How Kosovo Was Turned Into Fertile Ground for ISIS



Kosovo ISIL Ridvan Haqifi and Lavdrim Muhaxheri

PRISTINA, Kosovo — Every Friday, just yards from a statue of Bill Clinton with arm aloft in a cheery wave, hundreds of young bearded men make a show of kneeling to pray on the sidewalk outside an improvised mosque in a former furniture store.

The mosque is one of scores built here with Saudi government money and blamed for spreading Wahhabism — the conservative ideology dominant in Saudi Arabia — in the 17 years since an American-led intervention wrested tiny Kosovo from Serbian oppression.

Since then — much of that time under the watch of American officials — Saudi money and influence have transformed this once-tolerant Muslim society at the hem of Europe into a font of Islamic extremism and a pipeline for jihadists.

Kosovo now finds itself, like the rest of Europe, fending off the threat of radical Islam. Over the last two years, the police have identified 314 Kosovars — including two suicide bombers, 44 women and 28 children — who have gone abroad to join the Islamic State, the highest number per capita in Europe.

They were radicalized and recruited, Kosovo investigators say, by a corps of extremist clerics and secretive associations funded by Saudi Arabia and other conservative Arab gulf states using an obscure, labyrinthine network of donations from charities, private individuals and government ministries.

“They promoted political Islam,” said Fatos Makolli, the director of Kosovo’s counterterrorism police. “They spent a lot of money to promote it through different programs mainly with young, vulnerable people, and they brought in a lot of Wahhabi and Salafi literature. They brought these people closer to radical political Islam, which resulted in their radicalization.”

After two years of investigations, the police have charged 67 people, arrested 14 imams and shut down 19 Muslim organizations for acting against the Constitution, inciting hatred and recruiting for terrorism. The most recent sentences, which included a 10-year prison term, were handed down on Friday.

It is a stunning turnabout for a land of 1.8 million people that not long ago was among the most pro-American Muslim societies in the world. Americans were welcomed as liberators after leading months of NATO bombing in 1999 that spawned an independent Kosovo.

 American bombing of Serbian positions in Kosovo in 1999 during the air campaign by NATO. Credit Jerome Delay/Associated Press

After the war, United Nations officials administered the territory and American forces helped keep the peace. The Saudis arrived, too, bringing millions of euros in aid to a poor and war-ravaged land.

But where the Americans saw a chance to create a new democracy, the Saudis saw a new land to spread Wahhabism.

“There is no evidence that any organization gave money directly to people to go to Syria,” Mr. Makolli said. “The issue is they supported thinkers who promote violence and jihad in the name of protecting Islam.”

 A portrait of Bill Clinton on a back street in Pristina near Bill Clinton Boulevard. Credit Andrew Testa for The New York Times

Kosovo now has over 800 mosques, 240 of them built since the war and blamed for helping indoctrinate a new generation in Wahhabism. They are part of what moderate imams and officials here describe as a deliberate, long-term strategy by Saudi Arabia to reshape Islam in its image, not only in Kosovo but around the world.

Saudi diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks in 2015 reveal a system of funding for mosques, Islamic centers and Saudi-trained clerics that spans Asia, Africa and Europe. In New Delhi alone, 140 Muslim preachers are listed as on the Saudi Consulate’s payroll.

All around Kosovo, families are grappling with the aftermath of years of proselytizing by Saudi-trained preachers. Some daughters refuse to shake hands with or talk to male relatives. Some sons have gone off to jihad. Religious vigilantes have threatened — or committed — violence against academics, journalists and politicians.

The Balkans, Europe’s historical fault line, have yet to heal from the ethnic wars of the 1990s. But they are now infected with a new intolerance, moderate imams and officials in the region warn.

How Kosovo and the very nature of its society was fundamentally recast is a story of a decades-long global ambition by Saudi Arabia to spread its hard-line version of Islam — heavily funded and systematically applied, including with threats and intimidation by followers.

 Idriz Bilalli, an imam in Podujevo, has sought to curb extremists and has received death threats. Credit Andrew Testa for The New York Times

The Missionaries Arrive

After the war ended in 1999, Idriz Bilalli, the imam of the central mosque in Podujevo, welcomed any help he could get.

Podujevo, home to about 90,000 people in northeast Kosovo, was a reasonably prosperous town with high schools and small businesses in an area hugged by farmland and forests. It was known for its strong Muslim tradition even in a land where people long wore their religion lightly.

After decades of Communist rule when Kosovo was part of Yugoslavia, men and women mingle freely, schools are coeducational, and girls rarely wear the veil. Still, Serbian paramilitary forces burned down 218 mosques as part of their war against Kosovo’s ethnic Albanians, who are 95 percent Muslim. Mr. Bilalli needed help to rebuild.

When two imams in their 30s, Fadil Musliu and Fadil Sogojeva, who were studying for master’s degrees in Saudi Arabia, showed up after the war with money to organize summer religion courses, Mr. Bilalli agreed to help.

The imams were just two of some 200 Kosovars who took advantage of scholarships after the war to study Islam in Saudi Arabia. Many, like them, returned with missionary zeal.

Soon, under Mr. Musliu’s tutelage, pupils started adopting a rigid manner of prayer, foreign to the moderate Islamic traditions of this part of Europe. Mr. Bilalli recognized the influence, and he grew concerned.

“This is Wahhabism coming into our society,” Mr. Bilalli, 52, said in a recent interview.

Mr. Bilalli trained at the University of Medina in Saudi Arabia in the late 1980s, and as a student he had been warned by a Kosovar professor to guard against the cultural differences of Wahhabism. He understood there was a campaign of proselytizing, pushed by the Saudis.

“The first thing the Wahhabis do is to take members of our congregation, who understand Islam in the traditional Kosovo way that we had for generations, and try to draw them away from this understanding,” he said. “Once they get them away from the traditional congregation, then they start bombarding them with radical thoughts and ideas.”

“The main goal of their activity is to create conflict between people,” he said. “This first creates division, and then hatred, and then it can come to what happened in Arab countries, where war starts because of these conflicting ideas.”

From the outset, the newly arriving clerics sought to overtake the Islamic Community of Kosovo, an organization that for generations has been the custodian of the tolerant form of Islam that was practiced in the region, townspeople and officials say.

Muslims in Kosovo, which was a part of the Ottoman Empire for 500 years, follow the Hanafi school of Islam, traditionally a liberal version that is accepting of other religions.

But all around the country, a new breed of radical preachers was setting up in neighborhood mosques, often newly built with Saudi money.

In some cases, centuries-old buildings were bulldozed, including a historic library in Gjakova and several 400-year-old mosques, as well as shrines, graveyards and Dervish monasteries, all considered idolatrous in Wahhabi teaching.

From their bases, the Saudi-trained imams propagated Wahhabism’s tenets: the supremacy of Sharia law as well as ideas of violent jihad and takfirism, which authorizes the killing of Muslims considered heretics for not following its interpretation of Islam.

The Saudi-sponsored charities often paid salaries and overhead costs, and financed courses in religion, as well as English and computer classes, moderate imams and investigators explained.

But the charitable assistance often had conditions attached. Families were given monthly stipends on the condition that they attended sermons in the mosque and that women and girls wore the veil, human rights activists said.

“People were so needy, there was no one who did not join,” recalled Ajnishahe Halimi, a politician who campaigned to have a radical Albanian imam expelled after families complained of abuse.

Gjilan, a town of about 90,000 where a moderate imam was kidnapped and beaten by extremists. Credit Andrew Testa for The New York Times

Threats Intensify

Within a few years of the war’s end, the older generation of traditional clerics began to encounter aggression from young Wahhabis.

Paradoxically, some of the most serious tensions built in Gjilan, an eastern Kosovo town of about 90,000, where up to 7,000 American troops were stationed as part of Kosovo’s United Nations-run peacekeeping force at Camp Bondsteel.

“They came in the name of aid,” one moderate imam in Gjilan, Enver Rexhepi, said of the Arab charities. “But they came with a background of different intentions, and that’s where the Islamic religion started splitting here.”

One day in 2004, he recalled, he was threatened by one of the most aggressive young Wahhabis, Zekirja Qazimi, a former madrasa student then in his early 20s.

Inside his mosque, Mr. Rexhepi had long displayed an Albanian flag. Emblazoned with a double-headed eagle, it was a popular symbol of Kosovo’s liberation struggle.

But strict Muslim fundamentalists consider the depiction of any living being as idolatrous. Mr. Qazimi tore the flag down. Mr. Rexhepi put it back.

“It will not go long like this,” Mr. Qazimi told him angrily, Mr. Rexhepi recounted.

Within days, Mr. Rexhepi was abducted and savagely beaten by masked men in woods above Gjilan. He later accused Mr. Qazimi of having been behind the attack, but police investigations went nowhere.

Ten years later, in 2014, after two young Kosovars blew themselves up in suicide bombings in Iraq and Turkey, investigators began an extensive investigation into the sources of radicalism. Mr. Qazimi was arrested hiding in the same woods. On Friday, a court sentenced him to 10 years in prison after he faced charges of inciting hatred and recruiting for a terrorist organization.

Before Mr. Qazimi was arrested, his influence was profound, under what investigators now say was the sway of Egyptian-based extremists and the patronage of Saudi and other gulf Arab sponsors.

By the mid-2000s, Saudi money and Saudi-trained clerics were already exerting influence over the Islamic Community of Kosovo. The leadership quietly condoned the drift toward conservatism, critics of the organization say.

Mr. Qazimi was appointed first to a village mosque, and then to El-Kuddus mosque on the edge of Gjilan. Few could counter him, not even Mustafa Bajrami, his former teacher, who was elected head of the Islamic Community of Gjilan in 2012.

Mr. Bajrami comes from a prominent religious family — his father was the first chief mufti of Yugoslavia during the Communist period. He holds a doctorate in Islamic studies. Yet he remembers pupils began rebelling against him whenever he spoke against Wahhabism.

He soon realized that the students were being taught beliefs that differed from the traditional moderate curriculum by several radical imams in lectures after hours. He banned the use of mosques after official prayer times.

Hostility only grew. He would notice a dismissive gesture in the congregation during his sermons, or someone would curse his wife, or mutter “apostate” or “infidel” as he passed.

In the village, Mr. Qazimi’s influence eventually became so disruptive that residents demanded his removal after he forbade girls and boys to shake hands. But in Gjilan he continued to draw dozens of young people to his after-hours classes.

“They were moving 100 percent according to lessons they were taking from Zekirja Qazimi,” Mr. Bajrami said in an interview. “One hundred percent, in an ideological way.”

Evening prayer at the mosque of the radical imam Fadil Musliu on the outskirts of Pristina, the capital. Credit Andrew Testa for The New York Times

Extremism Spreads

Over time, the Saudi-trained imams expanded their work.

By 2004, Mr. Musliu, one of the master’s degree students from Podujevo who studied in Saudi Arabia, had graduated and was imam of a mosque in the capital, Pristina.

In Podujevo, he set up a local charitable organization called Devotshmeria, or Devotion, which taught religion classes and offered social programs for women, orphans and the poor. It was funded by Al Waqf al Islami, a Saudi organization that was one of the 19 eventually closed by investigators.

Mr. Musliu put a cousin, Jetmir Rrahmani, in charge.

“Then I knew something was starting that would not bring any good,” said Mr. Bilalli, the moderate cleric who had started out teaching with him. In 2004, they had a core of 20 Wahhabis.

“That was only the beginning,” Mr. Bilalli said. “They started multiplying.”

Mr. Bilalli began a vigorous campaign against the spread of unauthorized mosques and Wahhabi teaching. In 2008, he was elected head of the Islamic Community of Podujevo and instituted religion classes for women, in an effort to undercut Devotshmeria.

As he sought to curb the extremists, Mr. Bilalli received death threats, including a note left in the mosque’s alms box. An anonymous telephone caller vowed to make him and his family disappear, he said.

“Anyone who opposes them, they see as an enemy,” Mr. Bilalli said.

He appealed to the leadership of the Islamic Community of Kosovo. But by then it was heavily influenced by Arab gulf sponsors, he said, and he received little support.

When Mr. Bilalli formed a union of fellow moderates, the Islamic Community of Kosovo removed him from his post. His successor, Bekim Jashari, equally concerned by the Saudi influence, nevertheless kept up the fight.

“I spent 10 years in Arab countries and specialized in sectarianism within Islam,” Mr. Jashari said. “It’s very important to stop Arab sectarianism from being introduced to Kosovo.”

Mr. Jashari had a couple of brief successes. He blocked the Saudi-trained imam Mr. Sogojeva from opening a new mosque, and stopped a payment of 20,000 euros, about $22,400, intended for it from the Saudi charity Al Waqf al Islami.

He also began a website, Speak Now, to counter Wahhabi teaching. But he remains so concerned about Wahhabi preachers that he never lets his 19-year-old son attend prayers on his own.

The radical imams Mr. Musliu and Mr. Sogojeva still preach in Pristina, where for prayers they draw crowds of young men who glare at foreign reporters.

Mr. Sogojeva dresses in a traditional robe and banded cleric’s hat, but his newly built mosque is an incongruous modern multistory building. He admonished his congregation with a rapid-fire list of dos and don’ts in a recent Friday sermon.

Neither imam seems to lack funds.

In an interview, Mr. Musliu insisted that he was financed by local donations, but confirmed that he had received Saudi funding for his early religion courses.

The instruction, he said, is not out of line with Kosovo’s traditions. The increase in religiosity among young people was natural after Kosovo gained its freedom, he said.

“Those who are not believers and do not read enough, they feel a bit shocked,” he said. “But we coordinated with other imams, and everything was in line with Islam.”

The entrance to the grounds of the Serbian Orthodox monastery in Decani in western Kosovo. In January, four armed Islamists passed through the checkpoint and were arrested at the monastery gates. Credit Andrew Testa for The New York Times

A Tilt Toward Terrorism

The influence of the radical clerics reached its apex with the war in Syria, as they extolled the virtues of jihad and used speeches and radio and television talks shows to urge young people to go there.

Mr. Qazimi, who was given the 10-year prison sentence, even organized a summer camp for his young followers.

“It is obligated for every Muslim to participate in jihad,” he told them in one videotaped talk. “The Prophet Muhammad says that if someone has a chance to take part in jihad and doesn’t, he will die with great sins.”

“The blood of infidels is the best drink for us Muslims,” he said in another recording.

Among his recruits, investigators say, were three former civilian employees of American contracting companies at Camp Bondsteel, where American troops are stationed. They included Lavdrim Muhaxheri, an Islamic State leader who was filmed executing a man in Syria with a rocket-propelled grenade.

After the suicide bombings, the authorities opened a broad investigation and found that the Saudi charity Al Waqf al Islami had been supporting associations set up by preachers like Mr. Qazimi in almost every regional town.

Al Waqf al Islami was established in the Balkans in 1989. Most of its financing came from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain, Kosovo investigators said in recent interviews. Unexplained gaps in its ledgers deepened suspicions that the group was surreptitiously funding clerics who were radicalizing young people, they said.

Investigators from Kosovo’s Financial Intelligence Unit found that Al Waqf al Islami, which had an office in central Pristina and a staff of 12, ran through €10 million from 2000 through 2012. Yet they found little paperwork to explain much of the spending.

More than €1 million went to mosque building. But one and a half times that amount was disbursed in unspecified cash withdrawals, which may have also gone to enriching its staff, the investigators said.

Only 7 percent of the budget was shown to have gone to caring for orphans, the charity’s stated mission.

By the summer of 2014, the Kosovo police shut down Al Waqf al Islami, along with 12 other Islamic charities, and arrested 40 people.

The charity’s head offices, in Saudi Arabia and the Netherlands, have since changed their name to Al Waqf, apparently separating themselves from the Balkans operation.

Asked about the accusations in a telephone interview, Nasr el Damanhoury, the director of Al Waqf in the Netherlands, said he had no direct knowledge of his group’s operations in Kosovo or the Balkans.

The charity has ceased all work outside the Netherlands since he took over in 2013, he said. His predecessor had returned to Morocco and could not be reached, and Saudi board members would not comment, he said.

“Our organization has never supported extremism,” Mr. Damanhoury said. “I have known it since 1989. I joined them three years ago. They have always been a mild group.”


Kosovars celebrating the independence of Kosovo from Serbia in 2008. Credit Bela Szandelszky/Associated Press

Unheeded Warnings

Why the Kosovar authorities — and American and United Nations overseers — did not act sooner to forestall the spread of extremism is a question being intensely debated.

As early as 2004, the prime minister at the time, Bajram Rexhepi, tried to introduce a law to ban extremist sects. But, he said in a recent interview at his home in northern Kosovo, European officials told him that it would violate freedom of religion.

“It was not in their interest, they did not want to irritate some Islamic countries,” Mr. Rexhepi said. “They simply did not do anything.”

Not everyone was unaware of the dangers, however.

At a meeting in 2003, Richard C. Holbrooke, once the United States special envoy to the Balkans, warned Kosovar leaders not to work with the Saudi Joint Relief Committee for Kosovo, an umbrella organization of Saudi charities whose name still appears on many of the mosques built since the war, along with that of the former Saudi interior minister, Prince Naif bin Abdul-Aziz.

A year later, it was among several Saudi organizations that were shut down in Kosovo when it came under suspicion as a front for Al Qaeda. Another was Al-Haramain, which in 2004 was designated by the United States Treasury Department as having links to terrorism.

Yet even as some organizations were shut down, others kept working. Staff and equipment from Al-Haramain shifted to Al Waqf al Islami, moderate imams familiar with their activities said.

In recent years, Saudi Arabia appears to have reduced its aid to Kosovo. Kosovo Central Bank figures show grants from Saudi Arabia averaging €100,000 a year for the past five years.

It is now money from Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates — which each average approximately €1 million a year — that propagates the same hard-line version of Islam. The payments come from foundations or individuals, or sometimes from the Ministry of Zakat (Almsgiving) from the various governments, Kosovo’s investigators say.

But payments are often diverted through a second country to obscure their origin and destination, they said. One transfer of nearly €500,000 from a Saudi individual was frozen in 2014 since it was intended for a Kosovo teenager, according to the investigators and a State Department report.

Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations were still raising millions from “deep-pocket donors and charitable organizations” based in the gulf, the Treasury under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, David S. Cohen, said in a speech in 2014 at the Center for a New American Security.

While Saudi Arabia has made progress in stamping out funding for Al Qaeda, sympathetic donors in the kingdom were still funding other terrorist groups, he said.

Today the Islamic Community of Kosovo has been so influenced by the largess of Arab donors that it has seeded prominent positions with radical clerics, its critics say.

Ahmet Sadriu, a spokesman for Islamic Community of Kosovo, said the group held to Kosovo’s traditionally tolerant version of Islam. But calls are growing to overhaul an organization now seen as having been corrupted by outside forces and money.

Kosovo’s interior minister, Skender Hyseni, said he had recently reprimanded some of the senior religious officials.

“I told them they were doing a great disservice to their country,” he said in an interview. “Kosovo is by definition, by Constitution, a secular society. There has always been historically an unspoken interreligious tolerance among Albanians here, and we want to make sure that we keep it that way.”

 Albert Berisha, sentenced to prison for going to Syria to fight, says he did not join the Islamic State. Credit Andrew Testa for The New York Times

Families Divided

For some in Kosovo, it may already be too late.

Families have been torn apart. Some of Kosovo’s best and brightest have been caught up in the lure of jihad.

One of Kosovo’s top political science graduates, Albert Berisha, said he left in 2013 to help the Syrian people in the uprising against the government of President Bashar al-Assad. He abandoned his attempt after only two weeksand he says he never joined the Islamic State — but has been sentenced to three and a half years in prison, pending appeal.

Ismet Sakiqi, an official in the prime minister’s office and a veteran of the liberation struggle, was shaken to find his 22-year-old son, Visar, a law student, arrested on his way through Turkey to Syria with his fiancée. He now visits his son in the same Kosovo prison where he was detained under Serbian rule.

And in the hamlet of Busavate, in the wooded hills of eastern Kosovo, a widower, Shemsi Maliqi, struggles to explain how his family has been divided. One of his sons, Alejhim, 27, has taken his family to join the Islamic State in Syria.

It remains unclear how Alejhim became radicalized. He followed his grandfather, training as an imam in Gjilan, and served in the village mosque for six years. Then, two years ago, he asked his father to help him travel to Egypt to study.

Mr. Maliqi still clings to the hope that his son is studying in Egypt rather than fighting in Syria. But Kosovo’s counterterrorism police recently put out an international arrest warrant for Alejhim.

“Better that he comes back dead than alive,” Mr. Maliqi, a poor farmer, said. “I sent him to school, not to war. I sold my cow for him.”

Alejhim had married a woman from the nearby village of Vrbice who was so conservative that she was veiled up to her eyes and refused to shake hands with her brother-in-law.

The wife’s mother angrily refused to be interviewed. Her daughter did what was expected and followed her husband to Syria, she said.

Secretly, Alejhim drew three others — his sister; his best friend, who married his sister; and his wife’s sister — to follow him to Syria, too. The others have since returned, but remain radical and estranged from the family.

Alejhim’s uncle, Fehmi Maliqi, like the rest of the family, is dismayed. “It’s a catastrophe,” he said.


21-05-2016

By Carlota Gall

Source: The New York Times

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Donald Trump’s foreign policy adviser: Al-Qaeda destroyed the Serbian army in Kosovo



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Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump, published the list of his foreign policy advisers. One of them, claim the US media, is the worst choice possible.

The list of advisers is headed by Senator Jeff Sessions, and includes Keith Kellogg, Carter Page, George Papadopoulos, Walid Phares and Joseph E. Schmitz.

Phares is the former adviser to another presidential candidate, Mitt Romney.

Phares is described as a neo-conservative and “an academic who is involved in Christian militia wing of the civil war in Lebanon”.

US media deemed Phares as an inappropriate analyst of US foreign policy, while one of his statements that is being considered unfitting is regarding NATO’s bombing of Serbia and Kosovo.

“An all-out campaign by Al-Qaeda destroyed the Serbian Army in Kosovo and led to regime change in Serbia”.

In an analysis, published one year before Kosovo declared independence, Phares stated that “if that [independence] happens, then the same must also offered Bosnian Serbs.”


22-03-2016

Source: GazzetaExpress

Kosovo ISIL Ridvan Haqifi and Lavdrim Muhaxheri

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The World According to ISIS



ISIL 1

This article is excerpted from Fawaz A. Gerges’s forthcoming book, ISIS: A History.

Although the spectacular surge of ISIS must be contextualized within the social and political circumstances that exist in Iraq and Syria and beyond, the group’s worldview and ideology should be taken equally seriously. Ideology is, after all, the superglue that binds Salafi-jihadists known as revolutionary religious activists or global jihadists of the ISIS variety to each other. The Salafi-jihadist movement emerged from an alliance between ultraconservative Saudi Salafism (or Wahhabism) and revolutionary Egyptian Islamism which was inspired by the Egyptian master theorist, Sayyid Qutb. The Afghan war against Soviet occupation from 1980s onwards baptized Salafi-jihadists by blood and fire and lay the operational foundation of what subsequently came to be known as Al Qaeda. Ever since, a vibrant ideology has allowed the Salafi-jihadist movement to renew and revitalize itself after suffering crushing blows. A traveling and expanding ideology, Salafi-jihadism has evolved into a powerful social movement with a repertoire of ideas, iconic leaders, worldwide supporters, networks of recruiters and enablers, theorists, preachers who provide members with ideological and theological sustenance. It has taken hold of the imagination of small Sunni communities worldwide.

Regardless of what happens to ISIS—which is an extension of the global Salafi-jihadist movement which includes a litany of groups, like Al Qaeda central—this messianic ideology is here to stay and will likely gain more followers in politically and socially polarized Arab and Muslim societies. Despite a costly civil war unfolding between ISIS and Al Qaeda Central, particularly in Syria, Salafi-jihadists continue to expand their influence and attract new recruits. A fringe social movement during the second half of the 20th century, Salafi-jihadism now vies for public influence and offers an alternative for both mainstream and radical Islamists. It is a popular, enduring brand. A sense of triumphalism permeates the discourse and public pronouncements by Salafi-jihadist ideologues and propagandists who openly proselytize. They boast that the tide of history has shifted their way and that they are on the cusp of a historical breakthrough.

Researchers have tended to underestimate the power of the Salafi-jihadist ideology at their own peril. The challenge is to shine light on this growing ideology and make sense of it. Although ISIS is an extension of the global Salafi-jihadist movement, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS who anointed himself caliph in the summer of 2014, and his cohorts represent another wave, a post-Al Qaeda generation, of Salafi-jihadists. At present, ISIS—its ideology, as well as its state and security status—has successfully tapped into a fierce clash of identities between Sunni Muslims and Shia Muslims in the Middle East and beyond.    The US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003 caused a rupture in an already fractured Iraqi society. America’s destruction of Iraqi institutions, particularly its dismantling of the army and the Baathist ruling party, unleashed a fierce power struggle, mainly along sectarian lines, creating fissures in society. These growing ruptures provided the room necessary for non-state actors and armed insurgent militias, including Al Qaeda (AQI), to infiltrate the fragile body politic in post-2003 Iraq. In contrast to Al Qaeda Central whose key concern is the far enemy—that is, the US and its close European allies—AQI and its successor ISIS are a hyper-Sunni identity driven by an intrinsic and even genocidal anti-Shia ideology. ISIS’s lineage of Salafi-jihadism forms part of the ideological impetus; the other part of its ideological nature is an identity frame of politics. Despite the group’s insistence that it operates within a different value system from that promulgated by Western liberalism and the nation state system, its ideological rhetoric is anchored not in novelty but in identity politics whose main articulating pole is religious. Religion can act as a potent framework for social identity, especially in war environments where insecurity runs high and cultivates group loyalty by projecting itself as the truth and the right path to follow.

By providing a clear structure through strict sets of rules and beliefs and a worldview that encompasses life on earth and in the afterlife, ISIS presents individuals with the promise of an eternal group membership, which can prove particularly attractive for people prone to existential anxiety. Moreover, scholars point out that several factors feed into (Abrahamic) fundamentalist ideology, including dualism (absolute evaluations of good versus evil), authority (of a sacred book or leader), selectivity(choosing certain beliefs or practices over others), and millennialism (confidence in eschatology as God’s will). Of all factors, however, one facet is thought to be vital:“reactivity,”F[1] which takes the form of a hostility toward secular modernity that is directed not only toward people outside of the fundamentalists’ religious in-group but also toward members of their own religious group who are not viewed as “true believers.”

In this light, ISIS’s development of a pure and absolutist ideology can be seen as part of a strategy to feed its members’ fundamentalism by emphasizing their exclusivity while projecting a universalist vision. For example, the widespread use of suicide bombers by Salafi-jihadist groups such as ISIS constitutes a recent modus operandi in Islam rather than a return to the roots. Few Muslim communities appear to be currently entangled in a war of subjectivities that stems from a series of ruptures that started with the Enlightenment and that takes the form of an Islamic-Islamic civil war over the Muslim identity itself.[2]  Meanwhile, many Arabs are also involved in an interpretative dispute about their being-in-the-world in which both the Arab world and the world at large are questioned and contested. According to an Arab philosopher, Fathi al Makdisi, the current rise of Salafi-jihadism and terrorism represented by ISIS is the result of not only creeping sectarianism or a crisis of the modern state, but also a growing nihilism that signals the collapse of progressive values and tolerance in its conception of humanity.[3]

Nevertheless, far from being sui generis, genealogically and ideologically ISIS belongs to the Salafi-jihadist family, although it marks another stage in the evolution or, rather, mutation of the ideological gene pool. Over the past half century, the Salafi-jihadist movement has developed a repertoire of ideas, a frame of reference, theorists, thousands of followers, and “martyrs” who provide inspiration for new volunteers and who ensure the durability of the brand. ISIS has been able to draw from this repertoire, re-articulating old concepts and presenting them as new or revolutionary. Its rhetoric makes use of religious ideology to articulate identity politics. Indeed, religion has for some time been the glue that maintains the coherence, if not the unity, of various factions and divisions, and the rationale for vicious and flamboyant violence. Salafi-jihadists from various orientations, including ISIS, always cite verses from Qur’anic scripture to portray their offensive jihad as blessed.

The world according to ISIS is frozen in time and space, incorporating the rules and laws of seventh-century Arabia into the twenty-first century. Its leader, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi and his associates depict themselves as battling the “antichrist” and paving the way for the ultimate triumph of the “Mahdi” and Islam (in Arabic, the Mahdi means “the Guided One,” the central crowning element of all Islamic end-time narratives, or an expected spiritual and temporal ruler destined to establish a reign of righteousness throughout the world). This millenarian thinking is at the heart of ISIS’s caliphate ideology and the global jihadist movement in general. The problem is not to know whether ISIS is Islamic—of course it is, though Muslims worldwide disavow it and distance themselves from its actions—but rather to understand how this organization borrows heavily but selectively from the Islamic canon and imposes the past on the present wholesale. Baghdadi and his propagandists overlook centuries of Islamic interpretations and counterinterpretations and rely on a narrow, strict, and obsolete textualist reading of the Islamic doctrine, a move that is very controversial and deeply contested by the religious community and al-Islam al-Sha’bi (lived Islam). There is no swell of public support for ISIS in Muslim societies, including the areas in Syria and Iraq under its control and hardly any important preacher or a cleric has lent his voice to Baghdadi’s Caliphate. Despite its sound and fury, ISIS remains a fringe phenomenon that is too extreme for mainstream Muslim opinion but sounds like a sweet melody to the ears of its social base. This base continues to replenish the ranks of ISIS and similar organizations with willing combatants and suicide bombers. Time and again politicians and observers have penned the obituary of the global jihadist movement only to be shocked by its resilience and capacity for self-renewal. Ideology is a significant factor in this process of regeneration, and it confers legitimacy on ISIS’s actions.

Under ISIS, there is no breathing space for social mobilization and political organization, including by like-minded Salafi-jihadist activism. ISIS possesses a totalitarian, millenarian worldview that eschews political pluralism, competition, and diversity of thought. Baghdadi and his associates criminalize and excommunicate free thought, and the idea that there should exist a legitimate other—be it a Muslim of differing ideological disposition or a non-Muslim—is alien to their messianic ideology. Any Muslim or co-jihadist who does not accept ISIS’s interpretation of the Islamic doctrine is an apostate who deserves death. In the same vein, any Muslim or co-jihadist who refuses to submit to the will of the new caliphate faces either expulsion from the land or death. One here needs to recall the words uttered by ISIS’s chief propagandist and official spokesman, Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, following the establishment of the Islamic State. In a communiqué, Adnani, whose real name is Taha Sobhi Falaha, demanded that all jihadist factions everywhere pledge allegiance to the new caliph, Baghdadi, as the legality of all emirates, groups, states, and organizations was now null and void. In his own words, “The land now submits to his order and authority from Aleppo to Diyala.”[4]Adnani made it clear that there is only one Islamic state and one caliphate, with no room for dissent: “Indeed, it is the state. Indeed, it is the khilafah [caliphate]. It is time for you to end this abhorrent partisanship, dispersion, and division, for this condition is not from the religion of Allah at all. And if you forsake the State or wage war against it, you will not harm it. You will harm yourselves.”[5] He also warned that all Muslims must obey the commander of the faithful, including former and current aspirants to the title, and ordered his fighters to “split the head” and “strike the neck” of anyone who breaks the ranks and does not submit to the will of the new caliphate.[6]

In ISIS’s worldview, then, the caliphate is not just a political entity but also a collective religious obligation (wajib kifa’i), a means to salvation: Muslims have sinned since they abandoned the obligation of the caliphate, and, ever since, the umma has not tasted “honor” or “triumph.” ISIS’s repeated message to Muslims is that they must pledge allegiance to a valid caliph, Baghdadi, and honor that oath and live a fully Islamic life.

Politics and Tactics

Behind the romantic idea of the caliphate, however, lies identity politics, as the core of ISIS’s ideological framework is the affirmation of its “Sunni Islamic” identity and its redefinition of true Islam. Adnani’s orders might have given the illusion that the establishment of the Islamic State entails a real rupture from the present state system, but, just like under Saddam Hussein, under ISIS, the Islamic State in Iraq is headed by an absolute leader who tolerates no dissent. In fact, ISIS’s conception of sovereignty does not break away from the autocratic mode of governance that has plagued Arab countries for decades: for example, both Hussein in Iraq and the Assads in Syria have used identity politics as a pillar for their policies—albeit an ethnic rather than a religious version.

ISIS has used its messianic ideology to brutally suppress both Islamists and nationalists (Baathists) in areas under its domination. Its raison d’être is to convert everyone to its cause, including rival jihadists who share a similar vision. For example, in a severe rebuttal, Adnani harshly criticized Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of Al Qaeda Central and the most senior living jihadist, for daring to side with the chief of Jabhat al-Nusra, Abu Mohammed al-Joulani, against Baghdadi in the power struggle for Syria. ISIS’s chief spokesman bluntly reminded Zawahiri that should he make it to the territories of the Islamic State, he would have to swear baiya (fealty) to Baghdadi and serve as one of his footsoldiers. As Baghdadi pledged allegiance to Zawahiri in 2010, this open attack represents the ultimate insult.[7]

ISIS’s hard-line stance has caused much havoc within the global jihadist movement, even leading to a split between ISIS and al-Nusra, which was originally constituted on Baghdadi’s orders. A key cause of the rift between the two organizations was that Joulani rejected an order by Baghdadi in April 2013 to annex his front to ISIS. Baghdadi considered Joulani’s snub treacherous and ever since has waged all-out war against al-Nusra and its Islamist and nationalist Syrian allies. The intra-jihadist confrontation in Syria has killed thousands of skilled fighters from both camps and has seen atrocities committed by each side, including wholesale rape, beheadings, and crucifixions. The war within the jihadist tribe is as savage as the war with outsiders. Islamic State followers and those of Al Qaeda Central excommunicate one another and marshal religious discourse to show that they are the real jihadist vanguard, while their rivals are pretenders. In Syria ISIS could not coexist with al-Nusra or any other Islamist group because that would have challenged its monopoly on the scared and on the global jihadist project as well. In addition to mastering the art of making enemies of all regional and global powers, ISIS eliminates conventional politics altogether and aspires to organize society along puritanical lines of seventh-century Arabia, a worldview that imposes the distant past on the present.

It is no wonder, then, that ISIS engages in cultural cleansing, purifying the Islamic lands of all alien and infidel influences, including traditional Sunni practices that clash with its fundamentalist and timeless interpretation of the Islamic doctrine. The idea of purifying the Islamic lands is deeply ingrained in the imagination of radical religious activists, but ISIS is the first social movement to attempt to operationalize this ideology. As Islamic State militants swept across Syria and Iraq, they destroyed, damaged, and/or looted numerous cultural sites and sculptures, condemning them as idolatry. Celebrating their cultural cleansing in spectacular propaganda displays, Islamic State fighters show by deeds, not words, their intent to purify the lands and resurrect the caliphate. While ISIS’s propaganda is abhorrent to the outside world, it is greedily devoured by its social base. Its slickly produced recruitment films about cultural cleansing not only reinforce its strategic message of triumph and expansion but also divert attention from battlefield setbacks.3[8]

 A Pure Caliphate

For an authentic Islamic state to be erected, the Sunni militants of ISIS feel that the Islamic lands must be cleansed of apostasy and heretics, regardless of the human or civilizational costs. In fact, ISIS’s fighters are keen on displaying an ideological zeal and purity in an effort to outbid their Islamist rivals like Jabhat al-Nusra, the official arm of Al Qaeda Central. For example, in an attempt to cleanse Sunni society of other cultural influences, ISIS has sought to dismantle the diverse social fabric made up of Sunnis, Shias, Kurds, Yazidis, and Christians that has developed and persevered since the ancient civilization of Mesopotamia, today’s Iraq. Broadly, their wrath is directed at minorities whom they view as infidels without human rights. A case that illustrates ISIS’s ideology of ethnic cleansing is its extraordinary punishment of the Yazidis, a tiny religious minority, representing less than 1.5 percent of Iraq’s estimated population of thirty-four million, whom ISIS considers heretics. After the capture of Mosul and its outlying towns in summer 2014, including Sinjar, near the Syrian border, home to tens of thousands of Yazidis, ISIS engaged in systemic cultural cleansing, forcing hundreds of thousands of minorities from their homes and using sexual violence as a weapon by indiscriminately raping Yazidi girls and women. ISIS viciously attacked the Yazidis, killing men and boys of fighting age and abducting a total of 5,270 Yazidi girls and women (at least 3,144 of whom are still being held at the time of writing), who were subsequently forced into sexual slavery, according to human rights organizations, United Nations figures, and community leaders. To handle the modern sex trade, ISIS has set up a Department of “War Spoils” and a detailed bureaucracy of sex slavery, including sales contracts notarized by its Islamic courts, according to a cache of documents seized by US Special Operations Forces in a May 2015 raid in Syria that killed top ISIS financial official Aby Sayyaf.[9]And systemic rape has become an established and increasingly powerful recruiting tool for ISIS to lure men from deeply conservative Muslim societies, where casual sex is taboo and dating is forbidden.[10]

According to the Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and investigative reports by the media, ISIS has destroyed hundreds of Yazidi women’s lives.4[11] Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International’s senior crisis response adviser, spoke to forty Yazidi women who had managed to escape from ISIS captivity, and said that what ISIS had done to them amounted to war crimes. “Hundreds of Yezidi women and girls have had their lives shattered by the horrors of sexual violence and sexual slavery in IS captivity,” she said.[12] Zainab Bangura, a UN envoy investigating sexual violence in the conflict, has confirmed that an ISIS pamphlet that gives prices for the purchase of women is real and that “the girls get peddled like barrels of petrol.” Bangura notes that prices for boys and girls aged one to nine are about $165. Adolescent girls cost about $124, and it’s less for women over twenty. “They have a machinery, they have a program,” she told Bloomberg News. “They have a manual on how you treat these women.”[13]According to ISIS’s ideology, Yazidis are seen as polytheists and, worse, devil worshipers, and they are not even entitled to be treated like “People of the Book,” Christians and Jews, who can atone for their sins by paying a tax known as jizya to be set free. In contrast, ISIS either kills or coverts Yazidis by force and enslaves their women, a punishment sanctioned, they say, by their experts of Islamic jurisprudence.

ISIS’s involvement in the sex trade and its enslavement of girls and women from the tiny Yazidi religious community are driven not only by power and male (patriarchal) domination but also by ideological zealousness. Baghdadi and his shura council (cabinet) want to distinguish themselves from Islamist rivals by attempting to revive traditions, rituals, and practices that have been dormant for over a thousand years in Muslim history. They have falsely made emulation of the Prophet Mohammed a strict duty, a tool to display their religious purity and authenticity.[14]For example, citing selective sayings of the Prophet, a booklet entitled “From Creator’s Rulings on Capturing Prisoners and Enslavement,” calls for both kindness and cruelty to captives by ISIS. Enslaved women should not be separated from their children, the booklet says, but the rules allow the group’s combatants to have sex with female slaves[15]ISIS has also publicly boasted about its enslavement of Yazidi women in their magazine called Dabiq and in their propaganda videos. ISIS has justified its actions on religious grounds by juxtaposing the distant past with the present and selectively citing verses from the scripture or the Sunna (the traditions based on the sayings and deeds of the Prophet Mohammed) to justify their sex slavery. In an October 2014 article titled “The Revival of Slavery before the Hour,” the group argues that the Yazidi women “could be enslaved unlike female apostates [the Shia], who the majority of the fuqahā’ [experts in Islamic jurisprudence] say cannot be enslaved and can only be given an ultimatum to repent or face the sword. . . . After capture, the Yazidi women and children were then divided according to the Sharī’ah [Islamic law] amongst the fighters of the Islamic State who participated in the Sinjar operations, after one fifth of the slaves were transferred to the Islamic State’s authority to be divided as khums [the one-fifth of booty or spoils that goes to the state].”[16]

Christians do not fare much better. After capturing Mosul and other cities in Iraq and Syria, ISIS presented Christians in both countries with a stark choice: convert to Islam, pay a special tax (jizya), or get out immediately and be disinherited from everything you own. Recent evidence shows that despite paying the special tax, Christian girls and women have been victims of ISIS’s practice of systemic rape. In light of this ultimatum, the ISIS surge has triggered another wave of exodus by Christians, an exodus that began in earnest when its forerunner, Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, also commonly known as Al Qaeda in Iraq, forced 1 million of Iraq’s surviving 1.5 million Christians to flee the country between 2003 and 2010. There is a real danger that Baghdadi could finish the job of his predecessor, Zarqawi, who was killed in 2006 by the United States—a job that would entail ridding Iraq of its ancient Assyrian community, nearly two thousand years old.

ISIL International

Moreover, ISIS’s totalitarian religious ideology also openly targets Muslims. Trying to distinguish themselves theologically from like-minded Islamist radicals, including Al Qaeda Central, Baghdadi and his cohorts are intensely takfiri44F—that is, followers of the takfiri doctrine, which calls for excommunication of a person or a group of kuffar (infidels) or non-Muslims. ISIS considers Shia Muslims to be apostates, sanctioning the shedding of their blood as well as that of Sunnis who oppose their vision. While it can be argued that Arab authoritarian rulers such as President Bashar al-Assad and former Iraqi prime minister Nuri al-Maliki have not done enough to protect the region’s minorities against ISIS, these sectarian-based regimes created fertile conditions that allowed Salafi-jihadist groups like ISIS to build a popular base of support among Sunnis and surge. Indeed, ISIS is the main beneficiary of the divisive and destructive policies of the central governments of Iraq and Syria and the breakdown of state institutions in the Arab arena in general. From the beginning Baghdadi and his cohorts depicted themselves as the sole defenders of excluded and aggrieved Sunni communities against Shia-dominated regimes, first in Baghdad and then in Damascus.

As discussed at the beginning, ISIS is a near-enemy revolutionary movement, focusing on the Arab-Islamic world, not a far-enemy organization targeting the Western powers, even though it has recently devoted more resources to carrying out attacks against the far enemy, including Russia, Europe, North America, and Southeast Asia. It is an ideational, hyper-Sunni movement that harbors a genocidal ideology against the Shia, which means that roughly 120 Shias are marked for death. After it burst out of its original home in Iraq, ISIS expanded to Syria in 2012, with grand ambitions to spread to neighboring countries. In his second address to the world in November 2014, Baghdadi confirmed that his imperial ambitions were not limited to Iraq and Syria but also included Libya, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Yemen, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, and beyond.[17]

Theorist Enablers of ISIS

Although ISIS does not have its own reputed scholars or theorists, it has mined Salafi-jihadists’ repertoire of ideas and selectively borrowed whatever fits its unique worldview. At times, the organization has even been accused of falsely appropriating the works of extremist Salafi theorists. For example, a prominent Salafi-jihadist scholar, Abu Mohammed al-Maqdisi, lashed out angrily against Baghdadi’s cohorts for stealing his writings considered to be foundational by Salafi-jihadist and claiming them as their own. Maqdisi, however, is not a major inspiration for ISIS, as the group is nourished on a bloodier and deadlier diet. Baghdadi and his inner circle rely particularly on three Salafi-jihadist manifestos to rationalize and justify what they do.[18]The most well-known of the three is The Management of Savagery. Circulated in PDF format under the pseudonym Abu Bakr al-Najji in the early 2000s, the manifesto provides a strategic roadmap of how to create an Islamic caliphate that differs dramatically from similar efforts by Salafi-jihadists in earlier decades. The second book is Introduction to the Jurisprudence of Jihad by Abu Abdullah al-Muhajjer, which calls on Salafi-jihadists to do whatever it takes to establish a purely unified Islamic state. The final book is The Essentials of Making Ready [for Jihad] by Sayyid Imam al-Sharif, aka Abdel-Qader Ibn Abdel-Aziz or Dr. Fadl. This massive work focuses on the theological and practical meanings of jihad in Islam, and it has become a central text in jihadi training. Dr. Fadl admitted that he wrote the book in 1987–1988 in order for it to be a manual for training camps of what subsequently became known as Al Qaeda.47F[19]

While Najji’s identity remains unconfirmed, both Muhajjer and Dr. Fadlwere close associates of Zawahiri. Muhajjer is an Egyptian national who fought in Afghanistan alongside Osama bin Laden and Zawahiri. After graduating from the Islamic University in Islamabad and teaching at jihadist camps in Kabul, Muhajjer mentored fighters at Zarqawi’s camp in Herat, and he was seriously considered as a candidate for the scientific and scholarly committee of Al Qaeda Central.[20] After the collapse of the Taliban rule in 2001, he escaped to Iran and was held by the authorities there until his release to Egypt just after the January 25, 2011, revolution. Dr. Fadl was an early associate of Zawahiri. The two first met in the late 1960s in Cairo, where they both attended Cairo University’s medical school. In the early 1980s their paths crossed again in Pakistan-Afghanistan, where they worked together to rebuild Egyptian Islamic Jihad, a Salafi-jihadist group. After September 11, 2001, Dr. Fadl and Zawahiri parted ways, engaging in a public feud over ideology and the future direction of the global jihadist movement. While serving a life sentence in an Egyptian prison, Dr. Fadl subsequently disowned his ideas and called for the demilitarization and deradicalization of the Salafi-jihadist camp. But despite Dr. Fadl’s subsequent revisions and repudiation of his extremist ideas, his book has taken a life of its own, a bible for many Salafi-jihadist. The story and journey of the three theorists show the enduring intellectual impact of the pioneers or the first generation of Salafi-jihadists on the movement as a whole. As a traveling ideology, Salafi-jihadism is nourished on ideas that can be tailored to fit the predilections and whims of every wave, providing nourishment and motivation to new coverts and adherents.

The three manifestos represent the most extreme thinking within the movement and the degeneration of the Salafi-jihadist ideology into Fiqh al-Damaa (the jurisprudence of blood). Although most analysts focus mainly on The Management of Savagery, the other two manifestos are as important in providing intellectual and ideological motivation and inspiration for Baghdadi and his ideologues. Despite differences, there are common conceptual threads among the three manifestos that offer theoretical guidance for ISIS’s actions. First, the three books call for all-out war and advocate performing offensive (jihad) as opposed to only defensive jihad in order to bleed the kuffar (infidels) or the enemies of Islam, thus creating chaos and fear. At the heart of this rationalization lies the belief that Salafi-jihadists must rid themselves of the illusion that the establishment of an Islamic state is possible through gradual electoral means or the political process. The authors poke fun of fellow Islamists who call for a reformist approach, arguing that it is impossible to build the institutions of an Islamic state under a system of apostasy. Second, although this total war should target both the “near enemy” (Muslim rulers) and the “far enemy” (the US and its close European allies), they prioritize the fight against tyrannical Muslim rulers who do not apply shariah (Qur’anic law). Finally, all three manifestos call on the movement’s planners and lieutenants to kill with impunity, to observe no limits and follow in the footsteps of the Prophet’s companions, who, in their opinion, brutally punished dissenters and rivals. They cite selective cases of early Islamic history to prove their claim that excessive violence produces the desired effect: submission. According to their logic, viciousness is the secret to success and victory, while softheartedness is a recipe for failure and defeat. They also argue that the ends—reclaiming Islam’s golden age and establishing the Islamic state—justify the means—viciousness and savagery.

Total War = Total Victory

Although all three Salafi-jihadist theorists advocate offensive jihad rather than defensive jihad, Najji explicitly makes the case for all-out war. According to Najji, in the past Salafi-jihadists lacked a strategic blueprint and carried out isolated acts of violence with no comprehensive “military strategy” or master plan. He harshly criticizes fellow Islamists for squandering precious time and effort on “preaching” jihad rather than doing jihad.[21]Instead, Najji offers an expansive plan with three stages in which violence would be escalated qualitatively and strategically rather than in ad hoc and random way. In the first stage, al-Nikayawal-Tamkeen (vexation and empowerment), the will of the enemy must be broken by carrying out attacks against vital economic and strategic targets such as oil facilities and the tourism infrastructure. As security forces would rush in and mobilize resources to protect these sensitive targets, the state would be weakened and its powers would wither away, a condition conducive to “savagery and chaos.” Salafi-jihadists would then take advantage of this security vacuum, notes Najji, by launching an all-out battle on the thinly dispersed security forces.[22] Once the rulers are overthrown, a second phase would commence, Idrarat al-Tawhush (the administration or management of savagery), and the third and final stage, Shawkat al-Tamkeen (empowerment), would see the establishment of the Islamic state. This Islamic state, Najji explains, should be ruled by a single leader who would then unify diffuse and scattered groups and regions of “savagery” in a caliphate.[23] According to Najji, this third stage employs a mixture of persuasion and coercion to win hearts and minds and gain legitimacy and recognition forthe Islamic rule.

Although Najji does not directly acknowledge the influence of Sayyid Qutb, the master theorist of contemporary revolutionary Islamism, he borrows some of his terminology and Islamist references, such as al-Qilla al-Mumtaza (the vanguard) and Zulm al-Jahiliyya (the darkness of ignorance of divine guidance).[24] However, he explicitly professes inspiration from an influential fourteenth-century radical Islamic scholar and theologian called Ibn Taymiyya, whose fatwas (religious edicts) on jihad have provided motivation for multiple waves of Salafi-jihadists, including ISIS. Unsurprisingly, Najji emphasizes the significance of the media and propaganda as an ideological tool to mobilize and recruit the Muslim masses to the side of Salafi-jihadists during the first and second stages of the long war, and then to control them and pacify them during the final stage under a centralized Islamic rule.

In The Management of Savagery, Najji’s sole preoccupation is with the near enemy, secular and renegade Muslim rulers. He lists a few countries as a potentially fertile ground, mainly Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, North Africa, Nigeria, and Pakistan. However, Najji qualifies his shopping list by saying that it is temporary and that it would be more effective to apply his master plan to two or three countries before targeting the other cases.[25] Similarly, in The Essentials of Making Ready [for Jihad], Dr. Fadl contends that although jihad should target both the far enemy and the near enemy, the latter should take precedence. According to Dr. Fadl, the near enemy is those “infidel rulers” who “apply infidel laws and infidel democracy.”[26] He argues that attacking these rulers, whom he called Murtadeen (apostates), should even take priority over the other “jihad against Jews,” because they “are closer to us and they have abandoned and renounced Islamic beliefs.”55F[27] He depicts these Muslim rulers as more dangerous than kuffar—Christians and Jews.[28] Like Najji and Muhajjer, Dr. Fadl draws on Ibn Taymiyya’s fatwas to justify war against the near enemy, claiming that jihad against “apostate leaders” is Fard Ayn (an obligation) of every Muslim who has reached the age of fifteen.[29]Citing Ibn Taymiyya and being inspired by Qutb without naming him, he expands the list of apostates to “include anyone who rules by positivist [secular] laws.”[30] During this phase of jihad, Muslims should “display animosity and hatred towards those living infidels,” and “disavow their infidel principles such as communism and democracy,” and “isolate themselves even by migration from the infidels’ land.”[31]Dr. Fadleven argues that jihad against the enemy in its homeland should take place “at least once a year,” although he cites other Muslim scholars who argued that “there are no time limits to this Jihad.”6[32] The Muslim umma, he notes, must prioritize this offensive jihad, and both its internal and external policies, including agriculture, industry, commerce, and housing, must be geared to support this sacred mission.[33] He warns Muslims that anyone who avoids “jihad for the sake of God” would “betray Allah, his prophet and the religion itself.”[34]The key goal, notes Dr. Fadl, is to create Hakimiyya (the rule of God) on earth; this would occur “when Muslims defeat their enemies and apply Islam’s rules in the conquered lands.” [35] The concept of the vanguard is essential to the success of Dr. Fadl’s jihadist project, and he first and foremost calls on Salafi-jihadists to “form a Jama’a Muslima [Muslim group]” whose task is to recruit others to join the mission described in the manual.[36] The significance of Dr. Fadl’s manual is that it provides doctrinal justification in the fight against the near enemy, which ISIS prioritizes over that against the far enemy.[37]

Prioritizing the fight against the far enemy, Muhajjer calls on Salafi-jihadists to launch war on kuffar. In Introduction to the Jurisprudence of Jihad, he opposes the consensus among jurisprudents over the centuries and asserts that “killing kuffar and fighting them in their homeland is a necessity even if they do not harm Muslims.”[38]Muhajjer does not distinguish between “civilians” and “combatants” among non-Muslims because he bluntly confesses that the main reason for “killing them and confiscating their property” is the fact that “they are not Muslims.”[39] Moreover, the writer who earned the pseudonym Faqih al-Damaa (jurisprudent of blood) expanded the definition of Dar al-Kuffr (land of apostasy) to include countries inhabited by a majority of Muslims; these states do not apply shariah or Islamic law and thus are legitimate targets for attacks by Salafi-jihadists.[40]

Savagery as a Means to an End

Whether they prioritize the fight against the near enemy, as Najji does, or insist that attention should be paid to both the near enemy and the far enemy, as Dr. Fadl and Muhajjer (to a lesser extent) do, all three authors argue that the existing system of Kufr (apostasy) must be overthrown, incinerated, regardless of the inherent cost or sacrifice. In fact, the authors’ key argument is that Salafi-jihadists must hasten social and institutional disintegration of the state system and induce mayhem and be prepared to manage this cataclysm. The goal is to kill and terrorize not for the sake of killing or terrorism but for a higher moral purpose: cultural cleansing and the imposition of God’s laws on kuffar. For example, in The Management of Savagery, Najji points out that “the worst chaotic condition is by far preferable to stability under the system of apostasy”,[41]thus turning the received wisdom of the mainstream religious establishment on its head. He depicts Salafi-jihadists as the vanguard best equipped to trigger an apocalypse or an end to apostasy, an end to the world as we know it, and a religious rebirth. “We must drag all the people to battle and bring the temple down on the heads of everyone,” Najji states. Even “if the whole umma perishes, they would all be martyrs,” he adds, justifying the death of millions of Muslims as for a worthy cause.[42]

As to their favorite methods of violence, it seems that the authors have a preference for beheading and burning, which they see as effective in instilling fear and deterring others from resisting. Such vicious methods, they insist, can also be used to attack economic targets, particularly petroleum. Requiring sacrifice and pain, this confrontation must use shock-and-awe tactics to overwhelm the enemy, make him “think one thousand times before attacking us . . . and keep him on the defensive and off balance.”[43]Najji advocates attacking the population and infrastructure in order to terrorize the enemy and maximize levels of savagery.[44]

In a similar vein, Muhajjer advocates the use of gruesome methods such as beheading, a favorite tactic of his. In Introduction to the Jurisprudence of Jihad, he devotes a whole chapter to beheading, arguing that it would “convey a gory picture” by “strengthening the hearts of Muslims and terrorizing the apostates” by deterring them.[45]Muhajjer even provides theological justification for grotesque forms of punishment such as transporting and displaying the heads of those non-Muslims killed in battle from one country to another in order to boost the deterrence power of Salafi-jihadists.[46] He dedicates another chapter to suicide bombings, claiming that killing oneself is theologically legal because it is designed to boost religion. Going beyond Najji’s guidelines, Muhajjer advises Salafi-jihadists to obtain weapons of mass destruction, which he sees as a “necessity” in this total war.[47] Although he says that weapons of mass destruction must only be used in defense against an invasion by kuffar, he qualifies this by insisting on other measures of punishment if that would benefit Muslims.[48]

There is a sober, realist, cold-bloodedness to the guidelines offered by Najji, Muhajjer, and Dr. Fadl, a businesslike attitude that belies the dark, sinister, and vile ideological message. Their point of departure is that the Islamic State can only be nourished on “blood” and erected on “skeletons and human remains”; the whole society must be transformed into a war society prepared to wage a prolonged battle that will produce historical leaders. Although these leaders, caution the authors, will sustain deep wounds and suffer great personal losses, they are necessary to build a jihadist generation, a Qur’anic generation baptized by blood and fire.[49] Theirs is an existential fight between faith and Kufr, Islam and apostasy, and only total war against enemies near and far will bring about the Islamist utopia.

Totalitarian Religious Ideology: A Doubled-edged Sword

Much like it was for Al Qaeda before it, the world according to ISIS is characterized by a perpetual war against real and imagined enemies. Society is in constant mobilization, on a permanent war footing, to fend off enemies who lurk everywhere and hatch conspiracies against the Islamic State. According to this worldview, stability can only be attained when enemies are either subjugated or forced to recognize the group’s sacred mandate. This totalitarian and absolutist ideology is a doubled-edged sword that while, on the one hand, cemented the ties that bind among ISIS combatants and followers; it has blinded ISIS to the complex realities of governance at home and international relations abroad, on the other. There are credible reports of public restiveness in the areas under ISIS’s control in Syria and Iraq and even defection by some of its fighters. Residents also report that ISIS is experiencing serious financial hardship and is squeezing the local population in order to extract resources and conscript young men. Hundreds of leaked ISIS documents show that since the start of October 2015, the group has taken a number of measures, including military mobilization, fearing traitors in their midst. Becoming increasing paranoid, ISIS issued an amnesty for military deserters because it presumably needs more soldiers.[50]

Ideological fanaticism has also led the group to monstrously miscalculate by mastering the art of making enemies and turning the entire world against it. Although ISIS has done impressively on the battlefield so far, its political and strategic miscalculations and shortsightedness do not bode well for the group in the long term. With ISIS, there are no blurred lines or gray areas, only followers and enemies: you either pledge allegiance to Baghdadi and his ideology or are labeled an enemy who could be killed. There is no neutral stance between good and evil; passivity is seen as apostasy. This binary black-and-white worldview pitted the organization against most of humanity, including the godfathers of Salafi-jihadist thought and neutral states like Turkey. Turkey is a prime example of the effects of ISIS’s strategy of waging war on the entire world and turning neutral regional countries and potential friends into enemies. Of all regional powers, Turkey was the least hostile toward ISIS and could have encouraged the organization to demonstrate restraint and diplomatic awareness. At the end of 2015, ISIS allegedly carried out deadly attacks against foreign targets, including a Russian jet, and urban centers in Beirut and Paris, killing and injuring hundreds of civilians. These massive operations galvanized the great powers, particularly France and Russia, to coordinate and redouble their efforts to defeat ISIS. Instead of making an effort at diplomatic engagement that could have increased their claims of statehood, Baghdadi and his inner circle have united the world against them.

In a way, ISIS has rejected the structure of the state system and is attempting to offer an alternative revolutionary model based on Islamic identity, not state sovereignty. ISIS’s conduct seems suicidal, however. There is a disconnect between ISIS’s limited military capabilities and the long list of regional and global powers pitted against the group, including the two most powerful militaries in the international system—those of the Americans, the Russians, and the Europeans. With too many enemies and shrinking resources, it is doubtful if ISIS could sustain its stranglehold on the major cities that it controls in a prolonged fight over several years. A more plausible scenario is that, as military pressure intensifies against ISIS in the near future, its core middle and senior leaders might melt into urban areas and wage a terrorist campaign along similar lines to that of Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) between 2007 and 2011. The “Islamic State” would mutate into its original type, an underground, paramilitary Salafi-jihadist organization. As explained previously, ISIS’s success so far has mainly depended on the group’s ability to exploit the deep communal divide in the region and the fragility of the state structures in Syria and Iraq as well as contradictions within the US-led coalition and the lack of effective local forces on the ground. More importantly, Baghdadi’s armed apparatus and “state” require a constant resupply of men of fighting age, arms, ammunition, and money, all of which have become scarce. Although foreign recruits continue to travel to Syria to join ISIS, albeit at a much reduced rate, there are credible reports of fighters who are disillusioned and defecting from the organization. The flow of jihadists to Syria has also dried up due to the Americans and the Turks working closely together by the end of 2015 to close down Turkey’s five-hundred-mile-long border with Syria, a border that until very recently provided a lifeline to ISIS.[51] Fundamentally, in the coming future, it may prove to be a significant challenge for ISIS to keep its overextended armada oiled and stocked within an increasingly hostile regional and international environment.

With many enemies and very few friends, Baghdadi and his armed contingents stand naked and alone in the eye of a gathering storm, much weaker than ISIS’s propagandists would like us to believe. The Islamic State is built on shaky foundations, and the foolishness and recklessness of its planners aggravate its predicament. Baghdadi and his inner circle are their own worst enemies. While it is essential not to underestimate ISIS’s military strength, its ideological fervor, and the asabiya (social solidarity) of its hard-core operators, it is also important not to buy into the group’s narrative of itself as invincible, undefeatable, and expandable. In comparative historical terms, ISIS is more like the Taliban in Afghanistan than the great revolutionary movements such as the Bolshevik Revolution and the Chinese Communist Revolution. The notion of ISIS’s invincibility is a myth. Supported by the US-led coalition airstrikes, the Kurds in Syria and Iraq have bloodied the nose of Baghdadi and his cohorts, delivering ISIS a hard blow. The Iraqi security forces backed by Sunni and Shia allies and US airpower have recaptured major cities and towns from ISIS in 2015, including Tikrit, Baiji, Sinjar, and Ramadi. Supported by coalition planes, the American-backed anti-ISIS alliance of Syrian Kurds and Arab rebel groups, known as the Democratic Forces of Syria, made important gains against the group in the latter half of 2015, threatening to cut off its last direct access to the Turkish border and hampering its ability to attract foreign recruits. In addition, the introduction of Russian airstrikes on ISIS targets in Syria in 2015 has allowed the Syrian army to regain territories from the group, though most of the Russian attacks focused on other rebels opposed to the Assad regime. And after the Paris attacks in November 2015, the French, together with other European powers, have become more active in the fight against ISIS, providing logistical and military assistance to local forces in Iraq and Syria.

A few days before the Iraqi security forces expelled ISIS from the center of Ramadi in December 2015, Baghdadi released an audio tape, his first public message in seven months, in which he conceded that his group faces a dangerous moment, calling on his soldiers to be patient and steadfast. Trying to shore up the morale of his followers in a rare public message, his first in seven months, Baghdadi said that “Crusaders and Jews” did not dare to fight on his turf and portrayed the military setbacks as a trial by Allah to test the faith of his men. “Be confident that God will grant victory to those who worship him, and hear the good news that our state is doing well. The more intense the war against it, the purer it becomes and the tougher it gets,” he preached.[52] Baghdadi’s unusual acknowledgment of hardship and tribulation is not only related to recent military setbacks in Iraq and Syria but also to dissention within the group’s own ranks. The lesson is that ISIS can be defeated militarily if resisted by determined and organized local communities; whether this is an achievable goal in marginalized Sunni-majority areas in Iraq and Syria is another matter.

In the meantime, the organization will endure as long as the factors and circumstances that have fueled its rise remain in place in Iraq and Syria and beyond. While the fragility of the state structures in Iraq and Syria is the key cause of ISIS’s swift and spectacular surge, regional and global rivalries sustain and prolong its existence. As long as these conditions and cleavages exist, it is going to be difficult to defeat ISIS and dislodge it from Iraq and Syria.

Notes

[1] R. Ysseldyk, M. Kimberly, Matheson, and H. Anisman, “Religiosity as Identity: Toward an Understanding of Religion from a Social Identity Perspective,” Personality and Social Psychology Review 14, no. 1 (2010): 60–71.

[2]Fethi Benslama, La guerre des subjectivities en Islam (Paris: Nouvelles Editions Lignes, 2014).

[3]See the interview of Fathi al Makdisi: “The Modernity Promised by the Nation State Is No Longer Sufficient—There Is a Need for a New Affiliation,” al-Quds al-Arabi, August 22, 2015 [in Arabic],www.alquds.co.uk/?p=391704&print=1#comments_controls.

[4]See link to an audio message by Abu Mohammed al-Adnani,“Hazizahu Allah” (This is the promise of Allah) June 29, 2014, http://jihadology.net/2014/06/29/al-furqan-media-presents-a-new-audio-message-from-the-islamic-states-shaykh-abu-muḥammad-al-adnani-al-shami-this-is-the-promise-of-god/.

[5]Ibid.

[6]Ibid.

[7]See link to a voice recording by Abu Mohammed al-Adnani,“Apologies, Leader of al-Qaeda,” declaring the revocation of the pledge of allegiance to Al Qaeda and calling on it to reject the pledge of allegiance by Joulani:www.youtube.com/watch?v=CAB(posted on September 17, 2014).

[8]Anne Barnard and Hwaida Saad, “ISIS Fighters Seize Control of Syrian City of Palmyra, and Ancient Ruins,” New York Times, May 20, 2015. See also Anne Barnard, “ISIS Conquest of Palmyra Expands Militants’ Hold on Syria,” New York Times, May 21, 2015.

[9] Jonathan Landay, Warren Strobel, and Phil Stewart, “Exclusive: Seized documents reveal Islamic State’s Department of `War Spoils`,” Reuters, December 28, 2015]

[10]Rukmini Callimachi, “ISIS Enshrines a Theology of Rape,” New York Times, August 13, 2015; see also Judit Neurink, “The ISIS Leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi Viewed Women Held Captive at a Syrian House as His Private Property, and Raped a Number of Them, Including the US Hostage Kayla Mueller,” Independent, August 14, 2015.

[11]Amnesty International, Escape from Hell: Torture and Sexual Slavery in Islamic State Captivity in Iraq(London: Amnesty International, 2014),www.amnesty.org.uk/sites/default/files/escape_from_hell_-_torture_and_sexual_slavery_in_islamic_state_captivity_in_iraq_-_english_2.pdf; Rothna Begum and Samer Muscati, “Interview: These Yezidi Girls Escaped ISIS. Now What?,” Human Rights Watch, April 15, 2015; Samer Muscati, “Raped by ISIS and Trying to Face the Future,” Human Rights Watch, April 14, 2015.

[12]Amnesty International, Escape from Hell.

[13] The “price list” was first leaked by activists based in ISIS-controlled areas of Syria in November 2014, but it was unable to be verified and its authenticity was initially brought into question. Cormac Fitzgerald, “ISIS Executes 19 Female Prisoners for Refusing to Practice ‘Sexual Jihad’—Kurdish Official,” Irish Independent, August 6, 2015.

[14]Fiker Center for Studies, “The Islamic State Organization: Drivers and Ideology” [in Arabic],www.fikercenter.com/, summarized in AlSouria.net, July 18 and 22, 2015.

[15] Jonathan Landay, Warren Strobel, and Phil Stewart, “Exclusive: Seized documents reveal Islamic State’s Department of `War Spoils`,” Reuters, December 28, 2015].

[16]ISIS, “The Revival of Slavery before the Hour,”Dabiq, no. 4, October 2014.

[17]For Baghdadi’s audio statement in November 2014, seehttps://pietervanostaeyen.wordpress.com/2014/11/14/audio-message-by-abu-bakr-al-baghdadi-even-if-the-disbelievers-despise-such/.

[18]Abu Bakr al-Najji, Idaraat al-Tawahush: Akhtar MarhalaaSatamur Beha al-Umma [Management of savagery: The most critical stage through which the Islamic nation will pass] (n.p.: Markaz al-DerasaatwalBuhuth al-Islamiyaa, n.d.), https://pietervanostaeyen.files.wordpress.com/2015/02/idarat_al-tawahhush_-_abu_bakr_naji.pdf; Abu Abdullah al-Muhajjer, Masael fi Fiqh al-Jihad [An introduction to the jurisprudence of jihad], https://archive.org/details/msael-mn; and Abdel-Qade Ibn Abdel-Aziz [Dr. Fadl], Al-’Umda fi I’dad al-’Udda[The essentials of making ready (for jihad)],www.m5zn.com/newuploads/2015/02/18/pdf/4f2fb076fd7d595.pdf.

[19]Abdel-Aziz, The Essentials of Making Ready, 5.

[20]Ibid. Moatez al-Khatib, “Daesh’s Intellectual Origins: From Jurisprudence to Reality,” January 2015, http://studies.aljazeera.net/en/dossiers/decipheringdaeshoriginsimpactandfuture/2014/12/2014123981882756.htm#a20.

[21]Najji, Management of Savagery, 83.

[22]Ibid., 20.

[23]Ibid., 50.

[24]Ibid., 75, 77.

[25]Ibid., 15.

[26]Abdel-Aziz, The Essentials of Making Ready, 340.

[27]Ibid., 342.

[28]Ibid., 313.

[29]Ibid., 30, 344. Fard Ayn (an individual duty) is an act that is obligatory for Muslims individually. Each will be rewarded for performing it, or punished for failing to perform it. The five daily prayers, for which Muslims are individually responsible, is one example of this duty.

[30]Ibid., 315.

[31]Ibid., 293–295.

[32]Ibid., 303.

[33]Ibid., 304.

[34]Ibid., 345.

[35]Ibid., 30.

[36]Ibid., 5.

[37]Fawaz Gerges, The Far Enemy: Why Jihad Went Global, 2nd ed. (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 14.

[38]Muhajjer, An Introduction to the Jurisprudence of Jihad,25.

[39]Ibid., 32.

[40]Ibid., 18.

[41]See Najji, Management of Savagery, 4.

[42]Ibid., 76.

[43]Ibid., 32.

[44] Ibid.

[45]Muhajjer, An Introduction to the Jurisprudence of Jihad, 270, 288.

[46]Ibid., 282.

[47]Ibid., 187–188.

[48]Ibid., 469.

[49]Najji, Management of Savagery, 76–79.

[50] Shiv Malik, “The Isis papers: Leaked documents show how Isis building its state,” Guardian, December 7, 2015.

[51] Martin Williams, “Dozens of Fighters Are Defecting from the Islamic State. Here’s Why,” Washington Post, September 21, 2015; Schmitt and Sengupta, “Thousands Enter Syria.” See also J. Diamond, “Congressional Report: U.S. Has ‘Failed’ to Stop Flow of Foreign Fighters to ISIS,” CNN.com, September 30, 2015, http://edition.cnn.com/2015/09/29/politics/foreign-fighters-isis-congressional-task-force-report/index.html; Erin Cunningham, “The Flow of Jihadists into Syria Dries Up as Turkey Cracks Down on the Border,” Washington Post, August 1, 2015; David Brunnstrom, “U.S., Turkey Working to Finish Shutting Northern Syria Border: Kerry,” Reuters, November 17, 2015.

[52]Baghdadi, “The Khilafa Publications.”See also Ensor, “Islamic State leader Baghdadi Goads West.”

18-03-2016

About the author:

Fawaz A. Gerges is Professor of International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and holder of the Emirates Professorship in Contemporary Middle East Studies. He was also the inaugural Director of the LSE Middle East Centre from 2010 until 2013. Gerges’ most recent books are: Contentious Politics in the Middle East: Popular Resistance and Marginalised Activism beyond the Arab Uprisings; The New Middle East: Protest and Revolution in the Arab World; and Obama and the Middle East: The End of America’s Moment? On the ten-year anniversary of 9/11, Oxford University Press released Gerges’ book, The Rise and Fall of Al Qaeda.

Source: Foreign Policy Journal

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“Islamic State: The Digital Caliphate” (A book review)



ISIL Army

The Islamic State has presented to the global community a new extent of cruelty and barbarity with enormous and dangerous destabilizing impacts on regional as well as global levels. This jihadist group is associated with beheadings, the burgeoning of sexual slavery, crucifixions, the annihilation of Christian and Yazidi groups. Its strong reliance on online propaganda and focus on digital technology add power and strength to this organization. Given ISIS’s militant capabilities, limitless brutality, pervasive ideological foundation, and territorial outreach (online and ground), this group is an imminent threat to peace and stability not only within the Middle East, but for every member of the world community. Abdel Bari Atwan’s volume seeks to explain ISIS’s success in terms of its approach to social media.

9780520289284This book is a good resource for students, enthusiastic readers, policy makers, academic and professional circles. Being a widely known journalist, Abdel Bari Atwan relies on his informants as a source of information for this book. Conducting numerous interviews and online personal correspondence not only provide insight on the problem but make this study unique.

Abdel Bari Atwan’s book offers answers to the following crucial questions: What is the nature of this jihadi organization? How is its propaganda machine functioning? What are the central principals of the ISIS online strategy? What are its purposes and how does the Islamic State fulfill them using the Internet? What are the reasons behind propagandist campaigns? How are the Islamic States different from their ancestors?   The study presents a big picture of the ISIS phenomenon in a way that has never previously been captured.

Chapter 1 depicts ISIS’s online appearance and strategy. Considering this group as the most dangerous result of Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri heritage, the author stresses that   the presence of ISIS in cyberspace and the exploitation of digital communication technologies are behind its successful territorial expansion, worldwide recruitment, and mobilization. Many Islamist groups from the remote areas of our planet, have announced their allegiance to the Islamic State through the internet by posting video messages on popular social networks. Moreover, this overwhelming reliance on the Internet allows ISIS militants to diminish the effectiveness of intelligence services as well as oppositional jihadist groups. Abdel Bari Atwan underlines an interesting paradox between the use of modern technologies and ISIS’s ideological agenda. This jihadist group merges its idea of the return to ancient mores as a society foundation and the use of the most sophisticated theologies to advance this Middle Age societal model. To create and entrench the attractive image of the Islamic State, its cyber teams produce and channel the unstoppable and consistent “stream of information”. A principle of informational consistence is crucial, even in terms of the usage of particular notions such as kufrs (deniers), crusaders, etc.

Chapters 2 through 6 of the work examine the main stages of ISIS’s establishment as an organizational entity and the ideological polarization within the jihadist movement. With the deepening of the ideological disagreement, the influx of radical members to ISIS increased. The upsurge of ISIS’s popularity is directly connected to Baghdadi’s personality, his inherent “boldness, defiance, steadfastness, and reputation as a clever battlefield strategist”. Abdel Bari Atwan explains its first military success by the utterly savage and barbaric content of its online campaign which was full of images and footage of scenes of beheadings, executions, suicide missions, etc. This propaganda had pervasive psychological effects on people and forces that might question ISIS’s power, allowing its militants onward march to take over many territories without resistance.

Chapters 7 and 8 describe the administrative apparatus that governs ISIS held territories. Based on IS informational sources, the author explains the caliphate’s inner institutional system and policymaking mechanisms. The apparatus allows ISIS’s leadership not only to control and manage new territories, including big cities, but to expand its geographical boundaries. Sustainable governance is provided by a wide net of police units, sharia courts, municipal services, gas supplies, and public health and educational facilities. In the eyes of local residents, this strong grip over the previous corrupt and ineffective government looks very promising. As a result, the Islamic State receives considerable public support from the local population.

Chapter 9 examines the main features of ISIS’s recruitment strategy through the phenomenon of foreign fighters (males and females). Drawing om conducted interviews with foreign militants, the author concludes that motivations for traveling to ISIS held areas range “from mundane explanations, speaking of “ordinary life” being “boring” to wanting to fight “like in video games.” Many volunteers, in particular who take entire families, are attracted by economic perspectives and the promise of high wages.   For females, one of the main forces to join ISIS, is Islamophobia, because of the visibility of traditional Muslim garb. Despite the fact that every international conflict raises the fears of foreign fighters, the problem of returning fighters cannot be underestimated. The unique nature of the Islamic State and its ideological appeal makes returning fighters very dangerous for their home states. Abdel Bari Atwan projects more coordinated bombing attacks in the Western countries.

Chapters 10 and 11 explore the role of the United States, Britain, and Saudi Arabia for the burgeoning of the Islamic State. Through a historical perspective, the author evaluates American and Great Britain’s poorly calculated manipulations on the international stage, which ended up with substantial support and resulted in the arming of different regional militant groups.

Finally, the author does an admirable job in clarifying many crucial issues about ISIS’s origin, evolution, and structural hierarchy. However, little attention is given to academic or governmental informational sources. The book falls short on the promise made in the title “Digital Caliphate”: there is no in-depth analysis of ISIS propaganda content and its regional ramifications, online radicalization and methods of online crowdsourcing.


By Julia Sweet

Source: Modern Diplomacy

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Kosovo is not Serbia’s Kurdistan, but Balkan’s IS/Daesh



Bagra Kosova

In the article “Kurdistan – Turkey’s Kosovo” Prof. Sotirović compared different aspects of Turkish Kurdistan case to the Kosovo one, found some parallels and pointed out Turkey’s hypocrisy.

While Prof. Sotirović is right in his assessment that Turkey is hypocritical to say at least, he failed to expose the fundamental differences between Kurdistan and Kosovo. His article contains some inaccuracies, misinterpretations and lacks in detail. Such an imprecise comparison may lead a reader who is not familiar with Balkans to acquire a false impression. A reader might come to conclusion that Kosovo Albanians had experienced the same level of suffering and injustice as did the Kurds which later led them to rebellion. That would seriously mislead the readers.

To substantiate this view let’s point out few errors in the article in question.

Status of the minority

 Stubborn reluctance of any kind of the Turkish government to recognize the Kurdish separate existence as the ethnic group of its own specific language and culture…

The Turkish rejection to recognize a minority status of the Kurds with granting a national-cultural or political autonomous status for Turkey’s Kurdistan…

Ankara’s discrimination and oppressive anti-Kurdish policy led finally to the establishment of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (the PKK) in 1978 for the sake to fight for unrecognized the Kurdish minority rights

Albanians were in a completely opposite situation. Its ethnic minority in Yugoslavia was recognized. Their language was recognized too. Albanians did have their ethnic state, Albania, while Kurds never enjoyed such privilege. Besides, Albanian minority had their own unique ethnic university in Kosovo since 1969 (no Western “democracies” have ever allowed its minorities to establish universities).

In 1974, to appease endless Albanian minority irredentism and their sporadic violence, the Yugoslav government carved out a part of historic Serbian land of Kosovo as Albanian autonomous province (this act can be compared to Khrushchev’s selfish donation of Crimea to Ukraine in 1954).

Nevertheless, Albanians, inspired by anti-Yugoslav circles in the West, renewed disorders in 1981 demanding federalization. Please take note that 1981 was long before strongman Milosevic appeared. In fact, Milosevic rose to power in 1989 promising people that he would put an end to Albanian violence in Kosovo.

So if we compare humiliated Kurds in Turkey and privileged Albanians prior to their insurgency in 1981, we must say the two cases are fundamentally different.

The bellicose component

… the KLA [Kosovo Liberation Army] – a typical terrorist organization as a replica of the PKK, the IRA, the ETA or the Hezbollah.

This is implicitly wrong. KLA is a paramilitary wing of deeply-rooted Albanian mafia (for better understanding of the history, nature and cultural background of Albanian mafia please read very insightful Jana Arsovska’s article “Gender-based subordination and trafficking of women in ethnic Albanian context. The upward revaluation of the Kanun morality” [Journal of Moving Communities, vol.6, No.1, May 2006]).

This new brand name, Kosovo Liberation Army, was coined for mere propaganda purposes. The intent was to give a false impression to the western audience that the US-backed project was actually a fight for someone’s freedom, which, if true, would be a legitimate cause. KLA (read Albanian mafia) was armed, trained, and injected into Yugoslavia by CIA. They still keep supporting it up-to-date in its citadel of Kosovo.

By contrast, the name of Kurdish Workers Party reflects the Marxist ideology of their leader. The name does not appear to have been fashioned to appeal to tastes of Western mainstream media propaganda consumers.

Number of victims

For the matter of comparison, during the Kosovo crisis in 1998−1999 both the West and the US saw the terror acts carried out only by Serbia’s government…

If we compare tens of thousands of obliterated and hundreds of thousands expelled Kurdish civilians in Turkey from 1978-present with the “terror acts carried out by Serbia’s government”, the picture will not be that impressive:

“One year later, the International War Crimes Tribunal, a body in effect set up by NATO, announced that the final count of bodies found in Kosovo’s “mass graves” was 2,788. This included combatants on both sides, Serbs and Roma murdered by the Albanian KLA as well…” (John Pilger, Reminders of Kosovo)

In addition, can any of the following terror-related facts justify the struggle for self-determination?

“Indeed, even as Blair the war leader was on a triumphant tour of “liberated” Kosovo, the KLA was ethnically cleansing more than 200,000 Serbs and Roma from the province. Last February the “international community”, led by the US, recognized Kosovo, which has no formal economy and is run, in effect, by criminal gangs that traffic in drugs, contraband and women. But it has one valuable asset: the US military base Camp Bondsteel, described by the Council of Europe’s human rights commissioner as “a smaller version of Guantanamo” (John Pilger, Don’t Forget Yugoslavia)

For the matters of accuracy, we should also remark that the state in 1999 was Yugoslavia, and not Serbia.

Guests on the land

… [Kurds are] the oldest population in Turkey living in Anatolia almost 3.000 years before the first (Seljuk) Turks came there at the end of the 11th century.

Opposite is the case of Kosovo Albanians. According to a Turkish census made in Kosovo in 1455 (!), there were 13,000 Serb households and only 46 Albanian there.

Since Kovoso Albanians obtained factual “independence” in 1999, they are busy desecrating, detonating and turning into rubble the unique medieval Serbian churches and monasteries throughout Kosovo. Only four of many Serbian monasteries in Kosovo are included in the UNESCO World Heritage list, but they are still endangered despite kind of protection from the international peacekeeping forces. Hundreds of other Serbian cultural sites there are subject to total elimination due to barbaric Albanian “self-determination”. In this sense Kosovo should be compared not to Kurdistan, but Daesh/ISIS.


By Elena BEKIC (Serbia)

Source: http://orientalreview.org/2016/03/28/kosovo-is-not-serbias-kurdistan-but-balkans-isdaesh/comment-page-1/#comment-2637755

kosovo demolishes serbian monasteries map   Map of Serbian churches and monasteries in Kosovo, demolished by Albanians as on March 2004.

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Syrian rebels get arms from Kosovo and Bosnia



14690988398_9c1fbe4172_b_Islamic-State

The DEBKA website, close to Israeli military intelligence, knows well all the behind the curtain details of regional politics. A few days ago it reported about basically new turns of the way the events unfold in Syria. According to Israelis, (1) the Syrian extremists received a load of heavy weapons for the first time since the war started. The senders are the groups from Kosovo and the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina linked to Al Qaeda. The package includes Kornet and Fagot anti-tank systems delivered by the Soviet Union to former Yugoslavia in the past. The weapons ended up in the hands of extremists as a result of well-known bloody events. As to Israeli intelligence sources, the heavy weapons have been delivered from the Balkans to Syria by sea with the help of Albanian mafia, which is dry behind ears in such operations… Xenia Svetlova, a Russian Middle East expert, thinks the smuggled arms flow through the border between Turkey and Syria, no matter the Friends of Syria officially shy away from direct arms supplies to the rebels. (2)

This is the first time the Syrian anti-government forces got a substantial load of heavy arms getting around the control of Western and Arab special agencies (the foreign intelligence agencies have simply overlooked the delivery). The major part of weapons is sent to Jabhat al-Nusra, an Al Qaeda linked Islamist group.

Having received arms, the Jabhat al-Nusra armed groups risked an intervention to Lebanon and engaged Hezbollah in the Shiite stronghold of Bekaa valley trying to do away with an ally of Bashar Assad. They have become strong enough to launch offensives in some areas inside Syria. The combat actions go along with intensive terrorist activities, for instance, another bloody act took place in the heart of Damascus near the Baath headquarters, not far from the Russian embassy. It resulted in the death of dozens civilians, including many children from a neighboring school. According to the United Nations, at least 70 thousand people have lost their lives in Syria as a result of the confrontation between the government forces and the rebels. Two mortar shells exploded at the Tishreen stadium in Damascus when the athletes were training. As to SANA, a player form the Watbah football team was killed; his two fellow players were wounded.

The Middle East events could not have passed the Muslim part of the Balkans. The arms supplies to Syria are not an exception. After the guns silenced there, the radical movements and Islamist organizations started to conduct their activities under cover, but today it is coming to light. The reason is the extremists had felt comfortable in Europe till they started to be refused entry and citizenship by many countries of the continent making them go to other places. (3) In the past Al Qaeda supported the Kosovo and Bosnian brothers in faith with experienced personnel and arms. Now it wants the debts to be paid back. Al Qaeda emissaries have no intent to curb their activities in the Balkans. 

While war raged in Bosnia and Herzegovina, around two thousand militants from Arab countries went there to join the fray. Some of them had direct links to Osama bin Laden. After the war ended as a result of Dayton accords, many of them remained in the country and became the citizens. The Saudi Arabia funded King Fahd mosque in Sarajevo that is believed to be the headquarters of the Wahhabi militants. Off and on terrorist acts committed by Islamists take place in the Republic. For instance, 23-year-old Mevlid Jasarevic, came from Serbia, the southern region of Sandzak, to shoot his rifle at the US embassy building in Sarajevo. He heavily wounded a policeman. A bomb went off at the police precinct station in Bugojno, one constable died, six wounded. It was done by a local Wahhabi militant.

 Of course, the West is well aware of such activities. A NATO report devoted to Islamist threats in Europe mentions a Bosnia and Herzegovina based group called Active Islamic Youth – AIY. The Bosnian mujahedeen instruct the group members on terror, explosives handling techniques, for instance.

At the beginning of this February local Albanian radicals declared the establishment of the “Islamic Movement to Unite” or LISBA, which is considered in the West as the first really fundamentalist party in the Balkans. The party is registered and is preparing for Kosovo parliamentary elections. LISBA has a public leader, Arsim Krasniqi, though Fuad Ramiqi is widely reported to be its controlling figure. He is known to be is associated through the fundamentalist European Muslim Network, led by the Islamist media celebrity Tariq Ramadan, with the Qatar-based hate preacher Yusuf Al-Qaradawi. He has ties with the more moderate Party for Democratic Action or SDA in Bosnia-Herzegovina and similar organizations in Macedonia. Ramiqi protested against a legal ban on girls wearing headscarves (hijab) in Kosovo public schools. (4)

This is just the top of the iceberg. The radicalization of population in Kosovo is boosted by total unemployment and spreading criminality. The self-proclaimed Kosovo independence supported by the West gave little to common people, it’s no surprise they are vulnerable to Islamist propaganda. Some Kosovars are linked to arms smuggling, they act as instructors on its use in Syria enriching their own combat experience. Drug flows are already flooding Europe. In future it may be added by the re-export of war skills to defend the European Muslims rights.

The policy of the West in Syria is myopic. It goes on losing control over the events in this country. In fact it gives refuge to terrorists and faces the prospect of raging terror spilling over to Europe. Hotbeds of Islamic extremism that appeared with the connivance of the West in the former Yugoslavia are sparked again under the influence of Middle East events. Europe appears to be threatened by a big fire…

(1) http://www.debka.com/article/22773/Syrian-Islamists-meet-Hizballah-head-on-–-take-in-arms-from-Bosnia-Kosovo
(2) http://www.zman.com/news/2013/02/06/144636.html
(3) http://www.iimes.ru/?p=15671
(4) http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/kosovo-radical-islamists-new-political-offensive_701196.html

 23-02-2013

By Dmitry Minin

Source: Strategic Culture Foundation

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Kosovo secession linked to NATO expansion



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The U.S. calls it “Operation Status.” The United Nations calls it “The Ahtisaari Plan.” It is the U.S./NATO “independence” project for Kosovo, which has been a province of Serbia since the 14th century. With NATO’s 17,000 troops backing it, Kosovo’s government is set to secede on Feb. 6, declaring itself a separate country.

Kosovo’s president is Hashim Thaci, who was the leader of the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK for its Albanian initials), which U.S. diplomat Robert Gelbard called “terrorist” in 1998, just before the U.S. started funding the UCK to use it against Yugoslavia. Thaci, whose UCK code name was “Snake,” and his UCK cronies are well funded by drug running and the European sex trade.

In a series of wars and coercive diplomacy in the 1990s, the U.S. government and the European NATO powers backed the secession of four republics of Yugoslavia, a sovereign socialist state. It took another 78 days of NATO bombing in 1999, aggression that President Bill Clinton described as “humanitarian,” and a coup financed by the National Endowment for Democracy and other imperialist agencies in 2000, to install a pro-western regime in Serbia that was open to Western intervention and privatization.

State resources were privatized. The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was almost totally dismantled politically and economically.

But the U.S. then moved to break up the rest of Yugoslavia. Through lies and raw military power, the U.S. supported a pro-imperialist group of gangsters—the UCK—in the war against Yugoslavia, and this gang then took over Kosovo.

Then the U.S. supported UCK moves to detach Kosovo, where the U.S. had built the massive military base “Bondsteel.” Washington and its NATO allies allowed this criminal element to drive over 200,000 Serbs, Roma people and other minorities out of Kosovo, and terrorize the impoverished Albanian population.

Wealth and poverty in Kosovo

Kosovo is sitting on fifteen billion tons of brown coal. Its mines contain 20 billion tons of lead and zinc and fifteen billion tons of nickel. EU and U.S. corporations are going to buy Kosovo as soon as its status is settled as “independent.” (Inter Press Service Italy, Jan. 15, 2008)

But in Stari Trg, the most profitable state-owned mine in former Yugoslavia, inactive since 1999, rich with lead, zinc, cadmium, gold and silver, unemployment is above 95 percent. With unemployment high, wages will be low, and profits fabulous.

In Kosovo half of the population doesn’t get enough to eat. Unemployment hovers near 60 percent (IHT Jan. 28). Kosovo Albanians in the U.S. or Europe send home 450 million euros in remittances each year, half of Kosovo’s entire budget. “I don’t know how we would survive without this,” said economist Ibrahim Rexhepi. (Deutche Welle, Jan 27).

An Albanian living in New York told Workers World recently that he knows many families in Kosovo and Albania that have had to sell their daughters to get the remittances from their work in the sex trade. “Unemployment is so high that most people are poor, and many bought into the Ponzi scheme in 1997 that robbed most Albanians at home and in Kosovo of their entire life savings.”

The U.N. Charter forbids the forced breakup of nations, and U.N. Security Council resolution 1244 guarantees the territorial integrity of Serbia. Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that Kosovo independence “is fraught with serious damage for the whole system of international law, negative consequences for the Balkans and the whole world and for the stability in other regions.” (Interfax, Jan. 25)

The U.S. and its NATO partners are ignoring legalities. But they have to pay attention to the possibility of Serbia making energy deals with Russia. The two countries agreed to build a large gas storage facility in Serbia, while Russia’s state-controlled oil concern Gazprom signed an agreement granting Gazprom control of 51 percent of Serbia’s state-owned oil-refining monopoly NIS. The Russians have commenced work on the South Stream gas pipeline through Serbia to supply southern Europe.

The U.S. and the EU have been working feverishly on the rival Nabucco pipeline to cut European dependence on Russian energy (Reuters, Jan 25).

Kosovo and NATO growth

The Kosovo crisis has prompted leading Serbian presidential candidate Tomislav Nikolic, of the Radical Party, to suggest the creation of a Russian military base in his country. (Itar-Tass, Jan. 25).

Why is Kosovo so crucial to NATO expansion?

The creation of Kosovo as an “independent” state would be a precedent for other schemes U.S. imperialism could take advantage of to break away areas of other sovereign nations, including China and Russia, applying the old “divide and conquer” strategy perfected by British imperialism.

The Russian and Chinese governments both have spoken out against the Ahtisaari plan.

Russia’s foreign minister Sergy Lavrov said NATO’s buildup in Eastern Europe and the ex-Soviet republics are “a process of territorial encroachment similar to what Napoleon and Hitler failed to achieve by cruder means.” (Voice of Russia, June 28, 2007)

The planned NATO/U.S. plot to make Kosovo independent is a continuation of NATO military expansionism to ensure U.S. economic control in Eastern Europe. NATO is the military arm of international capital on five continents. Popular opposition is rising in Serbia, Russia, Georgia, Armenia, the Czech Republic, Poland, the Ukraine, Afghanistan and Africa.

But anywhere NATO tries to go, resistance grows. The secession of Kosovo may still blowback to haunt the imperialists.


January 30th, 2008

By Heather Cottin

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Libya: Is this Kosovo all over again?



ISIL Army

Another NATO Intervention?

Less than a dozen years after NATO bombed Yugoslavia into pieces, detaching the province of Kosovo from Serbia, there are signs that the military alliance is gearing up for another victorious little “humanitarian war”, this time against Libya. The differences are, of course, enormous. But let’s look at some of the disturbing similarities.

A demonized leader

As “the new Hitler”, the man you love to hate and need to destroy, Slobodan Milosevic was a neophyte in 1999 compared to Muammar Qaddafi today. The media had less than a decade to turn Milosevic into a monster, whereas with Qaddafi, they’ve been at it for several decades. And Qaddafi is more exotic, speaking less English and coming before the public in outfits that could have been created by John Galliano (another recently outed monster). ;This exotic aspect arouses the ancestral mockery and contempt for lesser cultures with which the West was won, Africa was colonized and the Summer Palace in Beijing was ravaged by Western soldiers fighting to make the world safe for opium addiction.

The “we must do something” chorus

As with Kosovo, the crisis in Libya is perceived by the hawks as an opportunity to assert power. The unspeakable John Yoo, the legal advisor who coached the Bush II administration in the advantages of torturing prisoners, has used the Wall Street Journal to advise the Obama administration to ignore the U.N Charter and leap into the Libyan fray. “By putting aside the U.N.’s antiquated rules, the United States can save lives, improve global welfare, and serve its own national interests at the same time,” Yoo proclaimed. And another leading theorist of humanitarian imperialism, Geoffrey Robertson, has told The Independent that, despite appearances, violating international law is lawful.

The specter of “crimes against humanity” and “genocide” is evoked to justify war

As with Kosovo, an internal conflict between a government and armed rebels is being cast as a “humanitarian crisis” in which one side only, the government, is assumed to be “criminal”. This a priori criminalization is expressed by calling on an international judicial body to examine crimes which are assumed to have been committed, or to be about to be committed. In his Op Ed piece, Geoffrey Robertson made it crystal clear how the International Criminal Court is being used to set the stage for eventual military intervention. The ICC can be used by the West to get around the risk of a Security Council veto for military action, he explained.

“In the case of Libya , the council has at least set an important precedent by unanimously endorsing a reference to the International Criminal Court. […] So what happens if the unarrested Libyan indictees aggravate their crimes – eg by stringing up or shooting in cold blood their opponents, potential witnesses, civilians, journalists or prisoners of war?” [Note that so far there are no “indictees” and no proof of “crimes” that they supposedly may “aggravate” in various imaginary ways.) But Robertson is eager to find a way for NATO “to pick up the gauntlet” if the Security Council decides to do nothing.]

“The defects in the Security Council require the acknowledgement of a limited right, without its mandate, for an alliance like NATO to use force to stop the commission of crimes against humanity. That right arises once the council has identified a situation as a threat to world peace (and it has so identified Libya, by referring it unanimously to the ICC prosecutor).”

Thus referring a country to the ICC prosecutor can be a pretext for waging war against that country! By the way, the ICC jurisdiction is supposed to apply to States that have ratified the treaty establishing it, which, as I understand, is not the case of Libya – or of the United States. A big difference, however, is that the United States has been able to persuade, bully or bribe countless signatory States to accept agreements that they will never under any circumstances try to refer any American offenders to the ICC. That is a privilege denied Qaddafi.

Robertson, a member of the UN justice council, concludes that: “The duty to stop the mass murder of innocents, as best we can if they request our help, has crystallized to make the use of force by Nato not merely ‘legitimate’ but lawful.”

Leftist idiocy

Twelve years ago, most of the European left supported “the Kosovo war” that set NATO on the endless path it now pursues in Afghanistan. Having learned nothing, many seem ready for a repeat performance. A coalition of parties calling itself the European Left has issued a statement “strongly condemning the repression perpetrated by the criminal regime of Colonel Qaddafi” and urging the European Union “to condemn the use of force and to act promptly to protect the people that are peacefully demonstrating and struggling for their freedom.” Inasmuch as the opposition to Qaddafi is not merely “peacefully demonstrating”, but in part has taken up arms, this comes down to condemning the use of force by some and not by others – but it is unlikely that the politicians who drafted this statement even realize what they are saying.

The narrow vision of the left is illustrated by the statement in a Trotskyist paper that: “Of all the crimes of Qaddafi, the one that is without doubt the most grave and least known is his complicity with the EU migration policy…” ; For the far left, Qaddafi’s biggest sin is cooperating with the West, just as the West is to be condemned for cooperating with Qaddafi. This is a left that ends up, out of sheer confusion, as cheerleader for war.

Refugees

The mass of refugees fleeing Kosovo as NATO began its bombing campaign was used to justify that bombing, without independent investigation into the varied causes of that temporary exodus – a main cause probably being the bombing itself. Today, from the way media report on the large number of refugees leaving Libya since the troubles began, the public could get the impression that they are fleeing persecution by Qaddafi. As is frequently the case, media focuses on the superficial image without seeking explanations. A bit of reflection may fill the information gap. It is hardly likely that Qaddafi is chasing away the foreign workers that his regime brought to Libya to carry out important infrastructure projects. Rather it is fairly clear that some of the “democratic” rebels have attacked the foreign workers out of pure xenophobia. Qaddafi’s openness to Africans in particular is resented by a certain number of Arabs. But not too much should be said about this, since they are now our “good guys”. This is a bit the way Albanian attacks on Roma in Kosovo were overlooked or excused by NATO occupiers on the grounds that “the Roma had collaborated with the Serbs”.

Osama bin Laden

Another resemblance between former Yugoslavia and Libya is that the United States (and its NATO allies) once again end up on the same side as their old friend from Afghan Mujahidin days, Osama bin Laden. Osama bin Laden was a discreet ally of the Islamist party of Alija Izetbegovic during the Bosnia civil war, a fact that has been studiously overlooked by the NATO powers. Of course, Western media have largely dismissed Qaddafi’s current claim that he is fighting against bin Laden as the ravings of a madman. However, the combat between Qaddafi and bin Laden is very real and predates the September 11, 2001 attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. Indeed, Qaddafi was the first to try to alert Interpol to bin Laden, but got no cooperation from the United States. In November 2007, the French news agency AFP reported that the leaders of the “Fighting Islamic Group” in Libya announced they were joining Al Qaeda. Like the Mujahidin who fought in Bosnia, that Libyan Islamist Group was formed in 1995 by veterans of the U.S.-sponsored fight against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s. Their declared aim was to overthrow Qaddafi in order to establish a radical Islamist state. The base of radical Islam has always been in the Eastern part of Libya where the current revolt broke out. Since that revolt does not at all resemble the peaceful mass demonstrations that overthrew dictators in Tunisia and Egypt, but has a visible component of armed militants, it can reasonably be assumed that the Islamists are taking part in the rebellion.

Refusal of negotiations

In 1999, the United States was eager to use the Kosovo crisis to give NATO’s new “out of area” mission its baptism of fire. The charade of peace talks at Rambouillet was scuttled by US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who sidelined more moderate Kosovo Albanian leaders in favor of Hashim Thaci, the young leader of the “Kosovo Liberation Army”, a network notoriously linked to criminal activities. The Albanian rebels in Kosovo were a mixed bag, but as frequently happens, the US reached in and drew the worst out of that bag.

In Libya, the situation could be even worse

My own impression, partly as a result of visiting Tripoli four years ago, is that the current rebellion is a much more mixed bag, with serious potential internal contradictions. Unlike Egypt, Libya is not a populous historic state with thousands of years of history, a strong sense of national identity and a long political culture. Half a century ago, it was one of the poorest countries in the world, and still has not fully emerged from its clan structure. Qaddafi, in his own eccentric way, has been a modernizing factor, using oil revenues to raise the standard of living to one of the highest on the African continent. ;The opposition to him comes, paradoxically, both from reactionary traditional Islamists on the one hand, who consider him a heretic for his relatively progressive views, and Westernized beneficiaries of modernization on the other hand, who are embarrassed by the Qaddafi image and want still more modernization. And there are other tensions that may lead to civil war and even a breakup of the country along geographic lines.

So far, the dogs of war are sniffing around for more bloodshed than has actually occurred. Indeed, the US escalated the Kosovo conflict in order to “have to intervene”, and the same risks happening now with regard to Libya, where Western ignorance of what they would be doing is even greater.

The Chavez proposal for neutral mediation to avert catastrophe is the way of wisdom. But in NATOland, the very notion of solving problems by peaceful mediation rather than by force seems to have evaporated.


2011-03-08

About the author:

Diana Johnstone is the author of Fools Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO and Western Delusions. She can be reached at diana.josto@yahoo.fr

Original source of the article: http://www.nspm.rs/nspm-in-english/libya-is-this-kosovo-all-over-again.html

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Kosovo and Ukraine: Compare and contrast



Bagra Kosova

There have been at least two countries in Europe in recent history that undertook ‘anti-terrorist’ military operations against ‘separatists’, but got two very different reactions from the Western elite.

Photo: BBC Radio 4 Today ‏@BBCr4today / Twitter

Photo: BBC Radio 4 Today ‏@BBCr4today / Twitter

The government of European country A launches what it calls an ‘anti-terrorist’ military operation against ‘separatists’ in one part of the country. We see pictures on Western television of people’s homes being shelled and lots of people fleeing. The US and UK and other NATO powers fiercely condemn the actions of the government of country A and accuse it of carrying out ‘genocide’ and ’ethnic cleansing’ and say that there is an urgent ‘humanitarian crisis.’ Western politicians and establishment journalists tell us that ‘something must be done.’ And something is done: NATO launches a ‘humanitarian’ military intervention to stop the government of country A. Country A is bombed for 78 days and nights. The country’s leader (who is labeled ‘The New Hitler’) is indicted for war crimes – and is later arrested and sent in an RAF plane to stand trial for war crimes at The Hague, where he dies, un-convicted, in his prison cell.

The government of European country B launches what it calls an ‘anti-terrorist’ military operation against ‘separatists’ in one part of the country. Western television doesn’t show pictures or at least not many) of people’s homes being shelled and people fleeing, although other television stations do. But here the US, UK and other NATO powers do not condemn the government, or accuse it of committing ‘genocide’ or ‘ethnic cleansing.’ Western politicians and establishment journalists do not tell us that ‘something must be done’ to stop the government of country B killing people. On the contrary, the same powers who supported action against country A, support the military offensive of the government in country B. The leader of country B is not indicted for war crimes, nor is he labeled ‘The New Hitler’ despite the support the government has got from far-right, extreme nationalist groups, but in fact, receives generous amounts of aid.

Anyone defending the policies of the government in country A, or in any way challenging the dominant narrative in the West is labeled a “genocide denier” or an “apologist for mass murder.” But no such opprobrium awaits those defending the military offensive of the government in country B. It’s those who oppose its policies who are smeared.

What makes the double standards even worse, is that by any objective assessment, the behavior of the government in country B, has been far worse than that of country A and that more human suffering has been caused by their aggressive actions.

In case you haven’t guessed it yet – country A is Yugoslavia, country B is Ukraine.

Yugoslavia, a different case

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In 1998/9 Yugoslavian authorities were faced with a campaign of violence against Yugoslav state officials by the pro-separatist and Western-backed Kosovan Liberation Army (KLA). The Yugoslav government responded by trying to defeat the KLA militarily, but their claims to be fighting against ’terrorism’ were haughtily dismissed by Western leaders. As the British Defence Secretary George Robertson and Foreign Secretary Robin Cook acknowledged in the period from 1998 to January 1999, the KLA had been responsible for more deaths in Kosovo than the Yugoslav authorities had been.

In the lead-up to the NATO action and during it, lurid claims were made about the numbers of people who had been killed or ‘disappeared’ by the Yugoslav forces. “Hysterical NATO and KLA estimates of the missing and presumably slaughtered Kosovan Albanians at times ran upwards of one hundred thousand, reaching 500, 000 in one State Department release. German officials leaked ‘intelligence’ about an alleged Serb plan called Operation Horseshoe to depopulate the province of its ethnic Albanians, and to resettle it with Serbs, which turned out to be an intelligence fabrication,” Edward Herman and David Peterson noted in their book The Politics of Genocide.

“We must act to save thousands of innocent men, women and children from humanitarian catastrophe – from death, barbarism and ethnic cleansing from a brutal dictatorship,” a solemn-faced Prime Minister Tony Blair told the British Parliament – just four years before an equally sombre Tony Blair told the British Parliament that we must act over the ‘threat’ posed by Saddam Hussein’s WMDs.

Taking their cue from Tony Blair and Co., the media played their part in hyping up what was going on in Kosovo. Herman and Peterson found that newspapers used the word ‘genocide’ to describe Yugoslav actions in Kosovo 323 times compared to just 13 times for the invasion/occupation of Iraq despite the death toll in the latter surpassing that of Kosovo by 250 times.

In the same way we were expected to forget about the claims from Western politicians and their media marionettes about Iraq possessing WMDs in the lead-up to the 2003 invasion, we are now expected to forget about the outlandish claims made about Kosovo in 1999.

But as the award winning investigative journalist and broadcaster John Pilger wrote in his article Reminders of Kosovo in 2004, “Lies as great as those told by Bush and Blair were deployed by Clinton and Blair in grooming of public opinion for an illegal, unprovoked attack on a European country.”

The overall death toll of the Kosovo conflict is thought to be between 3,000 and 4,000, but that figure includes Yugoslav army casualties, and Serbs and Roma and Kosovan Albanians killed by the KLA. In 2013, the International Committee of the Red Cross listed the names of 1,754 people from all communities in Kosovo who were reported missing by their families.

The number of people killed by Yugoslav military at the time NATO launched its ‘humanitarian’ bombing campaign, which itself killed between 400-600 people, is thought to be around 500, a tragic death toll but hardly “genocide.”

“Like Iraq’s fabled weapons of mass destruction, the figures used by the US and British governments and echoed by journalists were inventions- along with Serbian ‘rape camps’ and Clinton and Blair’s claims that NATO never deliberately bombed civilians,” says Pilger.

No matter what happens in Ukraine…

Illustration - Krematorsk Airfield explosion - Screenshot from YouTube videoIllustration – Krematorsk Airfield explosion – Screenshot from YouTube video

In Ukraine by contrast, the number of people killed by government forces and those supporting them has been deliberately played down, despite UN figures highlighting the terrible human cost of the Ukrainian government’s ‘anti-terrorist’ operation.

Last week, the UN’s Human Rights Office said that the death toll in the conflict in eastern Ukraine had doubled in the previous fortnight. Saying that they were “very conservative estimates,” the UN stated that 2,086 people (from all sides) had been killed and 5,000 injured. Regarding refugees, the UN says that around 1,000 people have been leaving the combat zone every day and that over 100,000 people have fled the region. Yet despite these very high figures, there have been no calls from leading Western politicians for ‘urgent action’ to stop the Ukrainian government’s military offensive. Articles from faux-left ‘humanitarian interventionists’ saying that ‘something must be done’ to end what is a clearly a genuine humanitarian crisis, have been noticeable by their absence.

There is, it seems, no “responsibility to protect” civilians being killed by government forces in the east of Ukraine, as there was in Kosovo, even though the situation in Ukraine, from a humanitarian angle, is worse than that in Kosovo in March 1999.

To add insult to injury, efforts have been made to prevent a Russian humanitarian aid convoy from entering Ukraine.

The convoy we are told is ‘controversial’ and could be part of a sinister plot by Russia to invade. This from the same people who supported a NATO bombing campaign on a sovereign state for “humanitarian” reasons fifteen years ago!

For these Western ‘humanitarians’ who cheer on the actions of the Ukrainian government, the citizens of eastern Ukraine are “non-people”: not only are they unworthy of our support or compassion, or indeed aid convoys, they are also blamed for their own predicament.

There are, of course, other conflicts which also highlight Western double standards towards ‘humanitarian intervention’. Israeli forces have killed over 2,000 Palestinians in their latest ruthless ‘anti-terrorist’ operation in Gaza, which is far more people than Yugoslav forces had killed in Kosovo by the time of the 1999 NATO ‘intervention’. But there are no calls at this time for a NATO bombing campaign against Israel.

In fact, neocons and faux-left Zionists who have defended and supported Israel’s “anti-terrorist” Operation Protective Edge, and Operation Cast Lead before it, were among the most enthusiastic supporters of the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia. Israel it seems is allowed to kill large numbers of people, including women and children, in its “anti-terrorist” campaigns, but Yugoslavia had no such “right” to fight an “anti-terrorist” campaign on its own soil.

In 2011, NATO went to war against Libya to prevent a “hypothetical” massacre in Benghazi, and to stop Gaddafi ‘killing his own people’; in 2014 Ukrainian government forces are killing their own people in large numbers, and there have been actual massacres like the appalling Odessa arson attack carried out by pro-government ‘radicals’, but the West hasn’t launched bombing raids on Kiev in response.

The very different approaches from the Western elite to ‘anti-terrorist’ operations in Kosovo and Ukraine (and indeed elsewhere) shows us that what matters most is not the numbers killed, or the amount of human suffering involved, but whether or not the government in question helps or hinders Western economic and military hegemonic aspirations.

In the eyes of the rapacious Western elites, the great ‘crime’ of the Yugoslav government in 1999 was that it was still operating, ten years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, an unreconstructed socialist economy, with very high levels of social ownership – as I highlighted here.

Yugoslavia under Milosevic was a country which maintained its financial and military independence. It had no wishes to join the EU or NATO, or surrender its sovereignty to anyone. For that refusal to play by the rules of the globalists and to show deference to the powerful Western financial elites, the country (and its leader) had to be destroyed. In the words of George Kenney, former Yugoslavia desk officer at the US State Department: “In post-cold war Europe no place remained for a large, independent-minded socialist state that resisted globalization.”

By contrast, the government of Ukraine, has been put in power by the West precisely in order to further its economic and military hegemonic aspirations. Poroshenko, unlike the much- demonized Milosevic, is an oligarch acting in the interests of Wall Street, the big banks and the Western military-industrial complex. He’s there to tie up Ukraine to IMF austerity programs, to hand over his country to Western capital and to lock Ukraine into ‘Euro-Atlantic’ structures- in other words to transform it into an EU/IMF/NATO colony- right on Russia’s doorstep.

This explains why an ‘anti-terrorist’ campaign waged by the Yugoslav government against ‘separatists’ in 1999 is ‘rewarded’ with fierce condemnation, a 78-day bombing campaign, and the indictment of its leader for war crimes, while a government waging an ‘anti-terrorist’ campaign against ‘separatists’ in Ukraine in 2014, is given carte blanche to carry on killing. In the end, it’s not about how many innocent people you kill, or how reprehensible your actions are, but about whose interests you serve.


By Neil Clark

Article is originally published on RT.com (http://on.rt.com/2azwwq)

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Coming home to roost: Kosovo sees return of locals who fought for Daesh



Kosovo ISIL Ridvan Haqifi and Lavdrim Muhaxheri

At least 120 natives of Kosovo have returned home during the last few years after taking part in the ongoing hostilities in Syria on the side of Daesh (ISIL), according to local police reports.

Milovan Drecun, chairman of the Serbian parliamentary Committee on Kosovo-Metohija, told Sputnik that these former militants may establish ties with local political extremists, thus further exacerbating the current volatile situation in Pristina. He pointed out that ties already exist between the jihadists and certain Albanian organized crime groups, as well as former militants of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) – a terrorist group that was officially disbanded but still exists.

“These ties were established back in the 1990s, after Osama bin Laden visited Albania,” Drecun said. “In the meantime, radical Islamists strengthened their position in Kosovo, even gaining a certain degree of independence. We know about their contacts with the former commanders of the KLA and Kosovo Protection Corps as well as with members of Drenica Group (Drenicka grupa), a criminal organization run by Hashim Thaci.”

Drecun added that on numerous occasions, he has warned about the existence of a well-organized, trained and supplied ‘base’ of radical Islamism, jihadism and terrorism in the Balkans. So far, however, this ‘base’ was mostly used as a source of recruits for the terrorist groups.

“The presence of former Daesh militants in Balkans is a potential security threat and hints at the possibility of terrorist attacks and suicide bombings,” Drecun said.

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He added that while the current situation in Balkans remains more or less stable, Daesh militants have already listed the region and Serbia in particular among their targets during their latest video address.

It is only a matter of time before Daesh becomes ‘active’ in the Balkans, Drecun said.

Residents of the so-called Kosovo republic are statistically more likely to fight for Daesh than any European nation; The Telegraph reports that just one town of 30,000, Kacanik, managed to send two dozen local men to join Daesh’s dubious cause. The inefficient local authorities, ailing economy and soaring unemployment make this territory a fertile source of recruits for terrorist organizations.

Original source of the article: http://sputniknews.com/europe/20151202/1031128207/balkans-daesh-militants.html#ixzz3tBKY5w2i

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The Nato-aggression against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1999



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Was Serbia attacked in 1999? To answer that question, Milica-Hänsel Radojkovic draws on period documents (including Willy Wimmer’s letter to Chancellor Gerhard Schröder). He highlights the unacceptability of the Rambouillet proposals, designed to justify a war that had already started.

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Fourteen years ago, after the negotiation conferences in Rambouillet and Paris between 6th and 23rd February 1999, the global media informed the general public that “the Serbian delegation did not accept the offered agreement and rather qualified it as null and void”, while indicating that allegedly the so-called Contact Group for Yugoslavia stood behind the agreement. This body consisted of four NATO country-members plus Russia, but Russia rejected to endorse the military section (Annex B) of the offered agreement – a fact hidden in the media information.

What had actually taken place in Rambouillet and Paris and what did the “Annex B” exactly say? The then US State Secretary, Madeleine Albright claimed that “the military portion of the agreement was practically the essence of the agreement offered in Rambouillet” which was unacceptable for the delegation from FR Yugoslavia.

Zivadin Jovanovic, the then Yugoslav Minister of Foreign Affairs, said in his interview to Politika, the Belgrade daily, of 6th February 2013, that “in Rambouillet no attempt was made to reach accord, nor were there any negotiations or an agreement”. Yugoslav delegation was invited to Rambouillett to participate in the negotiations with the Albanians’ delegation from Kosovo.

It seems true that indeed no negotiations have taken place. This conclusion derives on basis of several statements made by some western officials, including, among others, the then Chairman of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs.

The biased writing of western press and the partial claims by the western politicians about “the failure in the negotiations through non-acceptance of the political document about broad autonomy for Kosovo” on the part of Yugoslav side was meant to support the preparation of public opinion for the military aggression of the North-Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) that had already been planned for October 1998, but was postponed for obvious reasons until 24th March 1999. The truth is that the Yugoslavian delegation has requested several times, as indicated in its written communications to the negotiation mediators, direct negotiations between the Yugoslav and Kosovo delegations, which is a fact proven by the official documents. Christopher Hill, the American representative in the negotiations, claimed in his response to such requests, that the Kosovo delegation “did not want direct negotiations”. “It became clear to all of us then that direct dialogue was not suitable for the Americans and that this was the real reason why the direct contact was not taking place”, Jovanovic points out. “It would be quite hard to believe, in case that the Americans had really wanted direct negotiations, that the Kosovo delegation would not accept their request”, he added.

Global media and the then western officials have also intentionally misinterpreted the alleged rejection by Yugoslavia to allow “installation of peace-keeping forces in Kosovo (and Metohija)”. However, the truth is that the Yugoslav delegation did accept the political portions of the Rambouillet draft agreement, but not its “Annex B” with the Points 2, 5 and 7 that proposed and required a military occupation of the entire territory of FR Yugoslavia (i.e. Serbia with 2 autonomous provinces, and Montenegro). Therefore, the global public opinion was an object of manipulated information which told that Serbs were “rejecting arrival of peace-keeping forces in Kosovo (and Metohija)”.

But, what are “peace-keeping forces” really in international practice and law? In international practice they imply the forces under United Nations (UN) Administration (also called “Blue Helmets”), consisting of troops provided by the UN member countries and not by NATO troops.

To understand what exactly caused FR Yugoslavia to reject the military portion of the document offered in Rambouillet, one has to read its provisions:

(I) The NATO troops are allowed to freely and without charges to use any and all land, water and air spaces and equipments;

(II) Their soldiers will enjoy diplomatic immunity and will not be held responsible for any damage made on the territory of FR Yugoslavia under civil and/or criminal laws;

(III) Their soldiers may carry weapons on them even when wearing civil attire;

(IV) Their soldiers may at any time take for use the entire electro-magnetic space of FRY, that is, the TV and radio frequencies, police and ambulance frequencies, civil protection and other frequencies, without announcement or any fee or charges whatsoever;

(V) Their soldiers may at any time arrest any citizen on the FRY territory, without any warrant or decision of a court or any FRY authority.

Global media, particularly those in the NATO countries, and the then American and European officials, have withheld the truth about the content of the military document by charging the leaders of Serbia and Yugoslav President for “the lack of cooperation in the efforts to find a peaceful solution”. Just like in Rambouillet, “the Paris Conference also was not an event witnessing any serious ‘attempt’ for accord, negotiations or agreement”. American envoy, Christopher Hill, only required from the Yugoslav delegation to sign the text he had prepared and served on the table on basis of the ‘take it or leave it’ principle”, says Former Minister Zivadin Jovanovic.

In addition to numerous condemnations concerning the draft agreement text offered, that were expressed by renowned global law experts, a special attention is drawn to the evaluation of the document provided in an interview to the Daily Telegraph (London) by the former US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger on 27th June 1999. He said,

“The Rambouillet draft agreement text, requiring stationing of NATO troops throughout Yugoslavia, was a provocation. It served as a pretext for the launching of a bombing campaign. The Rambouillet document was such that no Serb could accept it. That horrible document should have not been submitted

These words indicate, among other things, that the 1999 aggression against FR Yugoslavia was in fact presented in the western media as an epilogue reflected through the launching of the new interventionist strategy of NATO led by USA. This strategy was officially inaugurated at NATO meeting in Washington on 25th April 1999, that is, at the time of actual aggression against FRY.

In the aggression against FRY the NATO was changed from a defensive alliance into an aggressive one with the self-proclaimed right to intervene as a military force throughout the world. Furthermore, the judgement of the Yugoslav leaders implementing the country’s official policy was correct in saying that one of the goals of this particular aggression was establishment of a precedent for military actions across the world without any decision of the UN and by violation of the UN Charter. This judgement was verified at the conference of NATO member states and membership candidates held in Bratislava in April 2000. The conference was organized just a few months after the aggression against FR Yugoslavia by the State Department and the American Enterprise Institute of the Republican Party, and was attended by some very high officials (government representatives and ministers of foreign affairs and defense) of NATO member states and membership candidates. The main topics at the conference were the Balkans and expansion of NATO. In his written summary of the conference conclusions sent to the Chancellor of Germany, Gerhard Schroeder, on 2nd May 2000, Willy Wimmer, the then member of German Parliament (Bundestag) and Chairman of the Parliamentary Assembly of the OESC, claimed that by the NATO attack on FRY, according to the admittance by USA, a precedent was established in order to be used whenever necessary. “It is understood that it is all about an excess that can be referred to at any time”, Wimmer explained one of the crucial conclusions. It was actually a retroactive confirmation that the real goal of the Rambouillet talks was not to allow any direct negotiations between the involved parties (Serbs and Albanians) or any political solution, but rather to ensure a pretext for the aggression, as Henry Kissinger indicated quite well (“It was just a pretext to launch the bombing campaign”).

Next, Willy Wimmer points out in his written communication that “the war against FR Yugoslavia was waged to rectify the wrong decision made by General Dwight Eisenhower in World War Two”. Consequently, for strategic reasons American troops need to be stationed over there, so as to compensate for what was not done in 1945 (Point 4 of his letter). By building the Bondstill Military Base in Kosovo – the largest one in Europe, Americans have practically materialized their position at the Bratislava conference about “their need to station American soldiers in that space, for strategic reasons”. Wimmer’s letter also asserts (under Point 1), “The organizers of this conference have requested that international recognition of the independent state of Kosovo should be accomplished as fast as possible by the countries making the circle of allied states”, whereas “Serbia (the successor of Yugoslavia) must be permanently excluded from the European development course” (according to Wimmer, probably for the purpose of unhampered military presence of USA in the Balkans).

Willy Wimmer also claims,

“The assertion that NATO had violated all international rules, and particularly all relevant provisions of international law, during the attack against FR Yugoslavia, has not been contradicted” (Point 11)

The text also says that

“the American side is aware and prepared, in the global context and to achieve its own goals, to undermine the order of international law” »

meaning that international law is considered an obstacle for the planned expansion of NATO.

And Wimmer then ends his letter with the following words, “Force has to stand above law”.

Texte intégral de la lettre adressée, le 2 mai 2000, au Chancelier de la République fédérale d’Allemagne, Gerhard Schöder, par Willy Wimmer, alors vice-président de l’Assemblée parlementaire de la OSCE

Mr Gerhard Schroeder, MP
Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany,
Federal Chancellery,
Schlossplatz 1, 10178 Berlin

Berlin, 05-02-2000

Dear Chancellor,

Last weekend, I was in the Slovakian capital of Bratislava, where I had the opportunity to participate in a conference jointly organized by the US State Department and the American Enterprise Institute (the institute of the Republican Party foreign policy) with focus on the themes of the Balkan and NATO enlargement.

The event was attended by high-ranking personalities already reflected in the presence of several prime ministers and foreign and defense ministers from the region. Of the many important issues that could be dealt with under that topic, some deserve particularly to be reported.

1. The organizers requested that the Allies achieve recognition of the independence of the state of Kosovo, according to international law. [1]

2. The organizers declared that the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was beyond any jurisdiction, in particular beyond the Final Act of Helsinki. [2]

3. The European legal system is an obstacle to the implementation of NATO plans. The American legal system was more suitable for this, even when being used in Europe.

4. The war against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was conducted to revise a false decision made by General Eisenhower in World War II. Due to strategic reasons, the decision to deploy US soldiers in the region had to be rectified. [3]

5. The European Allies went along with the war in Yugoslavia in order to overcome de facto the dilemma caused by the April 1999 ‘New Strategic Concept’, which was enacted by the Alliance and the European predisposition of an existing mandate from the UN or the OSCE.

6. Irrespective of the subsequent legalistic European interpretation, where the enlarged task field of NATO in the Yugoslavian war exceeded the contract territory, it was an exceptional case, obviously a precedent which anyone at any time could and would rely on. [4]

7. The goal of the recently pending NATO expansion, is to restore the geographical situation between the Baltic Sea and Anatolia, as it had been at the time of the height of Roman expansion. [5]

8. In order to achieve this, Poland is to be surrounded in the north and south by democratic neighboring states. Romania and Bulgaria are to secure the ground connection to Turkey, Serbia (most likely to ensure a US military presence) was to be permanently excluded from European development.

9. North of Poland, it is important to maintain the complete control of entry from St. Petersburg to the Baltic Sea. [6]

10. In each case, the right of self-determination is given priority over all other provisions or rules of international law. [7]

11. The assessment, according to which NATO, when attacking the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia actually infringed upon international rule and, above all, any relevant provisions of international law, did not evoke contradiction. [8]

After this very candidly run event and in view of participants and organizers, one cannot help but make an assessment of the statements made at this conference.

In the global context and in order to achieve their goals, the American side, deliberately and intendedly wants to lever out the international legal system which was developed as a result of two world wars in the last century. Power shall precede law. Where international law stands in the way, it will be eliminated.

When a similar development happened to the League of Nations, the Second World War was not far off. This type of thinking which considers its own interests as being absolute, can only be called totalitarianism.

Sincerely,

Willy Wimmer
Member of Parliament,
Chairman oft he CDU district association Lower Rhine,
Vice-President of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly


By Milica Radojkovic-Hänsel

(Translation Current Concerns)

Notes:

[1] So far, the Kosovo continues to nominally be a province of Serbia, which in turn is a constituent republic of Yugoslavia. Maintaining this status, had been a prerequisite for the termination of the so-called Kosovo war in June 1999. Officially, maintaining this status is the program of the West until today.

[2] The Helsinki Final Act, the so-called CSCE Order, had put down the foundations of coexistence of the European states in 1975. These principles included amongst others the inviolability of borders.

[3] This seems to refer to the Allied invasion of Europe during the Second World War. Churchill et.al. had demanded then that an Allied invasion of the Balkans was to take place. Instead, Eisenhower as Commander of Chief of the Allied forces commanded invasions of Sicily (1943) and France (1944). As a result, there was no Western occupation of the Balkans at the end of the Second World War.

[4] On the part of NATO, the 1999 Kosovo war was performed without UN mandate. Such a mandate would have complied with the wish of the European governments but not the American government. The latter wants to act preferably self-confidently without international restrictions. Items 5 and 6 apparently meant that with this war a) the European states would have overcome their commitment towards their public regarding such a UN mandate and b) a precedent for future operations without UN mandate was created.

[5] The Roman Empire never extended to the Baltic Sea. Should Wimmer here have reported the statements correctly, ‘Roman’ on the one hand, means the Roman Empire, and on the other hand, the Roman church.

[6] Thus this means to cut away Russia from its Baltic Sea connection and therefore to cut it off from Europe.

[7] Emphasizing this right of self-determination, the American Wilsonianism, coined after the former president Woodrow Wilson, shows itself once again, according to Rudolf Steiner who was a main opponent of the founding of the threefold movement. Steiner saw this as a program for the “destruction of the coexistence of the European peoples”. It allows the destruction of almost all European countries by accentuating “minority problems”.

[8] Apparently, this is about the reactions to a Wimmer draft. The conference participants were apparently aware of these violations against the provisions of international law, yet they did not care.

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