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After the Fall

Wednesday, May 31st, 2017

[ by Charles Cameronpostlapsarian Aleppo, in other words ]
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I don’t suppose the editors at the New York Times Magazine were intentionally making a Christian theological point with the title they bestowed on this cover story: Aleppo After the Fall. but I’ll take my apposite religious resonances where I find them.

Here’s a slightly bigger version:

How beautiful destruction can be in the early light — yet no less destructive for its beauty.

You can view the whole thing even better here — Al-Hatab Square in Aleppo’s Old City. Credit Sebastián Liste/Noor Images, for The New York Times.

Pieter Van Ostaeyen termed the accompanying article “an absolute must-read“.

**

Beauty: in which, the divine may be recognized.

The Fall. Oh ah, yes, the Fall.

Love and terror, a two-way street

Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — better to fall in love and out of terror ]
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One can perhaps sympathize with the bumbling jihadist Mark Taylor, lonely in Syria and in need of female companionship: no wonder he appeals on an “Islamic marriage” datng site:

I need a righteous practicing Muslim lady who wants to do Hijrah [immigrate] here inshallah

It may be, however, that he’s the one who should be making hijrah away from Syria and jihad..

I say this because Bruce Hoffman‘s Atlantic piece from 2001 shows that love can transform terrorists into a, well, less destructive member of society. When Arafat wanted to de-fang members of Black September, he invited a hundred beautiful young women to a meet-up:

here, in a sort of PLO version of a college mixer, boy met girl, boy fell in love with girl, boy would, it was hoped, marry girl. There was an additional incentive, designed to facilitate not just amorous connections but long-lasting relationships. The hundred or so Black Septemberists were told that if they married these women, they would be paid $3,000; given an apartment in Beirut with a gas stove, a refrigerator, and a television; and employed by the PLO in some nonviolent capacity. Any of these couples that had a baby within a year would be rewarded with an additional $5,000.

I imagine Mark Taylor would face serious prison time if he did indeed return — a far cry from $3,000 and an apartment with gas stove, refrigerator, and television — but hey, conjugal visits? I dunno.

Love may lure some unfortunate women into terrorism — but it can also draw dedicated fighters out of it. It’s a mighty forceful force, is all I’m saying.

**

Sources:

  • NZ Herald, Bumbling Kiwi jihadist Mark Taylor who is fighting for Islamic State in Syria
  • The Atlantic, All You Need Is Love
  • Situation Room, echo chamber

    Friday, April 7th, 2017

    [ by Charles Cameron — does the Syria strike compare with the Abbottabad raid? ]
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    The Mar-a-Lago situation room, in a White House photo in which “President Donald Trump receives a briefing on the Syria military strike from the National Security team, including Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff via secure video teleconference .. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer stated that this image has been digitally edited for security purposes”:

    **

    This closely echoes an earlier White House photo, from within the White House itself, in which “Vice President Joe Biden and President Barack Obama, along with members of the national-security team, receive an update on the mission against Osama bin Laden in the Situation Room of the White House on May 1, 2011. Please note: a classified document seen in this photograph has been obscured”:

    A photographic DoubleQuote for sure!

    Hey, even that bit about “Sean Spicer stated that this image has been digitally edited for security purposes” rhymes conceptually with “a classified document seen in this photograph has been obscured”..

    **

    — and a very deliberate echo, no doubt, on the photographer’s part.

    Should we be comparing seating arrangements, person by person? You’ll note at least that Trump sits at the head of the table, Obama quietly off to the side..

    Muslim Abu Walid al Shishani, also Trump’s hair

    Friday, April 7th, 2017

    [ by Charles Cameron — also critique of jihadist fatwas — with hat-tips to Pundita & JM ]
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    Pundita posted a photo today under the heading Al Qaeda celebrating Trump for bombing Syrian air base:

    She got the image from the collection here:

    **

    The image Pundita posted is of Muslim Abu Walid al Shishani, and those aren’t actual wigs, they’re photo-enhancements — here’s the original photo, from a research site “documenting the involvement of Russian-speaking foreign fighters in the Syrian conflict”:

    **

    Reading that site’s material on Shishani, I came across these very interesting paragraphs, with their unadorned descritption of how young jihadists misuse jihadist scholars and their rulings. From Nohchicho’s Interview with Muslim Shishani:

    Alhamdulillah, in Syria there are a lot of great scholars who have a sea of knowledge, and when you ask them a question of any difficulty, they explain it so beautifully and distinctly, giving ayats, hadith and the history of the Companions, that there is no doubt. But I also noticed that these scholars are very far removed from what is actually happening here. They don’t participate in the activities of the jamaats, even when they are part of them. They are not aware of the subtleties of the jamaats’ programs, they mainly deal with questions of nikah [marriage], divorce and such matters. The main issues of the jamaat get solved by the students of these scholars. [The scholars] get remembered only when a jamaat needs a fatwa to legitimize its questionable actions.

    The situation gets presented like this: Sheikh, I’m in the desert, I didn’t eat a thing for many days. There are pigs not far from here, and if I don’t eat their meat, then I’m going to die. What should I do? And of course the Sheikh gives an affirmative answer. And then they ask that he announce it publicly so that others don’t reproach them, and then they start using this fatwa even when they just get hungry. And the whole problem is that the Sheikh isn’t up to speed with what is really going on.

    Having gotten to know the scholars and the situation, I realized one thing: if you want to know the truth, then ask the scholars the scope of the Sharia in the particular case, where Allah’s pleasure is, and stick to it as far as possible within your situation. And a scholar’s fatwa basically depends on how you present your situation to him. It depends on your conscience.

    When we ask Sharia questions to a fighter, military questions to politicians, and political questions to Sharia experts, we will always run into mistakes. But if we learn to ask questions to specialists in their relevant fields, and if these experts don’t get into issues outside their competence, then it’s going to be easier for us to reach the truth.

    **

    I’d welcome any info about Muslim Abu Walid al Shishani’s affiliation — Junud al-Sham, if that still exists? AQ? ISIS? This is the first time I’ve run across him.

    Double & SingleQuoting Syria

    Friday, April 7th, 2017

    [ by Charles Cameron — who like Ryan Evans has more questions than answers ]
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    This, for the use of the DoubleQuotes format:

    **

    Okay, undeclared warfare has clearly been declared, if it hadn’t been already: maybe someone should tell Congress —

    In the meantime, consider:

    together with:

    **

    Reaction from the furthest right in two tweets:

    together with:

    **

    And just for the sheer fun of it — no DoubleQuote here!


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