The threat posed by the Islamic State is frequently described as unprecedented and unique. Measured by the size of territory it once controlled, its wealth in terms of cash on hand and access to modern military material, and in its shocking brutality, the Islamic State has broken new ground as a terrorist organization. However, the Islamic State is not simply a terrorist organization, but is also a well-equipped insurgent army, and a quasi-state that seized and–with qualified success–operated the bureaucratic institutions of the territories it captured. The Islamic State is often contrasted with its ideological predecessor and operational competitor, al-Qaeda. Highlighting how these organizations differ is helpful in developing effective means of confronting them. In this article, we compare the Islamic State to another terrorist organization the Sendero Luminoso of Peru, to help understand the forces that gave rise to them, sustained them, and ultimately led to Sendero’s demise. Through this comparative analysis, we argue that understanding the Islamic State, not simply as a terrorist organization but also as a social movement, allows us to contextualize its violence within patterns evinced by other violent social movements. This approach will also allow us to better understand how the Islamic State might eventually end. Although the military defeat of the Islamic State may be inevitable, the socio-political conditions that gave rise to and sustained it will likely remain and its remnants may very well present a “traditional” terrorist threat for years to come.
The war in Syria is a nightmare. It’s a nightmare for all the civilians who suffer from constant aerial bombardment, who are trapped without food and medical assistance inside crumbling cities, who experience the retribution of either the Islamic State or the regime in Damascus. It’s a nightmare for those who try to escape and face the prospect of death in transit or limbo in refugee camps.
Syria is a nightmare for individuals, millions of them. But it’s not just that. If states could dream, then Syria would be their nightmare as well.
Problems with Turkey, Eastern Europe, and Donald Trump could tear the rickety alliance apart at the seams.
If the number of eager applicants on a waiting list determines the strength of a club, then the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is in fine fettle.
At its most recent gathering in July, NATO welcomed its 29th member — Montenegro — which means that the alliance now outnumbers the European Union. Nearby Macedonia has been waiting for 17 years to be let in the door only to have Greece block entrance every time because of a longstanding dispute over Macedonia’s name. Bosnia also wants in but must first overcome its internal divisions. Georgia’s membership, too, has been on hold, for fear of inciting Russia’s wrath, though that hasn’t prevented the country from hosting U.S.-NATO military exercises.
A series of attacks beyond its core territory reveals Islamic State’s capacity to adapt and to plan for the long term.
In Libya and Iraq, military campaigns against ISIS are intensifying. But in assessing the movement’s condition, a wider view is also needed.
On the second day of the new round of air-attacks against ISIS forces in the Libyan coastal city of Sirte, United States marine corps AV8B strike-aircraft were launched from the USS Wasp, an amphibious-warfare vessel. Military sources say that the operation would most likely last weeks, and only end when those Libyan militias loosely aligned to the government of national accord in Tripoli succeed in taking control of the city.
During his visit to Baghdad on July 11, Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced that the United States will deploy additional 560 troops to Iraq to assist in the fight against the Islamic State (IS) group.
The announced deployment will bring the number of US military personnel on official assignment to Iraq to 4,647 (this will bring the total figure to over 5,000 US military personnel in Iraq counting those assigned to the embassy, as well as those on temporary missions). The latest force increase came less than three months after Washington announced it would dispatch about 200 more soldiers to accompany Iraqi troops advancing towards Mosul.
In April, Obama gave the go-ahead for American troops to assist Iraqi forces at the brigade and battalion levels, putting US soldiers much closer to the battlefront – although still behind the frontlines. The role of US troops had previously been limited to advising at headquarters and division levels, much further from the forward edge of the battle area.
Beyond talk of an ISIS-inspired attack, the Dhaka cafe massacre’s more immediate roots lie in a crisis of political legitimacy, and religion’s precarious position and instrumentalisation within the national imaginary.
The gruesome Dhaka cafe attack earlier this month has been viewed mostly through the lens of ISIS’s perceived increasing footprint in Bangladesh. But this ignores the sliding political legitimacy of a government – Sheikh Hasina’s supposedly secular Awami League – that has assumed the task of stemming terrorism in a country split along religious and secular lines since its very birth in 1971. If you want to understand the Dhaka massacre, you need to trace the ambiguous and contested domain of political legitimacy and religion in Bangladesh, which is largely responsible for the extremist violence the country is witnessing now.
While it isn’t over, the indications are the coup against Erdogan has failed. The stated goals of those behind the coup were to return to a secular government and reinstate the rule of law.
The President of the United States encouraged people to “support the democratically elected government of Turkey”. He said this while his administration is in the midst of a multi-year effort to overthrow the government of President Assad in Syria. The US, historically, doesn’t care about democracy or elections. The US wants Erdogan in power because he has more or less been an obedient lackey. While there are moments of discord, Turkey is still a faithful dog at the end of one of the many leashes held by the US. This allows Erdogan to behave in a manner that would not be tolerated from a non-puppet state.
In October 2015 the US administration abandoned its efforts to build up a new rebel force inside Syria to combat the Islamic State, acknowledging the failure of its $500 million campaign to train thousands of fighters and announcing that it will instead use the money to provide ammunition and some weapons for groups already engaged in the battle. The decision to change the policy was made after mounting evidence that the training mission had resulted in no more than a handful of American-trained fighters.
The Pentagon spent 384 million dollars out of initially planned $500 million program on the preparation of 150 fighters, instead of almost 3,000 militants it originally planned to train. At that point, US officials declared this program a bitter failure and shut it down, without ever mentioning that the Pentagon spent 2 million dollars per fighter trained.
In the United Kingdom, there is a demand for an independent inquiry into British Intelligence’s involvement in the CIA’s torture and rendition program. Despite promises, one has not emerged. The government in the UK does not want to rehash the effects of the program or the the loss of life it caused.
In the days after the September 11th attacks, Americans waived their rights and waved their flags at the same time. If the government wanted a power, the people meekly agreed. They were literally scared stupid. The government was given a blank check to stop the terrorists. The people looked the other way as the government ramped up domestic spying efforts, enacted bizarre vague legislation allowing them to deem just about anyone a “terrorist”, eliminated due process, and began torturing people. What did surrendering their rights gain them? The War on Terrorism has been a complete and utter failure in every respect. What’s worse is that it was the waiving of rights and general sense of humanity that led to the Iraq War.
Towards the end of last month, photo’s surfaced paraded as the first to show US special forces inside Syria. Shot by an unidentified photographer, the images bore evidence of a war far more complicated than most may anticipate. While many outlets regurgitated the photo release, others echoed one apparent consequence of their disclosure.
All this reputedly comes out the village of Fatisah, just a few miles from Islamic State-held Raqqa. Sources report Kurdish militia groups have used Fatisah to stage a push on the militant capital. The fighters aren’t alone, however, as several American special forces operatives were reputedly photographed amidst the fight.
As the sun set over New York on June 12, hundreds of Muslims gathered in Hudson River Park to break their Ramadan fast together.
Iftar, the evening Ramadan meal, is often a joyous celebration of faith and family. But the mood that Sunday was solemn: That morning, news had broken of the ghastly massacre of LGBTQ revelers at Pulse nightclub in Orlando.
A lone Muslim had allegedly perpetrated the attack. Here by the Hudson, over 200 knelt in prayer.
“We’re praying for those who were lost,” one woman explained in a video circulated by the Huffington Post, her voice breaking. “As Muslims, we’re united in our outrage over this senseless act of violence.”
The “unimaginable horrors” that the Islamic State (ISIS) is committing against the minority Yezidis, documented in a report released on June 16 by the UN-mandated Independent International Commission of Inquiry (COI) on the Syrian Arab Republic, shows the urgent need for concrete steps to ensure justice for these crimes.
In August 2014, ISIS fighters overran Yezidi towns and villages around Sinjar, in northwestern Iraq, executing many men and capturing women and girls. Their intent soon became clear in slave markets ISIS set up in Mosul and elsewhere, where they sold the women and girls to their fighters into sexual or domestic slavery.
The COI report found that the crimes against the minority Yezidis amount to genocide.
The massacre in Florida and latest killings in France are connected to the United States-led assault on the self-declared caliphate.
The carnage in the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida on 12 June 2016 is one of the very worst of the so-called ‘lone wolf’ assaults. Though it was certainly an anti-LGBT attack, it is still not clear how much it was inspired by ISIS. That connection is evident in the case of the killing of a police commander and his partner in front of their 3-year-old son, near Paris on 13 June, which has so affected opinion in France.
What is becoming apparent is that ISIS is now fully engaged in encouraging if not instigating attacks across north Africa and western Europe, sometimes extending to north America. This wide-ranging effort comes at a time when the movement is under serious pressure in Iraq and Libya. Some analysts are also concerned with developments only indirectly related to ISIS and al-Qaida. These include an increase in pro-ISIS support in Kosovo and the southern Philippines, the onset of more frequent attacks in Bangladesh and the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan.
Eight Syrian refugees, including three children, four women and one man have been shot dead by Turkish border service while they tried to get to asylum, a human rights organization reports.
According to a report by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, three children, four women and one man have been shot dead on the Turkish border on Saturday Night.
Rami Abdelrahman, the organization founder, said that six of the casualties were from the same family.
“I sent our activists to hospital there, we have video [of the corpses], but we haven’t published it because there are children [involved],” he said.
Another organization, called the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces, accused Turkish border guards of firing at a group of civilians trying to cross the border into Turkey’s Hatay province, killing 11.