Archive for the ‘Islamic State of Iraq (ISI)’ category

Part 2: “Upon the prophetic methodology” and the media universe

August 1, 2017

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IS publishes a rich blend of propaganda on a daily basis, ranging from text documents to professionally produced videos. Any release by IS – as much as the intention of AQ media – seeks to inform, educate and convince the consumer that the jihadists are the only “true” Muslims, following the correct “prophetic methodology.” For jihadists, the heavy use of the media is part of their war for the “hearts and minds” – and the quest for authority, to be acknowledged as the only sincere representatives of ‘true’ Sunni Islam.

Among the major successes IS was able to reclaim for itself was the tearing down of the border between Syria and Iraq. While AQ has been theorizing about liberating and re-uniting Islamic territory for years without end, it was the “Islamic State” in 2014 that was physically able to implement what AQ claimed to fight for. The texts, published in classical print magazines of the 1980s and 1990s and later on the Internet have been enriched by Sunni extremist videos – with the same modus operandi (from off-line media to digital since the early 2000s). Anyone who knows the Sunni extremist literature, can read the videos in full, understanding all embedded codes, visual language, the habitus of the propagated Sunni Muslim identity etc.

evolution of jihadist magazines

IS turned the tables. By applying a great deal of Sunni extremist literature upon real territory, a population and having the space to document what was unprecedented (such as the execution of alleged homosexuals by plunging to death from roof tops), IS was able to establish a repository of videos in mainly Arabic but also other languages, where theology has been applied – and where the lesser initiated can become followers even without reading the massive amount of Sunni extremist materials available online. The videos bridge the language gap and serve as a pull factor into the mindset of Sunni extremism: those who do not speak Arabic and have questions about the Sunni Muslim identity offered by IS can find answers themselves by tuning into – for example – English language explanations of shirk (loosely translated as “polytheism” for now) by foreign fighters from Cambodia[1], or get a picture of the importance of the tearing down of the border between Syria and Iraq by a foreign fighter from Chile.

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Without reading the Arabic core documents, however, theological nuances that echo into contemporary IS motifs and mindset is missing. This is where non-Arabic language translations and tabloid-styled magazines come into play and provide further explanations – yet serving as a further opening for the non-Arabic able consumers to dig deeper into the electronic treasure trove of Sunni extremist books and videos of the past 35+ years, including dedicated English, German, French, Russian, Bahasa etc. materials (including said books and videos). And these are the very documents that make up the Sunni extremist mindset and that lead IS to the application thereof where they can derive the theological framework for their non-combat actions or governing rules (from destroying museums to systematic destruction of Shiite mosques or enslaving Yazidis). Liberating territory defined as “Islamic” and enforcing shari’a rule carried out by the extremists, who would then establish special police units to assure any violation of religious commandments will be punished. This, naturally, targets the local population in an attempt to “reformat” or replace local Islamic customs and give religion the space it did not have before. Most of these theological concepts, parameters and nuances can be referred to the “prophetic methodology” – if we follow the extremists in their words. Thus the “caliphate upon the prophetic methodology” as a slogan represents in sum what jihadists and their sympathizers struggle for. This too, is not new if you recall AQAP slogans of the 2000s such as “akhriju l-mushrikin min jazirat al-‘Arab” and the deployment of the first bi-weekly electronic magazine “sawt al-jihad”.[2] These materials serve as a legacy for IS to establish itself in the 2000s and to unfold in 2013/4 onwards. In turn the legacy of IS and the massive quantity of contemporary materials will be the legacy for future Sunni extremist groups that are operationally sometimes but theologically always connected. With the demise of parts of IS-held territory, the coherent audio-visual narratives – nearly all of the over 2,000 videos are in full-HD, 16:9 – remain and serve as inspiration to restore rule by the “prophetic methodology” for future generations. This is where the nostalgia will kick in with all the jihadist legacy expressed by the texts, videos, nashid, poetry, even humor.[3]

IS was able to enforce theological authoritative texts and religious decrees using a solid basis by “AQ scholars” and consequently document the output by audio-visual means, which then on top had been consistently released on social media. At first massively on Twitter[4] before moving on to Telegram.[5] And of course there is the strategy to spray IS materials on all levels of the Internet. Telegram has replaced Twitter as the core and is the first line of dissemination from which onwards specific content gets pushed out. On Telegram not all content is being disseminated outside the core IS-groups into the ‘open net’, (might do an extra post on this sometime).

Hence, nothing of what IS does is new – however, the scale and pace of enforcing these theological parameters physically (and filming and disseminating this online) is new, with the exception of execution of alleged spies, hostages or “apostates” (as had been outlined by – of the many – Abu Yahya al-Libi, 2009). This is partly why the ‘narratives’ of IS are highly coherent and attractive. AQ often referred to ‘aqida (creed) and minhaj/manhaj (methodology) when outlining what defines a Sunni Muslim. This ranges from proper prayer conduct to destroying graves of holy men (awliya’) whenever possible. AQ was only able in a limited way to enforce this “prophetic methodology” when in control of pockets of territory in Iraq and especially in Yemen and partly in Mali and when AQAP 1.0 was active in Saudi Arabia targeting the “mushrikin”. The claim to re-enact the lives of early Muslims under the command of prophet Muhammad, acting on said “prophetic methodology” and applying divine laws as opposed to man-made laws is a core element of Sunni extremist theology and hence part of the wider mindset tied into the “Muslim identity” – by the standards of the extremists. Abu Mus’ab al-Suri (2004) romanticized about this as one of the objectives for any mujahid in his 1600 page long book “Global Islamic Resistance Call” (pages 42, 92). Al-Suri referenced a popular hadith, predicting “the return of the caliphate upon the prophetic methodology.” Ayman al-Zawahiri in his “fourth open interview” (2007), conducted online and published by al-Sahab – back in the day that communication took place within vBulletin community forums –, demanded that Sunni jihadist organizations in Iraq ally with “the Islamic State in Iraq” to liberate territory and consequently re-establish the “abode of Islam” (dar al-Islam) by introducing the “prophetic methodology”. End of July 2014, the al-Furqan Media Foundation (which was founded over a decade ago) released a video entitled ‘ala minhaj al-nubuwwa.

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Claiming “prophetic conduct” means claiming infallibility. Dozens of IS videos in the past years show the enforcement of shari’a law regulations and applied theology – not only the hard power side such as the execution of spies, the amputation of hands, but also the collection of taxes, the enforcing of health regulations at food markets or state provided dental care. A great deal of this is carried out by the al-Hisba, the religious police, which not only enforces proper Islamic clothing but is also often seen in videos where contraband such as alcohol and tobacco are burned or items related to shirk) are destroyed.

From Theory to Practice & the On-/Off-Line Relationship

Religious references to the ahl al-Sunna wa-l jama’a are often made[6], meaning the Sunni Muslims who act according to the prophetic tradition (Sunna), emulating prophet Muhammad and his companions. Sunni extremists claim to be in the closest proximity to God by re-enacting the example and guidance, as set by the Sunna of prophet Muhammad and his companions (sahaba). IS has taken this concept to a new level by popularizing their slogan “upon the prophetic methodology” (ala minhaj al-nubuwwa). This means that they justify every action, ranging from the destruction of Shiite mosques to the execution of non-Sunni Muslims, with reference to certain, selectively chosen parts of divine scripture and the prophetic tradition.

Jihadist media operatives document all of these actions, who then produce professional, full high definition 16:9 videos. These videos are released on social media platforms that, in turn push contents onto the mobile devices and desktop computers of users.

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The billboard above reads: “the messenger – peace be upon him said: “between a man and shirk and disbelief  stands the abolishing of [ritual] prayer.”

As IS applies a great deal of theological documents and theories penned by generations of AQ theologians, argumentatively, AQ remains most important and has regained an active role by offshoot groups and individuals who subscribe to this monopoly of truth. The theological parameters and interpretations of Islamic sources give out a highly coherent set of ‘narratives’. While the role model of the ‘proper’ Sunni Muslim according to these principals of faith (‘aqida) and religious methodology (manhaj/minhaj) is embodied by the jihadists who claim purity and absolute proximity to god. The doctrine of Sunni extremism provides a clear identity of what it should mean to be a ‘true’ monotheistic Muslim (muwahhid) and how to profess the divine laws of God (shari’a) as based on the authoritarian interpretations and guidelines freely available on the Internet – giving answers to real life grievances in zones of conflict across diverse Islamic countries. Fighters and clerics likewise and sometimes in rotating roles relate the written ideology into actions and fierce emotional sermons conveyed by the extremist’s most powerful platform: Telegram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and more; jihadi forums and dedicated websites. These role models, the corpus of texts, and most important the jihadi-affiliated and hijacked iconography most prominently represented and identifiable by the black banner with the imprinted shahada,[7] has successfully manifested within majority Sunni Islamic societies, and has even more so gained visibility within the Arab public space amid the chaos and aftermath of the so-called ‘Arab Spring’.[8] Perhaps even more so in times of upheaval and (re-) spawning of militant groups throughout the countries affected by the ‘Arab Spring’, first and foremost Syria, the emphasis of jihadist media advisors, strategists and contributors is set to emphasize their own role and importance:

“We are indeed convinced that the battlefields of the media jihad are of the most important streams of jihad and a elementary front thereof in this raging war with our enemies. Therefore, we [media workers] commit ourselves just as any jihadi brigade, working correspondingly with our brothers in the fields of war, directly encountering the enemies.”[9]

The media in principal is used on a tactical level, not only to incite and recruit individuals worldwide, but to create theological denominators and operational paradigms with policy guidelines for various jihadist groups. While “jihad” is first and foremost agreed to as being implemented by militant and violent means in general, or in short linked to “combat” (qital), the media thereof follows the rationale of propagating Islam (da’wa) and the proper religious methodology (manhaj/minhaj). This propagation thus is part of the overall objective to “establish the rightly guided caliphate” while uniting various Sunni fighting groups and individuals under this particular propagated manhaj.[10]

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With the Islamic State having endured for years as the “established rightly guided caliphate”, stretching across Syria and Iraq as its core area, and the day-to-day application of the “prophetic methodology”, the legacy it already leaves behind for future jihad theaters is part of the many challenges to overcome modern-day global terrorism.

[1] Markaz al-Hayyat li’-l ‘ilam, Stories from the Land of the Living – the Story of Abu Khaled the Cambodian from Australia,

[2] Nico Prucha, Die Stimme des Dschihad “Sawt al-gihad”: al-Qa’idas erstes Online-Magazin Hamburg: Verlag Dr. Kovač, 2010

[3] See the statements by Thomas Hegghammer: https://amp.theguardian.com/world/2017/jul/23/the-culture-that-makes-a-jihadi-thomas-hegghammer-interview-poetry-militancy

[4] Ali Fisher and Nico Prucha: The Call-Up: The Roots of a Resilient and Persistent Jihadist Presence on Twitter, Global Ecco, CTX vo.4 no.3, August 2014, https://globalecco.org/nl/the-call-up-the-roots-of-a-resilient-and-persistent-jihadist-presence-on-twitter

[5] Nico Prucha: IS and the Jihadist information Highway – Projecting Influence and Religious Identity via Telegram, Perspectives on Terrorism, vol. 10, no. 6 (2016), http://www.terrorismanalysts.com/pt/index.php/pot/article/view/556

[6] For example the major IS video release “The Clanging of the Swords, part 4”, published in May 2014. The video shows IS in the early stages of conquest and consolidating territory in the al-Anbar province of Iraq. Ali Fisher, Nico Prucha, Is this the most successful release of a jihadist video ever?, Jihadica, May 2014, http://www.jihadica.com/is-this-the-most-successful-release-of-a-jihadist-video-ever/

[7] The black flag comprises a centric grey circle imprinted with (from down upwards) “Muhammad – rasul – allah”, a reference to the Islamic creed “There is no God (allah) but God and Muhammad is the messenger (rasul) of God.” The symbolic is amplified as this exact layout and wording had been the seal of the prophet (khatim al-nabawiyya) whereas the contemporary jihadists further seek to position a monopoly of truth by signing documents and by placing the flag as an expression of divine will and power. The use of the Prophetic seal, placed not only on the flag but also to sign ‘official Islamic State’ documents and rulings, is served as a nonnegotiable authority, backed by the interpretation and application of Qur’an and Sunna – speaking in the name of God and His messenger, Muhammad, furthering the belief of being in a direct lineage to divinity and expressing the entitlement of the soldiers of God (jund allah).

[8] The manifestation of pro-AQ styled jihadist groups, exercising violence or ‘soft-power’ such as restoring basic infrastructure and handing out supplies to the Sunni population is evident by the trans-national appearance of the Ansar al-Shari’a network. The Ansar al-Shari’a groups propagate openly jihadist iconography and a similar rhetoric based on the fundamental teachings of AQ. The Libyan branch based in Bengazi and Derna as well as the chapter in Tunisia had been declared by the U.S. State Department as “foreign terrorist organizations” and “global terrorist entities” following the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, September 11, 2012. Thomas Joscelyn, State Department designates 3 Ansar al Sharia organizations, leaders, http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2014/01/state_department_des_2.php, January 10, 2013.

[9] Mu’assasat al-Ma’sada al-I’lamiyya / Fursan al-Balagh al-I’lam (eds.), Bayan nusrat al-ansar li-ikhwanihim al-Mujahidin al-abrar, https://shamikh1.info/vb/showthread.php?t=212520, October 10, 2013. This statement is signed by the most influential contemporary jihadi media key figures.

[10] Mu’assasat al-Ma’sada al-I’lamiyya / Fursan al-Balagh al-I’lam (eds.), Bayyan nusrat al-ansar li-ikhwanihim al-Mujahidin al-abrar, 3-5.

 

 

“Fursan al-Shahada, part 8” highlights Nigeria and Central Africa

November 19, 2010

Published some hours ago within the usual jihadist forums, the new ISI al-Furqan release does indeed focus on the conflict in Nigeria. But also the infamous minaret-ban in Switzerland is mentioned to portray how Islam and Muslims are being persecuted globally while being deliberately killed in certain zones of conflict (or in occupied territories such as Iraq and elsewhere where the Crusaders are active). Bosnia, Chechnya, Turkistan, the Philippines, Burma and Kashmir are also places where Muslims are under attack and mosques destroyed. With Nigeria being highlighted and introduced (basic geographical information, percentage of Muslims there, natural resources) a computer animated sequence introduces the video depicting a suicide-bomber driving a truck laden with explosives into a US-military base with a giant cross in the middle. Naturally, the cross is first knocked down by the truck before a gigantic animated explosion is set off showing then portrait pictures of the three self-inoculation operatives introduced in the video.

Attacks are being carried out in Iraq, the first attacker is from Saudi Arabia and his testimony “last words” are filmed with the operative behind the wheel of his bomb-rigged car. With the voice of Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi transitioning to Nigeria, once again showing the Aljazeera footage of the execution as well as a Christian preacher who lashes out against the Muslims (according to the Arabic translation). By all means Islam is under attack, the work of NGO’s are, of course, part of a greater plan to indoctrinate Muslim children and to further distort the true message of Islam.

Statements of the Mufti of Nigeria Ibrahim al-Husayni shown whereas the problem between Christians and Muslims are rather of tribal, economical and political nature. During his statement, which is also taken probably from Aljazeera, the video shows again and again the shooting sequences.

Scenes from AQIM’s video are introduced, showing the training of Mujahideen in some dessert while an AQIM member from Nigeria speaks out. The second self-inoculation operative in Iraq is then being portrayed, receiving his farewell hugs, working on IED’s and being accompanied by the voice of deceased AQI leader al-Muhajir and al-Baghdadi. His testimony was filmed in a living room like setting, striking out against the Christian-Crusaders, the Americans and the apostates. Children can be heard in the background. Followed by the testimony, the video shows Obama speaking at West Point and attacks the European Union, the partner of the US and the west as a whole with all its problems (economical (Lehmann Brothers), natural (BP Oil spill, Islands Vulcan)) and highlights Obama’s words who said that the US cannot deal with the problems by itself.

Subsequently the third operative is introduced (Saudi-Arabia) who seems to have himself blown up at a fortified road checkpoint.

The video ends with an address on how Muslims can help and what their obligations are.

New “Fursan al-Shahada” Video about Nigeria?

November 18, 2010

In October 2010 AQIM published a video, “The Raid of al-Damus“, regarding the situation of Muslims in Algeria but also in Libya and Nigeria. The video shows revenge operations against the Algerian police and National Army soldiers, ambushed on Algeria’s remote highways. These attacks not only took place to fight the infidel regimes in the region but particularly to avenge the execution of unarmed, detained civilians by the Nigerian army. AQIM takes this as proof to further justify its deeds and military operations with sequences of Abu Yahya al-Libi and Ayman al-Zawahiri in the video.

The scenes, it seems, have been taken from Aljazeera and put in motion in the AQIM video in its propagandized surrounding. Aljazeera describes the sequence as

“Al Jazeera has obtained exclusive footage from Nigeria which shows unarmed men being shot dead. The footage was taken last year when the Nigerian government was hailing its defeat of an Islamist rebel group known as Boko Haram.” The video shows the shooting of detainees in public by the Nigerian army (2:00) which has appeared in AQIM’s video.

“Muslims annihilated in Nigeria – The Crusader army kills Muslims in cold blood”. On the bottom right the al-Andalus media logo.

 

Corpses of Algerian soldiers are depicted in detail. Ambushed for their service for the Crusaders as well as their participation in upholding un-Islamic regimes as well as being responsible for killing Muslims.

What has this to do with ISI and the forthcoming video “Fursan al-shahada, 8” ? While part six was all committed to self-inoculation attacks in Iraq to “support Turkistan”, this 8th edition seems to be about killing and undertaking operations in Iraq for the sake of Nigeria. Alert forum members pointed out that the picture, as it appears with the remark “soon” shows pictures of the above mentioned massacres:

Forum member “BomBer” graphically points out that these two stills are from the massacre in Nigeria. Started by a user naming himself “Mullah Abu Omar” started the thread with “Walid al-Sharqawi” responding “the brothers in charge for the publication have previously focused on various circumstances of Muslims, such as in occupied Turkistan (west China) by the communists, after the massacre [further] violating the rights of Muslims there. And in this video the focus will feature the land of the Hausa, “Nigeria”, remembering the Muslims who are being tyrannized by many different means, inciting the Muslims in “Nigeria” to carry weapons. And God knows best.”

Hijacked Islam

November 18, 2010

The self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq, also known as al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), announced today the 8th film of its notorious series of the “Fursan al-shahada“. These, mostly professionally made, movies show and depict the testimonies and attacks of those carrying out self-inoculation attacks, also termed ‘suicide’ or ‘martyrdom’ operations in Iraq. The greater meaning of the Arabic term istishhadiya is of essence, whereas the individual sacrifices his life for a greater good in order for ‘Islam’ to benefit while the Mujahid attains the status of having confessed the utmost possible for God with the claim of being rewarded accordingly in the afterlife.

The individuals read out their testimony, according to the usual habit of the jihad video genre, portray their – naturally – piety and the fear of God while moving out on “the path of God” to fulfil the divine command, a holy covenant of individual duty “to elevate the word of God”, living the lives of early Muslims solely in regard of combat and military actions – neglecting all other forms of spiritual and scholarly knowledge. This is highly effective propaganda combining the rhetoric and the wording of individual Mujahideen with the written ideology of AQ global. Here the consumers of online jihad materials find their role-models (prominently: Abu Dujana al-Khurasani) and are put in touch with elements who are in the battlefields and hotspots of jihad, who tell their tales, who have witnessed war and who express in their speech their drivers that led them to the decision of undertaking self-inoculation operations. In a previous part of “Fursan al-shahada“, the istishhadiyin operatives directed their attacks in the name of “helping Turkistan”, a region in western China where the al-Hizb al-Islami al-Turkistani went on a (Arabic) propaganda material publishing rampage after ethnic tensions rose. Since then, the “Voice of Islam”, an Arabic e-zine, is published on occasion. This edition of “Fursan al-shahada
is yet another statement by ISI to show their sympathizers that they are still in place, despite the ‘beheading’ of ISI leaders in April 2010. Further, these videos intend to deliver proof and role-models to the online crowds that the jihad for justice and truth (haqq) is not interrupted and that Iraq is as much as other theatres of jihad alive and striving for the jihadists’ understanding and definition of religion while – again – promoting martyrdom.

Anyway, with the Eid al-Adha on Tuesday, mabruk 1431!, it is certainly no coincidence, that AQ in general tries to further capitalize on public Islamic events and holidays. Usually within the forums ‘gifts’ are issued to the sympathizers and followers when Ramadan dawns. This year, Khalid al-Husaynan ‘blessed’ the online ummah with a series of speeches and sermons defining and interpreting Surahs, for example, or the “fear of hypocrisy” and the like. Punctually after the Islamic new year, AQI/ISI now announces “in order to celebrate Eid al-adha” a new movie part of the series depicting the testimony (al-wasiya) of self-inoculation operatives as well as their subsequent attacks. In some cases these operatives testimonies are filmed while sitting behind the wheel of the truck/car that will bomb them into heaven. This is attained as a deed of worship and falls into line of the jihadi school of thought as expressed by Abu Jihad al-Shami (“The Vision of the Jihaadi Movement & the Strategy for the Current Stage“):

“As it is well-known to any entry-level student of the Salafi Creed, worship is a general term that includes everything that Allaah, the Exalted, loves of actions and statements, whether apparent or concealed. Therefore, servitude is not limited to prayer, charity, fasting, and pilgrimage. Rather, included under the term ‘worship’ is Jihaad in the path of Allaah, love for the sake of Allaah and enmity for the sake of Allaah, calling to Allaah, removing oppression, judging by the Shari’ah, and ordering the good and forbidding the evil.” (p6)

In the past decade, AQ and co had been quite efficient and highly industrious within the online clouds to promote, expand and thus hijack specific religious, social and particularly historic settings, seeking to manifest proof of their actions as based on the alleged righteous, true and pious creed and subsequently being by their worldly actions closer to God than other individuals. The gaps have been filled and nowadays known faces such as al-Awlaqi shock the western media when all the sudden his sermons and speeches can be retrieved in English on YouTube, facebook, Twitter and other websites in various languages. This is certainly another dangerous and alerting fact but the missionary spreading of AQ’s definitions, wordings and notions have infected the internet for a very long time and new materials (videos and writings) appear almost daily, covering more and more niches and providing an in-depth appeal by letting the Mujahideen speak, who undertake such istishhadiya operations against foreign and/or domestic enemies, attaining both: fame online as well as the shahada (according the jihadist creed). An assessment of legitimizing the two severe istishhadiya operations in 2007 in Algiers can be obtained here.

By such “surprises” and “gifts”, the global torrents of jihad further attempt to hijack public parts of Islam, expressing a violent conduct as proper and rightful celebration of public holidays while adherents of this specific ideology speak out to provide personal justifications bound to an universal understanding of fighting Satan, the apostates, the disbelievers and what have you. Gifts and “glad tidings” are disseminated via the forums and instantaneously spread online.

“Soon, with the permission of God – 8”

Khalid al-Husaynan’s sermon on the 9th surah of the Quran – a gift during the holy month of Ramadan (published in August 2010).

Death to Christians – ISI and the rampage against the Cross

November 16, 2010

On 31 October 2010 elements claiming being members or affiliated with the “Islamic State of Iraq” (ISI) an al-Qaeda wing killed 52 people in total in a Church in Baghdad. The hostage crisis quickly turned bloody and via the Arabic jihadist forums ISI published a number of statements and demands. The attack was supposedly triggered by an event in Egypt, whereas two women of the Egyptian Christian minority, the Copts, had converted to Islam and had been subsequently detained by the Copts refuting their conversion. AQ propaganda has gone wild about this calling out for ‘justice’ while attempting to incite violence against Christians in general but against the Copts in Egypt particularly. While AQ global with its localized offshoots usually emphasizes on a rhetoric of (self-) defense as well as the preservation / restoration of honor, dignity and sacrosanct values (including women as well as the protection of cultural Islamic values), the attack on the Christians in Iraq can be understood in a similar logic: Attacking alleged affiliates of the Copts in Egypt who are as much waging a war against Islam as foreign occupants and who are, like the Shiites or other minorities, assumed being part of a conspiracy with local rulers against Sunni Muslims. In AQ’s reasoning, two conflicting programs are at work: “The program of truth” versus “program of falsehood”. In this universal war, the reasoning is simply and complex at the same time as the individual Mujahid is fighting for “truth” and “piety” whereas anyone and anything outside of his perception are termed and defined as being part of a highly detailed conspiracy against Islam. The revenge attack on the Church Our Lady of Salvation in Baghdad and the followed bloodshed is being exploited on the forums by the participants and hobby propagandists with the help of Photoshop who justify the attack accordingly to the statements and memoranda released by ISI – who adhere to the ideological elements and provide their (partially graphical) output online.

The attack occurred, according to the Long War Journal by “Al Qaeda fighters armed with suicide vests, assault rifles, and hand grenades, and wearing uniforms of a local security company, attacked the nearby stock exchange, wounding two security guards. The attack on the exchange appeared to be a feint designed to lure security forces to the area while a squad estimated at between five to eight terrorists stormed the Our Lady of Deliverance church and took 120 Christians hostage, according to the Associated Press.” AP reported later that as many as 58 had been killed in the attack.

The claim, that Arab Christians in the region are actively contributing to the alleged war on Islam has also been stated by notorious Anwar al-Awlaqi, who, in his recent filmed speech, told the story of a women and her two sons from Australia. Shyloh Giddins converted to Islam and “then heard that Yemen is the land of the al-Ansar” where she migrated to. Being arrested on demands of the Australian government with the help of US intelligence by the Yemeni government, so the story goes by al-Awlaqi, she questioned the Yemeni interrogators why they are punishing her as they should be the al-Ansar (the supporters of Islam). The interrogators simply replied – and this is a word game not uncommon for Arabic jihadist rhetoric – that “we are Christians (nasara) and not ansar“. The ISI attack on the Christians in Iraq is a more vicious and massive attack on those, who for several years now had been the rhetorical enemy while AQ is trying to exploit and gain on all fronts available. History tells us, that having an interior enemy, a sworn traitor, is always beneficial for those who transgress humanity by all means available.

With the hostages at the church, ISI first demanded the release of Camelia Shahada, one of the converted women in Egypt who is sought being held by her husband in a church against her will, and gave out “a ultimatum to Shenouda of 48 hours or war against the Christians in the region will be declared.” ISI states that her release as well as “the rest of the detained Muslimas” is obligatory, otherwise “total war will be declared”. Christians and churches at the “hand of Shenouda” worldwide would be a target while “we say to the Vatican as they have gathered the Christians in the Middle East of various torrents to support and guide them to pressure them in order to release our sisters.” Shenouda will be held accountable for “the destruction of all regional Christians”.  This statement was accompanied by an audio message of the “Self-inoculation Brigades” who demanded the release of Camelia Shahada (or: Shahata) and Wafaa Costantine.  The English translation can be obtained here: ISI

3 November 2010

“The War Ministry of ISI” then released another statement declaring the “end of the ultimatum while the Christian church in Egypt did not concede and did not declare the state of our imprisoned sisters and their release. We did not hear anything.” Therefore, ISI “declares all centers, institutions and councils of the Christians as a legitimate target for the Mujahideen.” The Christians, including the Vatican, are subsequently defined as mushrikeen (see footnote 5 here), as those, who ‘partner’ or associating elements (Saints, Holy Spirits, material things) with God, thus distorting the fundamental monotheistic claim. Parallel to their demand, ISI claims that “five heroes of Islam, who responded to the mobilizing call of the amir al-mu’mineen and fulfilled their duty for their sisters in religion” conducting operations in the Kurdish areas of Iraq. The follow-up statement, although the Church operation ended in bloodshed on 31 October 2010, intends to extend the reach of AQ / ISI as the ‘guardian’ of Muslims and – most importantly – Muslimas.

Back to the forums

A few examples, not mentioning a recent video lashing out against the Christians (see here: MEMRI), taken from the forums, whereas the flock of jihadist sympathizers had gone wild about the hostage taking in Iraq and the claim to conduct this as part of a jihad sought to liberate and safeguard Muslims from both worldly enemies as much as universal enemies at war with God and Islam:

ISI embassy bombings in Baghdad

April 11, 2010

With the ongoing “ghazwat al-asir” campaign by the Islamic State of Iraq to revenge imprisoned Muslims (hence the name of the operations “Prisoner”) it has now reached its fifth operation. The recent suicidebombing attacks against embassies in Baghdad had been claimed by ISI in a usual rhetoric and manner, but this has now been expressed in a picture uploaded by one of the jihadist forum members to underline his

The campaign started with devastating suicide attacks in Baghdad and has since not decreased in intensity or violence. As the German, Iranian and Egyptian embassies had been struck, the flags appear in the picture depicting the ISI operation as direct revenge for worldwide imprisoned Muslims and that are governments conspiring with the authorities of the Green Zone. ISI released a video two weeks ago entitled “ghazwat al-asir, part I”, which may be the beginning of a new ISI video series (as of “fursan al-shahada” that consists now of 7 lengthy movies showing testimonies and attacks of suicide bombers).

A note on the source of the picture:

The “Terrorist for the Victory of Religion” felt compelled to create the picture “for a long time. I haven’t submitted a jihadist picture” but was working on it while gained some experience with programs – may it have been Photoshop? But the operation did inspire him to that extend, “that I rushed on working with the programs to create a picture for the blessed operation.”

As you can see, he has chosen his avatar carefully, just as much as the signature of his postings:

Al-Furqan video online quick look at AQIM and IMU videos

January 12, 2010

The al-Furqan video “Crusher of the Peshmerga”, or the “destroyers”, the “conqueror” if you will, just went online by ISI’s media outlet, al-Furqan.

As announced yesterday, there is a lengthier posting coming forth sometime this week, when I have the time to do so. It will, however, include the IMU and AQIM video besides this al-Furqan publication.

The IMU video is more or less simply another eulogy of more fallen fighters and it is subtitled in German. Interesting, but nothing that new – most of the killed died, according to the video, in Weziristan and in “Weziristan-Mehsud”. The killed are being portrayed and their corpses shown – some had been trainers and coordinators, other had been simple Mujahidin who are shown in short sequences / testimonies.

The AQIM video (2h total running time) is a bit more interesting and consists of the usual ideological measures with the usual trainings sequences somewhere in the countryside. The usual AQ senior leadership figures come to light and reinforce the over extending ideology and bind this to practical and military implications: fulfilling the true command of God to move out into jihad, as defined by AQ and ideologues such as Abdallah Azzam.