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Quant and qualit in regards to “al wala’ wal bara'”

Thursday, August 24th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — score one for quantitative, links-based analysis ]
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It’s not so surprising that JM Berger‘s exploration of concepts in IS propaganda notes first that the title of al-Mujahir‘s speech which he will be digging into in greater detail — “Be Patient, For Indeed the Promise of God is Truth” — is a Quranic reference, then turns to the same root concepts — first tawhid, and then al wala’ wal bara’

The first is tawhid, or monotheism, a belief in the indivisible oneness of God, which can be extrapolated into a “rejection of legal, class, social, political, racial, national, territorial, genetic, and economic distinctions” and general political unity among Muslims. Importantly, this concept provides a divine mandate linking the Eligible InGroup to the Extremist In-Group.

The second concept is wala and bara (loyalty and enmity), which functions “as a tool of ‘in-group’ control”, which is broadly interpreted by jihadists to mean that Muslims are required to stand together loyally (wala) and fight outsider and outside influences (bara), across spiritual, emotional and physical dimensions.

— that Joas Wagemaker and others have found cento jihadist thought:

Notably, the concept of al-wala’wal-bara’ was taken a step further by a Hanbali scholar, Hamd ibn ‘Ali ibn ‘Atiq (d. 1883), who, as Joas Wagemakers perceptively observed, connected al-wala’ wal-bara’ with the concept that can be seen as the very basis of Islam, the unity of God (tawhid). In other words, a Muslim cannot profess his belief in tawhid, and by extension Islam, if he does not demonstrate his enmity toward non-Muslims. Moreover, ibn ‘Atiq used Qur’anic verses, in particular Surat 60:4, to uphold the necessity of expressing bara’. The trend that ‘Atiq established by binding al-wala’ wal-bara’ to the foundation of Islam continued into the twentieth century, where it was taken up in Saudi Arabia by religious scholars who supported or opposed the Saudi rulers.

Robert Rabil, Salafism in Lebanon: From Apoliticism to Transnational Jihadism

Wagemakers ties this conjunction of tawhid with al-wala’ wal-bara’ to Juhayman al-‘Utaybi, and thence back to al-Faraj and forward again to al-Maqdisi. Al-‘Utaybi’s Mahdist occupation of the Grand Mosque in Mecca on the first day of the current Islamic century should be viewed as the founding moment for the movement of Salafist jihad leading directly to ISIS’ proclamation of the caliphate.

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It is when the quantitative, “linkage-based” conceptual analysis kicks in —

— that the power of the digital approach makes itself clear.

Here we have dozens of phrases linked to beliefs, traits, and practices, which are susceptible of manipulation for counter-messaging — in a way which picks on the weak points in existing jihadist propaganda. This JM achieves by comparing al-Mujahir’s recent speech with al Adnani‘s 2011 “The Islamic State Will Remain Safe”.

In al-Adnani, grandiose predictions; in al-Mujahir, more realistic appraisal, six years later. In the gap, potential for illustrating IS’ failure to live up to its promises over that six year period.

JM’s approach, utilizing the prior work of his ICCT colleagues Haroro Ingram, gets into the weeds, into the detail, in a way that theologically-minded scholars have not.

For the Quant side, a distinct win.

Tanglewood vs Versailles: of gardens and explanations

Friday, August 11th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — critiquing the star diagram, celebrating the insights of Peter Neumann and team on violent radicalization ]
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I seem to remember that my grandmother’s house and garden was named Tanglewood — and certainly, the palace and gardens of Louis XVI are known simply as Versailles!

French ornamental gardens represent one way to go about life, and English wild ramblings quite another — personally, I prefer the English way.

So..

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To be honest, I find this diagram all too neat and well-mown…

People, after all, have grievances, ideas, and needs, and are the ones who resort to violence — and indeed, grievances are ideas, and sometimes born of needs. I could go on — but a five-pointed star with kinetic arrows folded into a graphically beautiful sort of Moebius arrangement is elegant and perhaps overly simple?

Compare that gorgeous, tidy star with Will McCants‘ paragraphs:

The disappoint stems from the desire to attribute the jihadist phenomenon to a single cause rather than to several causes that work in tandem to produce it. To my mind, the most salient are these: a religious heritage that lauds fighting abroad to establish states and to protect one’s fellow Muslims; ultraconservative religious ideas and networks exploited by militant recruiters; peer pressure (if you know someone involved, you’re more likely to get involved); fear of religious persecution; poor governance (not type of government); youth unemployment or underemployment in large cities; and civil war. All of these factors are more at play in the Arab world now than at any other time in recent memory, which is fueling a jihadist resurgence around the world.

If anyone elevates one of those factors above the others to diagnose the problem, you can be certain the resulting prescription will not work. It may even backfire, leading to more jihadist recruitment, not less.

That’s more to my taste.

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None of which is to denigrate Peter Neumann‘s contributions to our understanding of violent radicalization — see for instance his subtle and compelling “Myths and Reality” presentation:

The hunter hunted

Wednesday, August 2nd, 2017

[ by Charles CameronDoubleTweet — the self-reference and enantiodromia of the hunt ]
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This clever illustration of the hunter(s) hunted.. reminded me inevitably of the hunter Actaeon, who saw the goddess Artemis / Diana naked, bathing in a pool. She turned him into a stag, and his own hounds then tore him to pieces..

These two tweets, one following fairly closely on the other though from different sources, just about made my day!

Similarity in graphical mechanism?

Wednesday, June 7th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — a matter of visual rhetoric, NYT’s Trump and Magritte ]
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I’m intuiting that these two graphical representations somehow use the same visual logic to achieve their ends:

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If I was more alert in some semi-defined sense, I’d be able to diagram them in a manner similar to that which Douglas Hofstadter uses to diagram the conceptual working of MC Escher‘s hands drawing hands —

— another brilliant ouroboros, for those who are keeping count!

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How does “let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:” fit into this (Escher) picture?

Venn diagram, Trumpian firings

Wednesday, May 10th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — Sally Yates, Preet Bharara, James Comey ]
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I like it when other people do my work for me.

This diagram is a splendid double (ppl imvestigating Trump; ppl Trump has fired) and triple (Sally Yates; Preet Bharara; James Comey) bead game, a Venn diagram with perfect and complete overlap. Bravo.


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