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On IS ecumenism? Two tweets in short order REDUX

Monday, September 29th, 2014

[ by Charles Cameron -- among jihadist groups in Syria, are the scales tipping towards unity or disunity? ]
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SIF JN & ISIS

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Yesterday I posted the following DoubleQuote, with sources, on our alternate site while Zenpundit proper, this place, was temporarily down:

SPEC clint watts & guardian

Sources:

  • Clint Watts, tweet
  • Clint Watts, Did Obama Just Unify America’s Enemies?
  • Guardian, tweet
  • Guardian, Isis reconciles with al-Qaida group as Syria air strikes continue
  • I noted that Clint Watts published September 26, The Guardian confirmed his point on 28 September.

    And I asked:

    Unforseen .. really? .. consequences?

    **

    Since that time, other respected analysts have commented on the idea of an IS / Jabhat al-Nusra rapprochement:

    SPEC Zelin & Lister

    Sources:

  • Aaron Zelin, tweet
  • Charles Lister, tweet
  • I am still of the opinion that foreseeing unforeseen consequences is of the essence of successful strategy and policy-making — that wisdom comes from insight, foresight, the roots of which are by their nature holistic, cross-dsiciplinary, and systems dynamic.

    **

    As for myself — irony alert — ecumenist, romantic, hearkener back to a glorious past that I am, I can’t resist already-ancient images such as the one at the head of this post, or this one:

    ISIS and Jabhat w Harakat Sham al-Islam

    The image atop this post is taken from Pieter van Ostayen‘s blog, A strategic mistake ~ ISIS beheads a member of Harakat Ahrar as-Sham of November 13 last year. He comments, cautiously:

    Here is picture from a while ago, the Syrian Islamic Front, Jabhat an-Nusra and the Islamic State in Iraq and as-Sh?m (ISIS) posing as brothers in arms.

    The question is how long that will last. Since a few weeks the amount of anti-ISIS propaganda is in a steep rise; this all culminated when al-Jazeera published an audio file by Dr. Ayman az-Zaw?hir?…

    The image below is from another van Ostayen post, Some Calligraphic Group Logos ~ Syria, from March 10th of this year.

    Van Ostayen identifies the flag in the middle as that of Harakat Sham al-Islam, flanked by the flags and fighters of ISIS and Jabhat an-Nusra.

    In a post dated December 22 2013 on Joshua LandisSyria Comment blog titled Moroccan ex-Guantánamo Detainee Mohammed Mizouz Identified In Syria, Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi writes of his version of the same image:

    Now I have identified another Moroccan ex-Guantanamo detainee: Mohammed Mizouz, going under the alias of Abu al-Izz al-Muhajir. He appeared only many hours ago in a video where he makes a speech on the necessity for the unity of the mujahideen, appearing alongside fighters from both Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham and Jabhat al-Nusra in Latakia.

    In his caption, Al-Tamimi identifies his version as a “Screenshot of video of Abu al-Izz al-Muhajir’s speech. He is in the center under the Harakat Sham al-Islam flag with the Qur’an directly in front of him.”

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    It is of the nature of trees to branch, and humans do much the same: we too are a fissiparous species.

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    DoubleQuote: Genocide Memorial Church before and after

    Saturday, September 27th, 2014

    [ by Charles Cameron -- a quick note on the DQ format used to illustrate church "before and after" attack, montage in Pudovkin / Eisenstein, and cognition ]
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    Pondering these images, I see that while they do clearly represent “before and after” when juxtaposed, they do not represent “cause and effect” as such. The cause of the visible changes is not itself present, although implied. Even so, the viewer is liable to jump from a non-causal double image via the implied causal connection to an emotional response — “the bastards!” or something of that sort.

    I’ve been interested in the intellectual and emotional responses generated by juxtapositions at least since I first read about montage, Pudovkin and Eisenstein in a class on film directing at UCLA some decades back. It is one of the great issues in film — Eisenstein wrote:

    to determine the nature of montage is to solve the specific problem of cinema

    It’s more than that, though — it’s one of the great issues in cognition and metacognition.

    We’d do well to put some bright minds on the task of understanding it.

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    Respective results of Jihad vs Democracy in a “wild” DoubleQuote

    Monday, September 22nd, 2014

    [ by Charles Cameron -- not sure of the original provenance, but the content speaks for itself ]
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    The French text reads:

    A jihadist infographic suggesting the Muslim Brotherhood ws wrong to believe in democracy while rejecting jihad

    Perhaps David Thomson, if he sees this post, could comment on where he found this double image.

    By “DoubleQuote in the Wild” I’m referring to the practice of discourse by juxtaposition of similars or opposites — in this case, the juxtaposition of opposing images.

    TIA..

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    Some very welcome news: JM Berger & Jessica Stern

    Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

    [ by Charles Cameron -- forthcoming book announced ]
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    JM Berger at Intelwire frames it like this:

    ISIS: THE STATE OF TERROR

    Jessica Stern and J.M. Berger co-author the forthcoming book, “ISIS: The State of Terror,” from Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins. The book, which will debut in early 2015, will examine the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, how it is transforming the nature of extremist movements, and how we should evaluate the threat it presents.

    Jessica Stern is a Harvard lecturer on terrorism and the author of the seminal text Terror in the Name of God: Why Religious Militants Kill. J.M. Berger is author of the definitive book on American jihadists, Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam, a frequent contributor to Foreign Policy, and editor of Intelwire.com.

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    JM also tweeted:

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    For another angle on Berger & Stern’s thinking, see their recent joint contribution to a round table at Politico:

    A counterterrorism mission—and then some.
    By J.M. Berger and Jessica Stern

    When the Obama administration sends mixed messages about whether its campaign against the Islamic State insurgent group is war or counterterrorism, there is a reason, if not a good one. As explained by President Obama last week, the United States plans to employ counterterrorism tactics against a standing army currently preoccupied with waging war.

    In many ways, our confrontation with the Islamic State is the culmination of 13 years of degraded definitions. Our enemies have evolved considerably since Sept. 11, 2001, and none more than ISIL, which has shed both the name and the sympathies of al Qaeda. The Islamic State excels at communication, and it has succeeded in establishing itself as a uniquely visible avatar of evil that demands a response. But on 9/11, we began a “war on terrorism” that has proven every bit as expansive and ambiguous as the phrase itself implies. It is a symptom of our broken political system that we require the frame of terrorism and the tone of apocalyptic crisis to take even limited action as a government.

    Ultimately, it’s hard to escape the feeling that our policies still come from the gut, rather than the head. And ISIL knows exactly how to deliver a punch to the gut, as evidenced by its gruesome hostage beheadings and countless other atrocities. Its brutality and open taunts represent an invitation to war, and many sober strategists now speak of “destroying” the organization.

    Bin Laden once said, “All that we have to do is to send two mujahideen to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written al Qaeda, in order to make the generals race there.” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the emir of ISIL, may be counting on just that response, and for the same reason—to draw the United States into a war of supreme costs, political, economic and human.

    A limited counterterrorism campaign may insulate us from those costs, but it is not likely to be sufficient to accomplish the goals laid out by the president. ISIL is a different enemy from al Qaeda. It has not earned statehood, but it is an army and a culture, and more than a traditional terrorist organization. Limited measures are unlikely to destroy it and might not be enough to end its genocidal ambitions. Our stated goals do not match our intended methods. Something has to give — and it’s probably the goals.

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    I reviewed JM’s previous book for Zenpundit, and mentioned Jessica Stern‘s work, which I greatly admire, in my post here, Book Review: JM Berger’s Jihad Joe. Their upcoming collaboration promises us an insightful, foundational, and must-readable analysis — richly nuanced, clearly presented, and avoiding the pitfalls of panicky sensationalism to which so much current reportage is prone.

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    Sheikh Imran Hosein on Islamic Apocalyptic, sorta

    Sunday, September 7th, 2014

    [ by Charles Cameron -- shifting the eschatological focus from Syria to Ukraine, with thanks to Stephanie ]
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    Stephanie Chenault pointed those of us who follow her FB page to an amazing video by Sheikh Imran Hosein, of whom I have written more than once [eg: 1, 2]:

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    Here’s a taste…

    We are now moving towards the Malhama (Great War) prophesied by Nabi Muhammad (Sallallaahu ‘Alaihi Wasallam). If you do not have Islamic Eschatology (knowledge of the end times) you will go to work in the morning, face the morning traffic, come home in the evening, face the evening traffic, have your Biriyani for dinner, watch TV until you go to sleep. And you will have absolutely no knowledge whatsoever that you are standing on the door of the Malhama (Great war/World War 3); that’s where we are today with our scholars of Islam (no knowledge about the reality of the world today). It is sad for me to speak these words. Once the Malhama (World War 3) takes place, we don’t have as Muslims any significant role to play in the Malhama. No, we don’t have Nuclear weapons. When these Nuclear weapons explode, that’s going to give us the Dukhan (Smoke, one of the major signs of the last day). Most of mankind will die. But they (angels) must be saying up there; most of mankind deserve to die. Israel is calculating; the rump that will be left behind would be easier for Israel to rule (the world). And it will be very convenient for Israel if the two powers (NATO alliance and Russian alliance) destroy each other…”

    If you’ve read my article on Dabiq 3, you’ll know that it too talks about the Great Final War — but with a perspective that focuses on Syria and Iraq rather than Russia and the Ukraine. In this respect, the Islamic State hews far more closely to the traditions and strategic playing out of the end proposed by Abu Musab al-Suri in his Global Islamic Resistance Call [excerpt linked is from Brynja Lia's book] and described in concentrated detail in pages 186-193 of J-P Filiu‘s Apocalypse in Islam.

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    The video purports to be about Islamic Eschatology, certainly, while in fact it “connects the dots” between Sheikh Hosein’s own version of that eschatology and current events as he sees them. It is a fascinating piece, with Sh. Hosein towards the end admitting that he is the only Muslim scholar holding his particular view.

    This view makes the Ukraine and Russia / Rom central to the events now unfolding, rather than al-Sham / Syria and Iraq, and puts great emphasis on an alliance between Islam and Orthodox Christianity, with Russia as the bastion of Orthodoxy. “Thank god for Vladimir Putin,” Hosein says at around the 1 hour mark.

    You really have to hear the whole thing to appreciate it — and must then understand that a second 80 minute tape could describe an entirely different Sunni Islamic end times scenario, Abu Musab’s for instance, while an umpteenth ones might offer a Shiite version, etc etc.

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    Some high points, with approximate times in the video for reference:

  • 38 Islam the religion did not come to conquer the world. It never came to establish its rule over the world. But it most certainly came to liberate the world from oppression.
  • 45-48 Constantinople and the Orthodox & Islamic alliance, alliance with western Christian prohibited.
  • 51 Dajjal’s Ottoman empire teaching perpetual, unjust, bogus jihad against Rum to rule the whole world
  • 56 Cathedral of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople turned into a masjid in conflict with Allah’s command
  • 58 For centuries Dajjal was at war attempting to prevent Islamic-Orthodox alliance — also Russia is Rum
  • 1 hr 03 Why the importance of Crimea becoming part of Ukraine
  • 1 hr 11 The Black Sea as eschatological focus.
  • BTW, that comment about perpetual jihad to conquer and rule the entire world being a bogus doctrine receives some pretty strong repetition!

    Sh Hosein also offers us a number of interesting asides along the way:

  • 36 where he explains what “incline to peace” means not just ceasing from battle but also giving back all “fruits” of aggression and oppression
  • 42 where he suggests that those “closest to you in love and affection” (Q 5.82) is a predictive, futuristic verse.
  • I can’t do more than note these particular points in passing, but any one or two of them might make a ine and detailed post.

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    For the basic “signs of the times” which are what we normally think of as basic Muslim eschatology, see Sh. Hosein’s own page.

    For further research, the basic readings on Islamic eschatology are:

  • J-P Filiu, Apocalypse in Islam
  • David Cook, Studies in Muslim Apocalyptic
  • David Cook, Contemporary Muslim Apocalyptic Literature
  • The best account of Mahdis and Mahdist movements:

  • Timothy Furnish, Holiest Wars
  • You may also find some of my own early posts helpful for background:

  • Apocalyptic Vision: Guest Post by Charles Cameron
  • Guest Post: Iran or Afghanistan? The Black Flags of Khorasan
  • Guest Post: Connecting the Dots: Light on Light
  • — or perhaps Filiu’s recent posts in French, which Google can translate somewhat less than clearly:

  • L’État Islamique agit comme un rouleau compresseur
  • L’Etat islamique ou les chevaliers de l’apocalypse djihadiste
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