U.S. presidential candidates are steering the country toward a terror trap.
For close to a decade, the trauma of the Iraq War left Americans wary of launching new wars in the Middle East. That caution is largely gone. Most of the leading presidential candidates demand that the United States escalate its air war in Iraq and Syria, send additional Special Forces, or enforce a buffer zone, which the head of Central Command, General Lloyd Austin, has said would require deploying U.S. ground troops. Most Americans now favor doing just that.
The primary justification for this new hawkishness is stopping the Islamic State, or isis, from striking the United States. Which is ironic, because at least in the short term, America’s intervention will likely spark more terrorism against the United States, thus fueling demands for yet greater military action. After a period of relative restraint, the United States is heading back into the terror trap.
To understand how this trap works, it’s worth remembering that during the Cold War, the United States had relatively few troops in the Arab and Muslim world. When Ronald Reagan was elected president, Central Command, which oversees U.S. military operations in the Middle East and Central Asia, did not even exist. All of this changed in 1990, when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, and President George H. W. Bush dispatched 700,000 troops to expel him and defend Saudi Arabia. After the war was won, thousands stayed to deter Saddam, and to enforce no-fly zones over Iraq.
Before the Gulf War, the Saudi native Osama bin Laden and his associates had focused on supporting the mujahideen, who were fighting to repel the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. But after the U.S.S.R.’s withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989, al-Qaeda turned its attention to the United States, and in particular to America’s military presence in Saudi Arabia. In 1992, al-Qaeda issued a fatwa calling for attacks on American troops in the Middle East. After the United States intervened in Somalia later that year, Somali rebels allegedly trained by al-Qaeda shot down two Black Hawk helicopters. In 1995, al-Qaeda operatives took credit for bombing a joint U.S.-Saudi military facility in Riyadh. And in 1996, a truck bomb devastated a building housing U.S. Air Force personnel in the Saudi city of Dhahran. (Although Saudi Hezbollah carried out the attack, the 9/11 Commission noted “signs that al-Qaeda played some role.”) That same year, another al-Qaeda fatwa declared, “The latest and the greatest of these [Western] aggressions … is the occupation of the land of the two Holy Places”: Saudi Arabia. On August 7, 1998, the eighth anniversary of the beginning of that “occupation,” al-Qaeda bombed America’s embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
The fact that al-Qaeda justified its attacks as a response to American “occupation” makes them no less reprehensible, of course. And al-Qaeda might well have struck American targets even had the U.S. not stationed troops on Saudi soil. After all, as a global superpower, the United States was involved militarily all across the world in ways al-Qaeda interpreted as oppressive to Muslims.
Still, it’s no coincidence that bin Laden and company shifted their focus away from the U.S.S.R. after Soviet troops left Afghanistan and toward the United States after American troops entered Saudi Arabia. Key advisers to George W. Bush recognized this. After U.S. forces overthrew Saddam in 2003, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz said one of the benefits “that has gone by almost unnoticed—but it’s huge—is that by complete mutual agreement between the U.S. and the Saudi government we can now remove almost all of our forces from Saudi Arabia.” The United States, he reasoned, had thus eliminated “a huge recruiting device for al-Qaeda.”
The problem was that to remove thousands of troops from Saudi Arabia, the United States sent more than 100,000 to invade and occupy Iraq. A dramatic surge in terrorist attacks against American and allied forces ensued. As Robert Pape, the director of the Chicago Project on Security and Terrorism at the University of Chicago, has enumerated, the world witnessed 343 suicide attacks from 1980 to 2003, about 10 percent of them against America and its allies. From 2004 to 2010, by contrast, there were more than 2,400 such attacks worldwide, more than 90 percent of them against American and coalition forces in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere.
Many of those attacks were orchestrated by al-Qaeda’s Iraqi affiliate, which in 2006 established the Islamic State of Iraq. After weakening in 2007 and 2008 (when the U.S. paid Sunni tribal leaders to fight jihadists), the Islamic State strengthened again as the Obama administration’s inattention allowed Iraq’s Shia prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, to intensify his persecution of Sunnis. Then, after Syrians rebelled against Bashar al-Assad, the Islamic State expanded across Iraq’s western border into Syria, later renaming itself the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
Significantly, when the last American troops left Iraq, in December 2011, isis did not follow them home. “In its various incarnations,” notes Daniel Byman, a counterterrorism expert who is a professor at Georgetown, the Islamic State “focused first and foremost on its immediate theater of operations.” Although isis was happy if people inspired by its message struck Western targets, it made little effort to orchestrate such attacks. Research fellows at the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment detected only four isis-related plots in the West from January 2011 to May 2014.
But beginning in the fall of 2014, the number of isis-related plots in the West spiked. The Norwegian researchers counted 26 from July 2014 to June 2015 alone. What explains the rise? The most plausible explanation is that the Islamic State started targeting Western countries because they had started targeting it. In August 2014, the United States began bombing isis targets to protect the Yazidi religious sect in northern Iraq, which isis was threatening with extermination. France joined the air campaign the following month. Since then, isis seems to have moved from merely inspiring attacks against the West to actively planning them. November’s attacks in Paris, writes Byman, were the “first time that isis has devoted significant resources to a mass-casualty attack in Europe.” Afterward, isis released a video warning the people of France: “As long as you keep bombing you will not find peace.”
In the wake of the Paris attacks, the Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio declared that the reason isis targets the West is “because we have freedom of speech, because we have diversity in our religious beliefs … because we’re a tolerant society.” Yet only weeks earlier, isis had downed a Russian airliner over the Sinai, thus targeting the distinctly intolerant regime of Vladimir Putin. The Islamic State’s justification for that attack was identical to the one it gave for its attack on France: It was bombing Russia because Russia had bombed it.
All of which suggests that the more America intensifies its war against isis, the more isis will try to strike Americans. And the more terrorism isis manages to carry out, the more fiercely America will escalate its air attacks, thus creating the civilian casualties that, according to the International Crisis Group’s Noah Bonsey, “tremendously help the narrative of a jihadi group like the Islamic State.” If the public reaction to Paris and the December attack in San Bernardino is any guide, continued jihadist terrorism will also lead to a rising demand for American ground troops. That, argues the French isis expert Jean-Pierre Filiu, would be the worst trap America could fall into, because isis wants to cast itself as the Islamic world’s defender against a new crusader invasion.
Despite these dangers, there is a case for attacking isis. Part of it is humanitarian: Millions of people now live in a caliphate in which many women cannot leave their homes unless accompanied by a man, and religious minorities can be sold as slaves. Allowing isis to expand, and potentially threaten Jordan or Saudi Arabia, would produce misery on an epic scale, intensify the refugee crisis already roiling Europe, and destroy America’s reputation as the underwriter of Middle Eastern order.
But the war isn’t being sold on these grounds. The presidential candidates are not telling Americans that a greater short-term terrorist threat is the price they must pay to liberate oppressed Arabs, protect friendly regimes, and prevent a greater danger down the road. Instead, candidates are promising, at least implicitly, that if America intensifies its war, the terrorist threat will decrease.
What happens when they’re proved wrong? In a political environment where candidates won’t admit that isis attacks are partly a response, albeit a monstrous one, to the United States’ own use of force, further attacks will leave Americans even more bewildered and terrified than they are now. Some will gravitate to politicians who promise that with greater force, including ground troops, they can deliver a decisive military victory. Other Americans, desperate for a quick fix, will support further assaults on the rights of Muslims in the United States. Both impulses will help the Islamic State. And America will slide deeper into the terror trap.
The core problem is that most politicians are still selling war on the cheap. They won’t admit that, no matter how convinced Americans may be of their good intentions, the violence the U.S. inflicts overseas will lead others to try to do violence to it. The more fervently the U.S. tries to kill isis supporters, the more fervently they will try to kill Americans. And in today’s interconnected world, they will have more opportunities to strike than ever before.
Wars, even necessary ones, are usually costly for both sides. If the men and women running for president won’t admit that, they shouldn’t be demanding war at all.
America’s war in Afghanistan, which is now in its fifteenth year, presents a mystery: how could so much money, power, and good will have achieved so little? Congress has appropriated almost eight hundred billion dollars for military operations in Afghanistan; a hundred and thirteen billion has gone to reconstruction, more than was spent on the Marshall Plan, in postwar Europe. General David Petraeus, a principal architect of U.S. counterinsurgency strategy, encouraged the practice of pumping money into the economy of Afghanistan, where the per-capita G.D.P. at the time of the invasion was around a hundred and twenty dollars. He believed that money had helped buy peace during his command of American forces in Iraq. “Employ money as a weapons system,” Petraeus wrote in 2008. “Money can be ‘ammunition.’ ”
The result was a war waged as much by for-profit companies as by the military. Political debate in Washington has focussed on the number of troops deployed in Afghanistan and the losses that they have sustained. To minimize casualties, the military outsourced any task that it could: maintenance, cooking and laundry, overland logistics, even security. Since 2007, there have regularly been more contractors than U.S. forces in Afghanistan; today, they outnumber them three to one.
One result has been forms of corruption so extreme that the military has, in some cases, funded its own enemy. When a House committee investigated the trucking system that supplied American forces, it found that the system had “fueled a vast protection racket run by a shadowy network of warlords, strongmen, commanders, corrupt Afghan officials, and perhaps others.” Its report concluded that “protection payments for safe passage are a significant potential source of funding for the Taliban.” The system risked “undermining the U.S. strategy for achieving its goals in Afghanistan.”
The system has also made a few individuals very rich. Hikmatullah Shadman, an Afghan trucking-company owner, earned more than a hundred and sixty million dollars while contracting for the United States military; for the past three years, he has been battling to save much of his fortune in a federal court in Washington, D.C. In United States of America v. Sum of $70,990,605, et al., the Justice Department has accused Hikmat, as he’s known, of bribing contractors and soldiers to award him contracts. Hikmat has maintained his innocence, even as eight soldiers have pleaded guilty in related criminal cases. Several members of the Special Forces who have not been accused of wrongdoing have defended him. In a deposition, Major Jerry (Rusty) Bradley, a veteran Special Forces officer, said, “The only way to right a wrong of this magnitude is to be willing to draw your sword and defend everything that you believe in.”
I first met Hikmat in June, 2014, at his office in downtown Kabul, on a main road crowded with taxis and venders hawking stewed chickpeas. The compound once belonged to Ahmad Zahir, a famous pop singer of the nineteen-seventies. We sat in a living room that, with its low ceiling, floral wall print, and paper lanterns, resembled a California den from that period.
Hikmat, who is in his late twenties, looks disarmingly young and gentle. Slim, with a high brow that he often furrows, he countered the charges against him in grave, deliberate English. “The people who did this investigation were sitting in air-conditioned rooms,” he told me. “They don’t know what was happening in the field.” He offered to explain how he had made his fortune. “I was part of the Special Forces family,” he said. “I was trained by them.”
Before the Americans came, Hikmat lived with his father, a schoolteacher; his mother; and five siblings in a four-room mud-walled house in one of the oldest parts of Kandahar City, in southern Afghanistan. In the summer of 2001, Hikmat was fourteen years old, and he and his friends chafed at the narrowness of life under the Taliban. No one had a telephone, televisions were banned, and there was rarely any electricity. Sometimes, Hikmat recalled, the Taliban would round up the schoolboys and take them to see executions at the city’s soccer stadium. “There was a black umbrella on top of us,” he said. “We were not connected to the world.”
Eager for a glimpse of life outside Afghanistan, Hikmat would watch movies at the house of a Hindu friend, on a tiny, illicit television with the volume turned low and the blinds pulled down. They liked Bollywood dramas and Hollywood action films, and would try out the foreign-sounding names: Van Damme, Bruce Lee, Rambo. At home, in the evenings, Hikmat’s father listened to the BBC’s Pashto service while taking notes on world events in a diary. “My father was always studying at night,” Hikmat said. “He was always working.”
On September 11, 2001, Hikmat came home to find his parents sitting by the radio, stunned by the news from New York. Like many Afghans, they didn’t understand why their country was said to be responsible, but it soon became clear that the Americans would attack. Hikmat imagined that, like the action heroes in his films, they would come on foot, in a spray of bullets. He was so excited, he said, that he sneaked out and wrote in chalk on the wall of a mosque, “Long live Bush.”
The Americans came in B-52s instead, raining bombs on the Taliban and the Arab foreign fighters who had become their allies. Hikmat and his family fled across the border to Karachi, in Pakistan. Kabul fell in November, but Kandahar held out until December 7th, when a convoy of Afghan militiamen, led by the warlord Gul Agha Sherzai, entered the city, accompanied by C.I.A. advisers and U.S. Special Forces. Hikmat’s family rushed back to Kandahar. The next day, residents celebrated and played music in the streets. For the first time in years, videocassettes were sold openly. When a convoy of Special Forces drove through town, with soldiers as muscled and heavily armed as Rambo, Hikmat joined the crowd that was walking alongside them, waving and smiling. On the radio, the country’s new leader, forty-three-year-old Hamid Karzai, a former diplomat, promised a bright future of peace and development; after decades of war and isolation, the economy was reviving in Kandahar.
But, that winter, Hikmat’s father fell ill with stomach cancer, and died soon afterward. To support his mother and sisters, Hikmat tended a French-fry and juice stand. In June, 2002, he found work cleaning and making repairs at a Special Forces base that the Americans had set up at Kandahar’s airport.
Sami Ghairatmal, a childhood friend, told me that Hikmat was always driven to improve himself. “He studied more than us,” he said. “He learned good and fluent English.” After the project at the base ended, a friend of Hikmat’s who was working as a security guard for the U.S. military asked Hikmat to see him about another job. Borrowing his brother’s motorcycle, Hikmat drove out to the former compound of the Taliban leader Mullah Omar, in the hills north of the city. Both the C.I.A. and the Special Forces had set up at the compound, which they called Camp Gecko, after the noisy lizards that lived there. The roof was destroyed, but workers were putting up new buildings. Eventually, the complex had a cafeteria with a fireplace, a fountain with catfish, and a swimming pool.
Hikmat’s friend took him to meet Bryan Myers, a twenty-two-year-old engineering sergeant who had just arrived for his first tour in Afghanistan with the Desert Eagles, a battalion of the 3rd Special Forces Group, which deployed frequently to Kandahar in the course of the war. Myers was a barrel-chested man who, like most Green Berets, as the Special Forces are known, had a beard that distinguished him from the clean-shaven regular troops. He later wrote an account of his meeting with Hikmat, which Hikmat’s lawyers submitted in court:
“How old are you, kid?”
“I am 16, about, sir.”
“Yeah no, that’s not going to happen. Sorry but there is no way. Tony, I am sorry but we can’t hire a kid, it’s too dangerous and he doesn’t bring anything to the table.”
As Hikmat turned to go, Myers mentioned that a rucksack and some gun covers needed repairing; Hikmat offered to do it. His mother sewed up the rucksack, and when he declined payment Myers and the team, impressed by his honesty, decided to take him on:
“Hik, your English is pretty good. You know what we do here right?”
“Of course, you are the bearded ones, everybody knows what you do. That is why I want to work with you.”
Laughing, I just put my hand on his shoulder and respond “Welcome aboard.”
Hikmat spent the next three years as an interpreter, living and fighting alongside Myers and other Green Berets. He earned up to fifteen hundred dollars a month, twenty times the salary of an Afghan police officer. “In the eyes of Hikmatullah, the bearded ones were sent upon him as an answer to many of [his] prayers,” Myers wrote.
The Special Forces, who are known as “quiet professionals,” focus less on commando raids—the hallmark of other élite units, such as the Delta Force and the Navy SEALs—than on training and fighting with allied local forces. During the invasion, they had embedded with Afghan warlords and their militias, and afterward they were left behind to hunt the remnants of the Taliban and Al Qaeda across Afghanistan’s remote mountains and deserts.
“We were inherently different,” Rusty Bradley, who served as an officer with the Desert Eagles, wrote in “Lions of Kandahar,” a 2011 memoir. “We ate, slept, lived, and breathed with the Afghan people as if we had done so all our lives, immersing ourselves in their language and culture.” Bradley deployed to Kandahar eight times, eventually learning rudimentary Pashto. After Myers rotated back to the U.S., Hikmat worked for Bradley’s team, and the two grew close. He compared Bradley, who weighed two hundred and thirty pounds, to Sylvester Stallone; Bradley has credited Hikmat with saving his life by putting himself between Bradley and an armed insurgent. “I wasn’t just an interpreter,” Hikmat told me.
By 2006, the American military was focussed mostly on Iraq, and the Taliban had retaken much of the countryside in southern Afghanistan. That summer, Bradley and Myers redeployed with the Desert Eagles to Kandahar. In Operation Medusa, one of the largest battles of the war, U.S. and Canadian troops attacked Taliban fighters west of the city with tanks, artillery, and airpower. “It looked like a monster had stomped through the valley, leaving skeletons of compounds smoldering and tops of trees jagged and twisted,” Bradley wrote.
Hikmat’s mother, fearing for his safety, pleaded with him to stop working as an interpreter. Three interpreters in Kandahar had recently been captured and beheaded by the Taliban. “I lied to my mom,” he said, telling her that he had stayed on the base during the operation. He had started a side business selling fruit and soft drinks to the base, and that winter he quit his job as an interpreter in order to work on the business full time. Hikmat told me that a sergeant major at the Special Forces headquarters helped him register it at the main U.S. base, known as Kandahar Airfield, or KAF. On February 25, 2007, Hikmat signed a “blanket purchase agreement” with the U.S. military, an open-ended contract for trucking services. He started with a single rented truck.
Hikmat’s entry into the trucking business brought him into competition with some of Kandahar’s most powerful men. Gul Agha Sherzai, the warlord who had retaken the province with the help of the C.I.A. and Special Forces, had been the governor; his brother Abdul Raziq was a general in the Afghan Army, in charge of the airport. The Sherzais also controlled lucrative contracts to supply gravel to the American base, and Raziq’s company, Sherzai Construction and Supply, provided trucks to the Americans. “We’ve had a friendship since 2001,” Raziq told me in his office on KAF. He had a framed photograph on his desk of himself with General John Campbell, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. “From that time, I’m their partner.”
To many Afghans, warlords like the Sherzais were scarcely more legitimate than the Taliban. After the Communist government fell, in 1992, Gul Agha and his men had taken part in the civil war that pillaged Kandahar. Now, “with U.S. dollars,” Governor Sherzai “had constituted his own private militia,” Sarah Chayes, a journalist turned aid worker, writes, in “The Punishment of Virtue,” her 2006 account of life in Kandahar. But the Americans saw the political landscape in Afghanistan through the dichotomies of the war on terror, and in Kandahar they relied on the Sherzais to help identify the enemy. “Before long, the U.S. forces were helplessly wrapped inside the [Sherzais’] friendly bear hug,” Chayes continues. Bradley, who referred to the Taliban as “savages,” wrote, “Every day was like September 12, 2001.” Raids by U.S. Special Operations Forces, in conjunction with the Sherzais, compelled former Taliban leaders to move to Pakistan, where they began to revive the insurgency.
As an interpreter, Hikmat had often been in meetings with the Sherzais, though they hardly noticed him in those days. “We wouldn’t even greet him, I remember,” Khalid Pashtoon, a member of the Afghan parliament who was then an aide to Gul Agha Sherzai, said. Hikmat told me that he understood why the Americans aligned themselves with people like the Sherzais against the Taliban. “There is bad and worse,” he said. “You would choose bad.”
Now he was their rival in a more and more lucrative business. Unlike the Iraq war, in which international companies brought in supplies, in Afghanistan the military outsourced its overland-logistics chain to local contractors, whose jingle trucks, so called because of their colorful, tinkling metal decorations, hauled cargo to bases across the country’s remote and increasingly dangerous terrain. In the beginning, contractors like Hikmat were paid in cash by the U.S. military after missions were completed. Glad to have an alternative to the Sherzais, the Special Forces welcomed him. “I was never saying no to any job,” Hikmat said. “They want anything, anytime, and you have to be ready.”
Hikmat had chosen the right time to start. Between 2007 and 2010, the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan increased from fourteen thousand to nearly a hundred thousand. And they were outnumbered by a second, private army: by June, 2010, more than a hundred and seven thousand contractors were working for the Department of Defense. The jobs were dangerous—more contractors had been killed so far that year than U.S. soldiers—but the payoff was substantial. Between 2007 and 2014, the U.S. spent eighty-nine billion dollars on contracting in Afghanistan.
“There were so many contracts out there that you could win anything you wanted,” Simon Hilliard, a former British soldier who worked on KAF as the managing director of Watan Risk Management, an Afghan-owned security company, told me. “The margins were insane.” He said that, in eighteen months, Watan’s revenues increased from five hundred thousand dollars to fifty-eight million.
Built as a spartan military encampment, KAF became a city of tens of thousands, with paved roads and a state-of-the-art trauma hospital, as well as a Burger King and a T.G.I. Friday’s, all coated with fine desert dust and permeated by the smell of the “poo pond.” The U.S. and its allies eventually built more than five hundred military bases in Afghanistan. Many of them had hot showers and Internet cafés. Soldiers who patrolled mud-walled villages without plumbing or electricity, in temperatures that rose to a hundred and thirty degrees, slept in air-conditioned tents so cold that they needed blankets. It all consumed enormous amounts of fuel: in 2010, Bagram Airfield, which was comparable in size to KAF, used nearly 1.6 million gallons per week.
Most of the fuel was transported by trucks like Hikmat’s, and what had originally been an ad-hoc system grew into a countrywide network that handled billions of dollars in freight. Even its management was outsourced. In October, 2007, not long after Hikmat rented his first truck, the contract to set up a Jingle Truck Coordination Office, a job originally handled by the U.S. military, was signed by TOIFOR, a German company that was founded in the nineteen-nineties to supply portable toilets to NATO forces preparing to go into Bosnia. “It was an absolutely minor, small, small, little thing,” Karl Friedrich Krause, one of the company’s founders, told me. “A small job done by one guy.”
That guy was Roren Stowell, a Denver native with a snowboarder’s drawl. “We were about two weeks away from taking over,” Stowell told me. “They didn’t have a pencil.” As troop levels surged, Stowell said, “where before they were doing maybe twenty trucks a week, in a short amount of time we were going upward of four or five hundred trucks on any given day.”
Stowell went on, “There were million-dollar truck runs, paying upward of forty-five thousand dollars per truck.” The military didn’t seem to mind the expense, as long as U.S. soldiers didn’t have to risk their lives on the road. The attitude, he said, was “Fuck it. There’s an endless amount of money—just get the trucks there and keep the customers happy.”
The money created a local ecosystem, with KAF at its apex. Stowell and his team awarded supply requests from military units to a group of Afghan trucking companies, based on price, availability, and dependability. He soon realized that, while his subcontractors—who included both Hikmat and Sherzai—had their own fleets, they also acted as brokers for the rest of Kandahar’s truckers, hiring them and adding a hefty percentage to the cost. The subcontractors’ advantage was their access to the base and what were known locally as awwal las, or “first-hand,” contracts.
Millions of dollars were being paid by the U.S. government to private companies, but the intermediary was typically a low-level military officer, contractor, or civil servant. The temptation to take part in the profiteering was substantial. According to a study published in May, 2015, by the Center for Public Integrity, at least a hundred and fifteen U.S. service members who deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan have been convicted of bribery, theft, and contract-rigging charges since 2005.
“It was obvious that there was an opportunity to make money by giving a specific company more missions,” Stowell said. He told me that once, when he was sent to Dubai to collect sewer-cleaning equipment, one of TOIFOR’s subcontractors, Tawazuh, offered to have someone guide him around the city. “I’m picturing this guy who will take me to HomePro,” Stowell said. Instead, several men picked him up in a Mercedes-Benz. They offered him a Rolex watch as a gift, which he refused. “I’m like, dude, I’m looking for a Roto-Rooter, I don’t need a fucking entourage,” Stowell told me. Undeterred, the men drove him around Dubai and, that evening, tried to introduce him to some Russian women at a night club. Stowell said he told them, “I can’t take any Rolexes, I can’t take any hos, and I don’t want to go to any more dinners.” (Sadeeq Mohmand, Tawazuh’s owner, has denied offering gifts or bribes.)
While Stowell decided which Afghan companies would supply conventional units, the Special Forces were allowed to choose the companies they preferred, on the ground that they had unique requirements. “They’d come in and be like, No way, the only company that’s going to do it is this company,” Stowell said. “And I’m like, Yeah, man, but they’re three times the price of the other guys.”
Hikmat had just begun his business when Stowell arrived on KAF. By the time he left, in late 2008, Hikmat was making his first millions. “He kind of came in as an underdog,” Stowell said. “He was so young. I was just sitting there thinking, How’s this guy doing it?”
In January, 2008, Tonya Long, a twenty-five-year-old staff sergeant, arrived on KAF, where she spent six months working with the Jingle Truck Office and its contractors to coördinate her unit’s resupply missions. In late 2010, federal agents confronted her over her lavish spending on furniture, a trucking business, and a vacation to Disney World. She pleaded guilty to smuggling back to the U.S. approximately a million dollars in cash, stuffed inside VCRs, money that she said had come from Afghan contractors.
Long, who is serving a five-year prison sentence, told me in an e-mail that the bribery scheme was already in place when she arrived on KAF. She was involved in an affair with an Army captain who worked in logistics for the Bush Hogs, a sister battalion of the Desert Eagles in the 3rd Special Forces Group. The captain, she wrote, had been taking bribes from Tawazuh in return for steering contracts to the company and for creating fake missions, which the U.S. government was billed for. (Mohmand has denied this.) When the Bush Hogs were replaced by another Special Forces battalion, in early 2008, the captain’s successor, Captain Franklin Rivera-Medina, took over the scheme, but he favored another company: Hikmat’s.
To justify the choice of contractors, the first captain “said that ONLY Tawazuh was reliable and Rivera said that ONLY Hikmat was reliable,” Long, who also had an affair with Rivera, wrote.
The first captain, who retired from the military, was never charged, and refused to comment. The Justice Department also declined to comment. (At Long’s sentencing hearing, the prosecution stated, “We know that the prior captain did the false-claim scheme as well.”)
Rivera, when questioned by the F.B.I., admitted to receiving eighty thousand dollars from Hikmat. He pleaded guilty to charges of cash smuggling and taking gratuities, but he died in 2014, before he could be sentenced. According to a prosecution document, Hikmat admitted to paying Rivera a hundred and fifty thousand dollars in cash, but he said that the money was compensation to the military for missing shipments.
Bank statements submitted in court by Hikmat’s lawyers show that fluctuations in his earnings appear to correlate with the presence of different Special Forces battalions in Kandahar. His first six months of invoices to TOIFOR averaged a hundred thousand dollars a month; after April, 2008, when Rivera arrived on KAF, they rose sharply, totalling almost thirteen million dollars for the rest of the year. Then, in early 2009, Bradley and the Desert Eagles were back in Kandahar. Hikmat’s invoices kept climbing, reaching $7.7 million in May; by the end of the year, he had billed TOIFOR more than forty-five million dollars. Captain Edward Woodall, a supply officer with the Desert Eagles, later wrote that the Special Forces “required a level of trust and dependability that only Mr. Shadman could provide.”
But in the winter of 2010 a new Special Forces battalion arrived, and it seemed to prefer Tawazuh. That month, Hikmat billed for less than half a million dollars. In Kandahar, Mohmand, Tawazuh’s owner, showed me a certificate of appreciation signed by the battalion’s commander. “I worked with the Americans very honestly and sincerely,” he said. “My rates are also less than other contractors’.
When the Desert Eagles returned later that year, Hikmat’s business recovered. Woodall, who was in charge of the service detachment, obtained a “sole source” memo, which the Desert Eagles used to bypass TOIFOR’s selection process and to work with Hikmat when they wanted. Hikmat set his own prices, and, according to his lawyers, they were reviewed by both TOIFOR and the military. “I think I remember hearing that it was more expensive to use Hikmat than the other companies, but that was all right with my chain of command because the mission was more dangerous and he was the only one who could and would do it,” Caleb Hardin, one of Woodall’s subordinates, wrote in a declaration submitted by Hikmat’s lawyers.
Hikmat’s invoices to TOIFOR reached new heights. Bradley and Myers were back in Kandahar during the Bush Hogs’ next rotation, which replaced Woodall’s in early 2011. In September alone, Hikmat’s invoices to TOIFOR amounted to $17.4 million. One form from the Bush Hogs requesting a trucking mission contains a handwritten justification for Hikmat’s higher prices: “Always on time, never any issues, and understands how [Special Forces] operates.” Hikmat’s bid was five thousand dollars; those of three other Afghan subcontractors were $2,500, $2,124, and $1,000.
Hikmat told me that his higher prices were the result of the extra flexibility he gave the Special Forces. Often, he said, they would change the mission at the last minute, for security reasons. “I told them, don’t tell me the date, don’t tell me the time, and don’t tell me the destination,” he said.
Hikmat’s earnings from TOIFOR made up the lion’s share of a highly lucrative business. According to his bank statements, his logistics companies took in a hundred and sixty-seven million dollars between late 2007 and the end of 2012. During that period, he withdrew eighty-eight million. Even assuming that the withdrawals were all for business expenses, rather than investments or personal spending (Hikmat also owned a gas station and an energy-drink company, and employed a mostly Filipino office staff, led by Western expatriates), that left him with almost eighty million dollars—a profit margin of nearly fifty per cent. (According to Hikmat’s lawyer, Hikmat has millions of dollars in unpaid debts, and is owed between fifty and sixty million dollars by the U.S. government.)
By the time he was in his early twenties, Hikmat was one of the wealthiest men in Kandahar. He got married, made the hajj, and travelled through Europe, visiting the Eiffel Tower and the stadium where Real Madrid, his favorite soccer team, plays. Every Ramadan, he showered money on those in his neighborhood he judged to be poor and deserving. Rumors spread that Hikmat would drive around in an old car, a scarf half obscuring his face, handing out hundred-dollar bills to laborers. One cash giveaway at his gas station led to a near-riot that had to be dispersed with live ammunition. It was around this time that people started calling him Shadman, which means “happy.”
The vast sums that he was handling also impressed the foreigners on KAF. Once, Hikmat told me, a Canadian soldier who searched him at the entrance found ten thousand dollars. He marvelled at the thick bundle of bills. “He said, ‘Oh, wow, just hit me with it on my face. I like it, I’ve never seen such money,’ ” Hikmat said, smiling at the memory.
Hikmat outfitted his living quarters on KAF with flat-screen TVs and opulent furniture, including an oversized bed. “Nothing fits together, because it’s the most expensive stuff that’s picked out of every magazine,” one of Hikmat’s managers said. “Everything’s gold and shiny, and it’s got crystal in it.” Yet Hikmat never used his ornate bed, preferring, like most Afghans, to sleep on a mat on the floor. “He sat cross-legged with the locals, with baba and the guy that makes the food,” the manager said.
The Special Forces were frequent visitors. In 2011, Hikmat hosted a Christmas party, and Myers attended. In a photograph, Myers is wearing a checked shirt, and appears conspicuously massive next to Hikmat’s diminutive Filipino employees. There was a plastic Christmas tree on a stand draped in an American flag. The guests ate pizza and drank Red Bull, and Hikmat, beaming and rosy-cheeked, handed out gifts from a secret-Santa exchange. Myers took part in a three-legged race, pulling one of the Filipino staff people along with him. “It was one of the most bizarre evenings of my life,” Franco Swart, a South African who managed one of Hikmat’s trucking companies, said.
But Hikmat was under pressure in Kandahar. He said that the Taliban had attempted to kidnap his brother, and had also threatened him at his family’s house. “After a few days, they stuck a letter on the door, that in three days if you don’t leave the job we will kill even the kids,” he said. In February, 2011, he had applied to a State Department program that allowed interpreters and other Afghan employees of the U.S. to emigrate to America. “I am requesting a Visa to the US in the case of an emergency,” he wrote, citing the Taliban’s threat to his life. Bradley and three other Special Forces soldiers provided supporting letters. The Bush Hogs’ commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel William Carty, wrote, “The loyalty and commitment Hikmatullah displays in supporting [the special-operations task force] and its mission goes unmatched.
In November, 2009, Scott Lindsay, a staffer on the House Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs, was flying back from Pakistan when George Miller, a Democratic representative from California, handed him an article from The Nation. “How the US Funds the Taliban,” by Aram Roston, claimed that Afghan trucking companies working for the American military were paying off insurgents. “Scott, do you know anything about this?” Miller asked.
Over the next eight months, Lindsay and a team from the subcommittee interviewed U.S. military officials and contractors and reviewed thousands of documents. “It was immediately glaring that, oh, my God, this could be as bad as alleged,” Lindsay told me.
The U.S. military had decided to make trucking companies responsible for hiring their own security. As the country descended into violence, the companies were forced to pay off the men who controlled the roads, whether they were crooked officials, warlords, or Taliban. “The whole thing became this inadvertently but inherently corrupt enterprise that, to me, symbolized the failure of the entire adventure,” Lindsay said. “If you have to pay your enemy for the right to be there, something’s gone wrong.”
In June, 2010, the subcommittee released a report, titled “Warlord, Inc.,” which concluded that U.S. government funds were likely going to the same people who were killing American soldiers. According to the subcommittee, the military had known about the problem for at least a year, but, Lindsay told me, “absolutely nothing was done.”
The perception among many of the trucking companies on KAF was that the U.S. military was turning a blind eye to where its money was ending up. “We all knew what was happening,” Rodney Castleman, an American employee of an Afghan trucking company, told me. “You could be hardcore about stuff and say, We’re not going to pay nobody, but, I’m telling you, you were going to get hit on the road.”
The report landed amid a growing realization in Washington that corruption in Afghanistan was jeopardizing President Obama’s plan to stabilize the country before withdrawing American troops. That fall, Afghanistan’s financial system nearly collapsed after it was revealed that a group of well-connected businessmen and officials—including the brothers of President Karzai and his first Vice-President—had fraudulently acquired nearly a billion dollars in loans from Kabul Bank. Far from being a source of stability, American money was part of the problem, and U.S. officials had little idea where it was going.
“I am deeply troubled that the U.S. military can pursue, attack, and even kill terrorists and their supporters,” John Sopko, the head of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), later wrote in a quarterly report to Congress, “but that some in the U.S. government believe we cannot prevent these same people from receiving a government contract.”
“You know, Taliban soldiers are a hundred times cheaper than American soldiers,” Pashtoon, the member of parliament from Kandahar, said. “So for a lot less money the Taliban can fight for a long time.”
The military had long been reluctant to address corruption. But now General Petraeus, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, conceded that the flood of U.S. money into Afghanistan was “both an opportunity and a danger.” He added that, uncontrolled, it could “unintentionally fuel corruption, finance insurgent networks, strengthen criminal patronage networks, and undermine our efforts in Afghanistan.” Money, it seemed, was a double-edged weapons system.
The military created Task Force 2010, a team of forensic accountants, law-enforcement agents, intelligence analysts, lawyers, and auditors, to scrutinize Afghan contractors. The team reported that, of the thirty-one billion dollars in contracts that it inspected, an estimated three hundred and sixty million dollars had reached corrupt officials, criminals, or the Taliban. Thomas Creal, the lead forensic accountant on the task force, told me that U.S. taxpayer dollars reached the insurgents through a layer of intermediaries that began with the contractors. “I always viewed them as an aider and abettor of terrorist acts,” he said.
In 2010, as investigators descended on KAF, contractors there began to come under scrutiny. “The military came in and did their audits,” Castleman said. “We got audited.” In October, the U.S. military detained Mohmand, Tawazuh’s owner, on suspicion of making payments to the Taliban. Though he was quickly released, his company was barred from receiving further contracts.
In May, 2011, Hikmat, too, was banned from receiving contracts from the military, because of allegations that he had “direct association with individuals who have been involved in significant criminal activity or insurgent operations,” according to a declassified report presented in court. Creal said that his team had initially flagged Hikmat because his invoices were so high. “It wasn’t hard to come to the conclusion that Shadman was getting way more money than he should have,” Creal told me.
But Hikmat’s allies in the Special Forces believed that his rivals, including General Raziq Sherzai, were jealous of his success, and that the accusations were based on false information that they gave to military investigators. “Some of Hik’s competitors were always trying to make his life difficult,” Bradley wrote. (Raziq Sherzai denied this.)
Myers told the court that he “began digging deep into both sides of the allegations.” After Hikmat took a polygraph test, Myers got the Bush Hogs’ commander to lead a successful effort to remove the ban on him. In the next six months, Hikmat’s companies billed TOIFOR for more than fifty million dollars.
But the military investigators had come to believe that Hikmat may have been paying off the Taliban. According to Creal, they discovered transfers from his account to an alleged Taliban “money mover,” who, it was rumored, was connected to a suicide bombing on KAF. Twice that year, attackers had detonated cars packed with explosives at the base’s main gate, killing dozens of Afghan civilians. Around 4 A.M. on October 1, 2012, a U.S. military team raided Hikmat’s compound.
Hikmat’s first thought, when armed men kicked in his bedroom door, was that the Taliban had come for him. The men cursed him in Pashto, but when they dragged him outside he saw, to his relief, that there were American soldiers with them. He was blindfolded, shackled, and flown across the country to the main U.S. detention facility in Afghanistan, at Bagram Airfield. “The way they treated me and the place they put me in the jail,” Hikmat told me, his voice trailing off. “It was a toilet.”
In intake, he was subjected to the same fate as those he had once hunted alongside the Special Forces. His head was shaved, and he was forced to strip and wash under the guards’ supervision, an ordeal that Hikmat, having grown up in conservative Kandahar, found particularly humiliating. “This is why President Karzai says that this is the factory of the Taliban,” he said. “How they treat people!”
Hikmat denied any connection with the Taliban, and passed a polygraph test. “In Pashto, we have a proverb that you cannot hold two watermelons in one hand,” Hikmat told me. “When I was fifteen, I started working with you guys. I am one of the family members of the Special Forces, and I worked against the Taliban.”
According to a declaration submitted in court by Hikmat’s lawyers, the civilian interrogator who questioned him for two months at Bagram came to believe that he was innocent. The evidence against him was flimsy and, the interrogator suspected, provided by “disgruntled former employees or business competitors who were known to be jealous and resentful of Hikmatullah’s success.”
At the time, Afghans detained by the U.S. military were entitled to a hearing within sixty days, at which three officers determined whether they were still a threat to U.S. and allied forces and, if not, whether they should be released. A group of Hikmat’s Afghan supporters approached Gul Agha Sherzai, the former governor of Kandahar, and asked for his help. Sherzai remained close to the U.S. military leadership and often intervened in support of detainees; he had already helped secure the release of Mohmand, Tuwazuh’s owner.
On December 9, 2012, the day of the hearing, Sherzai arrived at Bagram, along with a group of tribal elders from Kandahar. He, too, was unimpressed by the evidence presented by the military investigators. “They had no documents,” Sherzai told me. Even so, he found it plausible that both Mohmand and Hikmat were paying off the Taliban, since it was a widespread practice in the trucking business. “They weren’t powerful enough to face the Taliban,” he said. “Why would it be that easy for them to pass with their convoys?”
With Sherzai and the Special Forces vouching for Hikmat, the three officers voted to clear him. After he was released, he flew back to Kandahar. “I think it broke his spirit for a bit,” Hikmat’s employee Franco Swart told me. In Hikmat’s absence, the business had largely shut down. On January 23, 2013, Hikmat flew to Dubai, and started shopping for a piece of very expensive real estate.
Since the beginning of the war, Dubai has been a magnet for Afghans seeking to move their fortunes out of the country. Hikmat told me that, since he could no longer operate on KAF, he had decided to invest in property. He settled on Ahli House Tower, a residential apartment block of approximately two hundred units. On February 23rd, he signed a contract to buy it for forty-three million dollars. But when he called his bank in Kabul he was told that his accounts had been frozen.
While Hikmat was detained at Bagram, the Justice Department, working with SIGAR, had filed a civil-forfeiture suit, claiming that Hikmat had paid bribes in order to obtain contracts. “The civil route made sense,” a former Justice Department official who worked on Hikmat’s case said. “There’s no extradition agreement, no way that he’d be arrested in Afghanistan.” Since Hikmat’s bank accounts were in Kabul, the Justice Department section at the U.S. Embassy had to persuade the Afghan attorney general’s office to recognize the warrant, something that had never been done before. The attorney general, Mohammad Ishaq Aloko, a Karzai protégé, was out of the country undergoing medical treatment; in his absence, his deputy acquiesced.
When Hikmat returned from Dubai, on February 28th, he went straight to the attorney general’s office, where he was told that he was under investigation. Later, prosecutors called him back and arrested him. He was thrown into prison for several hours, until a call came from the Presidential palace, ordering his release.
“Shadman’s case was a very fishy case,” a former senior official in the Afghan attorney general’s office said. “Karzai was calling us saying, ‘What happened with this case? The money was supposed to be released.’ ”
Aimal Faizi, a spokesperson for Karzai, denied that Karzai had any personal interest in the case. “For President Karzai, it was just another case of illegal detention of an Afghan citizen by the U.S. forces in Afghanistan,” he said.
Hikmat’s accounts were unfrozen, and he transferred seventy-four million dollars to bank accounts in Dubai. When the Justice Department officials at the Embassy learned that the Afghan government had unblocked the accounts, they were furious. “One of our people went over and confronted the attorney general about it,” the former official said, telling him that he had “lost a great opportunity to demonstrate to the international community the integrity of your legal system.”
But Hikmat was still vulnerable. When funds targeted by a civil-forfeiture suit are held outside the reach of the U.S. government, it has the authority to seize equivalent funds held by those foreign banks in the U.S. In May, 2013, the U.S. restrained funds in the correspondent accounts of Hikmat’s banks in New York, forcing the banks to freeze fifty-seven million dollars of his money in Dubai and Kabul.
The civil-forfeiture suit has not yet gone to trial, and both the Justice Department and SIGAR declined to speak with me about it. Hikmat’s lawyers have filed reams of documents in court—including bank statements, depositions, and business records—but the government has barely outlined its case, which alleges that Hikmat paid bribes to both U.S. soldiers and TOIFOR contractors, including some of Stowell’s successors at the Jingle Truck Office.
Yet the Justice Department has prosecuted a series of related criminal cases in North Carolina, where Fort Bragg, the home of the Special Forces, is situated. On September 29th, five current and former Army sergeants were sentenced for taking illegal payments. Several of them wept as they spoke of their betrayal of the military and their families. If “you did something that impaired the Army’s fighting ability,” Judge Terrence Boyle said, referring to earlier wars, “they would court-martial and shoot you.” He then handed down sentences that ranged from ten months to ten years. “I mean, how do you explain it to somebody whose child or spouse or loved one, you know, died in one of these theatres?”
Four of the soldiers had worked in the Bush Hogs logistics section in Kandahar from February, 2011, to January, 2012, Hikmat’s most lucrative period. According to court documents, the soldiers created fake trucking missions—some signed with names like Bongo Truck and Touchi Meh—and allowed Hikmat’s drivers to steal fuel in return for cash payments.
These criminal cases suggest long-running fraud within the Special Forces’ service detachment on KAF. The lawyer for the soldiers’ leader, Sergeant First Class Jeffrey Edmondson, said that Edmondson learned about the scheme from his predecessor on KAF, a staff sergeant who worked for Woodall and the Desert Eagles. The prosecution stated that it was in the process of investigating that unit. (“My military career is over, and I’m done with that portion of my life. And that’s that,” the staff sergeant told me when I reached him by phone, before declining to speak further. He has not been charged.) Another soldier, Sergeant First Class Robert Green, admitted to receiving at least forty-five thousand dollars from Hikmat in 2008, and said that fraudulent practices had existed before his arrival. In exchange for a reduced sentence, he coöperated with the government against his former superior, an Army captain, who recently pleaded guilty to similar charges.
“This is a cycle that goes through every year,” Judge Boyle said at the sentencing hearing. “When the new guy shows up, they say, Well, you can get a good meal over here and you can get, you know, a beer over here, and, by the way, you can pick up a quarter of a million dollars if you feel like it—we just run this operation.”
Similar cases involving fuel theft and Afghan contractors have been unearthed at other military bases in Afghanistan. “We’ve interviewed a lot of the people we’ve caught,” a law-enforcement official at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul told me. “One of the things they say is that the system is so loose, and it’s so obvious that you can get away with it.”
The Army’s Special Operations Command, when asked whether it was aware of systemic corruption within its logistics section on KAF, declined to comment. Its commander at the time, Lieutenant General Charles Cleveland, offered this statement to the court on the impact of the cases: “The majority of the Afghan population views the United States as one more in a long line of occupiers. When people they regularly do business with, in this case the Soldiers listed above, are exposed as thieves and conspirators, the established trust and respect is destroyed.”
In late December, the Justice Department filed criminal-conspiracy and bribery charges against Hikmat. A warrant was issued, though it’s unlikely that he’ll be arrested, since he spends his time in Dubai and Kabul. He and his lawyers have denied that he paid bribes or committed any illegal activities. In court hearings, Hikmat’s lead counsel, Bryant Banes, has said that Hikmat was paid out of logistics funds for intelligence work for the Special Forces, and that classified evidence will exonerate him. Bradley has stated that he recruited Hikmat to be part of classified “compartmented programs.”
Bradley, Myers, and Woodall have not been accused of any wrongdoing or criminal acts, and they remain loyal to Hikmat. Woodall, who is now a major, wrote to me, “Hikmat is a friend to not only myself but to the American servicemen who operated in Afghanistan. To say differently is a disgrace.”
“I don’t want nothing else to do with Afghanistan,” Bradley told me, before refusing to comment. “Everything about it gets twisted into something wrong.” Myers also declined to speak. Both he and Bradley have retired from the Army. Myers has started a nonprofit, The World Is My Country Foundation. His Web campaigns have solicited funds for earthquake relief efforts in Nepal, and for him and his best friend to drive around the world, “helping people in every country we drive through.” According to his social-media posts, he plans to work on charitable campaigns with Hikmat in Afghanistan. The World Is My Country Foundation is registered as a nonprofit in Texas by Banes, Hikmat’s lawyer.
Last March, I visited Kandahar City. The fiery heat of summer was still a way off, and the air was mellow and dry. There were only ten thousand U.S. soldiers left in Afghanistan, and, compared to the mad years of the surge, Kandahar felt quiet. The long lines of trucks waiting to enter KAF had vanished, and the economy was languishing without them.
Security conditions have continued to deteriorate. In September, Taliban fighters overran Kunduz, the country’s fifth-largest city, when the government forces collapsed in a day. After two weeks of fighting, Afghan special-operations troops, backed by American airpower, retook the city. A few days later, President Obama announced that he would extend the American troop deployment, into its fifteenth year, in order to shore up the Afghan government.
Within the U.S. government, there is growing recognition that America’s vast expenditures in Afghanistan have been self-defeating, and that the conflict is more complex than simply fighting the Taliban or terrorism. “The existential threat to the long-term viability of modern Afghanistan is corruption,” General John Allen, the former commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, told Congress in 2014.
But, in a war waged by private contracting, the line between profit and profiteering can be hard to define. In Kandahar, I was told by many Afghans that the small thieves are caught so that the big thieves may go free. They believed that Hikmat had been singled out by the Americans because he lacked the political connections of rivals like the Sherzais. “It’s not only Hikmatullah Shadman—there were so many contractors that did the exact same thing that Shadman did,” Khalid Pashtoon, the member of parliament, said. “The only problem was that Shadman was captured.” He added, “Hikmat was like a milking cow: everybody tried to suck his milk.”
A Kandahari businessman used a different metaphor. “Hikmat was like a knight in chess,” he told me. “There were many people before and after Hikmat, far richer than him.” He said that he owned about a hundred trucks and had subcontracted for Hikmat and the other awwal las contractors on KAF. He also claimed that he had helped to sell stolen fuel on the black market, and had delivered the cash to soldiers working with the Special Forces unit at the airport. “The bottom line is the Americans were corrupt themselves.”
“The American money was benefitting everybody—the government and the Taliban,” Gul Agha Sherzai told me. There was, he said, an apt Pashto proverb about unintended consequences: “A rifle strikes from its barrel and its butt.” ♦
While you are enjoying your Sunday, the insane neoconservatives who control Western foreign policy and their Turkish and Saudi Arabian vassals might be preparing the end of the world.
Any person who relies on Western media has no accurate idea of what is happening in Syria.
I will provide a brief summary and then send you to two detailed accounts.
The neoconservative Obama regime set-up the Syrian government headed by Assad for overthrow. A long propaganda campaign conducted in Washington’s behalf by the Western media portrayed the democratically-elected Assad as a “brutal dictator who uses chemical weapons against his own people.” Washington organized and supported a front group posing as democrats and involved them in conflict with the Syrian military.
With conflict underway, Washington began predicting that something had to be done to overthrow Assad before he used “chemical weapons against his own people.” Obama turned these predictions into a “red line.” When Assad used chemical weapons against Washington’s puppets, the US would invade Syria.
With the “red line” drawn, a false flag chemical weapons attack was staged, or an accident occurred, that Washington used to say that Assad, despite the US warning, had crossed the “red line.”
Preparations for an invasion began, but hit two roadblocks. David Cameron, Washington’s puppet prime minister of Great Britain was unable to deliver British support for the invasion as the Parliament voted it down. This left Washington uncovered and vulnerable to the charge of naked aggression, a war crime.
Russian diplomacy threw up the other road block by securing the removal of all chemical weapons from Syria.
Their invasion plan frustrated, the neoconservatives sent the jihadists they had used to overthrow Gaddafi in Libya to overthrow Assad. Initially known as ISIS, then ISIL, then the Islamist State, and now Daesh, a term that can be interpreted as an insult. Perhaps the intention of the name changes is to keep the Western public thoroughly confused about who is who and what is what.
Washington now pretends that it is fighting the Islamist State, but Washington is doing its best to frustrate the success of the Russian/Syrian alliance that is defeating the Islamist State..
Washington’s support of the Islamist State is the cause of the war in Syria. General Michael Flynn, the recently retired head of the US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) has stated publicly that it was a “willful decision” of the Obama regime to support ISIS.
The neoconservative insistence that “Assad must go” comprises a threat to the security of Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah in Lebanon. Hezbollah is the Lebanese force that has twice defeated Israel’s attempt to annex southern Lebanon for its water resources. Hezbollah is dependent on Syrian and Iranian support for its arms and financing. Israel wants rid of Hezbollah.
The Islamic State that Washington is trying to create in Syria would provide Washington with a means of destabilizing Iran and Russia by exporting jihadism into those countries. The Russian Federation has Muslim populations as do former provinces of the Soviet Union that now cooperate with Russia. By bogging down Russia in internal conflicts, Washington can move Russia out of the way of Washington’s exercise of hegemony. Similarly, non-Persian populations in Iran could be radicalized by jihadism and used to destabilize Iran.
In order to protect themselves, Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah have come to the support of Syria.
The Russians are there legally at the invitation of the Syrian government. The US is there illegally.
Russian air power in support of the Syrian Army has turned the tide against the Islamist State.
The invaders are being driven out. The neoconservatives cannot accept this defeat.
Washington is preparing a Syrian invasion by Turkey and Saudi Arabia, the purpose of which is to split Syria in half with Washington controlling the eastern part with the oil fields.
Possibly this is a bluff to get Russia to accept a Syrian settlement less favorable to Russian, Iranian, and Syrian interests. However, the Russian government cannot risk that it is only a bluff. If a US/Turkish/Saudi force were to arrive first in Raqqa and Deir Ezzor, Syria would be dismembered.
The Russians can get there first by dropping in paratroopers. In other words, what the insane neoconservatives are doing is giving the Russian government a big incentive to introduce Russian ground troops into the conflict. Once those troops are there, you can safely bet that the insane neoconservatives will cause conflict between them and US/Turkish forces. A wider war will have begun from which neither side can back down.
Was Europäer und Amerikaner nicht begreifen, ist, dass politische Führer, um Frieden zu schließen, ihr Volk auf Kompromisse und Toleranz vorbereiten müssen. Wenn man Frieden mit Israel schließen will, dann sagt man nicht seinem Volk, die Westmauer [Klagemauer] habe für die Juden keine religiöse Bedeutung und sei in Wahrheit heiliger muslimischer Besitz. Die Führer der Palästinensischen Autonomiebehörde, die Israel der „Kriegsverbrechen“ und des „Genozids“ bezichtigen, stellen ihr Volk ganz bestimmt nicht auf Frieden ein. Solche Behauptungen dienen dazu, die Palästinenser weiter gegen Israel aufzuhetzen.
Wenn Jassir Arafat nicht in der Lage war, das großzügige Angebot anzunehmen, welches der damalige Ministerpräsident Ehud Barak 2000 bei den Verhandlungen in Camp David unterbreitete, wer wäre dann Mahmoud Abbas, wenn er Israel irgendwelche Zugeständnisse machte? Arafat wurde damals mit den Worten zitiert, er wolle nicht Tee mit Anwar Sadat trinken, dem ersten arabischen Staatsmann, der einen Friedensvertrag mit Israel unterzeichnete und dafür ermordet wurde.
Kein palästinensischer Führer hat das Mandat, ein dauerhaftes Friedensabkommen mit Israel zu schließen. Kein Führer in Ramallah oder dem Gazastreifen ist dazu ermächtigt, den Konflikt mit Israel zu beenden. Jeder Palästinenser, der es wagt, von Zugeständnissen an Israel zu sprechen, wird umgehend als Verräter stigmatisiert. Wer glaubt, dass wer auch immer Abbas nachfolgen wird, dazu in der Lage sein wird, Israel echte Zugeständnisse zu machen, lebt in einer Traumwelt.
Es gibt zwei Hauptgründe, warum die Palästinenser niemals ein echtes und ernsthaftes Friedensabkommen mit Israel unterzeichnen werden – zumindest nicht in der näheren Zukunft.
Der erste ist der totale Mangel an Erziehung zum Frieden. Der zweite hängt damit zusammen, dass es keinen Führer gibt, der ermächtigt ist – oder den Mut dazu hat –, sich auf eine solch gefährliche Mission zu begeben.
Amerikaner und Europäer, die immer noch von der Notwendigkeit reden, den blockierten Friedensprozess im Nahen Osten wiederzubeleben, ignorieren diese beiden Faktoren. Sie beharren weiter darauf, dass Frieden immer noch möglich und der Ball bei Israel sei.
Was Europäer und Amerikaner nicht zur Kenntnis nehmen, ist, dass politische Führer, um Frieden zu schließen, ihr Volk auf Kompromisse und Toleranz vorbereiten müssen.
Tatsächlich ist es untertrieben zu sagen, die palästinensischen Führer hätten es versäumt, ihr Volk auf Frieden mit Israel einzustellen. Die Wahrheit ist, dass die palästinensische Führung ihr Volk seit langem gegen Israel aufgehetzt hat, bis zu einem Punkt, wo es fast unmöglich geworden ist, über irgendeine Art von Kompromiss zwischen Israelis und Palästinensern zu reden.
Seit ihrer Gründung im Jahr 1994 hat die Palästinensische Autonomiebehörde (PA) den größten Teil ihrer Energie und Propaganda darauf verwandt, Israel zu delegitimieren und isolieren. Ironischerweise ging diese Hetze selbst dann noch weiter, als die PA mit Israel am Verhandlungstisch saß, um über ein Friedensabkommen zu sprechen.
Wenn man Frieden mit Israel schließen will, dann sagt man nicht seinem Volk immer wieder, die Westmauer [Klagemauer] habe für die Juden keine religiöse Bedeutung und sei in Wahrheit heiliger muslimischer Besitz.
Man kann keinen Frieden mit Israel schließen, wenn man weiterhin die jüdische Geschichte und die Verbindungen der Juden zu dem Land leugnet. Man nehme beispielsweise die Reaktion von Hanan Ashrawi von der PLO auf Äußerungen von Präsident Barack Obama, in denen er die jüdische Geschichte anerkannt hatte. „Wieder einmal hat er [Obama] den Diskurs der zionistischen Ideologie übernommen“, sagte sie. „Er übernahm ihn, als er in diese Region kam und von der Rückkehr der Juden in ihr Land sprach, und dass dies ein jüdischer Staat sei.“
Man wird niemals in der Lage sein, Frieden mit Israel zu schließen, wenn man seinem Volk und dem Rest der Welt erzählt, der Zionismus sei geschaffen worden, um das jüdische Projekt der Weltherrschaft umzusetzen. Genau dies sagte der Botschafter der Palästinensischen Autonomiebehörde in Chile, Imad Nabil Jadaa, auf einer Konferenz über israelisch-palästinensischen Frieden in Santiago.
Imad Nabil Jadaa, der Botschafter der Palästinensischen Autonomiebehörde in Chile, erklärte am 15. Mai, die Protokolle der Weisen von Zion (eine antisemitische Fälschung) enthielten den Beweis eines jüdischen Plans zur Errichtung der Weltherrschaft. In derselben Rede sagte Jadaa: „Es gibt kein jüdisches Volk“ und dass die Palästinenser die Existenz eines jüdischen Volkes nicht anerkennen würden. (Foto: Screenshot ISGAP)
Es wird unmöglich sein, Frieden mit Israel zu schließen, zu einer Zeit, wo die Palästinensische Autonomiebehörde ihrem Volk erzählt, dass Juden Wildschweine benutzen, um palästinensische Bauern von ihren Feldern und Häusern im Westjordanland zu vertreiben. Genau das sagte PA-Präsident Mahmoud Abbas auf einer pro-palästinensischen Konferenz in Ramallah.
Laut der PA haben Juden auch Ratten eingesetzt, um arabische Bewohner der Jerusalemer Altstadt aus ihren Wohnungen zu vertreiben. Die offizielle palästinensische Nachrichtenagentur Wafa, die unmittelbar dem Büro von Abbas unterstellt ist, behauptete in einer Meldung: „Ratten sind zu einer israelischen Waffe geworden, um arabische Bewohner [aus der Jerusalemer Altstadt] zu vertreiben.“ Die Agentur berichtet: „Siedler fluten die Altstadt mit Ratten … Sie lassen die Ratten frei, um das Leiden der [arabischen] Bewohner zu vergrößern und sie dazu zu zwingen, ihre Häuser zu räumen und die Stadt zu verlassen.“
Solche Botschaften werden unter den Palästinensern nicht nur von der Hamas verbreitet, sondern auch von der vom Westen finanzierten Palästinensischen Autonomiebehörde, die zufällig Israels „Friedenspartner“ ist. Die Palästinenser hören diese Botschaften in den Moscheen, in den Medien und in öffentlichen Erklärungen palästinensischer Führer.
Hinzu kommt die weltweite Kampagne der PA zur Isolation, Delegitimierung und Dämonisierung Israels und der Israelis. Führer und Vertreter der PA, die Israel weiterhin der „Kriegsverbrechen“ und des „Genozids“ beschuldigen, stellen ihr Volk ganz bestimmt nicht auf Frieden ein. Solche Behauptungen dienen im Gegenteil dazu, die Palästinenser weiter gegen Israel aufzuhetzen.
Es ist genau diese Hetze, die noch mehr Palästinenser in die Arme der Rivalen der Palästinensischen Autonomiebehörde treibt, allen voran die der Hamas. Wenn man nicht müde wird, seinem Volk zu erzählen, dass Israel keinen Frieden wolle und nur danach trachte, das Leben der Palästinenser zu zerstören und ihr Land zu stehlen, dann ist es ausgeschlossen, dass die Palästinenser jemals irgendeiner Versöhnung, geschweige denn Frieden mit Israel zustimmen werden.
Doch der Mangel an Erziehung zum Frieden und die Hetze gegen Israel sind nicht das einzige Problem.
Es ist Zeit, dass die internationale Gemeinschaft die Tatsache zur Kenntnis nimmt, dass es keinen palästinensischen Führer gibt, der das Mandat hat, ein dauerhaftes Friedensabkommen mit Israel zu schließen. Kein Führer in Ramallah oder dem Gazastreifen ist dazu ermächtigt, den Konflikt mit Israel zu beenden.
Wenn Jassir Arafat nicht in der Lage war, das großzügige Angebot anzunehmen, das der damalige Ministerpräsident Ehud Barak 2000 bei den Verhandlungen in Camp David unterbreitete, wer wäre dann Mahmoud Abbas, wenn er Israel irgendwelche Zugeständnisse machte? Arafat wurde damals mit den Worten zitiert, er habe das Angebot zurückgewiesen, weil er nicht Tee mit Anwar Sadat trinken wolle, dem ersten arabischen Staatsmann, der einen Friedensvertrag mit Israel unterzeichnete und dafür ermordet wurde.
Auf vielerlei Art kann Abbas sich für die Lage, in der er heute ist, nur selbst die Schuld geben. Wenn man seinem Volk erzählt, man werde niemals Konzessionen machen, wie kann man dann ein Friedensabkommen mit Israel unterzeichnen?
Wer glaubt, dass wer auch immer Abbas nachfolgen wird, dazu in der Lage sein wird, Israel echte Zugeständnisse zu machen, lebt in einer Traumwelt. Jeder Palästinenser, der es wagt, von Zugeständnissen an Israel zu sprechen, wird umgehend als Verräter stigmatisiert.
Dies sind die beiden Gründe, warum der „Friedensprozess“ im Nahen Osten sich weiterhin in einem Teufelskreis drehen wird. Um Frieden zu schließen, muss man sein Volk auf Frieden mit Israel vorbereiten. Dies zu tun, hat die Palästinensische Autonomiebehörde versäumt. Und das ist wiederum der Grund, warum es in naher Zukunft keinen moderateren palästinensischen Führer geben wird.
Americans and Europeans fail to acknowledge that in order to achieve peace, the leaders must prepare their people for compromise and tolerance. If you want to make peace with Israel, you do not tell your people that the Western Wall has no religious significance to Jews and is, in fact, holy Muslim property. Palestinian Authority leaders who accuse Israel of „war crimes“ and „genocide“ are certainly not preparing their people for peace. Such allegations serve only to further agitate Palestinians against Israel.
If Yasser Arafat was not able to accept the generous offer made by former Prime Minister Ehud Barak at the 2000 Camp David summit, who is Mahmoud Abbas to make any concessions to Israel? Arafat was quoted then as saying that he rejected the offer because he did not want to end up drinking tea with assassinated Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, the first Arab leader to sign a peace agreement with Israel.
No Palestinian leader has a mandate to reach an everlasting peace agreement with Israel. No leader in Ramallah or the Gaza Strip is authorized to end the conflict with Israel. Any Palestinian who dares to talk about concessions to Israel is quickly denounced as a traitor. Those who believe that whoever succeeds Abbas will be able to make real concessions to Israel are living in an illusion.
There are two main reasons why Palestinians will not sign a real and meaningful peace agreement with Israel — at least not in the foreseeable future.
The first is a total lack of education for peace. The second is related to the absence of a leader who is authorized — or has the guts — to embark on such a risky mission.
Americans and Europeans who keep talking about the need to revive the stalled peace process in the Middle East continue to ignore these two factors. They continue to insist that peace is still possible and that the ball is in Israel’s court.
The Americans and Europeans fail to acknowledge that in order to achieve peace, the leaders must prepare their people for compromise and tolerance.
In fact, it is inaccurate to say merely that Palestinian leaders have failed to prepare their people for peace with Israel. Instead, one should say that the Palestinian leadership has long been inciting its people against Israel to a point where it has become almost impossible to talk about any form of compromise between Israelis and Palestinians.
Since its inception in 1994, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has devoted most of its energies and propaganda to delegitimizing and isolating Israel. Ironically, this incitement continued even as the PA was negotiating with Israel in an attempt to reach a peace agreement.
If you want to make peace with Israel, you do not tell your people every now and then that the Western Wall has no religious significance to Jews and is, in fact, holy Muslim property.
You cannot make peace with Israel if you continue to deny Jewish history or links to the land. Take, for example, what the PLO’s Hanan Ashrawi said in response to statements made by President Barack Obama, in which he acknowledged Jewish history. „Once again, he [Obama] has adopted the discourse of Zionist ideology,“ she said. „He adopted it when he came to this region, speaking about the Jews‘ return to their land, and that this is a Jewish state.“
You will never be able to make peace with Israel if you keep telling your people and the rest of the world that Zionism was created in order to implement the Jewish project of world domination. This is what the Palestinian Authority ambassador to Chile, Imad Nabil Jadaa, said at a conference on Israeli-Palestinian peace in Santiago.
Imad Nabil Jadaa, the Palestinian Authority ambassador to Chile, declared on May 15 that the The Protocols of the Elders of Zion (an antisemitic forgery) contains proof of a Jewish plan for world domination. In the same speech, Jadaa declared „there is no Jewish People“ and that Palestinians do not recognize the existence of a Jewish people. (Image source: ISGAP video screenshot)
It will be impossible to make peace with Israel at a time when the Palestinian Authority is telling its people that Jews use wild pigs to drive Palestinian farmers out of their fields and homes in the West Bank. This is what PA President Mahmoud Abbas told a pro-Palestinian conference in Ramallah.
According to the PA, Jews have also used rats to drive Arab residents of the Old City of Jerusalem out of their homes. The official Palestinian news agency, Wafa, which reports directly to Abbas’s office, claimed in a dispatch that, „Rats have become an Israeli weapon to displace and expel Arab residents“ of the Old City of Jerusalem. The agency reported: „Settlers flood the Old City with rats… they release the rats to increase the suffering of the [Arab] residents and force them to evict their homes and leave the city.“
These messages are being sent to Palestinians not only by Hamas, but also by the Western-funded Palestinian Authority, which happens to be Israel’s „peace partner.“ The messages are being sent to Palestinians through the mosques, media and public statements of Palestinian leaders.
This is in addition to the PA’s worldwide campaign to isolate, delegitimize and demonize Israel and Israelis. PA leaders and representatives who continue to accuse Israel of „war crimes“ and „genocide“ are certainly not preparing their people for peace with Israel. On the contrary, such allegations serve to further agitate Palestinians against Israel.
This is the type of incitement, in fact, that drives more Palestinians into the open arms of the Palestinian Authority’s rivals, first and foremost Hamas. If you keep telling your people that Israel does not want peace and only seeks to destroy the lives of the Palestinians and steal their lands, there is no way that Palestinians would ever accept any form of reconciliation, let alone peace, with Israel.
Yet this is not only about the lack of education for peace or anti-Israel incitement.
It is time for the international community to acknowledge the fact that no Palestinian leader has a mandate to reach an everlasting peace agreement with Israel. That is because no leader in Ramallah or the Gaza Strip is authorized to end the conflict with Israel.
If Yasser Arafat was not able to accept the generous offer made by former Prime Minister Ehud Barak at the 2000 Camp David summit, who is Mahmoud Abbas to make any form of concession to Israel? Arafat was quoted back them as saying that he rejected the offer because he did not want to end up drinking tea with assassinated Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, the first Arab leader to sign a peace agreement with Israel.
In many ways, Abbas can only blame himself for the situation he faces today. If you are telling your people that you will never make concessions, how can you ever sign a peace agreement with Israel?
Those who believe that whoever succeeds Abbas will be able to make real concessions to Israel are living in an illusion. It is time to admit that no present or future Palestinian leader is authorized to offer even the slightest concessions to Israel. Any Palestinian who dares to talk about concessions to Israel is quickly denounced as a traitor.
These are the two reasons why the „peace process“ in the Middle East will continue to revolve in a vicious cycle. In order to make peace with Israel, you need to prepare your people for peace with Israel. This is something that the Palestinian Authority has failed to do. And that is why we will not see the emergence of a more moderate Palestinian leader in the near future.
Früher galt als mutig, wer ein Revolutionär war, heute reicht es schon, wenn einer seine Meinung behält.
“Jeder fünfte Bewohner des Westjordanlandes ist ein israelischer Siedler”, greint die Generaldelegation Palästinas heute auf ihrer Homepage.
Und jeder fünfte Bewohner Israels ist ein palästinensischer Araber.
Nonkonformistische Attitüde und affirmative Inhalte – einer Kombination, die schon immer die linksdeutsche Ideologie gekennzeichnet hat. – Stephan Grigat
Es sind dieselben, die behaupten, das Geschlecht wäre nicht biologisch angeboren, sondern nur ein sozialer Konstrukt, und zugleich daß die Homosexualität kein sozialer Konstrukt wäre, sondern biologisch angeboren.
Der religiöse Rassismus der Islamisten, der den völkischen Rassismus der Nazis ersetzt hat, erklärt Allah zum Führer und die Jihadisten zu seiner privilegierten Kampftruppe: Wenn man so will, zu Allahs SS. Der Zusammenhalt dieser Kampftruppe wird über die Jenseitserwartung von Hölle und Paradies, also über das Instrument der religiösen Angst, sichergestellt. Diese Selbstbildfantasie der Islamisten ist mit ihrer (zumeist antijüdischen) Feindbildfantasie untrennbar verknüpft. – Matthias Küntzel
Kein Nazifaschist hat je wirklich geglaubt, er bezöge die Ermächtigung seiner Ansprüche aus dem Teutoburger Wald; keiner seiner demokratischen Erben hat jemals tatsächlich gedacht, ihnen erwüchse Legitimität im Resultat des “Lernens aus der Geschichte”; niemals war ein Sozialist der Ansicht, es sei die famose “Befreiung der Arbeit” und nicht vielmehr das Recht auf Beute, was seine Politik im Interesse der Arbeiterklasse motivierte. Und keinesfalls erwächst den Palästinensern irgendein Recht aus der Tatsache, daß sie zuerst da waren. Einer Gesellschaft, der Hunger kein Grund ist zur Produktion, kann auch das Leiden kein Grund sein zur Solidarität. Es ist die Ideologie, die mit der Unmittelbarkeit des Leidens agitiert, die aus dessen fragloser Evidenz Sinn zu schlagen sucht, sei es im Sinne von Caritas oder Amnesty International, sei es im Sinne der Freunde des palästinensischen Volkes für den Israelhaß der Antisemiten wie für den Islamfaschismus dieses Volkes. Ariel Scharon jedenfalls, der Zionist und praktische Antifaschist, ist dem aufgelösten Rätsel der Geschichte näher als die deutsche Linke, deren “Antifaschismus” sich als Aufstand der Anständigen à la Gerhard Schröder oder als Solidarität mit dem palästinensischen Volk ausagiert. (…) Im Wesen Israels als des ungleichzeitigen Staates der Juden liegt es aber nicht nur, Reaktion auf den Verrat an Aufklärung und Weltrevolution, nicht nur, Notwehrversuch gegen den Nazifaschismus und Asyl zu sein. Sondern eben auch, daß die üblichen Muster der bürgerlichen Rollenverteilung – hier das Gewaltmonopol des bürgerlichen Staates im allgemeinen und dort die Personen, die die Regierungsausübung im besondern besorgen – für den israelischen Staates aufgrund seiner Konstitutionsbedingungen keine Geltung mehr hat. Was sich unter anderem darin zeigt, daß diese “Kritiker” der israelischen Regierungspolitik für den faschistischen Mob und die Behörden, die Selbstmordattentäter belohnen, Verständnis aufbringen (Folge von Besatzung und Ausbeutung), dagegen für den Versuch, die militärische Infrastruktur der Gegner Israels zu zerschlagen, am liebsten die Begriffe Auslöschung oder Ausrottung der palästinensischen Bevölkerung im Munde führen. Wie hinter der treudoofen Frage, ob es nicht möglich sein müsse, Spekulanten als das zu bezeichnen, was sie sind, ohne gleich als antisemitisch zu gelten, so verbirgt sich hinter der treulinken Frage, ob nicht auch in Israel, weil es sich auch dort um eine bürgerliche Gesellschaft handele, Faschismus möglich sei, die Erkenntnis dieser Fusion in verquerer und verschrobener Gestalt. Verquer, weil ja gerade erklärt werden sollte, wie Israel, dieser Fusion zum Trotz, eine parlamentarische Demokratie ist und bleibt; verschroben, weil diese Einheit von Staat und Regierung im Übergang von einem unerträglichen Alten (die Vernichtungsdrohung) zum noch nicht erreichten Neuen (die herrschaftslose Gesellschaft) ja doch den Inbegriff dessen ausmacht, was einmal als “Diktatur des Proletariats”, als Emanzipationsgewalt und organisierte politische Macht der Revolution, auch und gerade auf den roten Fahnen stand. In Anbetracht der Grundidee des Staates Israel, vor dem Hintergrund der linken Staatsmythen, betreffend die “Diktatur des Proletariats”, muß jede Beurteilung der Handlungen der Regierungsvertreter auch die völlig andere Qualität dieses Staates, verglichen mit allen anderen, deutlich werden lassen. (…)
Wenn diese Linke über Israel schwadroniert, dann hört sich das nicht minder grausig an.Dabei liegt der Zusammenhang zwischen dem Antisemitismus und dem Vernichtungswillen gegen die zum Staat gewordene bürgerliche Gesellschaft der Juden, gegen Israel, eigentlich auf der Hand:Der sogenannte Antizionismus stellt nichts anderes dar als die geopolitische, globalisierte Reproduktion des Antisemitismus, das heißt die Erscheinungsform, die er in Weltmarkt und Weltpolitik nach Auschwitz annehmen muß. Der Antizionismus ist der aus den kapitalisierten Gesellschaften in die Welt herausgekehrte Antisemitismus. So ist Israel der Jude unter den Staaten; die Verdammung des Zionismus als eines “Rassismus” durch die UNO gibt es zu Protokoll. Das macht: die moralische Verurteilung der menschlichen Unkosten der Konstitution bürgerlicher Staatlichkeit allein am Beispiel Israels führt vor Augen, was die Welt der Volksstaaten vergessen machen will – daß die Zentralisation der politischen Gewalt über Leben und Tod keineswegs die natürliche Organisationsform der Gattung Mensch darstellt, sondern Ausdruck eben von Herrschaft und Ausbeutung. Dabei ist Israel – und das macht die Kritik an diesem Staat so perfide und muß deshalb immer wieder gesagt werden – der einzige Staat dieser Welt, der für sich eine nicht zu bezweifelnde Legitimität beanspruchen kann. Israel, das ist der ungleichzeitige Staat, der entstanden ist sowohl als Reaktion auf das Dementi aller Versprechungen der bürgerlichen Nationalrevolution, sowohl als Antwort auf den stalinistischen Verrat an der kommunistischen Weltrevolution als auch als zu spät gekommene Notwehr gegen den Massenmord an den europäischen Juden. (…) Israel ist das Schibboleth jener doch so naheliegenden Revolution; es ist der unbegriffene Schatten ihres Scheiterns. Israel ist das Menetekel, das zum einen (und ganz unfreiwillig) die kategorischen Minimalbedingungen des Kommunismus illustriert, und das zum anderen sämtliche Bestialitäten zu demonstrieren scheint, zu denen der bürgerlich-kapitalistische Nationalstaat fähig ist. Wer Israel nicht begriffen hat, wer den Haß auf diesen Staat, den Antizionismus, und wer den Antisemitismus, das heißt den Vernichtungswillen sowohl gegen die in diesem Staat lebenden als auch gegen die kosmopolitisch verstreuten Juden, nicht begriffen hat als das, was Antisemitismus wesentlich darstellt: den bedingungslosen Haß auf die Idee einer in freier Assoziation lebenden Gattung, der hat den Kommunismus nicht als das “aufgelöste Rätsel der Geschichte” begriffen. –
Der ostentative Muslimeifer aber, der sich im Alltag mancher ‚Allahu-Akbar‘-Brüller vielleicht doch sehr in Grenzen hält, findet im blanken Judenhass unverhoffte Nahrung, wo ihnen unter unendlich öden Koranrezitationen und geistlosen, absurden Vorschriften längst das bisschen ungeglaubten Glaubens zwischen den Fingern zerrann und ihr Muslimsein kaum je mehr ist als das typisch dauerbeleidigte, immer schon jeder Verantwortung ledige Gruppengefühl. Überhaupt will jeder Eifer – insbesondere der aktuelle, rasende Eifer des weltweit angreifenden Islam – den Stachel eines weniger drohenden als hinterrücks längst geschehenen Glaubensverlustes kompensieren.“ Mit anderen Worten: Muslime wurden nicht für ihr abstraktes Muslimsein kritisiert, sondern dafür, was – global betrachtet – die Mehrheit konkret darunter versteht: Die von Gott gegebene Ermächtigung zu Terror, Entrechtung, Antisemitismus.Wer differenziert, sollte nicht unerwähnt lassen, dass Osama bin Laden, Hassan Nasrallah und wie all die schrecklichen Figuren so heißen, in der muslimischen Welt als Helden gefeiert werden – und zwar nicht von einer minoritären Sekte, sondern von Millionen Muslimen, auch in Deutschland. (,,) Der unfreiwillige und verborgene Essentialismus der Postmoderne macht das Begreifen unmöglich, weil er die Beziehung zwischen Allgemeinem, Besonderem und Einzelnem nicht mehr zu thematisieren vermag. Wenn nur noch Vielfalt herrscht und Einzelnes und Allgemeines gewaltsam auseinandergerissen werden, bleibt die Verstandesleistung des begreifenden Subjekts auf der Strecke und die scheinbar ursprüngliche Differenz wird zum Mythos. Nicht nur dem Begriff des Allgemeinen, das ja ein noch einzulösendes ist, wird Gewalt angetan, auch dem Besonderen, dessen Unglück darin besteht, nur ein Besonderes zu sein, und das sich, weil es kein versöhnendes Ganzes gibt, dem schlecht-Allgemeinen, dem Racket nämlich, anschließen muss. – JAN HUISKENS
„Vernunft und Rationalität sind in dieser durchmedialisierten Welt chancenloser denn je. Ein unangenehmer Typ „Heckenschütze“ terrorisiert die Gesellschaft. Seine aktuelle Waffe: Der Phobienvorwurf.“ – Bettina Röhl
„Man wähnt, wenn man nach wissenschaftlichen Regeln sich richtet, dem wissenschaftlichen Ritual gehorcht, mit Wissenschaft sich umgibt, gerettet zu sein. Wissenschaftliche Approbation wird zum Ersatz der geistigen Reflexion des Tatsächlichen, in der Wissenschaft erst bestünde. […] Je tiefer man ahnt, daß man das Beste vergessen hat, desto mehr tröstet man sich damit, daß man über die Apparatur verfügt.“ (Theodor W. Adorno, Philosophie und Lehrer, AGS 10.2, 491)
„Vieles, was im Sinne von Foucaults »Mikrophysik der Macht« populär werden sollte; also die Erkenntnis, daß Macht nicht pyramidal hierarchisch, sondern durch sämtliche gesellschaftliche Bereiche hindurch wirkt, findet sich bereits in der Medizinkritik der Kritischen Theorie. Daß diese Thesen häufig übersehen wurden, mag daran liegen, daß sich Horkheimers entscheidende Äußerungen über Medizin und Psychiatrie nicht in den breit rezipierten Hauptwerken finden, sondern über die Gesamtausgabe verstreut sind. Wiemer suchte sie zusammen und zeigt, wie Horkheimer anhand der Medizin einen wesentlichen Charakterzug des modernen Kapitalismus ausmachte. Mediziner funktionieren laut Horkheimer wie fast jede wirtschaftliche Gruppe im Sinne eines Rackets. »Ein Racket«, erklärt er, »ist eine unter sich verschworene Gruppe, die ihre kollektiven Interessen zum Nachteil des Ganzen durchsetzt.« Allgemein betrachtet heißt das, daß sich die Klassengesellschaft in eine »neofeudale« Struktur verwandelt hat, innerhalb der Interessenverbände »nach dem Prinzip der Selbsterhaltung und der Machtakkumulation« funktionieren. Diesen Wandel macht Horkheimer an den Medizinern fest; und alles, was Horkheimer in seiner Kritik aussparte, von den Krankenversicherungen bis zum Pfusch in Krankenhäusern, wird von Carl Wiemer polemisch auf den neuesten Stand gebracht“ – Max Horkheimer
„Ein Shitstorm hat auch seine positive Seite. Da politisch korrekte Gülle meist in Richtung Originalität, Kreativität und Intelligenz geworfen wird, fliegt sie oft genug auf Leute, die zu lesen wirklich lohnt.“ – Evidenz-basierte Ansichten
Eine Frau wird als Frau geboren. ein Mann muß erst ein Mann werden.
Keine Paternalisierung, sondern fortschreitende Maternalisierung. Die Feminisierung und Genderisierug marginalisiert und zerstört die Vaterposition in den modernen »Gesellschaften«, die Vaterrolle erlitt allgemeine Degradierung, die Kanonisierung der Homosexulität im Speziellen und der sexuellen Diversität im Allgemeinen tilgt die noch übriggebliebenen Spuren einer Männlichkeit restlos aus, die nur noch als Schimpfwort der angeblichen „Paternalisierung“ im Jargon der Medien herumgeistert.
Post-Pop-Epoche: der Sieg der Mode über die Sitten.
„Wir brauchen schadhafte Gebäude, durch deren geborstene Wände man hindurch sehen kann, um wenigstens einen Anfang zum Denken zu gewinnen.“ – Victor Tausk
„Was man in römischer Zeit das »Abendland« und später »Europa« nennen wird, ist die politische Konsequenz des individualistischen Martyriums, das ein gesprächsfreudiger Stadtstreicher auf sich nahm, um die Legitimität des im universalistischen Dialekt vorgebrachten Neuen gegen die entkräfteten lokalen Sitten zu demonstrieren.“ – Peter Sloterdijk
„Was nützt einem die Gesundheit wenn man ansonsten ein Idiot ist.“ – Theodor Adorno
„Reasonandrationalityarechance-less than everinthistotallymediatisedworld. An unpleasanttype„Sniper“ terrorizedsociety. Hiscurrent weapon: Thephobiaaccusation.“ – Bettina Röhl
„AShitstormhas also itspositiveside. Aspolitically correctmanure it isusuallythrowninthe direction oforiginality, creativity and intelligence, she fliesoftentopeople whoare really worth to read.“ – Evidenz-basierte Ansichten
A woman is born as a woman. a man has to become a man.
No paternalization but advancing maternalization. The feminization and genderization marginalized and destroyed the father position in the modern „societies,“ the father role suffered general degradation, the canonization of homosexuality in particular and the sexual diversity generally wipes out the still remaining traces of masculinity completely out, only as an insult haunts the alleged „paternalization“ in the jargon of mass media.
The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse. Here’s what that means for its strategy—and for how to stop it.
Where did it come from, and what are its intentions? The simplicity of these questions can be deceiving, and few Western leaders seem to know the answers. In December, The New York Times published confidential comments by Major General Michael K. Nagata, the Special Operations commander for the United States in the Middle East, admitting that he had hardly begun figuring out the Islamic State’s appeal. “We have not defeated the idea,” he said. “We do not even understand the idea.” In the past year, President Obama has referred to the Islamic State, variously, as “not Islamic” and as al-Qaeda’s “jayvee team,” statements that reflected confusion about the group, and may have contributed to significant strategic errors.
The group seized Mosul, Iraq, last June, and already rules an area larger than the United Kingdom. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been its leader since May 2010, but until last summer, his most recent known appearance on film was a grainy mug shot from a stay in U.S. captivity at Camp Bucca during the occupation of Iraq. Then, on July 5 of last year, he stepped into the pulpit of the Great Mosque of al-Nuri in Mosul, to deliver a Ramadan sermon as the first caliph in generations—upgrading his resolution from grainy to high-definition, and his position from hunted guerrilla to commander of all Muslims. The inflow of jihadists that followed, from around the world, was unprecedented in its pace and volume, and is continuing.
Our ignorance of the Islamic State is in some ways understandable: It is a hermit kingdom; few have gone there and returned. Baghdadi has spoken on camera only once. But his address, and the Islamic State’s countless other propaganda videos and encyclicals, are online, and the caliphate’s supporters have toiled mightily to make their project knowable. We can gather that their state rejects peace as a matter of principle; that it hungers for genocide; that its religious views make it constitutionally incapable of certain types of change, even if that change might ensure its survival; and that it considers itself a harbinger of—and headline player in—the imminent end of the world.
The Islamic State, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), follows a distinctive variety of Islam whose beliefs about the path to the Day of Judgment matter to its strategy, and can help the West know its enemy and predict its behavior. Its rise to power is less like the triumph of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt (a group whose leaders the Islamic State considers apostates) than like the realization of a dystopian alternate reality in which David Koresh or Jim Jones survived to wield absolute power over not just a few hundred people, but some 8 million.
We have misunderstood the nature of the Islamic State in at least two ways. First, we tend to see jihadism as monolithic, and to apply the logic of al‑Qaeda to an organization that has decisively eclipsed it. The Islamic State supporters I spoke with still refer to Osama bin Laden as “Sheikh Osama,” a title of honor. But jihadism has evolved since al-Qaeda’s heyday, from about 1998 to 2003, and many jihadists disdain the group’s priorities and current leadership.
Bin Laden viewed his terrorism as a prologue to a caliphate he did not expect to see in his lifetime. His organization was flexible, operating as a geographically diffuse network of autonomous cells. The Islamic State, by contrast, requires territory to remain legitimate, and a top-down structure to rule it. (Its bureaucracy is divided into civil and military arms, and its territory into provinces.)
We are misled in a second way, by a well-intentioned but dishonest campaign to deny the Islamic State’s medieval religious nature. Peter Bergen, who produced the first interview with bin Laden in 1997, titled his first book Holy War, Inc. in part to acknowledge bin Laden as a creature of the modern secular world. Bin Laden corporatized terror and franchised it out. He requested specific political concessions, such as the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Saudi Arabia. His foot soldiers navigated the modern world confidently. On Mohammad Atta’s last full day of life, he shopped at Walmart and ate dinner at Pizza Hut.
Nearly all the Islamic State’s decisions adhere to what it calls, on its billboards, license plates, and coins, “the Prophetic methodology.”
There is a temptation to rehearse this observation—that jihadists are modern secular people, with modern political concerns, wearing medieval religious disguise—and make it fit the Islamic State. In fact, much of what the group does looks nonsensical except in light of a sincere, carefully considered commitment to returning civilization to a seventh-century legal environment, and ultimately to bringing about the apocalypse.
The most-articulate spokesmen for that position are the Islamic State’s officials and supporters themselves. They refer derisively to “moderns.” In conversation, they insist that they will not—cannot—waver from governing precepts that were embedded in Islam by the Prophet Muhammad and his earliest followers. They often speak in codes and allusions that sound odd or old-fashioned to non-Muslims, but refer to specific traditions and texts of early Islam.
To take one example: In September, Sheikh Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, the Islamic State’s chief spokesman, called on Muslims in Western countries such as France and Canada to find an infidel and “smash his head with a rock,” poison him, run him over with a car, or “destroy his crops.” To Western ears, the biblical-sounding punishments—the stoning and crop destruction—juxtaposed strangely with his more modern-sounding call to vehicular homicide. (As if to show that he could terrorize by imagery alone, Adnani also referred to Secretary of State John Kerry as an “uncircumcised geezer.”)
But Adnani was not merely talking trash. His speech was laced with theological and legal discussion, and his exhortation to attack crops directly echoed orders from Muhammad to leave well water and crops alone—unless the armies of Islam were in a defensive position, in which case Muslims in the lands of kuffar, or infidels, should be unmerciful, and poison away.
The reality is that the Islamic State is Islamic. Very Islamic. Yes, it has attracted psychopaths and adventure seekers, drawn largely from the disaffected populations of the Middle East and Europe. But the religion preached by its most ardent followers derives from coherent and even learned interpretations of Islam.
Virtually every major decision and law promulgated by the Islamic State adheres to what it calls, in its press and pronouncements, and on its billboards, license plates, stationery, and coins, “the Prophetic methodology,” which means following the prophecy and example of Muhammad, in punctilious detail. Muslims can reject the Islamic State; nearly all do. But pretending that it isn’t actually a religious, millenarian group, with theology that must be understood to be combatted, has already led the United States to underestimate it and back foolish schemes to counter it. We’ll need to get acquainted with the Islamic State’s intellectual genealogy if we are to react in a way that will not strengthen it, but instead help it self-immolate in its own excessive zeal.
In November, the Islamic State released an infomercial-like video tracing its origins to bin Laden. It acknowledged Abu Musa’b al Zarqawi, the brutal head of al‑Qaeda in Iraq from roughly 2003 until his killing in 2006, as a more immediate progenitor, followed sequentially by two other guerrilla leaders before Baghdadi, the caliph. Notably unmentioned: bin Laden’s successor, Ayman al Zawahiri, the owlish Egyptian eye surgeon who currently heads al‑Qaeda. Zawahiri has not pledged allegiance to Baghdadi, and he is increasingly hated by his fellow jihadists. His isolation is not helped by his lack of charisma; in videos he comes across as squinty and annoyed. But the split between al-Qaeda and the Islamic State has been long in the making, and begins to explain, at least in part, the outsize bloodlust of the latter.
Zawahiri’s companion in isolation is a Jordanian cleric named Abu Muhammad al Maqdisi, 55, who has a fair claim to being al-Qaeda’s intellectual architect and the most important jihadist unknown to the average American newspaper reader. On most matters of doctrine, Maqdisi and the Islamic State agree. Both are closely identified with the jihadist wing of a branch of Sunnism called Salafism, after the Arabic al salaf al salih, the “pious forefathers.” These forefathers are the Prophet himself and his earliest adherents, whom Salafis honor and emulate as the models for all behavior, including warfare, couture, family life, even dentistry.
The Islamic State awaits the army of “Rome,” whose defeat at Dabiq, Syria, will initiate the countdown to the apocalypse.
Maqdisi taught Zarqawi, who went to war in Iraq with the older man’s advice in mind. In time, though, Zarqawi surpassed his mentor in fanaticism, and eventually earned his rebuke. At issue was Zarqawi’s penchant for bloody spectacle—and, as a matter of doctrine, his hatred of other Muslims, to the point of excommunicating and killing them. In Islam, the practice of takfir, or excommunication, is theologically perilous. “If a man says to his brother, ‘You are an infidel,’ ” the Prophet said, “then one of them is right.” If the accuser is wrong, he himself has committed apostasy by making a false accusation. The punishment for apostasy is death. And yet Zarqawi heedlessly expanded the range of behavior that could make Muslims infidels.
Maqdisi wrote to his former pupil that he needed to exercise caution and “not issue sweeping proclamations of takfir” or “proclaim people to be apostates because of their sins.” The distinction between apostate and sinner may appear subtle, but it is a key point of contention between al-Qaeda and the Islamic State.
Denying the holiness of the Koran or the prophecies of Muhammad is straightforward apostasy. But Zarqawi and the state he spawned take the position that many other acts can remove a Muslim from Islam. These include, in certain cases, selling alcohol or drugs, wearing Western clothes or shaving one’s beard, voting in an election—even for a Muslim candidate—and being lax about calling other people apostates. Being a Shiite, as most Iraqi Arabs are, meets the standard as well, because the Islamic State regards Shiism as innovation, and to innovate on the Koran is to deny its initial perfection. (The Islamic State claims that common Shiite practices, such as worship at the graves of imams and public self-flagellation, have no basis in the Koran or in the example of the Prophet.) That means roughly 200 million Shia are marked for death. So too are the heads of state of every Muslim country, who have elevated man-made law above Sharia by running for office or enforcing laws not made by God.
Following takfiri doctrine, the Islamic State is committed to purifying the world by killing vast numbers of people. The lack of objective reporting from its territory makes the true extent of the slaughter unknowable, but social-media posts from the region suggest that individual executions happen more or less continually, and mass executions every few weeks. Muslim “apostates” are the most common victims. Exempted from automatic execution, it appears, are Christians who do not resist their new government. Baghdadi permits them to live, as long as they pay a special tax, known as the jizya, and acknowledge their subjugation. The Koranic authority for this practice is not in dispute.
Centuries have passed since the wars of religion ceased in Europe, and since men stopped dying in large numbers because of arcane theological disputes. Hence, perhaps, the incredulity and denial with which Westerners have greeted news of the theology and practices of the Islamic State. Many refuse to believe that this group is as devout as it claims to be, or as backward-looking or apocalyptic as its actions and statements suggest.
Their skepticism is comprehensible. In the past, Westerners who accused Muslims of blindly following ancient scriptures came to deserved grief from academics—notably the late Edward Said—who pointed out that calling Muslims “ancient” was usually just another way to denigrate them. Look instead, these scholars urged, to the conditions in which these ideologies arose—the bad governance, the shifting social mores, the humiliation of living in lands valued only for their oil.
Without acknowledgment of these factors, no explanation of the rise of the Islamic State could be complete. But focusing on them to the exclusion of ideology reflects another kind of Western bias: that if religious ideology doesn’t matter much in Washington or Berlin, surely it must be equally irrelevant in Raqqa or Mosul. When a masked executioner says Allahu akbar while beheading an apostate, sometimes he’s doing so for religious reasons.
Many mainstream Muslim organizations have gone so far as to say the Islamic State is, in fact, un-Islamic. It is, of course, reassuring to know that the vast majority of Muslims have zero interest in replacing Hollywood movies with public executions as evening entertainment. But Muslims who call the Islamic State un-Islamic are typically, as the Princeton scholar Bernard Haykel, the leading expert on the group’s theology, told me, “embarrassed and politically correct, with a cotton-candy view of their own religion” that neglects “what their religion has historically and legally required.” Many denials of the Islamic State’s religious nature, he said, are rooted in an “interfaith-Christian-nonsense tradition.”
Every academic I asked about the Islamic State’s ideology sent me to Haykel. Of partial Lebanese descent, Haykel grew up in Lebanon and the United States, and when he talks through his Mephistophelian goatee, there is a hint of an unplaceable foreign accent.
According to Haykel, the ranks of the Islamic State are deeply infused with religious vigor. Koranic quotations are ubiquitous. “Even the foot soldiers spout this stuff constantly,” Haykel said. “They mug for their cameras and repeat their basic doctrines in formulaic fashion, and they do it all the time.” He regards the claim that the Islamic State has distorted the texts of Islam as preposterous, sustainable only through willful ignorance. “People want to absolve Islam,” he said. “It’s this ‘Islam is a religion of peace’ mantra. As if there is such a thing as ‘Islam’! It’s what Muslims do, and how they interpret their texts.” Those texts are shared by all Sunni Muslims, not just the Islamic State. “And these guys have just as much legitimacy as anyone else.”
All Muslims acknowledge that Muhammad’s earliest conquests were not tidy affairs, and that the laws of war passed down in the Koran and in the narrations of the Prophet’s rule were calibrated to fit a turbulent and violent time. In Haykel’s estimation, the fighters of the Islamic State are authentic throwbacks to early Islam and are faithfully reproducing its norms of war. This behavior includes a number of practices that modern Muslims tend to prefer not to acknowledge as integral to their sacred texts. “Slavery, crucifixion, and beheadings are not something that freakish [jihadists] are cherry-picking from the medieval tradition,” Haykel said. Islamic State fighters “are smack in the middle of the medieval tradition and are bringing it wholesale into the present day.”
The Koran specifies crucifixion as one of the only punishments permitted for enemies of Islam. The tax on Christians finds clear endorsement in the Surah Al-Tawba, the Koran’s ninth chapter, which instructs Muslims to fight Christians and Jews “until they pay the jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.” The Prophet, whom all Muslims consider exemplary, imposed these rules and owned slaves.
Leaders of the Islamic State have taken emulation of Muhammad as strict duty, and have revived traditions that have been dormant for hundreds of years. “What’s striking about them is not just the literalism, but also the seriousness with which they read these texts,” Haykel said. “There is an assiduous, obsessive seriousness that Muslims don’t normally have.”
Before the rise of the Islamic State, no group in the past few centuries had attempted more-radical fidelity to the Prophetic model than the Wahhabis of 18th‑century Arabia. They conquered most of what is now Saudi Arabia, and their strict practices survive in a diluted version of Sharia there. Haykel sees an important distinction between the groups, though: “The Wahhabis were not wanton in their violence.” They were surrounded by Muslims, and they conquered lands that were already Islamic; this stayed their hand. “ISIS, by contrast, is really reliving the early period.” Early Muslims were surrounded by non-Muslims, and the Islamic State, because of its takfiri tendencies, considers itself to be in the same situation.
If al-Qaeda wanted to revive slavery, it never said so. And why would it? Silence on slavery probably reflected strategic thinking, with public sympathies in mind: when the Islamic State began enslaving people, even some of its supporters balked. Nonetheless, the caliphate has continued to embrace slavery and crucifixion without apology. “We will conquer your Rome, break your crosses, and enslave your women,” Adnani, the spokesman, promised in one of his periodic valentines to the West. “If we do not reach that time, then our children and grandchildren will reach it, and they will sell your sons as slaves at the slave market.”
In October, Dabiq, the magazine of the Islamic State, published “The Revival of Slavery Before the Hour,” an article that took up the question of whether Yazidis (the members of an ancient Kurdish sect that borrows elements of Islam, and had come under attack from Islamic State forces in northern Iraq) are lapsed Muslims, and therefore marked for death, or merely pagans and therefore fair game for enslavement. A study group of Islamic State scholars had convened, on government orders, to resolve this issue. If they are pagans, the article’s anonymous author wrote,
Yazidi women and children [are to be] divided according to the Shariah amongst the fighters of the Islamic State who participated in the Sinjar operations [in northern Iraq] … Enslaving the families of the kuffar [infidels] and taking their women as concubines is a firmly established aspect of the Shariah that if one were to deny or mock, he would be denying or mocking the verses of the Koran and the narrations of the Prophet … and thereby apostatizing from Islam.
Tens of thousands of foreign Muslims are thought to have immigrated to the Islamic State. Recruits hail from France, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Germany, Holland, Australia, Indonesia, the United States, and many other places. Many have come to fight, and many intend to die.
Peter R. Neumann, a professor at King’s College London, told me that online voices have been essential to spreading propaganda and ensuring that newcomers know what to believe. Online recruitment has also widened the demographics of the jihadist community, by allowing conservative Muslim women—physically isolated in their homes—to reach out to recruiters, radicalize, and arrange passage to Syria. Through its appeals to both genders, the Islamic State hopes to build a complete society.
In November, I traveled to Australia to meet Musa Cerantonio, a 30-year-old man whom Neumann and other researchers had identified as one of the two most important “new spiritual authorities” guiding foreigners to join the Islamic State. For three years he was a televangelist on Iqraa TV in Cairo, but he left after the station objected to his frequent calls to establish a caliphate. Now he preaches on Facebook and Twitter.
Cerantonio—a big, friendly man with a bookish demeanor—told me he blanches at beheading videos. He hates seeing the violence, even though supporters of the Islamic State are required to endorse it. (He speaks out, controversially among jihadists, against suicide bombing, on the grounds that God forbids suicide; he differs from the Islamic State on a few other points as well.) He has the kind of unkempt facial hair one sees on certain overgrown fans of The Lord of the Rings, and his obsession with Islamic apocalypticism felt familiar. He seemed to be living out a drama that looks, from an outsider’s perspective, like a medieval fantasy novel, only with real blood.
Last June, Cerantonio and his wife tried to emigrate—he wouldn’t say to where (“It’s illegal to go to Syria,” he said cagily)—but they were caught en route, in the Philippines, and he was deported back to Australia for overstaying his visa. Australia has criminalized attempts to join or travel to the Islamic State, and has confiscated Cerantonio’s passport. He is stuck in Melbourne, where he is well known to the local constabulary. If Cerantonio were caught facilitating the movement of individuals to the Islamic State, he would be imprisoned. So far, though, he is free—a technically unaffiliated ideologue who nonetheless speaks with what other jihadists have taken to be a reliable voice on matters of the Islamic State’s doctrine.
We met for lunch in Footscray, a dense, multicultural Melbourne suburb that’s home to Lonely Planet, the travel-guide publisher. Cerantonio grew up there in a half-Irish, half-Calabrian family. On a typical street one can find African restaurants, Vietnamese shops, and young Arabs walking around in the Salafi uniform of scraggly beard, long shirt, and trousers ending halfway down the calves.
Cerantonio explained the joy he felt when Baghdadi was declared the caliph on June 29—and the sudden, magnetic attraction that Mesopotamia began to exert on him and his friends. “I was in a hotel [in the Philippines], and I saw the declaration on television,” he told me. “And I was just amazed, and I’m like, Why am I stuck here in this bloody room?”
The last caliphate was the Ottoman empire, which reached its peak in the 16th century and then experienced a long decline, until the founder of the Republic of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, euthanized it in 1924. But Cerantonio, like many supporters of the Islamic State, doesn’t acknowledge that caliphate as legitimate, because it didn’t fully enforce Islamic law, which requires stonings and slavery and amputations, and because its caliphs were not descended from the tribe of the Prophet, the Quraysh.
Baghdadi spoke at length of the importance of the caliphate in his Mosul sermon. He said that to revive the institution of the caliphate—which had not functioned except in name for about 1,000 years—was a communal obligation. He and his loyalists had “hastened to declare the caliphate and place an imam” at its head, he said. “This is a duty upon the Muslims—a duty that has been lost for centuries … The Muslims sin by losing it, and they must always seek to establish it.” Like bin Laden before him, Baghdadi spoke floridly, with frequent scriptural allusion and command of classical rhetoric. Unlike bin Laden, and unlike those false caliphs of the Ottoman empire, he is Qurayshi.
The caliphate, Cerantonio told me, is not just a political entity but also a vehicle for salvation. Islamic State propaganda regularly reports the pledges of baya’a (allegiance) rolling in from jihadist groups across the Muslim world. Cerantonio quoted a Prophetic saying, that to die without pledging allegiance is to die jahil (ignorant) and therefore die a “death of disbelief.” Consider how Muslims (or, for that matter, Christians) imagine God deals with the souls of people who die without learning about the one true religion. They are neither obviously saved nor definitively condemned. Similarly, Cerantonio said, the Muslim who acknowledges one omnipotent god and prays, but who dies without pledging himself to a valid caliph and incurring the obligations of that oath, has failed to live a fully Islamic life. I pointed out that this means the vast majority of Muslims in history, and all who passed away between 1924 and 2014, died a death of disbelief. Cerantonio nodded gravely. “I would go so far as to say that Islam has been reestablished” by the caliphate.
I asked him about his own baya’a, and he quickly corrected me: “I didn’t say that I’d pledged allegiance.” Under Australian law, he reminded me, giving baya’a to the Islamic State was illegal. “But I agree that [Baghdadi] fulfills the requirements,” he continued. “I’m just going to wink at you, and you take that to mean whatever you want.”
To be the caliph, one must meet conditions outlined in Sunni law—being a Muslim adult man of Quraysh descent; exhibiting moral probity and physical and mental integrity; and having ’amr, or authority. This last criterion, Cerantonio said, is the hardest to fulfill, and requires that the caliph have territory in which he can enforce Islamic law. Baghdadi’s Islamic State achieved that long before June 29, Cerantonio said, and as soon as it did, a Western convert within the group’s ranks—Cerantonio described him as “something of a leader”—began murmuring about the religious obligation to declare a caliphate. He and others spoke quietly to those in power and told them that further delay would be sinful.
Cerantonio said a faction arose that was prepared to make war on Baghdadi’s group if it delayed any further. They prepared a letter to various powerful members of ISIS, airing their displeasure at the failure to appoint a caliph, but were pacified by Adnani, the spokesman, who let them in on a secret—that a caliphate had already been declared, long before the public announcement. They had their legitimate caliph, and at that point there was only one option. “If he’s legitimate,” Cerantonio said, “you must give him the baya’a.”
After Baghdadi’s July sermon, a stream of jihadists began flowing daily into Syria with renewed motivation. Jürgen Todenhöfer, a German author and former politician who visited the Islamic State in December, reported the arrival of 100 fighters at one Turkish-border recruitment station in just two days. His report, among others, suggests a still-steady inflow of foreigners, ready to give up everything at home for a shot at paradise in the worst place on Earth.
In London, a week before my meal with Cerantonio, I met with three ex-members of a banned Islamist group called Al Muhajiroun (The Emigrants): Anjem Choudary, Abu Baraa, and Abdul Muhid. They all expressed desire to emigrate to the Islamic State, as many of their colleagues already had, but the authorities had confiscated their passports. Like Cerantonio, they regarded the caliphate as the only righteous government on Earth, though none would confess having pledged allegiance. Their principal goal in meeting me was to explain what the Islamic State stands for, and how its policies reflect God’s law.
Choudary, 48, is the group’s former leader. He frequently appears on cable news, as one of the few people producers can book who will defend the Islamic State vociferously, until his mike is cut. He has a reputation in the United Kingdom as a loathsome blowhard, but he and his disciples sincerely believe in the Islamic State and, on matters of doctrine, speak in its voice. Choudary and the others feature prominently in the Twitter feeds of Islamic State residents, and Abu Baraa maintains a YouTube channel to answer questions about Sharia.
Since September, authorities have been investigating the three men on suspicion of supporting terrorism. Because of this investigation, they had to meet me separately: communication among them would have violated the terms of their bail. But speaking with them felt like speaking with the same person wearing different masks. Choudary met me in a candy shop in the East London suburb of Ilford. He was dressed smartly, in a crisp blue tunic reaching nearly to his ankles, and sipped a Red Bull while we talked.
Before the caliphate, “maybe 85 percent of the Sharia was absent from our lives,” Choudary told me. “These laws are in abeyance until we have khilafa”—a caliphate—“and now we have one.” Without a caliphate, for example, individual vigilantes are not obliged to amputate the hands of thieves they catch in the act. But create a caliphate, and this law, along with a huge body of other jurisprudence, suddenly awakens. In theory, all Muslims are obliged to immigrate to the territory where the caliph is applying these laws. One of Choudary’s prize students, a convert from Hinduism named Abu Rumaysah, evaded police to bring his family of five from London to Syria in November. On the day I met Choudary, Abu Rumaysah tweeted out a picture of himself with a Kalashnikov in one arm and his newborn son in the other. Hashtag: #GenerationKhilafah.
The caliph is required to implement Sharia. Any deviation will compel those who have pledged allegiance to inform the caliph in private of his error and, in extreme cases, to excommunicate and replace him if he persists. (“I have been plagued with this great matter, plagued with this responsibility, and it is a heavy responsibility,” Baghdadi said in his sermon.) In return, the caliph commands obedience—and those who persist in supporting non-Muslim governments, after being duly warned and educated about their sin, are considered apostates.
Choudary said Sharia has been misunderstood because of its incomplete application by regimes such as Saudi Arabia, which does behead murderers and cut off thieves’ hands. “The problem,” he explained, “is that when places like Saudi Arabia just implement the penal code, and don’t provide the social and economic justice of the Sharia—the whole package—they simply engender hatred toward the Sharia.” That whole package, he said, would include free housing, food, and clothing for all, though of course anyone who wished to enrich himself with work could do so.
Abdul Muhid, 32, continued along these lines. He was dressed in mujahideen chic when I met him at a local restaurant: scruffy beard, Afghan cap, and a wallet outside of his clothes, attached with what looked like a shoulder holster. When we sat down, he was eager to discuss welfare. The Islamic State may have medieval-style punishments for moral crimes (lashes for boozing or fornication, stoning for adultery), but its social-welfare program is, at least in some aspects, progressive to a degree that would please an MSNBC pundit. Health care, he said, is free. (“Isn’t it free in Britain, too?,” I asked. “Not really,” he said. “Some procedures aren’t covered, such as vision.”) This provision of social welfare was not, he said, a policy choice of the Islamic State, but a policy obligation inherent in God’s law.
III. The Apocalypse
All Muslims acknowledge that God is the only one who knows the future. But they also agree that he has offered us a peek at it, in the Koran and in narrations of the Prophet. The Islamic State differs from nearly every other current jihadist movement in believing that it is written into God’s script as a central character. It is in this casting that the Islamic State is most boldly distinctive from its predecessors, and clearest in the religious nature of its mission.
In broad strokes, al-Qaeda acts like an underground political movement, with worldly goals in sight at all times—the expulsion of non-Muslims from the Arabian peninsula, the abolishment of the state of Israel, the end of support for dictatorships in Muslim lands. The Islamic State has its share of worldly concerns (including, in the places it controls, collecting garbage and keeping the water running), but the End of Days is a leitmotif of its propaganda. Bin Laden rarely mentioned the apocalypse, and when he did, he seemed to presume that he would be long dead when the glorious moment of divine comeuppance finally arrived. “Bin Laden and Zawahiri are from elite Sunni families who look down on this kind of speculation and think it’s something the masses engage in,” says Will McCants of the Brookings Institution, who is writing a book about the Islamic State’s apocalyptic thought.
During the last years of the U.S. occupation of Iraq, the Islamic State’s immediate founding fathers, by contrast, saw signs of the end times everywhere. They were anticipating, within a year, the arrival of the Mahdi—a messianic figure destined to lead the Muslims to victory before the end of the world. McCants says a prominent Islamist in Iraq approached bin Laden in 2008 to warn him that the group was being led by millenarians who were “talking all the time about the Mahdi and making strategic decisions” based on when they thought the Mahdi was going to arrive. “Al-Qaeda had to write to [these leaders] to say ‘Cut it out.’ ”
For certain true believers—the kind who long for epic good-versus-evil battles—visions of apocalyptic bloodbaths fulfill a deep psychological need. Of the Islamic State supporters I met, Musa Cerantonio, the Australian, expressed the deepest interest in the apocalypse and how the remaining days of the Islamic State—and the world—might look. Parts of that prediction are original to him, and do not yet have the status of doctrine. But other parts are based on mainstream Sunni sources and appear all over the Islamic State’s propaganda. These include the belief that there will be only 12 legitimate caliphs, and Baghdadi is the eighth; that the armies of Rome will mass to meet the armies of Islam in northern Syria; and that Islam’s final showdown with an anti-Messiah will occur in Jerusalem after a period of renewed Islamic conquest.
The Islamic State has attached great importance to the Syrian city of Dabiq, near Aleppo. It named its propaganda magazine after the town, and celebrated madly when (at great cost) it conquered Dabiq’s strategically unimportant plains. It is here, the Prophet reportedly said, that the armies of Rome will set up their camp. The armies of Islam will meet them, and Dabiq will be Rome’s Waterloo or its Antietam.
“Dabiq is basically all farmland,” one Islamic State supporter recently tweeted. “You could imagine large battles taking place there.” The Islamic State’s propagandists drool with anticipation of this event, and constantly imply that it will come soon. The state’s magazine quotes Zarqawi as saying, “The spark has been lit here in Iraq, and its heat will continue to intensify … until it burns the crusader armies in Dabiq.” A recent propaganda video shows clips from Hollywood war movies set in medieval times—perhaps because many of the prophecies specify that the armies will be on horseback or carrying ancient weapons.
Now that it has taken Dabiq, the Islamic State awaits the arrival of an enemy army there, whose defeat will initiate the countdown to the apocalypse. Western media frequently miss references to Dabiq in the Islamic State’s videos, and focus instead on lurid scenes of beheading. “Here we are, burying the first American crusader in Dabiq, eagerly waiting for the remainder of your armies to arrive,” said a masked executioner in a November video, showing the severed head of Peter (Abdul Rahman) Kassig, the aid worker who’d been held captive for more than a year. During fighting in Iraq in December, after mujahideen (perhaps inaccurately) reported having seen American soldiers in battle, Islamic State Twitter accounts erupted in spasms of pleasure, like overenthusiastic hosts or hostesses upon the arrival of the first guests at a party.
The Prophetic narration that foretells the Dabiq battle refers to the enemy as Rome. Who “Rome” is, now that the pope has no army, remains a matter of debate. But Cerantonio makes a case that Rome meant the Eastern Roman empire, which had its capital in what is now Istanbul. We should think of Rome as the Republic of Turkey—the same republic that ended the last self-identified caliphate, 90 years ago. Other Islamic State sources suggest that Rome might mean any infidel army, and the Americans will do nicely.
After its battle in Dabiq, Cerantonio said, the caliphate will expand and sack Istanbul. Some believe it will then cover the entire Earth, but Cerantonio suggested its tide may never reach beyond the Bosporus. An anti-Messiah, known in Muslim apocalyptic literature as Dajjal, will come from the Khorasan region of eastern Iran and kill a vast number of the caliphate’s fighters, until just 5,000 remain, cornered in Jerusalem. Just as Dajjal prepares to finish them off, Jesus—the second-most-revered prophet in Islam—will return to Earth, spear Dajjal, and lead the Muslims to victory.
“Only God knows” whether the Islamic State’s armies are the ones foretold, Cerantonio said. But he is hopeful. “The Prophet said that one sign of the imminent arrival of the End of Days is that people will for a long while stop talking about the End of Days,” he said. “If you go to the mosques now, you’ll find the preachers are silent about this subject.” On this theory, even setbacks dealt to the Islamic State mean nothing, since God has preordained the near-destruction of his people anyway. The Islamic State has its best and worst days ahead of it.
IV. The Fight
The ideological purity of the Islamic State has one compensating virtue: it allows us to predict some of the group’s actions. Osama bin Laden was seldom predictable. He ended his first television interview cryptically. CNN’s Peter Arnett asked him, “What are your future plans?” Bin Laden replied, “You’ll see them and hear about them in the media, God willing.” By contrast, the Islamic State boasts openly about its plans—not all of them, but enough so that by listening carefully, we can deduce how it intends to govern and expand.
In London, Choudary and his students provided detailed descriptions of how the Islamic State must conduct its foreign policy, now that it is a caliphate. It has already taken up what Islamic law refers to as “offensive jihad,” the forcible expansion into countries that are ruled by non-Muslims. “Hitherto, we were just defending ourselves,” Choudary said; without a caliphate, offensive jihad is an inapplicable concept. But the waging of war to expand the caliphate is an essential duty of the caliph.
Choudary took pains to present the laws of war under which the Islamic State operates as policies of mercy rather than of brutality. He told me the state has an obligation to terrorize its enemies—a holy order to scare the shit out of them with beheadings and crucifixions and enslavement of women and children, because doing so hastens victory and avoids prolonged conflict.
Choudary’s colleague Abu Baraa explained that Islamic law permits only temporary peace treaties, lasting no longer than a decade. Similarly, accepting any border is anathema, as stated by the Prophet and echoed in the Islamic State’s propaganda videos. If the caliph consents to a longer-term peace or permanent border, he will be in error. Temporary peace treaties are renewable, but may not be applied to all enemies at once: the caliph must wage jihad at least once a year. He may not rest, or he will fall into a state of sin.
One comparison to the Islamic State is the Khmer Rouge, which killed about a third of the population of Cambodia. But the Khmer Rouge occupied Cambodia’s seat at the United Nations. “This is not permitted,” Abu Baraa said. “To send an ambassador to the UN is to recognize an authority other than God’s.” This form of diplomacy is shirk, or polytheism, he argued, and would be immediate cause to hereticize and replace Baghdadi. Even to hasten the arrival of a caliphate by democratic means—for example by voting for political candidates who favor a caliphate—is shirk.
It’s hard to overstate how hamstrung the Islamic State will be by its radicalism. The modern international system, born of the 1648 Peace of Westphalia, relies on each state’s willingness to recognize borders, however grudgingly. For the Islamic State, that recognition is ideological suicide. Other Islamist groups, such as the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, have succumbed to the blandishments of democracy and the potential for an invitation to the community of nations, complete with a UN seat. Negotiation and accommodation have worked, at times, for the Taliban as well. (Under Taliban rule, Afghanistan exchanged ambassadors with Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and the United Arab Emirates, an act that invalidated the Taliban’s authority in the Islamic State’s eyes.) To the Islamic State these are not options, but acts of apostasy.
The United States and its allies have reacted to the Islamic State belatedly and in an apparent daze. The group’s ambitions and rough strategic blueprints were evident in its pronouncements and in social-media chatter as far back as 2011, when it was just one of many terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq and hadn’t yet committed mass atrocities. Adnani, the spokesman, told followers then that the group’s ambition was to “restore the Islamic caliphate,” and he evoked the apocalypse, saying, “There are but a few days left.” Baghdadi had already styled himself “commander of the faithful,” a title ordinarily reserved for caliphs, in 2011. In April 2013, Adnani declared the movement “ready to redraw the world upon the Prophetic methodology of the caliphate.” In August 2013, he said, “Our goal is to establish an Islamic state that doesn’t recognize borders, on the Prophetic methodology.” By then, the group had taken Raqqa, a Syrian provincial capital of perhaps 500,000 people, and was drawing in substantial numbers of foreign fighters who’d heard its message.
If we had identified the Islamic State’s intentions early, and realized that the vacuum in Syria and Iraq would give it ample space to carry them out, we might, at a minimum, have pushed Iraq to harden its border with Syria and preemptively make deals with its Sunnis. That would at least have avoided the electrifying propaganda effect created by the declaration of a caliphate just after the conquest of Iraq’s third-largest city. Yet, just over a year ago, Obama told The New Yorker that he considered ISIS to be al-Qaeda’s weaker partner. “If a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant,” the president said.
Our failure to appreciate the split between the Islamic State and al-Qaeda, and the essential differences between the two, has led to dangerous decisions. Last fall, to take one example, the U.S. government consented to a desperate plan to save Peter Kassig’s life. The plan facilitated—indeed, required—the interaction of some of the founding figures of the Islamic State and al-Qaeda, and could hardly have looked more hastily improvised.
It entailed the enlistment of Abu Muhammad al Maqdisi, the Zarqawi mentor and al-Qaeda grandee, to approach Turki al-Binali, the Islamic State’s chief ideologue and a former student of Maqdisi’s, even though the two men had fallen out due to Maqdisi’s criticism of the Islamic State. Maqdisi had already called for the state to extend mercy to Alan Henning, the British cabbie who had entered Syria to deliver aid to children. In December, The Guardian reported that the U.S. government, through an intermediary, had asked Maqdisi to intercede with the Islamic State on Kassig’s behalf.
Maqdisi was living freely in Jordan, but had been banned from communicating with terrorists abroad, and was being monitored closely. After Jordan granted the United States permission to reintroduce Maqdisi to Binali, Maqdisi bought a phone with American money and was allowed to correspond merrily with his former student for a few days, before the Jordanian government stopped the chats and used them as a pretext to jail Maqdisi. Kassig’s severed head appeared in the Dabiq video a few days later.
Maqdisi gets mocked roundly on Twitter by the Islamic State’s fans, and al‑Qaeda is held in great contempt for refusing to acknowledge the caliphate. Cole Bunzel, a scholar who studies Islamic State ideology, read Maqdisi’s opinion on Henning’s status and thought it would hasten his and other captives’ death. “If I were held captive by the Islamic State and Maqdisi said I shouldn’t be killed,” he told me, “I’d kiss my ass goodbye.”
Kassig’s death was a tragedy, but the plan’s success would have been a bigger one. A reconciliation between Maqdisi and Binali would have begun to heal the main rift between the world’s two largest jihadist organizations. It’s possible that the government wanted only to draw out Binali for intelligence purposes or assassination. (Multiple attempts to elicit comment from the FBI were unsuccessful.) Regardless, the decision to play matchmaker for America’s two main terrorist antagonists reveals astonishingly poor judgment.
Chastened by our earlier indifference, we are now meeting the Islamic State via Kurdish and Iraqi proxy on the battlefield, and with regular air assaults. Those strategies haven’t dislodged the Islamic State from any of its major territorial possessions, although they’ve kept it from directly assaulting Baghdad and Erbil and slaughtering Shia and Kurds there.
Some observers have called for escalation, including several predictable voices from the interventionist right (Max Boot, Frederick Kagan), who have urged the deployment of tens of thousands of American soldiers. These calls should not be dismissed too quickly: an avowedly genocidal organization is on its potential victims’ front lawn, and it is committing daily atrocities in the territory it already controls.
One way to un-cast the Islamic State’s spell over its adherents would be to overpower it militarily and occupy the parts of Syria and Iraq now under caliphate rule. Al‑Qaeda is ineradicable because it can survive, cockroach-like, by going underground. The Islamic State cannot. If it loses its grip on its territory in Syria and Iraq, it will cease to be a caliphate. Caliphates cannot exist as underground movements, because territorial authority is a requirement: take away its command of territory, and all those oaths of allegiance are no longer binding. Former pledges could of course continue to attack the West and behead their enemies, as freelancers. But the propaganda value of the caliphate would disappear, and with it the supposed religious duty to immigrate and serve it. If the United States were to invade, the Islamic State’s obsession with battle at Dabiq suggests that it might send vast resources there, as if in a conventional battle. If the state musters at Dabiq in full force, only to be routed, it might never recover.
And yet the risks of escalation are enormous. The biggest proponent of an American invasion is the Islamic State itself. The provocative videos, in which a black-hooded executioner addresses President Obama by name, are clearly made to draw America into the fight. An invasion would be a huge propaganda victory for jihadists worldwide: irrespective of whether they have given baya’a to the caliph, they all believe that the United States wants to embark on a modern-day Crusade and kill Muslims. Yet another invasion and occupation would confirm that suspicion, and bolster recruitment. Add the incompetence of our previous efforts as occupiers, and we have reason for reluctance. The rise of ISIS, after all, happened only because our previous occupation created space for Zarqawi and his followers. Who knows the consequences of another botched job?
Given everything we know about the Islamic State, continuing to slowly bleed it, through air strikes and proxy warfare, appears the best of bad military options. Neither the Kurds nor the Shia will ever subdue and control the whole Sunni heartland of Syria and Iraq—they are hated there, and have no appetite for such an adventure anyway. But they can keep the Islamic State from fulfilling its duty to expand. And with every month that it fails to expand, it resembles less the conquering state of the Prophet Muhammad than yet another Middle Eastern government failing to bring prosperity to its people.
The humanitarian cost of the Islamic State’s existence is high. But its threat to the United States is smaller than its all too frequent conflation with al-Qaeda would suggest. Al-Qaeda’s core is rare among jihadist groups for its focus on the “far enemy” (the West); most jihadist groups’ main concerns lie closer to home. That’s especially true of the Islamic State, precisely because of its ideology. It sees enemies everywhere around it, and while its leadership wishes ill on the United States, the application of Sharia in the caliphate and the expansion to contiguous lands are paramount. Baghdadi has said as much directly: in November he told his Saudi agents to “deal with the rafida [Shia] first … then al-Sulul [Sunni supporters of the Saudi monarchy] … before the crusaders and their bases.”
The foreign fighters (and their wives and children) have been traveling to the caliphate on one-way tickets: they want to live under true Sharia, and many want martyrdom. Doctrine, recall, requires believers to reside in the caliphate if it is at all possible for them to do so. One of the Islamic State’s less bloody videos shows a group of jihadists burning their French, British, and Australian passports. This would be an eccentric act for someone intending to return to blow himself up in line at the Louvre or to hold another chocolate shop hostage in Sydney.
A few “lone wolf” supporters of the Islamic State have attacked Western targets, and more attacks will come. But most of the attackers have been frustrated amateurs, unable to immigrate to the caliphate because of confiscated passports or other problems. Even if the Islamic State cheers these attacks—and it does in its propaganda—it hasn’t yet planned and financed one. (The Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris in January was principally an al‑Qaeda operation.) During his visit to Mosul in December, Jürgen Todenhöfer interviewed a portly German jihadist and asked whether any of his comrades had returned to Europe to carry out attacks. The jihadist seemed to regard returnees not as soldiers but as dropouts. “The fact is that the returnees from the Islamic State should repent from their return,” he said. “I hope they review their religion.”
Properly contained, the Islamic State is likely to be its own undoing. No country is its ally, and its ideology ensures that this will remain the case. The land it controls, while expansive, is mostly uninhabited and poor. As it stagnates or slowly shrinks, its claim that it is the engine of God’s will and the agent of apocalypse will weaken, and fewer believers will arrive. And as more reports of misery within it leak out, radical Islamist movements elsewhere will be discredited: No one has tried harder to implement strict Sharia by violence. This is what it looks like.
Even so, the death of the Islamic State is unlikely to be quick, and things could still go badly wrong: if the Islamic State obtained the allegiance of al‑Qaeda—increasing, in one swoop, the unity of its base—it could wax into a worse foe than we’ve yet seen. The rift between the Islamic State and al-Qaeda has, if anything, grown in the past few months; the December issue of Dabiq featured a long account of an al‑Qaeda defector who described his old group as corrupt and ineffectual, and Zawahiri as a distant and unfit leader. But we should watch carefully for a rapprochement.
Without a catastrophe such as this, however, or perhaps the threat of the Islamic State’s storming Erbil, a vast ground invasion would certainly make the situation worse.
It would be facile, even exculpatory, to call the problem of the Islamic State “a problem with Islam.” The religion allows many interpretations, and Islamic State supporters are morally on the hook for the one they choose. And yet simply denouncing the Islamic State as un-Islamic can be counterproductive, especially if those who hear the message have read the holy texts and seen the endorsement of many of the caliphate’s practices written plainly within them.
Muslims can say that slavery is not legitimate now, and that crucifixion is wrong at this historical juncture. Many say precisely this. But they cannot condemn slavery or crucifixion outright without contradicting the Koran and the example of the Prophet. “The only principled ground that the Islamic State’s opponents could take is to say that certain core texts and traditional teachings of Islam are no longer valid,” Bernard Haykel says. That really would be an act of apostasy.
The Islamic State’s ideology exerts powerful sway over a certain subset of the population. Life’s hypocrisies and inconsistencies vanish in its face. Musa Cerantonio and the Salafis I met in London are unstumpable: no question I posed left them stuttering. They lectured me garrulously and, if one accepts their premises, convincingly. To call them un-Islamic appears, to me, to invite them into an argument that they would win. If they had been froth-spewing maniacs, I might be able to predict that their movement would burn out as the psychopaths detonated themselves or became drone-splats, one by one. But these men spoke with an academic precision that put me in mind of a good graduate seminar. I even enjoyed their company, and that frightened me as much as anything else.
Non-muslims cannot tell Muslims how to practice their religion properly. But Muslims have long since begun this debate within their own ranks. “You have to have standards,” Anjem Choudary told me. “Somebody could claim to be a Muslim, but if he believes in homosexuality or drinking alcohol, then he is not a Muslim. There is no such thing as a nonpracticing vegetarian.”
There is, however, another strand of Islam that offers a hard-line alternative to the Islamic State—just as uncompromising, but with opposite conclusions. This strand has proved appealing to many Muslims cursed or blessed with a psychological longing to see every jot and tittle of the holy texts implemented as they were in the earliest days of Islam. Islamic State supporters know how to react to Muslims who ignore parts of the Koran: with takfir and ridicule. But they also know that some other Muslims read the Koran as assiduously as they do, and pose a real ideological threat.
Baghdadi is Salafi. The term Salafi has been villainized, in part because authentic villains have ridden into battle waving the Salafi banner. But most Salafis are not jihadists, and most adhere to sects that reject the Islamic State. They are, as Haykel notes, committed to expanding Dar al-Islam, the land of Islam, even, perhaps, with the implementation of monstrous practices such as slavery and amputation—but at some future point. Their first priority is personal purification and religious observance, and they believe anything that thwarts those goals—such as causing war or unrest that would disrupt lives and prayer and scholarship—is forbidden.
They live among us. Last fall, I visited the Philadelphia mosque of Breton Pocius, 28, a Salafi imam who goes by the name Abdullah. His mosque is on the border between the crime-ridden Northern Liberties neighborhood and a gentrifying area that one might call Dar al-Hipster; his beard allows him to pass in the latter zone almost unnoticed.
Pocius converted 15 years ago after a Polish Catholic upbringing in Chicago. Like Cerantonio, he talks like an old soul, exhibiting deep familiarity with ancient texts, and a commitment to them motivated by curiosity and scholarship, and by a conviction that they are the only way to escape hellfire. When I met him at a local coffee shop, he carried a work of Koranic scholarship in Arabic and a book for teaching himself Japanese. He was preparing a sermon on the obligations of fatherhood for the 150 or so worshipers in his Friday congregation.
Pocius said his main goal is to encourage a halal life for worshipers in his mosque. But the rise of the Islamic State has forced him to consider political questions that are usually very far from the minds of Salafis. “Most of what they’ll say about how to pray and how to dress is exactly what I’ll say in my masjid [mosque]. But when they get to questions about social upheaval, they sound like Che Guevara.”
When Baghdadi showed up, Pocius adopted the slogan “Not my khalifa.” “The times of the Prophet were a time of great bloodshed,” he told me, “and he knew that the worst possible condition for all people was chaos, especially within the umma [Muslim community].” Accordingly, Pocius said, the correct attitude for Salafis is not to sow discord by factionalizing and declaring fellow Muslims apostates.
Instead, Pocius—like a majority of Salafis—believes that Muslims should remove themselves from politics. These quietist Salafis, as they are known, agree with the Islamic State that God’s law is the only law, and they eschew practices like voting and the creation of political parties. But they interpret the Koran’s hatred of discord and chaos as requiring them to fall into line with just about any leader, including some manifestly sinful ones. “The Prophet said: as long as the ruler does not enter into clear kufr [disbelief], give him general obedience,” Pocius told me, and the classic “books of creed” all warn against causing social upheaval. Quietist Salafis are strictly forbidden from dividing Muslims from one another—for example, by mass excommunication. Living without baya’a, Pocius said, does indeed make one ignorant, or benighted. But baya’a need not mean direct allegiance to a caliph, and certainly not to Abu Bakr al‑Baghdadi. It can mean, more broadly, allegiance to a religious social contract and commitment to a society of Muslims, whether ruled by a caliph or not.
Quietist Salafis believe that Muslims should direct their energies toward perfecting their personal life, including prayer, ritual, and hygiene. Much in the same way ultra-Orthodox Jews debate whether it’s kosher to tear off squares of toilet paper on the Sabbath (does that count as “rending cloth”?), they spend an inordinate amount of time ensuring that their trousers are not too long, that their beards are trimmed in some areas and shaggy in others. Through this fastidious observance, they believe, God will favor them with strength and numbers, and perhaps a caliphate will arise. At that moment, Muslims will take vengeance and, yes, achieve glorious victory at Dabiq. But Pocius cites a slew of modern Salafi theologians who argue that a caliphate cannot come into being in a righteous way except through the unmistakable will of God.
The Islamic State, of course, would agree, and say that God has anointed Baghdadi. Pocius’s retort amounts to a call to humility. He cites Abdullah Ibn Abbas, one of the Prophet’s companions, who sat down with dissenters and asked them how they had the gall, as a minority, to tell the majority that it was wrong. Dissent itself, to the point of bloodshed or splitting the umma, was forbidden. Even the manner of the establishment of Baghdadi’s caliphate runs contrary to expectation, he said. “The khilafa is something that Allah is going to establish,” he told me, “and it will involve a consensus of scholars from Mecca and Medina. That is not what happened. ISIS came out of nowhere.”
The Islamic State loathes this talk, and its fanboys tweet derisively about quietist Salafis. They mock them as “Salafis of menstruation,” for their obscure judgments about when women are and aren’t clean, and other low-priority aspects of life. “What we need now is fatwa about how it’s haram [forbidden] to ride a bike on Jupiter,” one tweeted drily. “That’s what scholars should focus on. More pressing than state of Ummah.” Anjem Choudary, for his part, says that no sin merits more vigorous opposition than the usurpation of God’s law, and that extremism in defense of monotheism is no vice.
Pocius doesn’t court any kind of official support from the United States, as a counterweight to jihadism. Indeed, official support would tend to discredit him, and in any case he is bitter toward America for treating him, in his words, as “less than a citizen.” (He alleges that the government paid spies to infiltrate his mosque and harassed his mother at work with questions about his being a potential terrorist.)
Still, his quietist Salafism offers an Islamic antidote to Baghdadi-style jihadism. The people who arrive at the faith spoiling for a fight cannot all be stopped from jihadism, but those whose main motivation is to find an ultraconservative, uncompromising version of Islam have an alternative here. It is not moderate Islam; most Muslims would consider it extreme. It is, however, a form of Islam that the literal-minded would not instantly find hypocritical, or blasphemously purged of its inconveniences. Hypocrisy is not a sin that ideologically minded young men tolerate well.
Western officials would probably do best to refrain from weighing in on matters of Islamic theological debate altogether. Barack Obama himself drifted into takfiri waters when he claimed that the Islamic State was “not Islamic”—the irony being that he, as the non-Muslim son of a Muslim, may himself be classified as an apostate, and yet is now practicing takfir against Muslims. Non-Muslims’ practicing takfir elicits chuckles from jihadists (“Like a pig covered in feces giving hygiene advice to others,” one tweeted).
I suspect that most Muslims appreciated Obama’s sentiment: the president was standing with them against both Baghdadi and non-Muslim chauvinists trying to implicate them in crimes. But most Muslims aren’t susceptible to joining jihad. The ones who are susceptible will only have had their suspicions confirmed: the United States lies about religion to serve its purposes.
Within the narrow bounds of its theology, the Islamic State hums with energy, even creativity. Outside those bounds, it could hardly be more arid and silent: a vision of life as obedience, order, and destiny. Musa Cerantonio and Anjem Choudary could mentally shift from contemplating mass death and eternal torture to discussing the virtues of Vietnamese coffee or treacly pastry, with apparent delight in each, yet to me it seemed that to embrace their views would be to see all the flavors of this world grow insipid compared with the vivid grotesqueries of the hereafter.
I could enjoy their company, as a guilty intellectual exercise, up to a point. In reviewing Mein Kampf in March 1940, George Orwell confessed that he had “never been able to dislike Hitler”; something about the man projected an underdog quality, even when his goals were cowardly or loathsome. “If he were killing a mouse he would know how to make it seem like a dragon.” The Islamic State’s partisans have much the same allure. They believe that they are personally involved in struggles beyond their own lives, and that merely to be swept up in the drama, on the side of righteousness, is a privilege and a pleasure—especially when it is also a burden.
Fascism, Orwell continued, is
psychologically far sounder than any hedonistic conception of life … Whereas Socialism, and even capitalism in a more grudging way, have said to people “I offer you a good time,” Hitler has said to them, “I offer you struggle, danger, and death,” and as a result a whole nation flings itself at his feet … We ought not to underrate its emotional appeal.
Nor, in the case of the Islamic State, its religious or intellectual appeal. That the Islamic State holds the imminent fulfillment of prophecy as a matter of dogma at least tells us the mettle of our opponent. It is ready to cheer its own near-obliteration, and to remain confident, even when surrounded, that it will receive divine succor if it stays true to the Prophetic model. Ideological tools may convince some potential converts that the group’s message is false, and military tools can limit its horrors. But for an organization as impervious to persuasion as the Islamic State, few measures short of these will matter, and the war may be a long one, even if it doesn’t last until the end of time.
Graeme Wood is a contributing editor at The Atlantic. His personal site is gcaw.net.
Dummheit ist, wenn jemand nicht weiß, was er wissen könnte.
Political correctness ist, wenn man aus Feigheit lügt, um Dumme nicht zu verärgern, die die Wahrheit nicht hören wollen.
“Im Streit um moralische Probleme, ist der Relativismus die erste Zuflucht der Schurken.“ Roger Scruton
Antisemitismus ist, wenn man Juden, Israel übelnimmt, was man anderen nicht übelnimmt.
Islam ist weniger eine Religion und mehr eine totalitäre Gesellschaftsordnung, eine Ideologie, die absoluten Gehorsam verlangt und keinen Widerspruch, keinerlei Kritik duldet und das Denken und Erkenntnis verbietet. Der wahre Islam ist ganz anders, wer ihn findet wird eine hohe Belohnung erhalten.
Wahnsinn bedeute, immer wieder das gleiche zu tun, aber dabei stets ein anderes Resultat zu erwarten.
Gutmenschen sind Menschen, die gut erscheinen wollen, die gewissenlos das Gewissen anderer Menschen zu eigenen Zwecken mit Hilfe selbst inszenierter Empörungen instrumentalisieren.
Irritationen verhelfen zu weiteren Erkenntnissen, Selbstzufriedenheit führt zur Verblödung,
Wenn ein Affe denkt, „ich bin ein Affe“, dann ist es bereits ein Mensch.
Ein Mensch mit Wurzeln soll zur Pediküre gehen.
Wenn jemand etwas zu sagen hat, der kann es immer sehr einfach sagen. Wenn jemand nichts zu sagen hat, der sagt es dann sehr kompliziert.
Sucht ist, wenn jemand etwas macht, was er machen will und sucht jemand, der es macht, daß er es nicht macht und es nicht machen will.
Sollen die Klugen immer nachgeben, dann wird die Welt von Dummen regiert. Zu viel „Klugheit“ macht dumm.
Wenn man nur das Schlechte bekämpft, um das Leben zu schützen, bringt man gar nichts Gutes hervor und ein solches Leben ist dann nicht mehr lebenswert und braucht nicht beschützt zu werden, denn es ist dann durch ein solches totales Beschützen sowieso schon tot. Man kann so viel Geld für Versicherungen ausgeben, daß man gar nichts mehr zum Versichern hat. Mit Sicherheit ist es eben so.
Zufriedene Sklaven sind die schlimmsten Feinde der Freiheit.
Kreativität ist eine Intelligenz, die Spaß hat.
Wen die Arbeit krank macht, der soll kündigen!
Wenn Deutsche über Moral reden, meinen sie das Geld.
Ein Mensch ohne Erkenntnis ist dann lediglich ein ängstlicher, aggressiver, unglücklicher Affe.
Denken ist immer grenzüberschreitend.
Der Mob, der sich das Volk nennt, diskutiert nicht, sondern diffamiert.
Legal ist nicht immer legitim.
Wer nicht verzichten kann, lebt unglücklich.
Sogenannte Sozial-, Kultur-, Geisteswissenschaften, Soziologie, Psychologie, Psychotherapie, Psychoanalyse, sind keine Wissenschaften mehr, sondern immanent religiöse Kultpropheten, organisiert wie Sekten.
Ohne eine starke Opposition atrophiert jede scheinbare Demokratie zur Tyrannei, und ebenso eine Wissenschaft, zur Gesinnung einer Sekte.
Man kann alles nur aus gewisser Distanz erkennen, wer sich ereifert, empört, wer mit seiner Nase an etwas klebt, der hat die Perspektive verloren, der erkennt nichts mehr, der hat nur noch seine Phantasie von der Welt im Kopf. So entsteht Paranoia, die sich Religion, und Religion als Politik, sogar als Wissenschaft nennt.
Islamisten sind eine Gefahr, deswegen werden sie als solche nicht gesehen. Juden sind keine Gefahr, deswegen werden sie als solche gesehen. So funktioniert die Wahrnehmung von Feiglingen.
Humorlose Menschen könner nur fürchten oder hassen und werden Mönche oder Terroristen.
Menschen sind nicht gleich, jeder einzelne Mensch ist ein Unikat.
Erkenntnis gilt für alle, auch für Muslime, Albaner, Frauen und Homosexuelle.
Islam gehört zu Deutschland, Judentum gehört zu Israel.
Der Konsensterror (Totalitarismus) ist in Deutschland allgegenwärtig.
Es wird nicht mehr diskutiert, sondern nur noch diffamiert.
Es ist eine Kultur des Mobs. Wie es bereits gewesen ist.
Harmonie ist nur, wenn man nicht kommuniziert.
Man soll niemals mit jemand ins Bett gehen, der mehr Probleme hat, als man selbst.
>>EvelynWaugh, sicherlichder witzigsteErzählerdes vergangenen Jahrhunderts, im Zweiten Weltkrieg, herauskommend auseinem Bunkerwährend einerdeutschenBombardierung Jugoslawiens, blickte zumHimmel, von demes feindlicheBomben regnete undbemerkte: “Wie alles Deutsche, starkübertrieben.“<< Joseph Epstein
Man muß Mut haben, um witzig zu sein.
Dumm und blöd geht meistens zusammen.
Charlie Hebdo: solche Morde an Juden sind euch egal, mal sehen wie”angemessen” ihr reagiert, wenn (wenn, nicht falls) eure Städte von Islamisten mit Kasam-Raketen beschossen werden.
Christopher Hitchens großartig: „In einer freien Gesellschaft hat niemand das Recht, nicht beleidigt zu werden.“
Je mehr sich jemand narzisstisch aufbläht, desto mehr fühlt er sich beleidigt und provoziert.
“Das Problem mit der Welt ist, daß die Dummen felsenfest überzeugt sind und die Klugen voller Zweifel.” – Bertrand Russel
Das Problem mit den Islamisten in Europa soll man genauso lösen, wie es Europa für den Nahen Osten verlangt: jeweils eine Zweistaatenlösung, die Hälfte für Muslime, die andere Hälfte für Nicht-Muslime, mit einer gemeinsamen Hauptstadt.
Was darf Satire? Alles! Nur nicht vom Dummkopf verstanden werden, weil es dann keine Satire war.
Islamimus ist Islam, der Gewalt predigt.
Islam ist eine Religion der Liebe,und wer es anzweifelt, ist tot.
Krieg ist Frieden. Freiheit istSklaverei.Unwissenheit istStärke.Der Islam istdie friedliche Religionder Liebe–George Orwell2015
Islam ist verantwortlich für gar nichts, Juden sind schuld an allem.
Islamisten sind Satanisten. Islamismus ist eine Religion von Idioten.
Leute fühlen sich immer furchtbar beleidigt, wenn man ihre Lügen nicht glaubt.
Jeder ist selbst verantwortlich für seine Gefühle.
Die Psychoanalyse geht niemanden außerden Psychoanalytikerund seinen Patienten etwas an, und alle anderensollensich verpissen.
“Zeit istdas Echoeiner Axt im Wald.“ –Philip Larkin, Gesammelte Gedichte
Wenn jemand wie Islamisten sein Ego endlos aufbläht, dann verletzt er seine eigenen Gefühle schon morgens beim Scheißen.
„Die sieben Todsünden der modernen Gesellschaft: Reichtum ohne Arbeit Genuß ohne Gewissen Wissen ohne Charakter Geschäft ohne Moral Wissenschaft ohne Menschlichkeit Religion ohne Opfer Politik ohne Prinzipien.“ ―Mahatma Gandhi
„Wo man nur die Wahl hat zwischen Feigheit und Gewalt, würde ich zur Gewalt raten.“ ―Mahatma Gandhi
Warum zeigt sich Allah nicht? Weil er mit solchen Arschlöchern nichts zu tun haben will.
„Wenn der Faschismus wiederkehrt, wird er nicht sagen: ‚Ich bin der Faschismus’. Nein, er wird sagen: ‚Ich bin der Antifaschismus’.” – Ignazio Silone
Politische Korrektheit verlangt eine Sprache für ein Poesiealbum.
Psychoanalyse ist frivol, oder es ist keine Psychoanalyse.
Bunte Vielfalt, früher: Scheiße
Was der Mensch nicht mehr verändern, nicht mehr reformieren kann, ist nicht mehr lebendig, sondern sehr tot. Was tot ist, das soll man, das muß man begraben: Religion, Ehe, Romantizismus, etc.
Romantik ist scheiße.
Die Realität ist immer stärker als Illusionen.
Ein Wahn zeichnet sich durch zunehmenden Realitätsverlust, und das kann man den heute Regierenden in Deutschland und deren Massenmedien attestieren.
Der Totalitarismus kann nur besiegt werden kann, wenn man den Mut hat, die Dinge beim richtigen Namen zu nennen, so wie sie sind. Politischen Korrektheit verhindert es, fördert den Totalitarismus und ist politische Feigheit und politische Lüge.
Die Auslöschung: Islam ist wie die Sonne, wer ihm zu nahe kommt, der verbrennt darin selbst und fackelt den Rest der Welt mit ab.
Islam will keine Unterwerfung! Islam will Sieg, Vernichtung und Auslöschung.
Stupidity is demonstrated by people lacking the knowledge they could achieve
Political correctness can be defined as the telling of a lie out of the cowardice in an attempt to avoid upsetting fools not willing to face up to the truth
“In arguments about moral problems, relativism is the first refuge of the scoundrel.” Roger Scruton
Antisemitism is when one blames the Jews or Israel for issues, he does not blame others
Islam is less a religion and more a totalitarian society, an ideology that demands absolute obedience and tolerates no dissent, no criticism, and prohibits the thinking, knowledge and recognition. True Islam is totally different, the one who will find it will receive a very high reward.
Craziness is, when one always does the same but expects a different outcome
If a monkey thinks “I am a monkey”, then it is already a human
A man with roots should go for a pedicure
Self smugness leads to idiocy, being pissed off leads to enlightenment
If someone has something to say, he can tell it always very easily. If someone has nothing to say, he says it in a very complicated way
Addiction is, when somebody does something he wants to do, yet seeks someone who can make it so he won’t do it and doesn’t want to, either.
If the clever people always gave in, the world would be reigned by idiots. Too much “cleverness” makes you stupid.
If one only fights evil to protect life, one produces nothing good at all and such a life then becomes no longer worth living and thus requires no protection, for it is already unlived due to such a total protection. One can spend so much money on insurance, that one has nothing left to insure. Safety works in the same way.
Happy slaves are the worst enemies of freedom.
Creativity is an intelligence having fun.
If working makes you sick, fuck off, leave the work!
If Germans talk about morality, they mean money.
A man without an insight is just an anxious, aggressive, unhappy monkey.
Thinking is always trespassing.
The mob, who calls himself the people, does not discuss, just defames.
Legalis notalways legitimate.
Who can notdo without, lives unhappy.
So called social, culture sciences, sociology, psychology psychotherapy, psychoanalysis, are not anymore scientific, but immanent religious cult-prophets, organized as sects.
Without a strong opposition any apparent democracy atrophies to a tyranny, and as well a science , to an attitude of a religious sect.
You can recognize everything from a certain distance only, who is zealous, outraged, who sticks his nose in something, this one has lost the perspective, he recognizes anything more, he has only his imagination of the world in his head. This creates paranoia, which is called religion, and a religion as politics, even as a science.
Islamists are a real danger, therefore they will not be seen as such. Jews are not a danger, therefore they are seen as such. It is how the perception by cowards functions.
People without a sense of humor are able only to fear or to hate and become monks or terrorists.
People are not equal, each single person is unique.
Insightapplies toeveryone, includingMuslims, Albanians, women andhomosexuals.
Islambelongs toGermany, Judaism belongs toIsrael.
The totalitarian Terror of consensus is ubiquitous in Germany. There are no discussions anymore, but defamations only. It is a culture of the mob. As it has already been. Harmony is only if you do not communicate.
One shouldnevergoto bedwith someonewho hasmore problemsthan you already have.
>>Evelyn Waugh, surely the wittiest novelist of the past century, in World War II, coming out of a bunker during a German bombing of Yugoslavia, looked up at the sky raining enemy bombs and remarked, “Like everything German, vastly overdone.”<< Joseph Epstein
One has to be brave, to have a wit.
Stupid and dull belong mostly together.
CharlieHebdo: you don´t care if suchmurders are comitted to Jews, we will see how “adequate”you will react when(when, not if), Islamists will begin to bombardyour cities with Kasammissiles.
ChristopherHitchens: “In a free society, no onehasthe right notto be offended.“
The moresomeonenarcissistic inflates ,the more hefeelsinsulted andprovoked.
“The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.” – Bertrand Russell
The problemwith the Islamistsin Europeshouldbe solvedexactly asEurope requiresto the Middle East: a two-state solution, a half for muslims and the another half for not-muslims ,with a commoncapital.
What maysatire?Everything! Except be understood by thefool,because thenitwas not asatire.
Islamisa religion of love, andhewhodoubtsis dead.
War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength. Islam is a peaceful religion of love – George Orwell 2015
Islam is not responsible for anything, Jews are guilty of everything.
Islamists are satanists. Islamismis a religionofidiots.
People feelalwaysterribleoffended ifyou do not believetheir lies.
Everyone is responsiblefor hisfeelings.
Psychoanalysis is nobody’s business except the psychoanalyst and his patient, and everybody else can fuck off.
“Time is the echo of an axe Within a wood.” ― Philip Larkin, Collected Poems
If someoneinflatesendless his ego, asIslamists do, then he hurtshis own feelings alreadyin his morning own shit.
“The seven deadly sins ofmodern society. Wealth withoutworkpleasure withoutconscience,knowledgewithout characterbusiness withoutmoralityScience withouthumanity,worship without sacrificePolitics without principles” -MahatmaGandhi
“Wherethere isonlya choice betweencowardiceand violence, I would adviseviolence.” -MahatmaGandhi
Why Allah doesnot shows himself? Because hedoes not want to do anything with suchassholes.
“When fascismreturns, he will not say, ‘Iam thefascism‘. No, he willsay, ‘Iam theanti-fascism “– IgnazioSilone.
Political correctnessrequiresa language forapoetryalbum.
Psychoanalysis isfrivolous,orit is notpsychoanalysis.
Colorful diversity, earlier: shit.
What can not any longer be changed, can not any longer be reformed, it is no longeralive, butverydead (instead).What is dead should be, has to be buried: religion, marriage, Romanticism, etc.
The realityis always stronger thanillusions.
Adelusionis characterized byincreasingloss of reality, andcan be attested totoday’sleadersinGermanyand themass media.Loss of realitydescribesthe mental state ofa person whoisnot (any longer) be ableto understand thesituation in whichit is located. So you areruled bymadmenandmanipulated bythemass media.
Totalitarianismcanonlybedefeated ifone has thecourage to callthings by their rightnames, just as they are. Political correctnesspreventsitpromotestotalitarianismandpolitical cowardiceandpolitical lie.
TheExtinction:Islamis like the sun, whocomes too close tohim, will burnitself and will flaretherest of the worldwith him.
Islamdoes not want anysubmission! Islamwantsvictory, destructionandannihilation.