Our news organs have published many stories about Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the head of Isis, the Sunni jihadi force which has led a Sunni uprising in Iraq. People are calling him the new Bin Laden, although he makes Bin Laden look like a rich amateur.
Most of the stories we've been seeing promise exciting new revelations yet recycle the same claims and facts. However, some older articles offer unusual data-nuggets.
In the preceding post, we talked about the British special forces commander, Lt. Gen. Graeme Lamb, who -- last February -- said that Abu Bakr was actually an alias used by several fighters: "There are those who want to promote the idea that this man is invincible, when it may actually be several people using the same nom de guerre." An intriguing idea, that.
There is no way to counter the claim, since everyone who has met him reports that he wears a mask
One important mystery concerns the relationship between Abu Bakr and the Nusrah Front in Syria. Abu Bakr bragged in April that the Nusrah Front
is, in essence, a creation of his own group, ISIS. The State Department
made the same (little noticed) claim. This is important because of the oft-heard reports that Nusrah has received aid from either the U.S. or its allies.
But just to make matters very confusing, ISIS declared a merger
with the Nusrah Front in April of 2013. A short while later, the leader of the Nusrah Front, Abu Muhammad al-Jawlani, denied any merger.
One key question concerns the radicalization
of Abu Bakr...
Multiple theories have been presented for al Baghdadi’s radicalization, which may have bearing on why the United States set the vicious killer free. One theory espouses that al Baghdadi entered Camp Bucca un-radicalized, and converted to the violent ideals while a prisoner there. This fits with a reported narrative that al Baghdadi, a farmer, was apprehended by the U.S. Military as part of a widespread sweep.
Another version of the story, however, contends that al Baghdadi was radicalized before he was imprisoned by US forces. Claiming that he also uses the alias Abu Duaa, a 2005 American intelligence report connected him to militant actions in Quaim, MailOnline reports.
I was amused to see that some Muslims claim that Abu Bakr is actually the Dajjal
-- the Islamic version of the Antichrist. See here
. That website offers this quotation from the Quran:
He would appear on the way between Syria and Iraq and would spread mischief right and left...
is another indication that Abu Bakr -- whoever the hell he may be -- will one day emerge as our new terrorist bogeyman:
For Washington, that it is now Iraqi troops who are confronting Baghdadi's fanatics rather than American ones is of little comfort. For just like Osama bin Laden - Baghdadi's hero, - his ambitions go well beyond the Middle East. "You will see the mujahideen [holy warriors] at the heart of your country," he warned the US. "Our war with you has only started now."
If and when new domestic terror attacks do occur, always remember that our regional allies
have funded ISIS:
But in the years they were getting started, a key component of ISIS’s support came from wealthy individuals in the Arab Gulf States of Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
The irony here is that ISIS has allied itself with Saddam Hussein's old guard -- including the very same people who launched the attack on Kuwait.
“Everybody knows the money is going through Kuwait and that it’s coming from the Arab Gulf,” said Andrew Tabler, senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “Kuwait’s banking system and its money changers have long been a huge problem because they are a major conduit for money to extremist groups in Syria and now Iraq.”
When confronted with the problem, Gulf leaders often justify allowing their Salafi constituents to fund Syrian extremist groups by pointing back to what they see as a failed U.S. policy in Syria and a loss of credibility after President Obama reneged on his pledge to strike Assad after the regime used chemical weapons.
That’s what Prince Bandar bin Sultan, head of Saudi intelligence since 2012 and former Saudi ambassador in Washington, reportedly told Secretary of State John Kerry when Kerry pressed him on Saudi financing of extremist groups earlier this year. Saudi Arabia has retaken a leadership role in past months guiding help to the Syrian armed rebels, displacing Qatar, which was seen as supporting some of the worst of the worst organizations on the ground.
Finally, I would like to direct your attention to a progressive Pakistani site called LUBP -- Let Us Build Pakistan, which has some very interesting observations
about the ISIS phenomenon:
1. It is not the Sunni-Shia sectarian war. ISIS’s Saudi-backed Salafi-Wahabi terrorists are killing Sunnis, Sufis, Shias and Christians. In their eyes all Sunnis, Sufis or Barelvis in particular, are polytheists, Shias are infidels whereas Christians and Jews are enemies of Islam. Systematic massacres of Shias by Salafi-Wahabi cannot be described in false neutral and equal terms such as sectarian violence. As noted by Dr Micahel Nights, “Iraq’s Sunni political, tribal and religious leaders have the most to lose from ISIS’s growth as they are the first to be targeted when the Salafi militant movement takes over an area and forms its own new institutions.”
2. It’s the Salafi-Wahhabis and Deobandis who attack shrines. Shrines in Samarra, Najaf and Karbala are equally holy to Sunni and Shia. Imam Hussain and Hazrat Ali’s shrines in Karbala and Najaf are equally holy to all Muslims except Salafis and Deobandis. In fact, Sunni and Shia are join custodians of the holy shrine in Samarra and other areas.
3. Al-Maliki the scapegoat: The US-govt and media is blaming Nouri Al-Maliki’s “sectarian” govt but there is almost no mention of Saudi support for Salafi and Deobandi terrorists in Syria and Iraq. Al-Maliki’s incompetence aside, governments in Afghanistan and Nigeria are equally helpless against Saudi-funded heavily armed Salafi and Deobandi terrorists. Presenting Al-Maliki as a scapegoat and rationalizing Salafi-Deobandi terrorism as Sunni-Shia sectarian war is both inaccurate and distasteful. It is as wrong as to rationalize Al Qaeda, ASWJ and Taliban’s actions against the West as Muslim-Christian feud.
"Deobandi" refers to Sunni fundamentalism. Islamic specialists distinguish between the terms Salafi, Wahabbi and Deobandi, but for our purposes, the three words may be regarded as near-synonyms.
The important point here is this: Our proxy war against Iran may now be morphing into a proxy war against Saudi Arabia.
In the words of a Middle Eastern newspaper Al-Thawra,”Terrorism is spreading in front of the eyes of the western world… and alongside it are the fingers of Saudi Arabia, providing money and arms. “In the events in Iraq and the escalating terrorist campaign, no Western country is unaware of the role Saudi is playing in supporting terrorism and funding and arming different fronts and battles, both inside and outside Iraq and Syria. “The emergence of these organisations is not the result of a vacuum but rather long and clear support for terrorism… which the Gulf has dedicated its finances to expanding.” Such actions were taken “with Western knowledge and in most cases clear and explicit orders,” the newspaper continued.
That said, I must repeat my belief that Obama could not have desired this current turn of events, which is nightmarish, uncontrollable, and potentially quite harmful to this president's image. Instead, I tend toward the theory that this administration saw ISIS and the Saudi-funded Sunni fundamentalists as a sword to be used against the Shi'ite regimes of Syria and Iran. Alas, some swords are double-edged.