Hardly two years ago, at the beginning of the ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shams), its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, declared loud and clear that if ISIS cannot defeat the West by military means, they will overrun it with jihadists.
This very ISIS band of jihadists subsequently rebranded itself as the Islamic State (IS) with its leader taking on the grand title of “caliph” (mimicking the practices of early years of Islamic “Golden Age”) to rule over the concocted Islamic caliphate of modern times!
Whatever grand title Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi may have choosen to award himself, his pronouncement to overrun the West, particularly Europe, with jihadists definitely has the ring of reality about it.
The present predicament indicates, without any shadow of doubt, that al-Baghdadi is on the ascent. The Islamic State may have occupied vast tracts of land in Iraq and Syria over the past 15 months or so, but that victory diminishes into insignificance in comparison to what he is up to now.
He has stretched his hand to grab the crown jewel of humanity: European civilisation. Along with the hundreds of thousands of migrants from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and other parts of the Islamic State caliphate that have landed on European shores are large number of Islamic State jihadis mingled among them -- with more millions are on the march, trekking across the continents of Africa and Asia, heading towards Europe.
The bigwigs of Europe are utterly helpless and rudderless. They are banging their heads together in grand gatherings of heads of states, but to no avail. They are behaving like headless chickens bleeding and screaming but failing to come to any sensible arrangement to stem the unremitting flow of migrants.
And while Europe’s leaders talk and talk, their countries are gradually being inundated with migrants and jihadists – exactly as planned by the modern day caliph.
The caliph sensed the soft underbelly of the European Union. The small boy whose body washed ashore on the beach of a Turkish holiday resort paved the way for hundreds, if not thousands, of jihadists, disguised as war victims, to enter Europe.
The guilt/conscience of the general public of Europe, particularly of Germany, will make them open up their homes and hearths, set up reception centres up and down the country to welcome the influx from Asia and Africa.
While the political leaders of Europe keep parroting, “We will manage it,” more and more migrants will knock at their doors. Western leaders will toil and sweat to accommodate them, afterwards feeling successful in “managing” them.
And the caliph, sitting comfortably in the desert monitoring the situation, will throw in more challenges to the European leaders to “manage”!
Why now is this large influx of migrants coming to Europe? The war in Syria had been going on for over four and half years. Iraq war is well over 12 years old and Afghan war has been ongoing for nearly 14years. There is no upsurge of violence in any one of these regions or, for that matter, in any other region in the Middle East. So there is simply no reason now why these people would suddenly find their own countries so intolerable in which to live. What rationale is there to risk their lives in the rough seas of the Mediterranean?
The answer can be found in the pronouncements of the caliph. But to understand these pronouncements, we need to look back at what made the Islamic State come into existence in the first place. When ISIS splintered out of the al-Qaeda gang over two years ago, it was done by the extremists on the pretext that al-Qaeda was not strong enough or brutal enough to tackle the situation.
These die-hard extremists held the ideology called Wahhabism, a particularly vicious and virulent form of Islam. Wahhabism states that anybody who does not follow this strict Sunni fundamentalist ideology can be killed. Thus, not only Christians, Jews, Yazidis and other non-Muslims but also Shias (a major Muslim denomination) are included on their death list.
Infidels would be summarily beheaded, quite often publicly, to spread fear among the enemies and their wives, daughters and sisters would be taken as sex slaves. Occasionally, out of “mercy,” infidels would be given a last option to embrace the Sunni religion. Enemy soldiers, regardless of their religious affiliations, were to be beheaded in public. All these treatments are meted out as per Wahhabi doctrine!
When al-Baghdadi declared himself as the caliph of the Caliphate of Islamic State, he did not do it vacuously. Based on my reading of numerous documents, news items, public pronouncements by politicians, he had the financial backing of rich Arab States, in particular, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. I believe other Gulf States also supported him, but more covertly.
Al-Baghdadi had a vicious band of jihadists, far more ferocious and monstrous than al-Qaeda, drawn from various parts of the world. Military support and hardware also came from Arab states, overtly and covertly.
When the Islamic State started overrunning Iraqi outposts, towns and cities, Iraqi soldiers just dropped their arms and surrendered lock stock and barrel. The Islamic State was thus able to acquire a large cache of arms and military hardware without even a fight. They occupied town after town, military barracks, oil fields, etc. Success bred success.
At one stage, nearer the end of last year, the Islamic State was on the verge of overrunning Baghdad itself and, at the same time, taking over the whole of Syria. However, their success was halted a bit by American and British bombing.
But the caliph has not been occupied solely with military conquests; he started to establish his caliphate politically also. He gradually set up new Islamic State wilayats (provinces), as they used to be called in the “Golden Age” of Islam.
The Islamic State leader in the Sinai Peninsula was one of the first to declare allegiance to al-Baghdadi’s caliphate. The Libyan branch had three wilayats, dividing the country into three distinct regions – each was headed by an Islamic State leader. The January 27, 2015 attack on the Corinthia Hotel in Tripoli, which left five foreigners dead, was a show of barbaric commitment of this franchised branch.
Al-Qaeda’s North Africa branch pledged allegiance to the Islamic State and became the caliphate's Algerian province. The Pakistan Taliban commander, Hafiz Said Khan, pledged his allegiance and became the Islamic State leader of the Khorasan province covering Afghanistan, Pakistan and “nearby lands” (meaning Iran). Nigeria’s Boko Haram became the “West Africa Province” of the Islamic State.
The group of jihadists who attacked the Bardo museum in Tunis on March 18, 2015 had also pledged allegiance to the Islamic State. The militants in the Russian Republics of Chechnya, Dagestan, Ingushetia and Kabardino-Balkaria became the “Caucasus Province” under the Dagestan rebel leader, Rushtam Aselderov.
The barbaric and cowardly Islamists who killed a number of unarmed secularists and foreigners in Bangladesh did so in order to establish their credentials as vicious jihadists so they could be accorded an Islamic State wilayat in Bangladesh.
All these demarcation of provinces and subsequent assignment of Islamic State leaders show that there is a sleek administrative setup to carry out the central Islamic State directives under the supervision of the caliph.
When there is a surge of migrants coming from all remote corners of Africa and Asia to cross Mediterranean Sea into Europe, it does not happen just by accident. There is a hand directing the whole operation.
The libertarian European public may be swayed by the suffering of innocent men, women and children in war-torn regions, but it must also be appreciated that there is a sinister game that is being played out by the perverse Islamic State strategists to send jihadists mingled with the migrants to Europe. These jihadists are the “Trojan Horses” of the Islamic State.
Islamic State leaders, under the direction of the caliph, are doing exactly what they said they would do – overrun Europe with jihadists and make Europe Muslim. If the European leaders fail to understand the strategy, it is very unfortunate and deplorable.
Why now? The war in the Middle East was at a critical juncture, with Russia hell bent on destroying the Islamic State. There was no time to spare, according to the Islamic State. The caliph acted, true to his word, and the outcome will be there for all to see.
Dr. A Rahman is a retired nuclear scientist and a columnist.
Taliban fighters (Photo: © Reuters)
Not since America’s humiliating defeat in Vietnam has that country faced such a comprehensive failure of objectives as in Afghanistan, where last Friday the NATO flag was lowered to mark the end of a 13-year war.
While the ignominious April 30, 1975 American retreat from Saigon was a public debacle, best captured by the scene of the last U.S. helicopter lifting off from its embassy in the South Vietnamese capital, the withdrawal from Kabul was a quieter but sorry ceremony.
The event marking the end of America’s longest war was held in a basketball gym inside NATO headquarters in Kabul.
As a brass band played and a colour guard marched, the U.S. commander, Gen. John F. Campbell, uttered words that sounded hollow to many.
“Our commitment to Afghanistan endures … We are not walking away,” he said.
Officially, the American-led NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) is shifting to a support mission for training the Afghan army and police.
But the Taliban, predictably, saw the lowering of the flag as an admission of defeat.
In an e-mail to journalists, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said, “ISAF rolled up its flag in an atmosphere of failure and disappointment without having achieved anything substantial or tangible.”
Mujahid promised the Taliban would come back to power in Kabul.
If statistics from the last year are any indication of what is in store for 2015, the Taliban commander may be right.
In 2014 alone, the Taliban killed nearly 4,600 Afghan soldiers and policemen and murdered 3,200 Afghan civilians.
If this was the outcome in the presence of NATO, one can only imagine how things will fare in its absence.
And with elements of the Pakistan military on the border now free to help the Taliban, 2015 may very well become the year we see Mullah Omar back in power in the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.”
These developments, along with the rise of jihadi groups across the globe, do not bode well for Canada and its NATO allies, or for any country that shares our liberal democratic values, from India to Australia.
The nature of our mutual enemy, the international jihadist movement driven by the supremacist ideology of Islamism, is such that after enduring 13 years of war, it stands stronger than the day it attacked the twin towers in New York and the Pentagon in Washington on 9/11.
Instead of draining the swamps to cure the malaria, the West has been shooting down one mosquito at a time, refusing to admit the existence of this ideological swamp.
In a rare, candid admission of not knowing what motivates the jihadists, Maj. Gen. Michael K. Nagata, commander of American Special Operations forces in the Middle East, said:
“We do not understand the movement, and until we do, we are not going to defeat it. We have not defeated the idea. We do not even understand the idea.”
He was referring to the Islamic State (ISIS), but ISIS is not the only example.
Pakistan is the original “Islamic State”, the mother lode of the pan-Islamist movement, while the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Islamic Kingdom of Saudi Arabia together with the Muslim Brotherhood and its sponsor, Qatar, are all ISIS-like in varying degrees.
I wish I could say Happy New Year to you, but I can’t, for I feel 2015 isn’t going to be one.
Tarek Fatah is a Canadian writer, broadcaster and anti-Islamist Muslim activist. He is the author of Chasing a Mirage: The Tragic Illusion of an Islamic State and the founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress.