabhat al-Nusra, and Mukhtar Abu Zubair, late emir of al-Shabaab — and indeed, it also features in AQAP’s Malahem Media logo:

whose black banner

It is one of the ironies of the age that the image of a black banner featuring the white circular “seal of the Prophet” is flown by both sides in the contentious rivalry between the Islamic State and Al Qaida for leadership in the global jihad .


And who are the Khawarij today?

Joas Wagemakers, in ‘Seceders’ and ‘Postponers’? — an analysis of the ‘Khawarij’ and ‘Murji’a’ labels in polemical debates between quietist and jihadi-salafis, identifies the central distinctive opinion of the Khawarij thus:

The first of these is the Khawarij’s belief that revolt against Muslim rulers was allowed if they were deemed insufficiently pious. When ‘Ali accepted arbitration with Mu‘awiya, the people later known as Khawarij reportedly shouted ‘judgement is God’s alone’ (la hukm illa li-llah). In the context of that event, this referred to their belief that only God had the authority to arbitrate, not human beings, and that ‘Ali should not have accepted Mu‘awiya’s offer. The slogan later came to represent their broader view that all judgements and rulings should be left to God, thus applying Qur’anic rulings so strictly that they expelled Muslims guilty of major sins from their community and fought them. Because they believed sinful Muslims to be unbelievers (kuffar, singular: kafir), they directly applied passages from the Qur’an pertaining to jihad against non-Muslims to those of their co-religionists who were less than perfectly pious.

Does any of that sound familiar?


Well and truly trolled, JM!

DoubleQuoting Andreessen with Turing

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014

[ by Charles Cameron — counterintuitive insights are like eddies in group mind ]



Adam Elkus said a while back that he wondered “if @pmarca and @hipbonegamer could team up for a double quote post.”

Well, I’m @hipbonegamer, and @pmarca is Marc Andreessen — and while we haven’t teamed up as such, the DoubleQuote above consists of a tweet from Marc two or three days ago, and a paragraph I ran across yesterday which seemed to echo Marc’s tweet from one of Alan Turing‘s posthumously published essays, and which is juxtaposed with Marc’s tweet as my response. Effectively, Marc made the first move on this two panel board, and I responded with the second — and that’s how this most basic form of my HipBone Games is played.

The degree of kinship between Marc’s tweet and Turing’s para is even stronger if you look up the link Marc offered in his tweet, which goes to a pre-pub paper by Jerker Denrell and Christina Fang titled Predicting the Next Big Thing: Success as a Signal of Poor Judgment, in which they suggest:

The explanation is that because extreme outcomes are very rare, managers who take into account all the available information are less likely to make such extreme predictions, whereas those who rely on heuristics and intuition are more likely to make extreme predictions. As such, if the outcome was in fact extreme, an individual who predicts accurately an extreme event is likely to be someone who relies on intuition, rather than someone who takes into account all available information. She is likely to be someone who raves about any new idea or product. However, such heuristics are unlikely to produce consistent success over a wide range of forecasts. Therefore, accurate predictions of an extreme event are likely to be an indication of poor overall forecasting ability, when judgment or forecasting ability is defined as the average level of forecast accuracy over a wide range of forecasts.

— and then goes on to demonstrate it:

Consistent with our model, both the experimental and field results demonstrate that in a dataset containing all predictions, an accurate prediction is an indication of good forecasting ability (i.e., high accuracy on all predictions). However, if we only consider extreme predictions, then an accurate prediction is in fact associated with poor forecasting ability.


The counterintuitive nature of this prediction is delighful in its own right — there’s a sense in which “going against the tide” of what appears obvious is part of a wider pattern that includes knots in a plank and eddies in a stream, close cousins to von Kármán’s vortex streets. And I suspect it’s that built-in paradox that we perceive as “counterintuitive” that caught the eye and attention of Turing, Denrell and Fang, Marc Andreessen and myself. Once again, form, ie pattern, is the indicator of interest.

So this DQ is for Marc and Adam, raising a toast to Alan Turing, in playful spirit and with season’s greetings.

A most curious YouTube quotation

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

[ by Charles Cameron — total clash or bizarre agreement? Sydney hostage-taker Man Haron Monis quoted Christian apologist David Wood video on his Twitter feed ]

I am really not sure quite what to make of this. Sheikh Haron, aka Man Haron Monis, the disturbed ex-Shia convert to “Islam” who was the Sydney “hostage-taker” had a Twitter-feed, still up as I was researching this piece, which included this tweet:


Somewhat to my amazement, Haron is posting a video by the Christian apologist David Wood of Acts 17 Apologetics — a gentleman I’ve run across before, strongly opposed to Islam. Here’s the video in question, as featured on the Acts 17 Apologetics YouTube channel

Is Haron quoting Wood like this because he agrees (??!!) with Wood’s analysis of IS in terms of Quranic injunctions — or to show how disdainfully opposed to Islam, western views or Christian apologetics “really are”? — perhaps even both simultaneously?

No matter how you read Haron’s use of Wood’s video, or the various versions of the two Abrahamic faiths under discussion, the appearance of a Christian apologeticist on Haron’s website should give us pause for thought.

For an insight into Wood himself, the redemptive bio on the Moral Apologetics website under the title On Psychopathy and Moral Apologetics is worth your attention.


In case Haron’s feed gets taken down — I’m amazed it hasn’t been taken down already — here is a screen cap of that tweet:

Sheikh Haron's tweet

For more on Haron’s online presence, see Zack Beauchamp quoting Daveed Gartenstein-Ross in Sydney hostage taker Man Haron Monis pledged allegiance to ISIS on his website

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