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ISIS Wants a Global Civil War

ISIS Wants a Global Civil War thumbnail
From the murder of a French priest to the slaughter of 80 Shia Muslims in Kabul, ISIS has one goal: to get states and the far-right to single out Sunni Muslims and create a spate of religious civil wars across the world.

LONDON — Did anyone at the Democratic National Convention notice the slaughter of 86-year-old Father Jacques Hamel, as jihadists slit his throat in his own church in Northern France during morning Mass? Well… here’s why they’d better start paying attention.

For our own future’s sake, we must understand what jihadists are seeking to achieve through sowing the seeds of such chaos. What possible military strategy could there be in mowing 84 innocent people down to death using a lorry in Nice? How is “the cause” at all served by murdering 325 mainly Shia Muslims in Baghdad? Or by killing 80 mainly Shia Hazara Muslims in Kabul?

In fact, since the start of Ramadan last month, and till the time of writing on July 27, 2016, there have been 75 attacks in 50 days by various jihadist groups globally. This amounts to attacks in 21 countries at a rate of one-and-a-half per day, leaving over 1,169 dead, not including the injured and maimed. The 21 countries and territories attacked have been Jordan, Iraq, Bangladesh, Syria, Israel, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Libya, France, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, Malaysia, Turkey, Mali, Palestine, Cameroon, Saudi, Thailand, and Germany. Sixteen of those are Muslim-Majority territories.



People try to help an injured person, after gunmen stormed the Holey Artisan restaurant and took hostages in Dhaka, Bangladesh July 1, 2016.

Yes, these attacks were organized by disparate jihadist groups—all professing the same ideology—and many of them have a distinct command and control structure. But sowing the seeds of indiscriminate chaos among their enemy is a tactic modern jihadist groups now all share. So what could they possibly be hoping to achieve? Sadly, there is jihadist method to this madness. ISIS adopted playbook Idarat al-Tawahhush, or the Management of Savagery, elaborates.

The so-called Islamic State, widely known as ISIS, seeks not to spark a World War, but to ignite a World Civil War.

This book on jihadist war theory first appeared online around 2004 and was attributed to an ideologue who goes by the nom de guerre Abu Bakr al-Naji. Naji instructed followers to incite ethnic, sectarian, and religious hatred throughout the world so that societies end up dividing along mutual mistrust and a desire for revenge. Naji’s hope was that Sunni Muslims would then largely be blamed—as they now are—as the cause of this intolerance and violence, rendering them hated and left isolated. Naji even highlights the importance of provoking heavy state military responses against Sunni Muslims everywhere, so that entire populations of Sunnis feel suspected and attacked by everyone else around them, and turn in on themselves. The idea is that through such division Sunnis would find no refuge from angry non-Muslims and over-reacting states, except in jihadists who would embrace them. In turn, Sunnis would end up swelling the ranks of jihadists’ militias as they began to protect themselves against reprisal attacks.

Syrian army soldiers and civilians inspect the damage after explosions hit the Syrian city of Tartous, in this handout picture provided by SANA on May 23, 2016. SANA/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. - RTSFILV

Sana Sana/Reuters

Explosion damage in Tartous, Syria caused by ISIS militants on May 23, 2016.

Behold, a world divided along sectarian religious lines, the ideal conditions for a “caliphate.”

If you think this is wishful thinking on the part of ISIS, think again. It is precisely by managing chaos—the Management of Savagery—in this way that ISIS became the most effective jihadist group in post-Saddam Iraq. So uncannily did Iraq’s Shia majority government under Nouri al-Maliki follow ISIS sectarian game plan, that they unwittingly created a climate north of Baghdad in which Iraqi Sunni’s felt isolated, under siege, disempowered, and brutalized by Maliki’s Shia majority state as it clamped down on jihadist terror. Of course, the government of Iraq was merely reacting to the ever-increasing mass-casualty atrocities orchestrated by jihadists based out of Fallujah against the beleaguered Shia Muslims in Iraq. But crucially, the Iraqi government reacted through a sectarian lens, and failed to isolate the terrorists from Iraq’s general Sunni Arab population. These Sunni Arabs eventually turned to ISIS in the hope that they would be a strong hand against the Iraqi regime. There was a grain of truth to that.

Fresh from their success in Northern Iraq, ISIS repeated their method of chaos in Syria. Early on, at the start of Syria’s civil war, ISIS had not been the main fighting force against Bashar al-Assad. But by continuing to pressure Assad’s brutal regime to overreact, and Assad’s eagerness to oblige (a penchant that had been handed down from father to the son) ISIS managed to convince enough of the Sunni Arab population in the South of Syria that they were the only effective fighting force able to resist Assad on the ground, while the International Community stood aloof. There was a grain of truth in that.

This is how chaos, division, savagery, and hatred suit ISIS. The only master chaos submits to is the total tyrant.

Perpetual civil war, rather than perpetual war between states, suits those who wish to build a new world order carved out of existing states. Equal treatment on a citizenship basis means nothing to jihadists. There is no better way to kickstart dividing people along exclusively religious lines than by committing atrocities in the name of Islam. The hope is that everyone else also begins to identify Sunni Muslims primarily by their religious identities, in reaction to the atrocities. In this way, religious identity has won and citizenship becomes redundant.

Unprovoked mass-slaughter is a provocation designed to spread panic and fear, aimed at inching Europe closer to a religion-based civil war.

Brace yourselves, for there will be many more such provocations.

A still image taken from video of the SITE Intel Group's Twitter page shows an undated photo of a man with a gun. Photographs on the SITE Intel Group's Twitter page purportedly show images released by the Islamic State of five militants alleged to be the gunmen who carried out the deadly attack at Holey Artisan Bakery cafe in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The images could not be independently verified by Reuters. Mandatory credit: Courtesy of SITE Intel Group/Handout via Reuters TV ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVE. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. MANDATORY CREDIT. - RTX2JPUL

Reuters TV/Reuters

A still image taken from video of the SITE Intel Group’s Twitter page shows one of the allegedly recruited gunmen who participated in the Dhaka, Bangladesh attack.

Chaos breeds fear, which creates panic, which leads to both paralysis and spasms of over-reaction simultaneously. We now either witness total denial in that this problem “has nothing to do with Islam,” or a gross generalization that the problem includes all of Islam and every Muslim. Both of these reactions are born of fear. Doing barely enough, and doing too much, will both exacerbate tensions. Neither are sensible. Of course the problem of jihadist terrorism has something to do with Islam. And course it is a problem that Muslims need to play a very active role in solving, alongside everyone else.

Meanwhile, we have never been more divided. Too many Muslims still insist that to challenge Islamist extremism breeds anti-Muslim bigotry, while they fail to grasp that it is the Islamists themselves who provoke anti-Muslim hatred thorough their divisive agenda, and by insisting on defining Muslims against others primarily by our religious identity. Our collective task will be to robustly stand against the division caused not just by the far-right who seek to isolate Europe’s Muslims, but to challenge the very same division promoted by the Islamists themselves within our Muslim communities. Only by reasserting the universality of our secular liberal democratic citizenship are we able to protect the multiplicity of identities, as opposed to the exclusionary religion-based identification that Islamists and anti-Muslim bigots thrive on.

No insurgency can survive without a level of ideological support within the community it seeks to recruit from. To isolate the terrorists from their host population must be a priority for us all. One needn’t be black to condemn racism. Likewise, one needn’t be Muslim to condemn any expression of theocratic Islamism. All of us must stand together to condemn all forms of hatred and bigotry, without exception. But this will be a generational struggle against the Islamist ideology in its entirety, and not merely against the latest jihadist terror group. For years my colleagues at Quilliam and I have been screaming at every opportunity of a global jihadist insurgency that cannot be defeated merely by law or war, but requires a full-spectrum civil society struggle against it. Understanding this makes it incumbent on us to begin working in earnest to actively avoid this civil war before certain vested interests on the far-right and Islamist extremes succeed in sparking it.

For if you were wondering what this global jihadist insurgency looks like, look around you, we’re in the thick of it.

Daily Beast

57 Comments on "ISIS Wants a Global Civil War"

  1. peakyeast on Sun, 31st Jul 2016 4:18 am 

    I would like to say on the God issue:

    1. No respectable al-mighty God would contact his unknowing sheeple through a geographically restricted method thus only contacting a minute fraction of the sheeple – like Jesus – and thereby treating his sheeple differently and carelessly and deeming uncountable numbers to hell and living in sin.

    2. Also same God wouldnt restrict his contact to one point in time and thus forsaking everybody that died before and not giving an equal chance to all that existed after Jesus died.

    3. Same God wouldnt spread his message through easily corrupted vehicles like missionaries that are also limited in time, space and communicative abilities.

    No! A real almighty God would contact everybody equally and in a method where everybody is absolutely certain of the sender of the message and its content.

    Thus if there is a God: He is doesnt care evil vs good, doesnt use al-mighthy god methods, doesnt treat people equally and fairly, is subject to both space and time in a way that is totally human. And then I have not even mentioned the setup of rules on the threat of violence and all the other usual…

    So if there is a God – I say: No, thank you.

  2. makati1 on Sun, 31st Jul 2016 4:33 am 

    Religious Freedom:

    “What you believe is not the problem. What you think I should believe is the problem.”

  3. Hello on Sun, 31st Jul 2016 6:13 am 

    Muslim trash. When will the West wake up instead of importing this trahs wholesale?

  4. joe on Sun, 31st Jul 2016 9:49 am 

    Hello. They know, they just dont care. The west sees immigrants as nothing but a commodity like oil. They need young people to work to pay tax to pay for the old. They cant see that the very thing they want to preserve is totally undermined by isis, that is peaceful economic growth. If I was a right wing christian I would be helping isis, because their goals are the same. Thinking about the books and the detail of morality is pointless, we’ve moved beyond morality. Go break out a good old fashioned history book, we are about to enter a period of instability and the horror we see is old, not new. Thats the point. Isis is seeking to create the conditions for the apocalypse and the return of Jesus whom they say is a muslim. Have you read that anywhere in the media? Probobly not. They think
    Jesus will fight alongside this idea called a Mahdi and that there will only be a few dozen muslims left alive when Jesus returns, then everyone will see that Jesus is a muslim and we will all convert. So isis is kinda meant to fail, its supposed to because isis believes that there are FOUR more rightly guided Caliphs to come, al Baghdadi is supposed to die.
    So if anything the defeat of isis will make MORE people join not less. America is fighting a more insane version than its own right wing nuts. This theology is not even extreme, its the wahabbi teachings of Saudi Arabia, right now every Friday a part of this story is told and muslims told to hate America.

  5. Davy on Sun, 31st Jul 2016 9:52 am 

    All religions are corruptible because man is corruptible. Modernism is just another religion of the worship of knowledge, technology and development. It is not important if there is or is not a God. All messages of all men are at their must fundamental level corrupt because man is corrupted by the separation of self-awareness. This dualism destroys our connectivity that we seek from the existential alienation of separation. Self-awareness when at its extremes of complexity and development is a vicious circle of doubt. We can never know what is right or wrong because we can rationalize right and wrong. We can justify about anything and even allow the most extremes of bad means to justify an end good but in that process balance is lost. You cannot have it both ways. You cannot have bad to make good. It is all bad if bad is part of the equation.

    Humans have an optimum place in the earth ecosystem. We are not it. It is when we self-reflect on this the nightmare begins. It is the dualistic separation of “is this right” or “is this wrong” that is the problem with knowledge and technology. Dualistic self-reflection is separation and separation is not harmony. Other species who can’t self-reflect do as their nature has them do and that is to grow in line with their natural place in nature. They evolve to fit into that place and it is their common evolution with other species evolving together that make a life system so robust with resilience and sustainability. The earth allows life geologic acquiescence or not but life will fill the potential as the earth allows.

    Humans on the other hand fill the potential with their potential in self-interest in self-reflective separation at its eventual extreme. As soon as you are capable of reflecting on good and bad you are no longer connected. This self-reflective separation is doubt and with doubt comes guilt until there is a vicious circle of dysfunction. Knowledge and technology are dysfunctional in this respect. We can rationalize most anything. Where we fail is knowing when to say no. There is an instinct to grow. With humans there is this instinct to grow and then there is awareness. It is the bridge between the two that is our problem. If you are separated in self-awareness and doubt you can’t stop your instincts to grow with control. It is this dysfunction that is an environmental cancer. That is what we have become an environmental cancer and that is what intelligence becomes eventually. In this respect humans are likely an evolutionary dead end species. A species that turned an epoch not for the better but for the worse.

    At a deeper level we are Nature’s handmaidens of extinction and evolution. It may be that the end of this epoch is what will return man to his rightful place in nature. We will lose the luxury of self-reflection as we know it today in its extreme. We will be too busy trying to survive. It is the current epoch that allowed life through humans to reach the vicious circle that comes with self-awareness and the associated separation. We are that point. It is now time for life to descend back and begin the process again. If humans survive into this new epoch it will be in greatly reduced numbers and complexity. We may still have self-reflection but it will be controlled by the need to survive. In other words we will not achieve critical masses to allow the kind of complexity that destroyed this epoch. The new epoch will keep us in check by the hostility to life we created as humans with a destroyed ecosystem and stable climate.

  6. Boat on Sun, 31st Jul 2016 11:13 am 

    makati1 on Sun, 31st Jul 2016 4:33 am

    Religious Freedom:
    “What you believe is not the problem. What you think I should believe is the problem.”

    You might yet get it yet mak. Any time you go from one person to many you have changes in expected behavior. You call it losing freedom while others may call it rules of deportment. Humans will always have different values and judgement so negotiations form sets of rules. Compromise may lead to “loss of freedom” but may prevent a worse outcome like conflict.

  7. Brad on Sun, 31st Jul 2016 12:02 pm 

    “No peace will ever have a chance in the middle east unless they redraw the map separating the Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites”

    Wow Boat, you begin to talk like a white nationalist. Have found a connection to your inner Viking at last? Lol.

    @peakyeast – a more reasonable hypothesis would be that this semitic pie-in-the-sky does not exist all.

    The most reasonable god would be Ra, that is Sun worshipping, especially woman are good at it. The major scientific advantage would that this God actually exists, no discussion necessary. Furthermore his glory is so abundant that you are well advised to not directly look at him. Furthermore it is scientifically proven that life would be impossible without him.

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