Does ISIS risk blowback, or is there a plan?

The airwaves are full of talking heads telling us that ISIS has made a mistake in posting the horrific video of the burning alive of Jordanian pilot Muath Al-Kassasbeh.  The theory is that this may be a turning point, mobilizing not just Jordanian, but also Arab public opinion, and forcing President Obama to finally decide to do what it takes to not just contain, but to conquer ISIS.

Maybe.  I hope so.  But it is worth considering what kind of strategy ISIS had in mind.  After all, they have shown more propaganda sophistication than any other jihad group, and so far seem to be attracting adherents from all over the ummah rapidly, following the “strong horse” strategy first articulated by Osama bin Laden.

One possibility, raised by Charles Krauthammer yesterday on FNC’s Special Report, is that they intend to goad King Abdullah of Jordan into committing troops to fighting ISIS, and then provoking his overthrow.  After all, the Hashemite Kingdom is not a democracy, but rather a monarchy of a Bedouin tribe from Arabia, imposed on the hapless Arabs by the British, who awarded Amman to the Hashemites as a consolation prize when the Saud family was awarded the monarchy of Arabia.  The Hashemites are not even from Jordan.  (Needless to say, this is not unusual: the British Royal Family are from Hanover, Germany, after all.)  The majority of the population of Jordan is Palestinian, with a large number of recently arrived Syrians.  It is not at all hard to imagine an attempt to overthrow the monarchy while the king’s best troops, all of them Bedouins, are tied down fighting ISIS in Syria.

Another possibility is that ISIS wants to appear as the biggest, baddest strong horse, and thereby appeal to the widespread desire among Arabs, and Muslims more generally, for revenge.  The more recent centuries have been tough on Muslim pride, after all.  Taught that their religion and values are from Allah and superior to everything else, they have been forced to watch as decadent Westerners have triumphed, militarily, culturally, and economically.  Islam spread farther and faster than any other civilization in the two centuries following Mohammed, strong evidence of its superiority.  But first the defense of Europe at Tours, the Crusades, and then and later at the Gates of Vienna, caused some trouble for this interpretation of Allah’s triumph.  The Ottoman Empire, however difficult for the non-Turkish subjects, was still a formidable and powerful caliphate.  But its humiliation and breakup a century ago was another huge blow.

However much President Obama (and NASA) tout the Muslim purported contributions to science (a millennium ago), the plain fact is that science, industry, telecom, air conditioning, and almost everything else that makes life today easier than it was in Mohammed’s time are a product of the decadent West.  And world culture is also the product of the West, especially the Great Satan, America.  There has got to be a desire for vengeance, in the face of the supine position that Islamic civilization finds itself in.  But for oil, discovered, developed, and mostly used by the infidels, Islam would be impoverished, weak, and supplicant.  It has to enrage many.  Particularly against fellow Muslims like the pro-Western monarchs and those who pilot their planes (or command their tanks or bear their arms).

Vengeance has a powerful appeal.

There is a third possible motive: to terrify.  Of course, by definition, this is what terrorism is all about.  But there is a powerful history to horrifying cruelty as a tactic.  While there is nothing uniquely Islamic about this, most recently in world history, it is an Islamic tactic.  Walid Shoebat highlights this thinking and its history:

To desecrate the victim while alive is part and parcel of Islam in hope that people would convert through sheer fear or to repulse the enemy. (snip)

Everyone in the Middle East knows three things told to them by their grand parents about the Ottoman Turks and what they spread throughout the Middle East: Sihr “sorcery,” Baksheesh “bribery”, and theKhazouk which is a spike driven through the victim’s rectum, which the Ottomans used to terrify locals and deter potential insurgents. And this is exactly what this lady wanted to reinstitute:

 

“Are you going to execute him with a merciful bullet? Or are you going to execute him with a merciful knife?” she asks.

Khawiskou “impale him” she cries out “then send him to his mother” says the peace-loving Muslim lady.

“Why are the Arab world fighting us. We are Muslim doing the will of Allah”.

“I am pleading [ISIS] to honor my special request that you Khazouk him “impale him” and post it all over the social networks and the media”.

Executing someone and desecrating the body alive is not something that only existed in far history, it was a reality under the Turks until the Christians gave a crushing blow to the Ottoman beast after World War I when Khazouk executions were part of daily life. One TV series reminds how the Ottomans, in order to thwart dissidents used this horrific type of execution:

 

Such brutality has come to the world from an Islamic edict by Ibn Taymiyya, one of the highest authorities on Islamic jurisprudence, and will be emerging as we see neo-Ottomanism revive….

 

It would not in the least surprise me to see all three motives at work as ISIS holds more prisoners.

The airwaves are full of talking heads telling us that ISIS has made a mistake in posting the horrific video of the burning alive of Jordanian pilot Muath Al-Kassasbeh.  The theory is that this may be a turning point, mobilizing not just Jordanian, but also Arab public opinion, and forcing President Obama to finally decide to do what it takes to not just contain, but to conquer ISIS.

Maybe.  I hope so.  But it is worth considering what kind of strategy ISIS had in mind.  After all, they have shown more propaganda sophistication than any other jihad group, and so far seem to be attracting adherents from all over the ummah rapidly, following the “strong horse” strategy first articulated by Osama bin Laden.

One possibility, raised by Charles Krauthammer yesterday on FNC’s Special Report, is that they intend to goad King Abdullah of Jordan into committing troops to fighting ISIS, and then provoking his overthrow.  After all, the Hashemite Kingdom is not a democracy, but rather a monarchy of a Bedouin tribe from Arabia, imposed on the hapless Arabs by the British, who awarded Amman to the Hashemites as a consolation prize when the Saud family was awarded the monarchy of Arabia.  The Hashemites are not even from Jordan.  (Needless to say, this is not unusual: the British Royal Family are from Hanover, Germany, after all.)  The majority of the population of Jordan is Palestinian, with a large number of recently arrived Syrians.  It is not at all hard to imagine an attempt to overthrow the monarchy while the king’s best troops, all of them Bedouins, are tied down fighting ISIS in Syria.

Another possibility is that ISIS wants to appear as the biggest, baddest strong horse, and thereby appeal to the widespread desire among Arabs, and Muslims more generally, for revenge.  The more recent centuries have been tough on Muslim pride, after all.  Taught that their religion and values are from Allah and superior to everything else, they have been forced to watch as decadent Westerners have triumphed, militarily, culturally, and economically.  Islam spread farther and faster than any other civilization in the two centuries following Mohammed, strong evidence of its superiority.  But first the defense of Europe at Tours, the Crusades, and then and later at the Gates of Vienna, caused some trouble for this interpretation of Allah’s triumph.  The Ottoman Empire, however difficult for the non-Turkish subjects, was still a formidable and powerful caliphate.  But its humiliation and breakup a century ago was another huge blow.

However much President Obama (and NASA) tout the Muslim purported contributions to science (a millennium ago), the plain fact is that science, industry, telecom, air conditioning, and almost everything else that makes life today easier than it was in Mohammed’s time are a product of the decadent West.  And world culture is also the product of the West, especially the Great Satan, America.  There has got to be a desire for vengeance, in the face of the supine position that Islamic civilization finds itself in.  But for oil, discovered, developed, and mostly used by the infidels, Islam would be impoverished, weak, and supplicant.  It has to enrage many.  Particularly against fellow Muslims like the pro-Western monarchs and those who pilot their planes (or command their tanks or bear their arms).

Vengeance has a powerful appeal.

There is a third possible motive: to terrify.  Of course, by definition, this is what terrorism is all about.  But there is a powerful history to horrifying cruelty as a tactic.  While there is nothing uniquely Islamic about this, most recently in world history, it is an Islamic tactic.  Walid Shoebat highlights this thinking and its history:

To desecrate the victim while alive is part and parcel of Islam in hope that people would convert through sheer fear or to repulse the enemy. (snip)

Everyone in the Middle East knows three things told to them by their grand parents about the Ottoman Turks and what they spread throughout the Middle East: Sihr “sorcery,” Baksheesh “bribery”, and theKhazouk which is a spike driven through the victim’s rectum, which the Ottomans used to terrify locals and deter potential insurgents. And this is exactly what this lady wanted to reinstitute:

 

“Are you going to execute him with a merciful bullet? Or are you going to execute him with a merciful knife?” she asks.

Khawiskou “impale him” she cries out “then send him to his mother” says the peace-loving Muslim lady.

“Why are the Arab world fighting us. We are Muslim doing the will of Allah”.

“I am pleading [ISIS] to honor my special request that you Khazouk him “impale him” and post it all over the social networks and the media”.

Executing someone and desecrating the body alive is not something that only existed in far history, it was a reality under the Turks until the Christians gave a crushing blow to the Ottoman beast after World War I when Khazouk executions were part of daily life. One TV series reminds how the Ottomans, in order to thwart dissidents used this horrific type of execution:

 

Such brutality has come to the world from an Islamic edict by Ibn Taymiyya, one of the highest authorities on Islamic jurisprudence, and will be emerging as we see neo-Ottomanism revive….

 

It would not in the least surprise me to see all three motives at work as ISIS holds more prisoners.