Baghdad, Iraq (TFC) – As part of my nightly routine I turn off all forms of communications and scour the web for unknown news stories and topics of interest. Sometime between my sixth and seventh cup of coffee (so probably around 3AM), I came upon a series of links that purport to be letters from an Islamic State fighter. I became completely engrossed.
While I have some minor doubts as to the authenticity, I am certain of one thing. They are either the most interesting unofficial primary source documents of the last decade, or the most brilliantly crafted pieces of anti-intervention propaganda of the last century. I have to admit that there may be a small amount of bias on my part simply because the IS fighter confirms my very public theories about the motivations of those fighting in relation to the US torture program.
The documents were published by Paul Rogers, whose credentials make him one of the few people I believe has the ability to obtain these letters. He’s a professor at Bradford University, writes for the Oxford Research Group, and has written a couple of books related to terrorism and global security.
The Fifth Column will republish all five letters in chronological order. The most recent letter was published today. After reading the letters, the reader can decide whether Professor Rogers deserves a Pulitzer Prize for Journalism or a Nobel Prize for Literature. Either way, it is a fascinating read. It’s certainly worth checking out his author page on openDemocracy for dozens of other pieces on the Islamic State.I would strongly suggest following his social media accounts to get updates on future letters.
Rogers included links in his original publications, which he selflessly published under a creative commons license. We’ve included those links in our reprint, but I have to admit that I haven’t checked them all.
“Raqqa, 9 October 2014
When I came to Raqqa two years ago my brother had been here for more than a year and was already a platoon leader. He had fought the American special forces in Anbar for three years until captured and tortured late in 2006, so he had even survived Operation Arcadia. After four years in Bucca camp – a singularly formative educational experience where he learnt much about US military attitudes – he was finally released. He had, though, lost two uncles and three cousins to American and British attacks, with our father, two aunts and four cousins killed in airstrikes and two more cousins maimed for life. It was hardly surprising that he joined up with the Baghdadi group at the first opportunity, nor that I should follow him not long afterwards.
So where are we now? First, let’s just remember that we have more than one aim and a thorough mix of motives. Behind it all is the desire to be part of the historic mission to restore the Caliphate, bringing true rule to the world even if it takes centuries, but there is more to it than that.
Inevitably we have hugely bitter feelings towards the Shi’a in Iraq and do not see Haider al-Abadi as any different to Nouri al-Maliki. We are passionately opposed to Bashar al-Assad and his Alawi clan but also hate the utterly unacceptable Sunni regimes dominating our region, most of all the appalling House of Saud and its preposterous claim to be Guardian of the Two Holy Places. Beyond that lies the American-Israeli nexus, its occupation of the Third Holy Place, with the Zionist massacres of our Palestinian friends a continuing atrocity.
I have only been here a couple of years and much of my work is analysing western attitudes, but I simply cannot understand the reaction to our killing of hostages, Iraqi soldiers and police and other opponents. Is it really worse to be beheaded, a near instant death, or to die slowly from hideous burns, from being shredded by hundreds of sub-munitions or crushed slowly to death under a collapsed building? Sure we make an example of captured soldiers and police, but that scares off others and makes our task easier. It is no different to innumerable attacks done by the Americans over the past ten years, including those which they themselves characterised as punitive.
Yes, we dress hostages in orange jump-suits and maybe that makes a few in the west think, but how many know there are still more than a hundred in Guantánamo, many there for more than a decade and likely to be kept in prison for the rest of their lives – a slow living death with no hope of an end to it, not quick and merciful.
But I’m getting away from myself when I really wanted to write down where we are now, perhaps the start of an occasional diary but I will keep this first entry brief.
The Americans started their airstrikes exactly two months ago, more or less when we expected them to do so, and so we had dispersed most of our assets in good time. They did have some effect here and there and halted a couple of advances, but much of the equipment they hit was surplus to our requirements and was mostly their own stuff anyway.
They’ve done 388 raids so far, the majority in Iraq, and they are now having trouble trying to identify suitable targets. Yes, they do have British, French, Belgian, Danish, Australian and Canadian aircraft either here or on their way, as well as some from a few local states, although the latter are almost entirely incompetent.
They still say they will not put “boots on the ground” but the numbers of special forces are creeping up and the Pentagon is currently moving a army brigade HQ to Iraq, a sure sign that more is planned.
The only operation that took us by surprise was the first big raid on Syria, but it was not their attacks on us that caught us out. Apart from a few unlucky supporters killed at a roadblock outside the city we had long since evacuated everyone and had also dispersed almost all our weapons and kit.
No, the surprise was the effort they put into trying to damage the Khorasan group over in the west. We have nothing to do with them and their weird insistence in plotting attacks abroad, but they certainly scared the Americans. In the event, it kept the pressure off us so Khorasan actually did us a service.
I also find it weird how the western press seems to pick on just one happening – the Mosul dam attack or, just now, the fighting around Kobane – not getting even a remote understanding of the wider picture. What that picture shows is that we are making progress on many fronts, especially but not only in Anbar province. Even in Syria, Assad’s crowd still see us as an asset and long may that last, while the Turks are so conflicted on the Kurdish question that we see little threat from them apart from a possible symbolic action.
Our progress across northern Iraq three months ago was no surprise to us – after all we had been preparing for it for more than a year, and we are not seriously affected by the air attacks. We are therefore in a good position to consolidate our territorial control as we prepare for the long war. Indeed, our morale after two months of attacks has never been higher, born from the pleasure that we are now engaged in combat with a serious enemy not joke forces like the Iraqi army.
We are also doing amazingly well with all our international communications. The sophistication of the media operations is a joy to behold and is way ahead of anything the enemy can muster, especially in reaching out to young believers and drawing them to the cause. I understand that the leadership has some worries about the force with which mosque leaders are condemning us in some countries such as Britain, but these are small setbacks in an otherwise positive environment.
There is much else I could discuss but perhaps I might end on one big issue – where next and what do we most want our enemies to do? I am not close enough to the leadership to be sure, but the city is a hotbed of gossip and what I try to do is to listen to those sources that have been accurate in the past.
The word there is that what is most wanted is serious numbers of western boots on the ground. There are scores, if not hundreds, of men who fought Task Force 145 – a Rangers battalion, SEAL Team 6 and an SAS squadron – especially in that crucial 2005-06 period, and they seriously want revenge for the wholesale slaughter and torture of their friends and relatives.
Indeed, many of them live in eager anticipation of the opportunity to capture western troops and then dress them up in the orange suits, waterboard them, and execute them, all on video for worldwide distribution. Revenge will be sweet and for quite a few of them revenge is a far stronger motive than seeking the new Caliphate. It is just as well that the Americans and British have no understanding of this, making it all the more likely that they will blunder into yet another trap.
How will this trap be sprung? Difficult to say, but I know one of the senior people close to Baghdadi is obsessed with the Tet offensive nearly half a century ago, sure that this time it will make the Americans increase their forces rather than withdraw. Where will it be sprung? Again, I can’t be sure but there is one pointer. The western media is making quite a lot of our recent advance between Fallujah and Baghdad, including this week’s success in and around Abu Ghraib.
What they all seem to be missing is that we already have highly effective yet dispersed forces well ensconced in the western districts of Baghdad itself. Take a look at the area around Baghdad international airport, not doing much on the civil side but an absolute hive of military activity as the American forces pour in (Bing is far better than Google for this – much clearer maps). Then look to the west and east of the airport complex. Westwards is Abu Ghraib, barely ten miles away with lots of farms, irrigation ditches and villages between it and the airport – quite decent paramilitary country and easy to disperse. Then look to the east and within five miles are the crowded Baghdad suburbs of Saidya, Khadra, Ameria and, of course, the appropriately-named Jihad. None of them is openly under our control but we are everywhere.
I may be wrong, but this is one bit of gossip I take seriously. Watch this space as we do our very best to wreak havoc and then get the Americans really involved, and this time on our terms.
That’s all for now, more in a couple of months.”
“When I last wrote I said that I might add something in a couple of months, but the questions you raise have prompted me to make a more immediate response. The first two were: what am I doing here just now, and how did I come to be doing it?
As you know, I came two years ago to join my brother and fight for the cause of an Islamic Caliphate. My motivation, as was his, was primarily revenge, given that we had lost two uncles and three cousins in fighting the Americans and British, and our father, two aunts and four cousins to airstrikes. That may still be part of our motivation, particularly the death of our beloved father, but we now see a much more positive future as we embrace the prospect that our leaders hold before us of a true Islamist entity. Whether we live to see it in this life is not relevant – that we are already part of it is.
My original journey here, my haphazard training (quite unlike the professionalism we have now) and my induction into fighting were all over within four weeks when I was caught in a Zionist attack, losing my left arm and very nearly my life. I survived, recovered and was desperate to return to the fight, but our leaders had other plans, telling me bluntly that I could play a far more important role for our cause by joining the analysis team SOBRA. (I understand that this stands for State Office – Briefing Room A, the place in our main bunker where we originally worked).
After more than eighteen months into this work, I have to accept that they were right – it does make far better use of my Masters degree from SOAS and my three years of living in the UK and USA, and I now lead a small team that monitors western media and government output to prepare briefings for the leadership. I have three people working for me, and our whole section numbers more than twenty, covering all the major western languages as well as Chinese and Russian, and with excellent communications systems that have so far been entirely unaffected by the numerous US airstrikes.
Most of our output is for the main planning cells, with some of it going right through to the leadership. But we also feed in a constant supply of information to our colleagues in media production. They tend to use our material in a highly nuanced if not frankly propagandistic manner, but I have to admit that when it comes to propaganda they are the very best, and simply streets ahead of their western opponents. Their numbers have increased substantially and there are now over thirty of them, many being recent recruits from among the more knowledgable of our western brothers and sisters.
That, incidentally, is an area where the rate of expansion is hugely positive. We now have many thousands of young recruits joining us from across the region. Even more importantly, many hundreds a month come from western countries, mostly men but with an increasing number of women.
You ask how I think the struggle is going, especially with what outsiders see as our failure to take Kobane. I have to say that our leaders have little concern, for two reasons. First, we fully expected that at some stage the Americans would try to start a serious air war and would eventually strong-arm the weak Turks to allow the Iraqi Kurds to help defend the town. Both are proving to be useful training exercises for our less experienced militias.
Second, as you will recall, our core military leadership has many people who learned how to handle the Americans in Iraq eight to ten years ago, but we have thousands of younger fighters with far less experience. This is what they are now getting. It is going to prove invaluable during the coming winter when the Americans will really step up the air attacks against us here in Raqqa.
One of the things we are expecting is a determined and sustained effort to wreck our civil infrastructure. Transport and communications will be the priority, together with the sustained disruption of power supplies. One of my recent assignments was to investigate the current status of the American “blackout bomb” that they used in Serbia in 1999, disrupting power supplies over 70% of the country. I’ve found out that it is very much around, designated the BLU-114/B and we expect it to be used frequently this winter, so much so that our leaders are already preparing counter-measures. You have probably never heard of this, so here’s a link.
You also ask me about morale and I can only reply that it is currently very high. As I have said, my main function is to analyse the western media and I must admit that they still have little conception of what they are dealing with. They report, almost jubilantly, our failure to take Kobane but cannot understand that this is little more than a sideshow. Meanwhile, they miss out so many other developments.
Our mission is to create a new Caliphate, starting here in Syria and Iraq but spreading out over the next decade or more to bring in links right across the Islamic world. Let me just give you just three examples of current progress.
First, our leaders have now formally stated the connection between our cause and the suffering of our Uyghur cousins in China. Just making that statement, and publicising it widely across our world, begins the process of unification.
Second, as the Americans and British finally withdraw from Afghanistan, our Taliban cousins spread their control over more and more territory. They are doing it quietly but to great effect and this will continue, with a substantial increase in control after the winter. We do not pretend that we control them, nor do we seek or need to do so. In the wider scheme of things it is enough that they make progress.
Third, I simply cannot understand how the west, especially the Americans, fails repeatedly to recognise the effect of the actions of the Zionists. Even now, they have no appreciation of how useful the Gaza war was to us and how much anger it induced across the Muslim communities in the west – and still does as the Zionists and the Egyptian leader al-Sisi together block the rebuilding.
On top of this, Binyamin Netanyahu announces the building of 1,000 new settler homes in East Jerusalem and then closes Haram al Sharif, one of the holiest of all our sites. It is simply unbelievable, and the effect on recruitment to our cause will be a joy to behold. Do you seriously need to ask how we see the future? To say that we see it with confidence is a masterpiece of understatement.
Raqqa 31 October 2014”
“Raqqa, 22 January 2015
I had hoped to write to you before the end of the year but, as you may have heard, my brother was badly injured in an American airstrike and I spent a lot of time making sure he got the right treatment. The attack was on the Fallujah-Abu Ghraib road and while he got immediate medical help there, he had to be brought back to our much better facilities here in Raqqa. I am really pleased to say that he is recovering well and very anxious to get back to his platoon.
You mentioned in your last message that you had passed on my letter to some friends, one of whom scanned it and put it online and, as a result, it even got picked up by one of those western websites that quaintly thinks it present a broad spectrum of opinion on our region! Never mind, perhaps someone will read it and get the message, but since you might want to do this again, I’ll just repeat a bit of background.
My brother came to join the cause three years ago after many members of our family had been killed, and I joined him a year later. I had come to fight but got injured early on, losing an arm. They then had me join the group analysing western attitudes and their media, seeing us through their eyes to help our planner conduct the war most effectively. I am part of a large group working in many languages but because of my SOAS degree and years in London, I concentrate on Britain.
When I last wrote at the end of October, the air war was already under way and we had experienced nearly 400 attacks, losing some of our soldiers very early on. Fortunately our losses were not too great and, in any case, are mostly new recruits – martyrs are serving as a marvellous inspiration to young people to come and join us. Now that the war with the far enemy has really started it is so much easier for us to present the case that the Islamic world is once again under attack from the Crusader-Zionist conspiracy, and we can point to all the other examples – Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia, Mali, Libya and the rest.
Already we are seeing an increase in the numbers of young men and even women coming to our cause. I saw a recent western estimate of 18,000 joining us so far, including 3,000 from outside the region. Surprisingly, they are not too far out with these figures except that they are seriously underestimating the numbers from western Europe.
You ask how we are coping with the attacks. Well I have to say that the intensity has caught us just a little by surprise. There have been about 3,500 attacks so far on nearly 2,500 targets, with around 7,000 bombs and missiles dropped. Our statistical bureau colleagues tell us that over a thousand of our fighters have been killed and about the same number injured, but that our paramilitary leaders were planning for much higher losses and are not remotely worried – we and they may mourn the deaths but celebrate the martyrdom.
There have been many civilians killed, including children, and our social media people have done a remarkable job in telling their stories and sending the news right around the world. This, alone, is a really helpful recruiting aid.
Where does it all leave us, and you rightly ask how the war is going? As you know I am not in the propaganda business and in the analyses I organise for the leaders they insist on me telling them it as it is, so I will be straight with you, too. Firstly, our progress has been blunted by the attacks but no more than we expected. We are not even bothering to put resources into taking Kobane, as that had little strategic importance being more a matter of presentation than anything else. Secondly, we have actually made some progress in Iraq, especially consolidating our hold over large parts of Anbar province and increasing our infiltration of western Baghdad. Finally, and most important, we have made significant territorial gains in northern Syria, aided by the agreement with al-Nusra which continues to hold in most districts.
You may wonder how this can be when we are facing an air assault that is much more intensive than any meted out to the Afghans in recent years. The main reason us that our paramilitary leaders know what to expect since most of them fought the Americans and their allies for years in Iraq. One of my friends in military planning, who fought in Chechnya, Kashmir and Afghanistan before being injured in Iraq and transferring to desk duties told me that in his considered opinion our paramilitary leadership is probably the best in the world, and certainly superior to the other side. With all their advanced weaponry and firepower, they are not remotely near understanding us or what we are about.
As I mentioned, my duties involve analyzing the western media and I am required to pay particular attention to the military literature, especially in the United States. What I do see there, if only occasionally, is some public acknowledgment that they are facing a much more difficult task than they imagine, and that unless they can train effective Iraqi army forces this war will last for years. Even so, there is very little attention paid to such views.
Interestingly, I occasionally see reports from well-informed analysts in civil think-tanks pointing out that generational cohorts of combat-trained paramilitaries have been produced, first in Afghanistan in the 1980s and again in the 1990s, then in Afghanistan, Iraq and Yemen, more recently in Libya and now once again in Iraq and Syria. It is hardly surprising, is it, that the current generation is an elite in every sense of the word? Fortunately, the very few analysts saying this are systematically ignored, which is just as well for us.
So what of the next few months? Well, three elements are significant. As I said last time, we are very keen to have enemy boots on the ground fighting us directly. We are now getting this – the recent engagement with Canadian special forces is an example. The more of this the better, and what we really want is ordinary troops involved. We can then capture some, build up a pool of prisoners and execute them one by one, no doubt ensuring a substantial escalation in the war.
That is the second point: that outcome is precisely what we want. I still cannot understand that the leaders of the far enemy do not appreciate that we want a war! Do I really have to shout it – for it seems so obvious. If our main near-term aim is to show we are defending Islam, how can we do that if we are not being attacked? It would make no sense. How can we ensure an increased supply of recruits if there is little work to recruit for? As one of their TV adverts puts it – “simples”!
That brings me to my final point, the impact of the Paris attack and what it means in the coming months. The brothers who staged that attack were not part of us, but they did a very good job of stirring up anti-Islamic antagonism. This is something we really do need if we are to get more disillusioned young people flocking to the cause. In fact if we can ensure that inter-communal relations across the west are wrecked then that is really good news.
Because of this we have developed over the past year a new department that works specifically to place dedicated young people with direct combat experience back in their own countries in order to prepare for attacks. We are obviously losing some to the security forces but plenty are surviving. We anticipate a number of incidents in the coming months and have some brilliant targets identified which will come as great surprises and have maximum effect. As well as directly inspiring more recruits to our cause, far more of our Muslim friends will be more marginalised and alienated by the fracturing of society that our attacks cause, with ever more of them coming to see that ours is the only way.
In short, we can survive the air war with ease, for months if not years. We welcome and hope earnestly for ground combat. And we look forward to more strikes at the heart of the far enemy and the sense of mission that will be engendered. In short, things are going very largely according to plan.
I will write again with news of my brother’s progress in a few weeks but I very much suspect he will be back in action long before then – after what he has suffered, and all the losses to his family, there is just no stopping him.”
“Raqqa, 22 March 2015
Thank you for asking after my brother. When I last wrote I was confident that he would soon be back on the frontline, probably in Tikrit, but I am sorry to say that one of his wounds turned septic and for a week we thought he would lose his right leg. Fortunately his brigade commander heard what was happening and pulled sufficient weight for him to be brought back to one of our military medical centres here in Raqqa. The treatment has been excellent and he is now up and about. One of the good things about this is that I have been able to see him almost every day and we have been able to talk and share our visions of the future more than at any time since I first came here over two years ago.
You ask about how I see the war going and I will tell you, but first let me bring you up to date on my own news. You will recall that I originally came here to fight, following my brother and utterly determined to aid the cause after the huge suffering our family had experienced – my brother and I still talk fondly about our beloved father and his terrible death in that crusader airstrike.
My fighting life ended early when I lost my left arm in a Zionist air attack and since then I have worked for the leadership in the SOBRA team, my responsibilities being to monitor and analyse the western media, especially in Britain. They seemed to recognise my hard work and my ability to be ruthlessly independent in my analysis and I was promoted to run the whole unit early last year. You might expect that they don’t want to be presented with bad news but that is simply not the case. They are so hardened, not least from the experience of many of them against those crusader special forces in Task Force 145 in Iraq, and they are absolutely insistent on being told it as it is.
One of their increasingly significant requirements is for high-quality analysis of the political trends in those crusader countries that provide us with such dedicated recruits. Britain and France are important although they were also particularly concerned about Israel when it looked as though Binyamin Netanyahu would lose the election – a potential disaster for us since he has been such a marvellous recruiting sergeant for our cause.
The relief at the result right across the movement has been palpable. Not only will he encroach still further on our lands but there is every chance of his stirring up a crisis between the crusaders and the hated apostates in Tehran. It may not happen soon, and there might even be an initial nuclear deal, but we are not in this for the short term so that is hardly important.
But what I really wanted to say is that the leadership instructed me last month to establish an election research unit within SOBRA to provide analysis of electoral trends in key crusader states, with an emphasis on impending elections. My first task, already underway, is to analysis the forthcoming British election and how we might influence it in the right way. I’ll say a bit more about that before I finish but first let me respond to your query about how the war is going.
It is two months since I last wrote to you and the short answer is that it is going more or less according to plan, especially in Tikrit. I know that would have surprised you a couple of weeks ago, given the way the Iraqi propagandists had been trumpeting their early progress but I’m sure you will have heard what has happened recently. In effect, the operation has stalled even though we have less than 1,000 fighters, facing 3,000 Iraqi soldiers and 20,000 Iraqi militia fighters supported by many Iranians including their special forces.
The Iraqis are losing at least sixty of their people every day, with scores more injured who are now clogging up their hospitals. For the time being they have stopped trying to advance and are waiting for reinforcements. At some stage we will suddenly withdraw all our forces and they will claim a great victory. We, on the other hand, will have ended up with hundreds more recruits having got firsthand combat experience while also taking territory elsewhere.
I’m not sure whether you know that only last week we overran the headquarters of the Iraqi army’s 26th brigade at Thar Thar, close to Baghdad. We killed or captured many Iraqi soldiers and took truckloads of equipment and munitions before moving on.
There is also a huge advantage coming to us from the actions of the hated Iraqi Shi’a militias as they plunder and burn Sunni villages. This has been a persistent element of the war that has been going on for many months. One example was when a large Shi’a militia force tried to take control of Amerli (or “liberate” it, as they say) last summer. The fighting was hard and in the process they staged scores of reprisal raids against Sunni villages in the surrounding areas. At least thirty were attacked, the villages looted, men abducted and thousands of buildings burned to the ground.
This has now been happening around Tikrit and we have no doubt that the effect will be to increase support for our cause right across the province, as happened around Amerli. Tacitus had it right when he said “they make a desert and called it peace”, and this will be repeated time and time again. In the short term they will make gains, including, no doubt, Tikrit, but in the longer termthese will greatly play to our advantage.
We are being helped in many other ways too. Little by little other fighters are rallying to our cause, from Libya right through to Kazakhstan. Also, the museum attack in Tunis last week is having precisely the intended effect. Picking the afternoon of a cruise-ship visit and crusader tourists present there means that it had a worldwide impact, and hitting Tunisia’s tourist trade is hugely important. With its rampant graduate unemployment and hundreds of thousands of well-educated young people excluded from mainstream society, Tunisia has long been one of our best recruiting grounds, but the resurgence in the tourist industry and the employment provided was a worry for us. This will now be happily averted, and not only will the government crack down heavily on dissent but there will be more and more angry and frustrated people on the margins.
The attacks on the apostate mosque in Yemen are also very helpful especially in boosting our financial support base in Saudi Arabia. The Saudis have been hugely worried at the rapid increase in Iranian political influence in Iraq, a key part of their much-feared Shi’a crescent from the Mediterranean to the Arabian Sea, and their near-paranoia has been greatly boosted by the rise in Houthi power in Yemen with its obvious Iranian backing. For our people to attack apostate mosques to such an effect is a clear indication to our Saudi backers that we are increasingly a force to be reckoned with.
I mentioned earlier on that I would say more about our new Election Research Unit. As must be obvious to any intelligent person, if we are wanting to increase the number of recruits coming to our cause from outside the region, then the more angry, resentful and marginalised young Muslims there are, the better. In the long term we have high hopes for Marine Le Pen and the Front National, even if her claims to being the “first party of France” are currently a bit over the top.
Our immediate concern, though, is with Britain and the forthcoming general election where we have some serious worries, almost as bad as the fear that Netanyahu would lose in Israel last week. Obviously what we want in Britain is the best performance possible from UKIP and Nigel Farage. They are great assets as they play to the fear of immigrants in general and Muslims in particular.
The ideal outcome, which looked plausible a few weeks ago, would have been a weak Conservative Party trying to form a government but dependent on UKIP to form a new coalition. In our dreams the real delight would have been a weak Cameron as prime minister with Farage as deputy prime minister and home secretary (what the British call the interior minister). Just imagine having Farage in overall charge of community relations and immigration – it would have made our day!
Maybe it still will, but the problem is that there is a risk that Cameron will not even be in that position, especially as UKIP looks ominously to be past its peak. There is now a real possibility that Miliband could end up with the largest number of seats and our even greater worry is that he forms a minority government with tacit support from that Scottish lot, the extraordinary thing being that they actually want immigrants north of the border! Can you believe it? We could actually see a government in power that is favourable to minorities, including even Muslims. This really is our worst nightmare and hugely damaging to our growing support base there.
We have already passed on this analysis to the SOBRA leadership and they are putting together plans to try and prevent this, but they have already run into difficulties. One proposal was to make a determined effort to capture some British military who could then be treated as war criminals in the usual way, perhaps in an appropriate manner over Easter.
The problem is that the British military have, for once and rather unusually, seen this coming and have recently minimised their exposure, including postponing new military training missions in Iraq until after the election. This is really annoying as it would have been by far the best way to really stir up Islamophobia in Britain and with it more support for UKIP.
I have no doubt, though, that SOBRA is looking at other ways of affecting the election result and you are likely to see something significant happen in the coming weeks. Even if it doesn’t, Britain does look like entering a period of political uncertainty and that, at least, is good news for us – uncertainty means scapegoats and we all know what that involves.”
“Thank you again for asking after my brother. I am pleased to say that he is now almost fully recovered and expects to return to the fight within a couple of months. For now, though, the leadership has given him a training role. That’s something he is really well suited to given his years of combat, especially during the war with Task Force 145 back in 2005-06. His experience under torture at Camp Bucca has also proved a great asset. It gives him a real authority with recruits, and helps him prepare them for what they might face as our war escalates here and in Iraq.
My brother tells me that there is a good chance that he will be sent to northern Afghanistan to help with the further training of Taliban and foreign fighters. Apparently our recent support for the Taliban in the fighting around Kunduz has proved to be welcomed by their leadership, helping to overcome any suspicion of our motives. At the very least we will be able to work with them some more and our long-term aim is that they embrace our vision of the new Caliphate, a much more potent idea than their own rather limited ethno-nationalistic outlook.
You ask me to let you know what I think of recent western political developments, now that I am full-time on the SOBRA department that analyses external developments for the leadership. I am happy to do so but will first say a little about the recent western insistence that the war is going well for them.
For us in SOBRA we really find it quite laughable. Those people in Washington seem to think that because we made such rapid progress from Fallujah to Mosul a year ago, any slower rate of progress indicates impending failure, Tikrit being a good example. They seem quite unable to understand what we are about, or the long timespan of our programme. Even in the short term, though, they get it wrong, though we suspect that the real reason for protestations of success is to keep their own domestic opinion quiet.
Look at it from our perspective. In the past nine months we have experienced close to 10,000 airstrikes with over 6,000 targets hit, yet are still as active as ever. We only had a few hundred men defending Tikrit and most of them withdrew successfully when the planned decision was taken. Tikrit, though, is now a wrecked town, as was Kobane last year, and one of the key results is that on the few occasions that they take territory, the level of destruction that they leave behind just makes for more converts to our cause as our Sunnibrethren return to their shattered homes, shops, factories and farms.
Meanwhile, while they take the occasional town we make progress elsewhere, including that destruction of their brigade HQ the other month. Take a specific example – we currently have less than 200 of our fighters controlling a large part of the Baiji refinery, ensuring that such an important source of revenue is unavailable to their regime. Also, the complex of pipes, tanks and industrial plant make for an excellent guerrilla warfare environment. They cannot bomb it because that would be self-defeating, while their own soldiers are simply not up to taking us on – and the Shi’a militias are no better. At some stage they will assemble many thousands of men, as they eventually did around Tikrit, and we will quietly and calmly withdraw and move on elsewhere. We may not even bother to wreck the refinery since we will be back before long.
As far as Baiji is concerned you may ask, why do it? Well the answer is straightforward -symbolism. For us to control one of the country’s most important industrial sites for weeks and months with little more than a token force is a vivid demonstration of our capabilities and is not lost on Sunnicommunities across Iraq as they suffer under the apostates. Moreover, it has a similar impact in the wider world and posting that video of our surveying the refinery with our very own reconnaissance drones has had a huge impact. Meanwhile, as I said at the start, we are becoming steadily more active in Afghanistan, a development as welcome as it has been unexpected.
But you ask specifically about my work in election monitoring and I will tell you about that now, especially in relation to the British election result. The unit as a whole puts its greatest emphasis on the United States, followed by the UK and France, but it also looks at others, including Stephen Harper’s Canada and dear old Tony Abbott over in Australia. Those last two don’t receive much attention at present, although Canada’s decision to send its CF-18s into action in Syria as well as Iraq is a thoroughly welcome development, not least as the chance of one of their planes getting shot down and the aircrew captured has risen.
France is of some interest not least because of the continuing and greatly welcome strength of the National Front, and the United States has no elections in the near future. Mind you, we are looking quite positively at next year’s presidential election. Any Republican that makes it to the White House is well nigh certain to be more hawkish than Obama and we have no worries about the hardline nature of a Hillary Clinton administration. Our concern is if a more liberal Democrat makes progress in the primaries, but we will cross that bridge when we come to it.
That leaves us with Britain and I have to confess that a week ago we were getting seriously worried because of the risk that Miliband would somehow get in. Our nightmare was Miliband running a minority government with informal SNP and LibDem support and being both cautious over foreign wars and careful about how to tackle what they call “extremism”. Both would be singularly unhelpful to our cause. You will recall that in my last letter I said that our dream result would be a Tory coalition with a vibrant UKIP and Nigel Farage as deputy prime minister and home secretary – manna from heaven (if you will allow me to borrow a Crusader phrase!).
In the event we actually think we have done better than this since a Tory majority has some considerable advantages for us, especially as Farage has quickly reversed his resignation and will stay a prominent figure on the British political scene.
What we now envisage is a Tory government doing what it has really wanted to do all along, but it will be increasingly beset with internal party divisions, restless and quite far right-wing backbenchers and all kinds of complications over Europe. Meanwhile, Labour will spend the next four months arguing about the leadership and systematically failing to provide opposition. The Tories will become more and more confident so that when the cracks in the edifice start to appear next winter they will look more and more for enemies to divert attention. We make great enemies!
What is even better is that they are already planning to tighten up on their counter-terror legislation which is of course exactly what we want. Just think – more surveillance, new laws restricting freedom of speech, more arrests, tougher sentencing and more young people jailed for long periods. UK prisons are already hugely useful in proselytising for new recruits and as the numbers rise, so will the opportunities. Moreover, all of this will be in a climate of increased xenophobia and fewer life-chances for our young Muslim brothers and sisters. Remember, we are in this for decades.
Perhaps it will all come apart for Cameron and his ilk as it did twenty years ago for that hapless John Major but I doubt it. In any case, it will not be too quick, so we have at least a couple of years to savour. I have to say that, on reflection, this was an excellent result and far better than we feared. For someone like me watching the British scene it is really good to be alive!”
I should clarify that my doubts arise entirely based on the use of certain terminology used by the author, which betrays a background in Western military or security industries. It is entirely possible that the writer has this background or specifically educated himself on the topics.