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Ten Facts You Probably Should Know about the New Caliphate

Yihaidists kill soldiers in Iraq – en

© WELAYAT SALAHUDDIN / AFP

IRAQ, SALAHEDDIN : An image uploaded on June 14, 2014 on the jihadist website Welayat Salahuddin allegedly shows militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) executing dozens of captured Iraqi security forces members at an unknown location in the Salaheddin province. A major offensive spearheaded by ISIL but also involving supporters of executed dictator Saddam Hussein has overrun all of one province and chunks of three others since it was launched on June 9. AFP PHOTO / HO / WELAYAT SALAHUDDIN<br /> === RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT &quot;AFP PHOTO / HO / WELAYAT SALAHUDDIN&quot; - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS FROM ALTERNATIVE SOURCES, AFP IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY DIGITAL ALTERATIONS TO THE PICTURE&#039;S EDITORIAL CONTENT, DATE AND LOCATION WHICH CANNOT BE INDEPENDENTLY VERIFIED ===

Susan E. Wills - published on 07/03/14

Meet the very dangerous man who claims to be caliph of the world's 1.5 billion Muslims.

In one week a group of jihadists based in Syria broke through the Iraqi border and blitzkrieged its way across northern Iraq—undoing in a week the stability and relative peace for which Americans fought and died. Who are these people and what are they really up to?

They’ve been referred to as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). As of Sunday, June 29, they’ve begun calling themselves “The Islamic State” (IS), coinciding with their announcement of the “restoration of the caliphate.” Neither the press nor terrorism experts are willing to ratify the existence of the so-called caliphate just yet, so we’ll refer to them simply as ISIL (except when quoting sources using ISIS).

It is important that we get better acquainted with ISIL, a group that displays a unique combination of savagery and techiness, one that “sends messages” using both social media and crucifixions.

1. Who’s in charge?
Born Ibrahim al-Badri in Samarra and educated in theology in Baghdad, he adopted the name Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and “rose from anonymity to become the feared leader of ISIL,” according to Al Jazeera. As of Sunday, he became Caliph Ibrahim.

2.  What do all these name changes mean?
By dropping Iraq, Syria and the Levant from their operational name, they mean that the newly-minted “caliph” is asserting temporal power beyond the territories in Syria and Iraq currently held by ISIL. And “beyond” in this case means worldwide.

3.  What is a caliphate?
Simply put, it’s a government under a caliph, but the implications of a caliphate are enormous. “Caliph” means a “successor,” i.e. of the prophet Muhammad. Therefore, Ibrahim claims to be the supreme worldwide religious and political ruler of all Muslims, the one to whom ALL owe allegiance.

4.  Is there a reason for establishing a caliphate, other than trying to unify all Muslims under one leader?
Several. First, Ibrahim likely hoped to complete the takeover of Iraq quickly by convincing all Iraqi Sunnis to lay down their arms and join the IS cause. A message from the IS was clear:



‘The legality of all emirates, groups, states and organisations becomes null by the expansion of the caliph’s authority and the arrival of its troops to their areas,’ said the group’s spokesman Abu Mohamed al-Adnani. ‘Listen to your caliph and obey him. Support your state, which grows every day.’ 

Second, a real caliphate, in the dreams of jihadists, would serve as a state sponsor of terrorism, harnessing wealth and manpower to wage global jihad until all are converted, dead or paying jizya (payments to protect the payee from death for being non-Muslim).

5.  How likely is Ibrahim to succeed with his plan for global hegemony?
Regardless of the loyalty Ibrahim has inspired among some impatient jihadists (including fifteen from Minneapolis-St. Paul), the new “caliph” may find allegiance from 1.5 billion Muslims elusive.

Even among the small number of Sunni Muslims who are jihadists/terrorists, Ibrahim’s ISIL has been roundly condemned. Al-Qaeda, for example, publicly criticized ISIL for “its brutality and its willingness to kill anyone, even Sunni Muslims, it considered betrayers of their religion.”

6.  Isn’t there already a caliph among Sunni Muslims?
Yes, there’s Mulla Mohammed Omar Uruzgani of Afghanistan, whom the Taliban and al-Qaeda declared to be “caliph.” Mulla Omar recently showed that he’s still an active spokesman when he declared that the release of five jihadist leaders from Guantanamo in exchange for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl “a big victory.”

7.  Then how much of a threat is Caliph Ibrahim?

A very, very big one. Most Iraqi Christians fled at the approach of ISIL. The rest are likely dead or missing. Among the missing are two Iraqi nuns and three children from the orphanage the nuns operated. Also, ISIL been amassing weapons and cash ($429 million just from banks in Mosul) all the way across Iraq. It has taken control of oil fields in Syria and Iraq, as well as Iraq’s largest oil refinery. A few days ago, fighters from the Nusra Front, an al-Qaeda group in Syria that had been ISIL’s main rival, pledged loyalty to ISIL.

But the cash, armaments, oil fields and refineries pale in comparison to the threat ISIL poses to innocent human beings of any faith by their own radical brand of terrorism.

8.  What does a “war on women” look like?
In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, the airwaves have been full of talk that the decision is a new salvo in the “war on women.” The Court ruled that the owners of closely held corporations could not be forced, in violation of their religious liberty, to provide insurance for their employees that included four abortifacient drugs and devices required under the Health and Human Services’ contraceptive mandate. Hobby Lobby provides twenty other contraceptive methods to its employees; the owners just drew the line at being complicit in killing human embryos. This is what some consider open warfare on women because a small number may have to pay out of pocket for their own abortifacient drugs and IUDs, as most women using these products had to do in the decades preceding the Affordable Care Act.

Contrast that “war” with what’s going on In the territory held by ISIL. A “Contract with the City” was announced for the province of Nineveh. One of the 16 new rules, translated and paraphrased by the Washington Post, shows what an actual war on women might look like:

“women are told that stability is at home and they should not go outside unless necessary. They should be covered, in full Islamic dress.”

Staying indoors is no doubt advisable because women are still being stoned under Shariah law for offenses like sexual impropriety and being “too Westernized.” An estimated 5,000 honor killings, carried out by male relatives of the victims, occur annually for such “dishonorable” behavior as wanting to marry for love instead of submitting to an arranged marriage to a stranger who may be decades older and already have a wife or three.

But, on the other hand, having to pay for one’s own abortifacient pills is positively inhumane!

9.  Are the atrocities alleged against ISIL propaganda? Could they be faked?
It’s true that many “crucifixions” in the traditional sense (being nailed or strapped onto a cross while alive and left there to die) turned out to be marginally less ghastly. Victims were sometimes shot dead before being strapped to crosses to “send a message” that “those who oppose ISIS rule oppose God’s rule, and those who are enemies of ISIS are enemies of God and deserve the highest form of punishment possible,” as Professor Abba Barzegar, an expert on Islamic studies at Georgia State University, explained it.

And the ISIL folks are not without mercy. Of seven people executed publicly one recent Tuesday in Raqqa, Syria, only two bodies were displayed. The other five victims were children under 18 years of age. One was a 7th grader. Again, Professor Barzega explained: “ISIS needs to attach meaning to their killing. Simply murdering in a state of constant warfare is void of value, so they must attach a message or propaganda to what they are doing.” This is, of course, eminently reasonable. Wherever “simply murdering” is commonplace, one is almost compelled to murder with panache to make sure the message is understood.

10.  How can people know if they are breaking any laws?
First, you will know that you’re breaking the law if you don’t give your wholehearted support to ISIL. Beyond that, in addition to the “Contract with the City” which governs the Nineveh province of Iraq, CNN reports that “edicts often appear overnight on inconspicuous flyers with dire warnings: ‘All shop owners must close their stores immedately upon the announcement of prayer and go to the mosque,’ a decree posted this week reportedly reads. ‘Any violators after the issuance of this announcement will face consequences.’ ”

There are separate rules for Christians, stipulating that they must pay a tax (Jizya). They are not permitted to “expose crosses, repair churches, or recite prayers in the presence of Muslims, [as] the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported in February.”  

The rest of the new rules, publicized by the Washington Post, are reprinted below.  

  • All Muslims will be treated well, unless they are allied with oppressors or help criminals.
  • Money taken from the government is now public. Whoever steals or loots faces amputations. Anyone who threatens or blackmails will face severe punishment (This section also quotes a verse from the Quran (Al-Ma’idah: 33) that says that criminals may be killed or crucified).
  • All Muslims are encouraged to perform their prayers with the group.
  • Drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes are banned.
  • Rival political or armed groups are not tolerated.
  • Police and military officers can repent, but anyone who insists upon apostasy faces death.
  • Sharia law is implemented.
  • Graves and shrines are not allowed, and will be destroyed.
  • Be happy to live in an Islamic land.

The last law may prove very difficult to enforce.

Susan E. Willsis SpiritualityEditor of Aleteia’s English-language edition.

Tags:
IraqIslamist MilitantsTerrorism
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