View Full Version : ISIS: an essential reading collection

01-11-2015, 08:42 PM
A Lithuanian writer asks 'Putin’s Russia. Do traces of KGB, FSB and GRU lead to Islamic State?' or:
Is it really possible to fully understand the phenomenon of the Islamic state without paying attention to the alleged links between Russian secret services and Chechen terrorists?

There are many references to the Caucasus, Chechen a wandering and other places in Central Asia. Sadly there are no footnotes, although clues are given for some of the sources.

Myth or reality? You decide.

01-12-2015, 04:50 PM
Speculations: Putin has selected France as a target country for Russian terrorism as Hollande is a soft target in the EU.

There is some speculation that a number of the weapons used in the Paris attacks came via Chechnya.

More speculations: Why did Russia chose France as the target country for its international terrorism? Hidden factors? #Sarkozy

Motive is extremely important to understand a crime. Who benefits from the attack on #JeSuisCharlie?

01-12-2015, 06:18 PM
Speculations: Putin has selected France as a target country for Russian terrorism as Hollande is a soft target in the EU.

There is some speculation that a number of the weapons used in the Paris attacks came via Chechnya.

More speculations: Why did Russia chose France as the target country for its international terrorism? Hidden factors? #Sarkozy

Motive is extremely important to understand a crime. Who benefits from the attack on #JeSuisCharlie?

There's No Line Kadyrov Can't Cross, Analysts Say | News | The Moscow Times
http://www.themoscowtimes.com/news/article/there-s-no-line-kadyrov-can-t-cross-analysts-say/514252.html …

01-14-2015, 10:23 AM
Chechen Islamists are fighting with IS, Chechen Islamists are fighting in the Ukraine for Russia and now both the IS and Russian troops share the same battle fatigues---connection?

Islamic State fighters and Novorossiya rebels must be shopping at the same military fashion outlet:pic.twitter.com/uu5KK43Z8p

From #ISIS to Donbass #Ukraine,[B] #Russia'n mil gear Gorka is trending among the terrorists. /B]

UKR MP @DmitryTymchuk reports 2 Chechnya's Internal Affairs men caught during intense fighting at Donetsk airport https://www.facebook.com/dmitry.tymc...21674831294509 …

Who can explain sign on Kadyrov's chest? Resembles IS emblem. Used in other context too?

01-14-2015, 12:11 PM

That Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, bin Laden’s right-hand man and the leader of the global jihad movement since bin Laden’s death in May 2011, spent almost a half-year in the mid-1990s in the custody of Russian intelligence is admitted by both sides and is a matter of public record.[3] Just as significant, Zawahiri’s Russian sojourn occurred at a pivotal point in the development of al-Qa’ida; the shift in strategy, resulting in attacks on the “far enemy” (i.e. the United States), the road leading to 9/11, occurred after Zawahiri’s imprisonment by the Russians.

To this day, Russia has endured many attacks by Chechen militants, but no confirmed acts of terrorism perpetrated by al-Qa’ida Central. This vexing issue continues to offer more questions than answers, and needs additional research, particularly considering the state of relations between Moscow and the West.

The Russian FM condemned the IS attacks in Paris yesterday---but strangely did not mention AQAP Yemen which claimed responsibility today in the same breath.

AQAP takes responsibility for #ParisAttacks, says Dr Zawahiri ordered the hit on #CharlieHebdo
http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2015/01/14/Al-Qaeda-in-Yemen-claims-Charlie-Hebdo-attack.html …

Of the two it has been IS that has threatened war in Chechnya and who the Russians inherently fear more if one takes their FM comments at face value.

SWJ Blog
01-22-2015, 01:12 AM
Boko Haram, ISIS and al-Qaeda: How the Jihadists Compare (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/boko-haram-isis-and-al-qaeda-how-the-jihadists-compare)

Entry Excerpt:

Read the full post (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/boko-haram-isis-and-al-qaeda-how-the-jihadists-compare) and make any comments at the SWJ Blog (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog).
This forum is a feed only and is closed to user comments.

08-12-2015, 03:41 PM
Professor Paul Rogers has a short commentary, via Oxford Research Group, that:
There are indications that what has been seen as a narrow series of extreme Islamist movements is now evolving into a much wider phenomenon of generic revolts from the margins. If so, this represents a far more significant transformation of security challenges than the “war on terror” that followed the 9/11 attacks.

(Later) What has recently become evident, however, is that there is something even more fundamental developing in a number of regions where extreme Islamist movements have taken root: they are being fuelled by a perception of marginalisation and exclusion which transcends Islamic State’s more narrow vision of defending Islam under attack from the Crusader forces of the West.Link:http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/briefing_papers_and_reports/islamic_state_and_revolts_margins

I have long wondered whether the current US and Western allied focus on ISIS in Iraq-Syria, even if seemingly minus a strategy and impact, is a mistake.

I do not doubt that ISIS and its concept of the Caliphate is dangerous to many in the region and beyond, we seem to be ignoring the impact elsewhere. So back to Paul Rogers:
In many countries, the marginalised majority has disproportionally large Muslim populations frequently aggrieved and amenable to proselytization. The Economist listed Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda as countries facing jihadist groups and identified an endemic issue.Citing The Economist article 'Jihafrica':
from Mali and Nigeria to Kenya and Tanzania the story is the same: extremists emerge from and woo Muslim populations on the national periphery who are fed up with decades of neglect, discrimination and mistreatment by their rulers. Jihadists are able to exploit existing religious tensions and latch on to disgruntled Muslim communities.Bill Moore has recently posted a cautionary note about developments in South-East Asia, see Post 14:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=5635

So far ISIS has shown no intention of making alliances outside the Muslim faith (I exclude the few "willing fools" who appear), that does not mean local movements could.

11-17-2015, 06:01 PM
Plugging some of my own essays on this general topic:







11-17-2015, 06:03 PM
Plugging some of my own essays on this general topic:







11-17-2015, 08:28 PM
from ISIS and Islam, beyond the dream (http://www.3quarksdaily.com/3quarksdaily/2015/03/isis-and-islam-beyond-the-dream.html)

"Modern states and modern politics (not just all the complex debates about how power should be exercised, who exercises it, who decides who exercises it etc., but also the institutions and mechanisms that evolved to manage modern states and modern politics) mostly reached their current form in Europe. They did not arise from nothing. Many ancient strands grew and intersected to create these states and their political institutions. And there are surely things about this evolution that are contingent and would have been different if they had happened elsewhere. But there are also many features of modern life that are based on new and universally applicable discoveries about human psychology, human biology and human sociology. They have made possible new levels of organization and productivity and in a globalized world (and the Eurasian landmass has had some sort of exchange of ideas for millennia, but this process has accelerated now by orders of magnitude) it is impossible for any large population to ignore these advances and suvive unmolested by those willing to take advantage of these advances.

The modern world that has been created is not just one random "civilization" among many. It is the cutting edge of human knowledge and the human ability to apply that knowledge to good and evil ends. Whatever else it may be (and there is no shortage of people who feel it is too oppressive, too unfair, too fast, too anxiety-provoking, too inhuman, etc etc.) it is an extremely powerful and progressive culture. You can reject it, and countless people (including, it seems, many of the most privileged intellectuals of this very civilization) do reject many aspects of it. But it should also be noted that there are degrees of rejection. Most of the critics (but not all of them) are either critics-from-within, who only reject certain aspects of it, or non-serious critics whose wholesale contempt for the project is not matched by any equivalent personal commitment or serious consideration of alternatives. Most of them also seem unable to do without critical aspects of modernity. Aspects you cannot have without having far more of the rest than they seem to care for. To give two random examples, I have never met a multiculturalist liberal or leftist in the West (including those of Desi origin) who is willing to himself or herself live under the restrictive sexual morality and the community-centric balance of community vs individual rights characteristic of "traditional cultures'. And I have NEVER met an Islamist who did not want an air-force (you can work out for yourself all the other innovations and institutional mechanisms that would be needed in order to have a competitive indigenous air-force).

In fact, forget traditional cultures, just look at Maoist China and the Khmer Rouge, both of whom explicitly rejected modern individualism and mere meritocracy and insisted they wanted to be "Red rather than Expert". One ended up honoring the legacy of Liu Bocheng and Deng Xiaoping over Mao, the other ended up on the proverbial "dust heap of history". There is a lesson (or several lessons) in those choices and their spectacular failure.

In short, the only people who can realistically stay outside of "our universal civilization" are either museum communities permitted to survive as quaint exemplars of bygone days (like the Amish) or VERY tiny communities that are so isolated and remote that they have escaped the maw of the Eurasian beast until now. Our universal civilization does not have to be seen as positively as Naipaul famously saw it, but it still has to be seen for what it is, a gigantic human achievement and a work in progress; all criticism and resistance being included within it (dialectics anyone?)

And it is important to note that this universal civilization is no longer exclusively European (and never was exclusively European for that matter). Soon, this universal civilization may be dominated by non-European people, a fact that Eurocentric PostMarxist intellectuals seem to have very great difficulty assimilating into their worldview. The institutions and ideas that developed in Europe (from earlier sources that came from all over Eurasia) in the last 400 years have been adopted and adapted already by several Asian nations (Japan, South Korea, Taiwan), with China not far behind and India set to follow. Muslims are not special enough to escape that fate. The only thing truly remarkable about the Muslim core region is the widespread desire to integrate huge elements of modern civilization while remaining medieval in terms of theology, law and politics. Of course we are not unique in this desire; there are Indians and Chinese and Japanese who "reject modernity" as being too European, and who insist they have an alternative path. Whether they do or do not is to some extent a matter of semantics, but Muslims are not unique in claiming that "we are a fundamentally different civilization". Where we are unique (for now) is only in our inability to generate a genuinely open debate on this topic; the tendency in the Islamicate core is for almost everyone in the public sphere to pay lip-service to delusional or formulaic and practically meaningless Islamist ideals and to avoid direct criticism of medieval laws and theology. This is unlike how it is routine for Indians to criticize Indian "fundamentalists" or Christians to criticize Christian ones. And for that we have to thank the blasphemy and apostasy memes more than any intrinsic unchangeability of Islamicate laws and theology.

- See more at: http://www.3quarksdaily.com/3quarksdaily/2015/03/isis-and-islam-beyond-the-dream.html#sthash.C5fl9Zlx.dpuf

11-19-2015, 05:16 PM
More on this theme. "Why do Muslims Blow Stuff Up"?


Relevant Excerpt:

But here is the point I really wanted to make:
I heard (more than 10 years ago) from an Islamist historian (PhD U Chicago) that the correct way of looking at lack of Hindu or African Pagan blowback is to regard them as weaker civilizations, unable/unwilling to contend for world-beater status (Hindutvadis are trying, with limited success, to alter this perception btw). His point was that Islamists sending terrorists and throwing bombs maybe wrong (in his opinion, it was wrong) because it may be tactically harmful to their cause or it may be morally unsound (he was not in favor of indiscriminate slaughter), but on the general point of fighting against the West, he thought the crucial difference is that the Islamic world represents real civiliazational competition; challengers who think they can and SHOULD fight in the big leagues...while Hindus and Africans are just waiting to be converted to more successful ideologies and are "not even invited to the party".
In short, that Muslims are different, but not in the way you think: they are not different in being more bloodthirsty (he believed, as a historian, that ALL great powers and dominant civilizations have been blood thirsty) but in thinking of themselves as a potential world power, not just "subalterns".

I think he was wrong (i.e. the world is not best described by the kind of clash of civilizations he subscribed to, and the Muslim world is in no position to challenge as some sort of outsider civilization, distinct from what Naipaul famously dubbed "our universal civilization" (http://www.city-journal.org/story.php?id=1597)).

But one should not think that sophisticated Islamists themselves have no such ambition.

Finally, the oil-kingdom and wahabiism are indeed proximate causes of the Jihadi upsurge, but they succeeded not just because they paid people (the US has paid billions for "counter-jihadist" propaganda, with little noticeable impact) but because their ideology could be presented as the logical culmination of classical Islamic themes. Which is why educated (therefore more susceptible to "logic" and rational argument) believing Muslims in Pakistan so frequently gravitate to Maudoodi-like figures, even if their own families were Barelvi/Sufi/grave-worshipping/Indian-inflected "moderate Muslims" just one generation ago.

I hope to write more later to expand on this point.

11-24-2015, 10:57 PM
An interesting post (http://www.3quarksdaily.com/3quarksdaily/2015/11/the-terrible-terrorist-attacks-by-isis-in-paris-on-november-13-have-understandably-generated-a-great-surge-of-opinion-and-ana.html)from Dr Ali Minai, a professor of computer engineering (specifically, complex adaptive systems) and President of the "International Neural Network Society", about modern Jihadism as a new form of war, on a new kind of planet.


Worth a read.

the terrible truth that this is the first war of its kind – a brand new thing never before seen in history, and therefore one for which there is no prior wisdom. It is the first great conflict of the age of globalization, and its phenomenology reflects that of a complex, nonlinear, self-organizing networked world...

To understand why terrorism such as that practiced by ISIS works, we have to first separate it from its pale predecessors. Even late 20th century examples of what was labeled as terrorism – such as the actions of the IRA or the Tamil Tigers – were nothing like what we see today. First, in those cases and others like them, the tactic was used for a limited, well-defined goal, and was essentially an extension of warfare to a new dimension. This remains true today of many militant groups in various parts of the world that specific countries regard as "terrorist", and it is this fact that has given rise to the notion that "One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter". ISIS and Al-Qaeda are no one's freedom fighters! Their goal is not to liberate an area or humiliate a power; it is to remake the world..

The terrorists realize that their best chance of creating a new world order lies in the destabilization of the old one – not in any specific way, but simply to produce a cauldron of chaos in which an infinity of new orders suddenly become possible - perhaps even leading to a phase transition. They think that, with divine help, they can control what then emerges from this chaos. They may even believe for religious reasons that an order that favors them is foreordained. The fact that they are almost certainly wrong about this final outcome does not invalidate their initial insight. .

An especially effective aspect of the ISIS approach – whether by design or accident – is the way it exploits existing systems of government. Autocracies are, as always, limited by the imaginations of the autocrats, which are never very fertile, but democracies too face a crucial problem. Democracy is essentially a mechanism for institutionalizing normative decision-making, allowing the collective will to override the whims of tyrants and monarchs. The unspoken assumption in this is that the averaging process of democracy would cancel out excesses in all directions, leading to a moderate course in government. This is indeed a vast improvement over all other systems of governance seen through history, but the "averaging heuristic" has a fatal flaw: Human decision making is a highly nonlinear process and averaging does not necessarily lead to a middle course. In stressful situations, complex systems with positive feedback loops can gravitate to all-or-none outcomes representing extremes. This is how even the best of democracies can produce instances such as the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II and McCarthyism. Until the advent of truly global, ubiquitous mass media, this could be checked to some degree through the discretion of "wise" leaders (e.g., Roosevelt's support of the Allies prior to Pearl Harbor), but in the modern era, leaders of democracies have virtually no discretion. Public opinion and looming elections are at the core of their decision-making today. With a reasonable knowledge of human psychology and a modest investment in resources (including a few individuals hankering for a short-cut to paradise and its virgins), an organization like ISIS can readily press the right buttons in the minds of voters, have the response magnified by the media – providing the crucial positive feedback – and achieve their goal of discrediting liberal humanist values. We are watching this jiu-jitsu trick unfolding before our eyes today as American politicians (for the record, almost all Republicans) line up to turn their backs on helpless refugees in the name of security. The genius of 21st century global terrorism is to align its goals with human nature. Natural human responses driven by fear, anger, loss and group solidarity are, therefore, likely to play into the terrorists' hands, as a few commentators have already pointed out. .

Devising and executing a strategy to counter jihadi extremism will require not only immense wisdom in leaders, but also flexibility – since many initial choices will be incorrect; self-confidence – since results will only appear slowly; and, above all, imagination at least equal to that of the adversary. From the public at large, it will require patience, maturity, and trust in each other and their leaders. War, intelligence and surveillance may well be part of the strategy, but most of it will have to be political and psychological – just as it in on the other side.

A critical challenge for the leaders of the new world is to arrive at a more inclusive, more resilient, and more inspiring vision of united humanity that does not degenerate into a mirror image of its adversary, and to educate those they lead in this new vision of the world. Given the experience of history, there is little reason to be optimistic. But without this geopolitical transformation, humanity will surely reach the brink of multiple catastrophes in fairly short order, and the societal dispensations that emerge after that will make today's problems seem like child's play.

My comment on that site was:

Excellent article.
Just as an aside, is there a (perhaps deliberately) unstated problem with this statement: "The counter-strategy must equally offer a concrete vision grounded in the values of humanism and individual liberty..." ?

As you know better than most, the "values" of humanism and individual liberty are not just somewhat contradictory (we can safely assume that ALL sets of values contain contradictions), they can also be superficial and ahistorical and their propaganda has frequently fallen short of the ugly realities of imperialism, nationalism, racism and greed. And this discovery (that they are sometimes superficial, ahistorical, internally contradictory and less than advertised in practice) is TOO EASY for educated people. As a result, armies of postmodern Leftists in the West (in their own minds, the standard bearers of this vision of common humanity) are also able to laugh at "liberal pieties" as they are imperfectly practiced and propagandistically oversold. ..Human nature (virtue signalling etc) does the rest. The "values" are in trouble from both sides..

I guess what I am trying to say, in my usual confused way, is that these values are under attack from BOTH sides. And while the powers-that-be usually have more real power and "real-world" impact, the internal loss of confidence and confusion in the HUMANIST camp may not be an insignificant factor either.
Things look dark at times.

But what is hard for individuals, may not be hard for evolution. I also remain an incurable optimist :)

As usual, I need more time to write something coherent :)

12-09-2015, 06:27 PM
A short podcast (16 mins) of a SME William McCants @ Chicago speaking on 'The Power of an Idea' as part of an event on Terrorism: Behind the Headlines. (https://www.chicagoideas.com/talks/133)


His very slim bio:
William McCants directs the Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World at The Brookings Institution. McCants is the author of 'The ISIS Apocalypse: The History, Strategy and Doomsday Vision of the Islamic State'.

12-21-2015, 01:41 AM
This is a very amateur and undeveloped idea. I am just putting it out for comments.

Can we model if ISIS is coming soon to country X? (http://brownpundits.blogspot.com/2015/12/modeling-isis-chances-in-your-country.html)


12-21-2015, 02:52 AM
This is a very amateur and undeveloped idea. I am just putting it out for comments.

Can we model if ISIS is coming soon to country X? (http://brownpundits.blogspot.com/2015/12/modeling-isis-chances-in-your-country.html)


I wonder if it would be worth including Integration and Dispersion within a sovereign state as a measure of submission or risk to an existing national culture?

12-21-2015, 04:00 AM
I think a large number of variables can be added to this (all of them justified), but my thought was: what if you wanted only one or two variables? what would be the minimum that can capture the risk?
For example, affiliation with shariahist-Islam alone is clearly not enough. Populations strongly attached to that notion (as in Malaysia) do not seem on the verge of a major insurgency.
and so on...

12-21-2015, 09:47 AM
I think a large number of variables can be added to this (all of them justified), but my thought was: what if you wanted only one or two variables? what would be the minimum that can capture the risk?
For example, affiliation with shariahist-Islam alone is clearly not enough. Populations strongly attached to that notion (as in Malaysia) do not seem on the verge of a major insurgency.
and so on...


Maybe a better question I could ask might be:

What are the fewest yes/no and/or numerical range scoring questions needed to assess risk?

Everyone like elegant and simple, which is often the polar opposite of reality/humanity.

01-25-2016, 02:45 PM
A short (8 pg PPT) from Europol, the full title being:
Changes in modus operandi of Islamic State terrorist attacksLink:https://t.co/5mthVAPQDA

It was written after the latest Paris attacks and on a quick skim has few surprises. It does have some interesting passages on radicalisation after the Europol meeting's review:
(Pt.6) An increasing phenomenon is that of Islamist “brotherhood gatherings”, analogous to other faction camps that have existed for decades with other religious movements. This is a relatively new concept for Muslims, which first surfaced only a couple of years ago.

(Pt.8) In view of this shift away from the religious component in the radicalisation of, especially, young recruits, it may be more accurate to speak of a ‘violent extremist social trend’ rather than using the term ‘radicalisation’.
(pt.9) A significant proportion of foreign fighters (20 per cent according to one source, even more according to another) have been diagnosed with mental problems prior to joining IS. A large proportion of recruits (estimates are as high as 80 per cent) have criminal records varying from petty crimes to more serious offences. Rates and types of offences seem to differ between countries. It may be that recruiters specifically target criminals with an inclination for violence, or that some criminals find that, in joining IS, it provides the opportunity to give free rein to their violent impulses.I will copy this post to the thread on radicalisation:Studies on radicalization & comments (http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/Studies on radicalization & comments)

02-12-2016, 09:44 PM
there MAY have been another lone-wolf attack in Ohio. I am not really focusing on the attack (which may turn out to be completely unrelated to Jihad, or we may never know), but it got me thinking and led to a this series of tweets:


So the question is this: What is the history of lone wolf terrorism? is there a proper definition? what started such sprees and what ended them? What ideologies/religions/circumstances make it possible or encourage it? What kind of person goes for it?
And so on. If this is already written somewhere, can we have a link?

02-12-2016, 10:20 PM
There are two SWC threads:

1) Lone Wolves outside the USA:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=16226

2) Lone Wolves in the USA:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=17199

Within I've posted a lot IIRC by Raffaello Pantucci, whose special interest remains in the subject:http://raffaellopantucci.com/

02-12-2016, 10:43 PM
A month ago Professor Hugh Kennedy (SOAS, London) and an acknowledged SME on Islamic history gave a lecture @ Birmingham University - it was excellent. From the organisers summary:
Hugh’s lecture interrogated the rise of ISIS, breaking down the often-quoted notion that Western intervention in the Middle East was the sole cause of the rise and popularity of IS. Instead, he linked this as one contributing factor with the failure of Middle Eastern nationalism and socialism. IS seeks to break both of these down; national borders won’t matter in the Caliphate, and neither will the will of the people – only the will of Allah.

Now there is a YouTube video (51 mins):https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZoYAPFPYqgw

02-19-2016, 04:38 PM
An excellent article on the arguments used by ISIS to justify their jihad against:
...the primary target of Isil and similar groups is not the West. It is other Muslims. Above all, Shia Muslims.

The full title and sub-title are:
Anyone who thinks Westerners are flocking to Isil because of the Iraq war is a fantasist; Isil and its jihadist ideology uniquely exploit underlying conflicts and offer the conspiracy theory solution: none of this is your fault.

On radicalization:
Radicalisation is complex phenomenon. There are as many reasons for radicalisation as there are radicalised young Muslims. Each one of them has their own story with a complex mix of reasons, more or less rational, for why they have come to have the radical world view. Nonetheless, we can also observe some strong patterns amongst those radicalised emerging from the increasing body of interdisciplinary research on radicalisation. For example, most come from unsafe, unstable social environments and have histories of petty crime, as well as drink and drugs problems. It is also notable that this tendency is especially acute amongst white Western converts. They may feel that their lives lack direction, but also feel disempowered and disenfranchised. They feel that they are not in control of their own destinies.
What an organisation like Isil offers them is instant reception. And moreover, a purpose. A direction in life.

Author's slim, UK bio:http://www.rai.ox.ac.uk/fellows/ibrahim

03-19-2016, 08:37 PM
First a "one stop" explanation from the BBC 'Islamic State group: The full story' and then a Salon article, which includes a Q&A with Will McCants; with a sub-title:
Simple-minded analysis of religion, history and our challenge in the Middle East leads to the wrong policy choices

The BBC:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-35695648

Salon:http://www.salon.com/2016/03/19/the_islamic_state_would_not_be_with_us_today_if_th e_united_states (http://www.salon.com/2016/03/19/the_islamic_state_would_not_be_with_us_today_if_th e_united_states_hadnt_invaded_iraq_islam_religion_ and_the_interview_donald_trump_and_ted_cruz_must_r ead_now/)
_hadnt_invaded_iraq_islam_religion_and_the_intervi ew_donald_trump_and (http://www.salon.com/2016/03/19/the_islamic_state_would_not_be_with_us_today_if_th e_united_states_hadnt_invaded_iraq_islam_religion_ and_the_interview_donald_trump_and_ted_cruz_must_r ead_now/)
_ted_cruz_must_read_now/ (http://www.salon.com/2016/03/19/the_islamic_state_would_not_be_with_us_today_if_th e_united_states_hadnt_invaded_iraq_islam_religion_ and_the_interview_donald_trump_and_ted_cruz_must_r ead_now/)

Thread created for maximum visibility; there is a main thread already on watching ISIS.

03-24-2016, 06:58 PM
Two options to learn Malcolm Nance's viewpoint, a short written article and a 48 minute podcast. He is an expert and author of akey book on Iraq; see an old, closed 2015 thread:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=22337

A slim bio:
...former Arabic speaking naval intelligence counter-terrorism and intelligence officer Malcolm Nance. After spending 35 years participating in field and combat intelligence activity including both covert and clandestine anti & counter-terrorism support to national intelligence agencies...The article which was written after Brussels:http://www.politico.eu/article/five-ways-to-devastate-isil/

Podcast via the Intl Spy Museum:http://s3.amazonaws.com/spy-museum/files/spycast/audio/2016_03_18_nance.mp3

03-27-2016, 09:22 PM
Six substantial threads have been merged here; they all refer to defeating ISIS beyond and on the battlefield. Several were "stand alone" threads and one had several posts in response.

03-27-2016, 09:28 PM
Jason Burke's column after Brussels has the headline 'The tyranny of Isis terrorism will not always be with us. But history shows that a new militant threat will emerge' and sub-titled:
Is this now the new normal? In the capitals of the west, should we simply get used to living with routine fear? Jason Burke sees cause for hope in a weakening of Isis, but cautions that Islamic militancy does not begin nor end with that group’s savagery. He traces the shifts in extreme factions and twisted ideologies, and ponders how terror might next mutate

04-14-2016, 01:01 PM
An article via CBC from a Belgian SME on terrorism and ISIS. A key passage:
"What they really want … is the clash of civilizations," he says. Revenge for what ISIS claims the West has done to Iraq and Syria. And the more ground ISIS loses there, the more the group lusts for bloodshed in Europe.

Then a "lesson learnt":
He points to the Brussels suicide bombers Ibrahim and Khalid El Bakraoui as prime examples. "They weren't known as radicals. They were known as hardened criminals. The police were using two lists. The list of people you should be looking for because they are known for radical Islam, and the other list, people known for violent crimes. But they didn't cross-reference them. Nobody actually had any idea that they had to look on the other list."
He says the allure of criminals for ISIS is significant. They have useful connections to weapons, money laundering, fake IDs, safe houses. And, crucially, they aren't as hard to convince to engage in violence.

08-05-2016, 09:28 PM
A summary of this week's two-day conference @ Kings College London, hosted by ICSR, on ISIS in Europe, with a variety of SME:
The ICSR event was divided into four panels of experts who discussed ISIS as an organization, its online presence, and the state of research on this 'fourth wave' of militant jihadism in Europe and beyond.Link:https://gem.godaddy.com/p/154e78?fe=1&pact=43416-133369576-8754577104-02009768a35963129b623ade6eab264d28e853b3

08-11-2016, 07:23 PM
Nada Bakos, an ex-CIA analyst and highly regarded by a some here, was interviewed in May 2016, which I missed and caught today via Twitter; yes after Mr Trump's claim ISIS was created by "not the usual suspects":http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/article/nada-bakos-how-zarqawi-went-from-thug-to-isis-founder/? (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/article/nada-bakos-how-zarqawi-went-from-thug-to-isis-founder/?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=share_button)


SWJ Blog
01-14-2018, 12:15 AM
A New American Leader Rises in ISIS (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/a-new-american-leader-rises-in-isis)

Entry Excerpt:

Read the full post (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/a-new-american-leader-rises-in-isis) and make any comments at the SWJ Blog (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog).
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01-14-2018, 08:38 PM
..the son of an Albanian-American pizza-shop owner from New Jersey.

First there’s the defunct Twitter profile, which at one point engaged in a conversation with a State Department counter-propaganda account about the Islamic State. Then there’s the fact that he used the social-networking site Paltalk, a communications platform reportedly popular among Western jihadis. But none of it compares to the ISIS propaganda video that, according to multiple law-enforcement officials, shows Hoxha beheading captured Kurdish soldiers. If they are right about his identity, Hoxha is the first American Islamic State member known to be beheading individuals in such a video.

Albanian ... Pizza shop... New Jersey. Sounds familiar.

Anyone remember the 'Fort Dix Six'? See

2007 vintage thread (now locked) on these guys.

04-07-2018, 10:01 AM
This thread was closed in 2016 and now has 130,435v (up from 31,642v).

04-07-2018, 10:14 AM
I am aware that ISIS publishes on-line and the pointer for this came from Professor Paul Rogers (who I cite often). His review opens with:
The ISIS media office recently circulated the PDF of an e-book written at least eight years ago by one of the movement's leading paramilitary specialists (Abū Hamzah al-Muhājir, aka Abu Ayyub al-Masri). Advice for the Leaders and Soldiers of the Islamic State is a guide on how to wage an insurgency. The decision to circulate it openly now, when ISIS has lost control of almost all its geographical caliphate yet survives and even thrives elsewhere, is an intriguing development. It may well prove useful not just to its intended readership, but to others wanting to know how ISIS intends to pursue its strategic aims.

(Later) published in eleven languages: Bosnian, English, French, German, Indonesian, Kurdish, Pashto, Russian, Turkish, Uyghur and Urdu. This alone points to some of the regions that the ISIS leadership sees as having growth potential.

He concludes:
As ISIS moves towards becoming a decentred, transnational insurgency, spreading its knowledge as widely as possible makes grim sense. Advice for the Leaders and Soldiers of the Islamic State, new edition, is a potent reminder that ISIS sees its recent setback as but an episode in a very long war.
Link:https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/isis-in-eleven-shades-of-black? (https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/isis-in-eleven-shades-of-black?utm_source=Daily+Newsletter&utm_campaign=e4d125eb8b-DAILY_NEWSLETTER_MAILCHIMP&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_717bc5d86d-e4d125eb8b-407365113)

The article in English is within an issue of Dabiq and was found on a non-Jihadist website:https://clarionproject.org/docs/isis-isil-islamic-state-magazine-issue-6-al-qaeda-of-waziristan.pdf

Bill Moore
09-02-2018, 02:10 AM

For nearly a year, Islamic State-watchers had wondered whether Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the group, was alive. Then on Wednesday, he resurfaced for the first time in 11 months, releasing a recorded speech to mark the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha. In the 55-minute speech—his longest of those that have been made public—he referenced recent events, indicating that it was recorded over the past few weeks.

Aside from its preachy opening, Baghdadi’s speech charted a course for ISIS to regroup. In one key passage, he called for lone-actor attacks in Western countries, including bombings, car-rammings, and gun and knife attacks. Previously, such calls only came from ISIS’s former spokesman; coming from the self-styled caliph himself, they’re likely to carry more weight. Baghdadi even quantified his expectations: One attack in the West equals a thousand in the Middle East—a ratio that recalls the Irish Republican Army’s campaign of terror in Britain decades ago, which stipulated that one bomb in Britain was worth 100 in Northern Ireland. ISIS, like the violent Irish nationalists before it, knows that such attacks will garner more publicity and spark greater reaction than the slaughter of 200 Druze civilians in southern Syria or a car bombing in the heart of Baghdad.

His speech made it clear that ISIS remembers the lessons of the past two decades very well. Whether his enemies also do is the difference between victory and defeat.

A lot more in the article, to include how they are conducting targeted killings in Iraq to weaken Sunni resistance to ISIS reemergence. No idea how accurate the reporting is, but the author of the article wrote the go to book on ISIS, ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror, so I assuming he knows what he is talking about.

Bill Moore
09-03-2018, 08:02 PM
Good news, but in the end is there really a so-what factor? Rinse, repeat, we keep repeating the same successes multiple times a year, and 17 years later we're still fighting in the same terrain.


US forces in Afghanistan confirmed Sunday that the head of ISIS in the country was killed in a strike a little over a week ago.

The death of the leader is the third time US forces have killed a self-proclaimed head of ISIS in Afghanistan since July 2016, according to the US.

Yet even with a shared goal of eliminating ISIS from Afghanistan, the Taliban still view the US and the Afghan government with distrust.
"Enemy is first ISIS, then government," Taliban commander Agha said.

09-04-2018, 01:21 PM
Good news, but in the end is there really a so-what factor? Rinse, repeat, we keep repeating the same successes multiple times a year, and 17 years later we're still fighting in the same terrain.


It's Tuesday, it must be ISIS day. I write this as The Soufan Group has a similar commentary, which starts with - their emphasis:
Bottom Line Up Front

Small pockets of Islamic State fighters have regrouped throughout parts of Iraq and Syria.
Jihadists are becoming more brazen, executing coordinated attacks on security services and oil fields.
The Islamic State’s remaining war chest could prove to be sufficient for the group to fund its resurgence.
Engineering a comeback is part of the group’s current strategy of resting, rearming, and recuperating.

With the renewed vigor of the so-called Islamic State in areas north and west of Baghdad, a residual American military presence in Iraq is necessary to keep the terrorist group from staging a comeback in areas previously considered ‘liberated.’

10-21-2018, 06:22 PM
The first known private military contracting and consulting firm catering just to jihadists issued a new online fundraising appeal for help in arming fighters while also noting this week that donors came through to build a training camp for jihadists in Syria.

"We have finished our project about the building new training camp for brothers and I am so glad. And we are going to start the new lessons after a few days, inshallah, special courses for shooters of PKM and RPG," Malhama Tactical leader Abu Salman Belarus said in an English-language video posted to his Twitter account Wednesday, thanking those who "supported our project."


Malhama Tactical, referred to as Blackwater for jihadists, offers trainers who hail from Russia's Caucasus region and the former Soviet states. Excerpts of training videos are frequently posted online.

Their contracting clients have included Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham, the umbrella group known as al-Qaeda in Syria that includes the former al-Nusra Front. Then-leader Abu Rofiq, an Uzbek who said he was a veteran of the Russian military, told Foreign Policy magazine last year that territorial setbacks for jihadist groups didn't dampen their business demand, yet they were also considering new regions to branch out their business.

Malhama Tactical launched in May 2016 and by the end of that year was advertising on Facebook for trainers to come join their “fun and friendly team” with vacation allowance and a day off per week. The group also manufactures and supplies certain equipment to jihadist groups.

10-23-2018, 11:54 AM
Reminder: OSINT sources can be fallible.


11-07-2018, 08:03 PM
An Anglo-Dutch report 'The Cost of Crying Victory: Policy Implications of the Islamic State’s Territorial Collapse' by ICSR and the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism – The Hague (ICCT).

The Summary opens with:
In light of the territorial demise of the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria, this report analyses the continued risks posed by IS. Given that IS is playing a long game, the report calls upon policymakers to keep up the counter-terrorism pressure, to sidestep policy fatigue at all costs to avoid undoing years of progress, and to continue fostering the emergence of resilient and inclusive societies.

I have not read it, but Charlie Winter & Shiraz Maher (ICSR) are experts on IS.

11-25-2018, 02:50 PM
The new leader of the United Kingdom’s army said that Russia is a bigger security threat than the Islamic State group (ISIS) in his first interview since becoming chief in June.

12-01-2018, 08:49 AM
Originally posted by Joel Wing in the Iraq 2018 thread. It is an article by Hassan Hassan in 'The Atlantic' and hopefully the link works. The sub-title:
A secret biography suggests that Abu Ali al-Anbari defined the group’s radical approach more than any other person.

The article is based upon:
A month ago, I obtained a 93-page document that chronicles Anbari’s life, as well as the extremist landscape around him in 1990s Iraq. Anbari’s son, Abdullah, wrote the biography for the internal use of the Islamic State, which published parts of it in its weekly Arabic magazine, Al-Naba, in 2016, shortly after Anbari’s killing. Dissidents within ISIS recently spread the full document on social media, which is how I came across it. Abdullah has stated that the biography was based on 16 years of working closely with his father, a diary that Anbari kept, and firsthand accounts of Anbari from fellow ISIS members.

12-02-2018, 09:05 PM
A blogger, Kyle Orton, whose output I rarely capture and this article in a away supplements that by Hassan Hassan.

12-07-2018, 09:55 PM
A curious item, originally on the BBC World Service (Arabic) and recirculated on YouTube:
It’s roughly a year since the so-called Islamic State was defeated in its major cities in Iraq and Syria, and the group’s territory has now been shrunk to just a few small pockets of land. Yet with every new defeat IS suffers, it becomes clearer that it will take years to defeat the ideology that inspired the group. Prisons were one place IS ideology thrived before 2014, and thousands of former IS members are currently in jails across the region. Many of them are foreigners with the same ideology that first pushed them to join IS, and whose governments are refusing to take them back. BBC Arabic’s Special Correspondent, Feras Kilani, met one Saudi prisoner currently detained by the Syrian Democratic Forces.

It is just under ten minutes long, with English sub-titles.

03-08-2019, 04:30 PM
NEAR BAGHOUZ, Syria (Reuters) - Emerging from Islamic State's last enclave in eastern Syria, a widow of one of the group's fighters made no effort to hide her enmity toward the United States as she handed herself over to U.S.-backed Syrian forces besieging the area.

"This is not war. I did not see fighters, people taking up arms and waging jihad against America. No I only saw America killing - a lot," French national Um Walaa's told Reuters TV after being evacuated from Baghouz near the Iraqi border.

"...They used to say we (Islamic State) made the world scared, honestly I did not see this. I did not see that we terrorized the world."

Her words offer a snapshot of the feelings harbored by the followers and fighters of the hardline group who have poured out of the enclave by the thousand over the past month.


03-22-2019, 05:23 AM

BAGHOUZ, Syria -- The caliphate has crumbled, and the final offensive is over. While the official announcement hasn’t yet been made – Fox News has been told that this village, the last ISIS stronghold, is liberated.

It’s the first time since we’ve been here in Syria for five days that the bombs have stopped dropping and the gunfire has disappeared. We have witnessed the end of the caliphate – the brutal empire that once ruled over 8 million people – is gone.

Troops here are now bringing down the black flags of ISIS. The flags no longer fly over the town, instilling fear.


04-14-2019, 02:08 PM
A report from late March 2019 and the summary states:
March saw the eradication of the last scrap of the Islamic State movement’s Caliphate in Syria and Iraq after a five-year struggle. It did not witness the destruction of the movement, which new data shows remains highly active in Iraq, Syria and two dozen other countries. This briefing assesses the evolution of IS in Iraq and Syria and its re-emergence in Africa and Asia.

04-23-2019, 07:38 PM
A short commentary by Bruce Hoffman, which ends with:
The bottom line is that the recent succession of triumphalist statements that have attended the defeat of the caliphate in Syria and Iraq does not mean that the threat to international security from ISIS has abated. The assumption that, with the fall of the caliphate that, the lingering ISIS threat was narrowly one mainly from lone actors has thus been seriously undermined by the tragic events of the past few days.