The Islamic State has released a video purporting to show a masked militant beheading a second captured American journalist, and threatening to kill a British hostage the group names as David Haines.
The footage shows Steven Sotloff, a 31-year-old freelancer who disappeared in Syria last year, dressed in orange and on his knees in a desert landscape.
[The] executioner – who speaks with a British accent – condemns the ongoing US strikes against IS … [He says]: “I’m back, Obama, and I’m back because of your arrogant foreign policy towards the Islamic State.”
In the video, Sotloff describes himself as “paying the price” for the US intervention with his life.
We await reaction from the White House, fairly certain that we know what it will be. There will be the ritual message to the family of the victim (hearts going out to … prayers for… etc.), and we dupes and dopes, the general public, will be cautioned not to make any assumptions that this manifestation of savagery by a member of the ISLAMIC STATE has anything at all to do with Islam, which is a wonderfully peaceful religion.
It’s way past time that the blind and silly politicians of the Western world stopped trying to pretend that the horrors being done in the name of Islam “have nothing to do with Islam”.
That is also the opinion of the famous scholar of Islam, Robert Spencer. He writes at PJ Media (before the news of the most recent beheading):
They call themselves the Islamic State. They claim to be the restorers of the caliphate, the ones who have finally fulfilled the most cherished aspiration of jihadists and Islamic supremacists the world over. They declare their intention to govern their domains solely and wholly by Islamic law, acting swiftly and ruthlessly to end any practice that does not conform to that law. They repeatedly proclaim their piety, ascribing all their victories to Allah and submitting themselves in all things to his will.
Yet despite all this, Western leaders, the mainstream media, and much of the public are certain of one thing: the Islamic State has nothing, nothing whatsoever, to do with Islam.
He names five people who intone this nonsense, four of them politicians.
The first in the countdown from five is the mother of Stevem Sotloff. A video of his beheading appeared today.
5. Shirley Sotloff
Shirley Sotloff is the mother of Steven J. Sotloff, an American who is [was] being held hostage by the Islamic State [IS]. On Wednesday, she released a video appeal to the Islamic State’s “caliph Ibrahim,” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Her message to him was extremely respectful. Sotloff began: “I am sending this message to you, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi al-Quraishi al-Hussaini, the caliph of the Islamic State. I am Shirley Sotloff. My son Steven is in your hands.”
Sotloff went on to tell the caliph that Steven had “no control over the actions of the U.S. government. He is an innocent journalist.” In fact, she said he had gone to the Middle East to chronicle the sufferings of Muslims.
Yes, and it is for that he should be held to blame.
This was tantamount to signaling to him that Steven Sotloff could be more useful to him alive than dead. She assumes throughout that the U.S. has indeed done wrong to the Islamic State, but argues that her son should not be punished for it.
She proceeds to tell IS what Islam teaches. (Spencer points out: “Oh, and by the way, the caliph Ibrahim, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi” – the leader of the Islamic State – “has a PhD in Islamic Studies”.)
“Since Steven’s capture,” she added, “I have learned a lot about Islam. I’ve learned that Islam teaches that no individual should be held responsible for the sins of others. As a mother, I ask your justice to be merciful and not punish my son for matters he has no control over.”
It’s odd that Shirley Sotloff, after addressing the caliph so respectfully, would presume to lecture him about Islam, and it’s frankly embarrassing that she does so based on her whitewashed Karen Armstrong/John Esposito understanding of the religion. Only from such peddlers of the Islam-is-a-Religion-of-Peace myth could she have gotten the idea that the caliph’s heart would be melted by an appeal to Islam from a Western non-Muslim woman with head uncovered.
Her anguished plea must have added to the sadistic glee of the killers who love their work.
But is she right? Has the caliph somehow overlooked (or intentionally ignored) this Islamic tenet? Or have Armstrong, Esposito, Aslan and the rest of the whitewash crew neglected to tell Mrs. Sotloff that Islamic law allows for the taking of captives (cf. Qur’an 47:4), including non-combatants such as women who are then pressed into sex slavery (cf. Qur’an 4:3, 4:24, 23:1-6, 33:50), and thus the kidnapping [and killing] of a male journalist is certainly within the parameters of Islamic law?
Mrs. Sotloff continues: “As a mother, I ask your justice to be merciful and not punish my son for matters he has no control over. I ask you to use your authority to spare his life, and to follow the example set by the Prophet Mohammad, who protected People of the Book.”
Mrs. Sotloff may here be referring to the spurious but increasingly popular Achtiname, Muhammad’s pact with the monks of St. Catherine’s Monastery in the Sinai, in which Muhammad grants all sorts of rights and privileges to Christians that do not accord with the provisions of Islamic law, which mandates that Christians and other non-Muslims be subjugated, in accord with the Qur’an: “Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.” — Qur’an 9:29. This subjugation is not a guarantee that one’s life will be spared, however; if one is considered to be a kaffir harbi, one’s life is forfeit.
The people who have misled Mrs. Sotloff about Islam have done her a grave disservice, and given her false hope.
4. Yvette Cooper
Yvette Cooper is a member of the British Parliament for the Labour Party, and serves as the shadow home secretary. She has said that Islamic State “extremists are beheading people and parading their heads on spikes, subjugating women and girls, killing Muslims, Christians and anyone who gets in their way. This is no liberation movement — only a perverted, oppressive ideology that bears no relation to Islam.”
Unfortunately, for every Islamic State atrocity she enumerated, there is Qur’anic sanction:
Beheading people: “When you meet the unbelievers, strike the necks….” (Qur’an 47:4)
Subjugating women and girls: “Men have authority over women because Allah has made the one superior to the other, and because they spend their wealth to maintain them. Good women are obedient. They guard their unseen parts because Allah has guarded them. As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them and send them to beds apart and beat them.” (Qur’an 4:34)
Killing Muslims: “They wish that you reject Faith, as they have rejected (Faith), and thus that you all become equal (like one another). So take not Auliya’ (protectors or friends) from them, till they emigrate in the Way of Allah (to Muhammad SAW). But if they turn back (from Islam), take (hold) of them and kill them wherever you find them, and take neither Auliya’ (protectors or friends) nor helpers from them.” (Qur’an 4:89)
Killing Christians: “Fight those who believe not in God nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by God and His Apostle, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.” (Qur’an 9:29)
Even if the Islamic State is misinterpreting or misunderstanding these verses, it is doing so in a way that accords with their obvious literal meaning. That should, at the very least, lead to a public discussion about the possibility of Islamic reform, what is being taught in mosques in the West, and related issues. But such a discussion is not forthcoming; it would be “Islamophobic”.
3. Philip Hammond
British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond declared: “Isil’s so-called caliphate has no moral legitimacy; it is a regime of torture, arbitrary punishment and murder that goes against the most basic beliefs of Islam.”
Which ones? Hammond didn’t say.
Everyone knows already, don’t they? Everyone knows that what the Islamic State is doing has nothing whatsoever to do with the true, peaceful teachings of Islam. No one can quite manage to explain how, but what do we care about details!
2. David Cameron
Hammond’s boss, British Prime Minister David Cameron, explained: “What we are witnessing is actually a battle between Islam on the one hand and extremists who want to abuse Islam on the other. These extremists, often funded by fanatics living far away from the battlefields, pervert the Islamic faith as a way of justifying their warped and barbaric ideology – and they do so not just in Iraq and Syria but right across the world, from Boko Haram and al-Shabaab to the Taliban and al-Qaeda.”
Where is “Islam” actually battling these “extremists who want to abuse Islam”? Cameron didn’t say.
1. Barack Obama
Barack Obama has, like Cameron, made it perfectly clear: “ISIL speaks for no religion. Their victims are overwhelmingly Muslim, and no faith teaches people to massacre innocents.”
State Department spokesperson Marie Harf emphasized that Obama meant what he said: “ISIL does not operate in the name of any religion. The president has been very clear about that, and the more we can underscore that, the better.”
Obama is always “clear” about the things he is extremely unclear about.
Obama, of course, has throughout his presidency excused and apologized for Islam every time a jihadist atrocity affects the U.S. in some way.
Most would wave away his denial as a political necessity, and ask why it matters anyway — why does it make any difference whether or not what the Islamic State is doing is in accord with Islamic texts and teachings?
It matters for many reasons. Aside from all the vague condemnations of the Islamic State that American Muslim groups have issued, how closely the Islamic State actually hews to the letter of Islamic law will help determine how much support it will ultimately get from Muslims worldwide. … Only by examining the Islamic State’s actions in light of an honest assessment of Islamic teachings will we be able to estimate to what extent we can expect to see its actions replicated by other Muslims elsewhere.
These dismissals of the Islamic State’s Islam … are designed to assure us that we need not have any concerns about massive rates of Muslim immigration and the Muslims already living among them. …
Barack Obama and David Cameron would do far better to confront the Islamic State’s Islamic justifications for its actions and call on Muslims in the US, the UK, and elsewhere to teach against these understandings of Islam that they ostensibly reject. But they never do that, and apparently have no interest in doing it. Instead, they foster complacency among the people of the US and Britain. For doing so, they may never pay a price, but their people will almost certainly have to pay, and pay dearly.
The people have paid. They are paying. They will pay.
Let’s interpret what Obama said yesterday about dealing with the Islamic State (IS, ISIS, ISIL), now waging war in Iraq and Syria and threatening to bring terror and destruction to the United States. Dig out what he really meant. It’s not difficult. We’ll also comment on what his spokesman said in a hopeless effort at damage control.
We take the text for our comments from the report of the speech at Time online, which – interestingly for a left-leaning organ – takes a dim view of it:
President Barack Obama seemed to commit the worst of Washington gaffes Thursday when he updated the American people about the ongoing threat from Islamist militants wreaking havoc in Iraq and Syria. “I don’t want to put the cart before the horse: we don’t have a strategy yet,” Obama said of the effort to combat the militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) in its safe haven in Syria. “I think what I’ve seen in some of the news reports suggest that folks are getting a little further ahead of what we’re at than what we currently are.”
Meaning: “I have no idea what to do. I’d rather not do anything. Don’t urge me to do something. I’m not ready to do anything. I really don’t want to make a decision. I really don’t want to act. Don’t bully me.”
Obama’s comment that “we don’t have a strategy,” delivered to reporters at the White House before the Labor Day holiday weekend, prompted immediate mockery from Republicans — not to mention quick damage control from the White House. “In his remarks today, [Obama] was explicit — as he has been in the past — about the comprehensive strategy we’ll use to confront [ISIS] threat,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said in a series of Twitter posts. “He was referring to military options for striking [ISIS] in Syria,” Earnest added in a hastily scheduled CNN appearance.
Obama was not explicit. That is the whole point of all the criticism. The minions of the Left typically mis-describe their statements and actions as the opposite of what they actually are. “I/he made it clear” is the regular cover for being muddled and foggy and evasive.
Obama was set to meet with the National Security Council on Thursday evening, and he said his Administration is working hard to develop a plan for stemming ISIS’s spread from Iraq to Syria.
He is not working at all to develop a plan for anything. He has no wish to stem ISIS’s spread.
“We need to make sure that we’ve got clear plans, that we’re developing them,” he said.
Big giveaway there. He needs to make sure he’s got plans. Clear plans, mark you, comrade. Or he needs to make sure that he’s developing them. Will he actually make plans, or develop them, so that he can make sure that that’s what he’s doing? What has he, Lord of the Planet Earth, done already?
Obama said he’s ordered Secretary of State John Kerry to begin …
“Ordered John Kerry.” John Kerry the Chief Bungler. So we know that whatever it is that must be begun will be a failure.
… assembling a coalition to strike back at ISIS …
Meaning: Won’t do it on my own. Like Bush did (even though he didn’t). I’m not going to be held responsible for going to war. If lots of other countries do it then maybe okay. And no, I’m not resigning leadership. As always, I’ll be leading from behind, while they follow in front. So be still, My Base, I’m doing the least I can.
… while he has tasked Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and the Joint Chiefs of Staff to present him with military options.
Lots of options. So many that it will be impossible to choose one. Unless there’s one that is “unbelievably small”, to use John Kerry’s terrifyingly belligerent expression.
“We’re gonna cobble together …
“Cobble together”. Stitch up a ramshackle kinda co-operational thing. Nothing so decisive and leader-like as “organize a coalition”. And incidentally, wasn’t NATO created for the common defense of the West? Well maybe, but it was frightfully anti-Russian. And – I mean – it’s armed and everything, and it might really do damage, you know.
… the kind of coalition that we need for a long-term strategy as soon as we are able to fit together the military, political and economic components of that strategy,” Obama said. “There will be a military aspect to that.”
It’s sooo complicated. Like a jigsaw puzzle. There’s the political aspect. We haven’t even begun to think about that. And there’s the economic aspect. I mean, how much is it going to cost ISIS if we – our cobbled-together coalition – were to go to war against ISIS? Think of the reparations we’ll have to pay afterwards! And then okay there’s also – did I say “military”? Well, yes. There would be a military aspect to that. Not something to be undertaken lightly, a military aspect.
Yes, in a way, you could say that military strikes, from the air, have already been made. You absolutely have to understand that those were only done to protect Americans in Erbil. I mean, it was urgent and essential. I acted decisively, you see. Urgently. Americans were under immediate threat. The only way to protect them was by bombing some munition sites in the territory held by the Islamic State. It was so urgent, I was being so decisive, I didn’t want to waste time asking Congress to authorize the attacks. (The Constitution says? What Constitution? ) Besides, you know, that wasn’t making war. Not really. You see, folks, I was protecting our folks.
The President defended his decision not to seek authorization from Congress before beginning strikes on ISIS targets in Iraq three weeks ago, saying the urgency of the threat to the U.S. consulate in Erbil required immediate action. “I can’t afford to wait in order to make sure that those folks are protected,” Obama said.
Since Aug. 8, the military has conducted 106 air strikes in Iraq, according to U.S. Central Command.
It will all be different, you see, when plans have been developed, and when he’s made sure that plans have been developed. Doing anything before that would be putting the cart before the horse. When the time comes that the horse can be put before the cart, then I may go to Congress – for the funds. It’s a suggestion I may consider. Because Congress must not be totally ignored. After all, those are the representatives of the American people, so I intend to allow them some buy-in in this enterprise, whatever it may turn out to be.
Obama suggested that once he has a strategy for tackling ISIS, he would seek authorization from Congress, particularly since it may require additional funding. “It is my intention that Congress has to have some buy-in as representatives of the American people,” he said.
First the plans and the cobbled-together coalition, then the strategy, then going to Congress for the money … With any luck ISIS will have won the war by then, conquered the whole of the Middle East, and John Kerry can be despatched to start talks with President Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on exchanging American land for peace.
Next comes the supremely important task of separating ISIS from Islam.
“This should be a wake-up call to Sunni, to [Shi‘ite], to everybody, that a group like ISIS is beyond the pale; that they have no vision or ideology beyond violence and chaos and the slaughter of innocent people,” Obama said. “And as a consequence, we’ve got to all join together — even if we have differences on a range of political issues — to make sure that they’re rooted out.”
If I can get enough Muslim forces into the cobbled-together coalition, and let them do the fighting, I can make it seem as if the Islamic State is not Islamic at all.
Oh why am I burdened with all this! I’d much rather talk about a Big Question, like the meaning of life. My own view is that Muhammad found the right answer. I only hope there are splendid golf courses in paradise.
From Answering Muslims:
Islamic State (IS, ISIS, ISIL] Uses Dolls to Train Children How to Behead Infidels
James Wright Foley (October 18, 1973 – c. August 19, 2014) was an American photojournalist who was abducted in northwestern Syria on November 22, 2012, while working for the US-based online news outlet GlobalPost. He was beheaded by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant [ISIL, or ISIS, or IS for the Islamic State] at an unknown desert location in August 2014 … ISIS posted a video to YouTube depicting Foley reading a prepared statement urging Americans to stop their support for the U.S. government for its bombing campaign against ISIS targets. US intelligence confirmed the authenticity of the video. His family has confirmed that he is dead.
His mother, Diane Foley, said he “gave his life trying to expose the world to the suffering of the Syrian people”.
So a hero and martyr? A deeply moral man who would willingly give his life for a humane cause?
For a different understanding of James Foley and his activities, we quote from a Front Page article by Daniel Greenfield:
James Foley was one of a new breed of activists calling themselves journalists. He didn’t travel to report on a story, but to promote an agenda.
What was Foley’s agenda?
He cheered on the Sunni Muslim terrorists fighting to ethnically cleanse the Christians of Aleppo.
In the conflict between Israel and Hamas, his tweets and retweets were chock full of pro-terrorist propaganda. … Foley was fanatically anti-Israel …
When Austin Tice, an actual freelance journalist was kidnapped by Jihadists, Foley ridiculed the idea that Jihadists had kidnapped him. Surely Syrian Jihadists wouldn’t do that sort of thing.
Except they did.
When Newsweek’s Muslim Rage cover story came out, Foley mocked it too. Raging Muslims. How silly and Islamophobic.
James Foley, from Rochester, New Hampshire, was one of those romantics who step out from a world of safety to flirt with violence, the more extreme the better; imagining that his opinions against his own country and condescendingly sympathetic to its ideological and terrorist enemies, would make him a gift to them, protected and invulnerable.
In the event, the savage Muslim jihadis didn’t give a damn for his opinions. They killed him because he was an American.
A would-be traitor to his country, he was forced to die for it.
Which is an exquisite irony. A collector’s prize piece.
It is widely assumed that Foley’s words as he knelt awaiting his beheading were coerced. But it is quite possible that they were sincerely meant.
Is the religious war in the Middle East likely to stay in the region or spread over the globe?
Secretary of State John Kerry, who now definitely proves himself to be even stupider than Vice President Joe Biden, has somehow pondered his way to the conclusion that what the Islamic State (IS) is doing in Iraq - waging war, cutting off heads and displaying them on poles, slicing children in half, raping and enslaving women and children or burying them alive, imposing all the cruelties of sharia law on the territory it controls across Iraq and Syria – is “unacceptable”. Like a proposition that doesn’t suit one’s plans.
But only to a degree. Though maybe a degree too far. He has announced … to whom? The American people? The world? His barber? … that whoever it is who hears him must “come to grips” with this degree. The degree, that is, to which an immense upsurge of savagery threatening to spread further through the Middle East and into the West including America, is “unacceptable”.
What he said exactly was this:
This is serious business. I think the world is beginning to come to grips with the degree to which this is unacceptable.
The Obama administration, however, will accept it. It will let the Muslim savages carry on with what they’re doing. They’ve conquered territory? Let them keep it.
The Washington Post reports:
Ongoing U.S. airstrikes are equally notable for what they have not tried to do. U.S. military officials have emphasized that the strikes are not designed to reverse the gains Sunni extremist fighters have made. …
The limited nature of the airstrikes has drawn criticism from more hawkish Republicans and some former U.S. military officials who have said that the Obama administration is squandering an opportunity to deliver a crippling blow against the insurgents.
“Time is of the essence,” said Adm. James Stavridis, a former supreme allied commander of NATO … “The longer the airstrikes drag on, the more time Islamic State fighters will have to learn how to survive them. Without a fast and serious response, including Special Operations forces on the ground, the chances of reversing IS gains or even breaking their evident momentum is very low,” he said. …
The administration is apparently confident that -
U.S. spy agencies will be in position to detect when the organization crosses the threshold from regional problem to transnational terrorism threat. …
So it is actually taking that development into account. Not that it’s planning to do anything when it happens.
Most terrorism experts said the threat posed by the Islamic State is likely to increase as fighters with Western passports return home.
And one at least predicts that the US will have to eventually come to grips, not with “a degree of unacceptability”, but with IS itself.
“Bottom line: We are likely to have a confrontation with IS in the future … The threat will almost certainly grow.”
Yezidis are being enslaved and killed by faithful followers of Muhammad. Those who can, flee.
Imagine seeking refuge in the battlefield which is Syria! These people did, having nowhere else to go. Then they had to flee from Syria, and again having no choice, are returning to Iraq. Many die on the way.
Watch deeply religious Muslims of the Islamic State (formerly ISIS or ISIL) commit mass murder. They proudly recorded themselves doing this service for Allah.
… and 9/11 approaches.
US facilities and stores of military equipment in the Negev and Jordan have been attacked by the savage army of the newly declared Islamic State. Some of the military equipment is now being airlifted to the Kurds in Iraq who are directly engaged with IS forces.
Hundreds of US Muslim citizens are fighting with IS. They can return to America, fully trained and experienced in battle, to pursue the war – against America.
The approaching 13th anniversary of the 9/11 Al Qaeda attacks on America is causing concern in US intelligence and counter-terrorist quarters about possible surprises ahead.
We quote from DebkaFile:
The Kurdish Peshmerga fight against encroaching Islamic State troops gained a broad new dimension Monday, Aug. 11, when the US began airlifting large quantities of military equipment, including ordnance, from Jordan and Israel to the semi-autonomous [Kurdish] capital, Irbil.
The US maintains 10,000 special operations and marine forces at the King Hussein Air Base in northern Jordan, with large stocks of ammunition that were originally destined for the rebels fighting Bashar Assad in Syria. They are now being redirected to the Kurdish effort to stop the rapid Islamist march on their republic, along with supplies from the US emergency stores maintained in the Israeli Negev. …
For some weeks, those stores and other US facilities in southern Israel have been in the sights of IS elements, which arrived in Sinai six months ago to reinforce Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, the local offshoot of Al Qaeda.
The US, Israel and Egypt have taken care to keep this development under their hats. But in the last month, while Israel was engaged in Operation Defensive Edge against the Palestinian Hamas, IS and Al-Maqdis shot rockets from Sinai at US and Israeli military facilities in the Negev, in support of Hamas. Their attacks were … as intense on some days as the Palestinian rocket barrage against the Israeli population.
The speed with which the American military effort in northern Iraq has spiraled in four days – from limited air strikes on IS targets Friday, Aug. 8, to direct arms supplies Monday – will soon confront President Barack Obama with the need for a speedy decision on whether to send American troops back to Iraq.
He may start dithering about it just as soon as he returns from his vacation.
US air strikes are clearly limited by the lack of an organized list of targets. All they can do now is bomb chance targets as they are picked up by reconnaissance planes or satellites. To be effective, the US Air Force needs to be guided in to target by special operations forces on the ground, who can supply precise data on the movements of IS fighters and mark them for air attack with laser designators.
Another shortcoming is the small number of US fighter-bombers available for Iraq. The aircraft which conducted four attacks on IS forces came from the USS George HW Bush aircraft carrier in the Gulf, which has 70 warplanes on board. This is not enough aerial firepower to stop the Islamists’ advance.
They are also disadvantaged by being prevented from striking IS forces in Syria, a limitation which further curtails their effectiveness …
What prevents them – other than Obama?
Obama will not overcome any of these military issues by his determined focus on sorting out the political situation in Baghdad. Replacing Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki by having his rival, Deputy Speaker Haider al-Abadi, nominated to replace him Monday – even with the backing of Sunni and Kurdish factions who detest Maliki – won’t affect the warfront. This change may generate inter-factional violence in the capital. And it will not quickly stiffen the Iraqi Army or enhance the Kurdish Peshmerga’s ability to curb the Islamists’ rapid advance. …
The change of Prime Minister has now happened. It’s not likely to make much difference to anything.
The article then touches on another (related) topic:
Last week it was discovered that, among the Islamist fighters who died in US air strikes Friday and Saturday, was a large group, estimated by intelligence sources as up to 200, of American citizens fighting in the ranks of Al Qaeda’s IS in Kurdistan and western Iraq. …
Sunday, Aug. 10, a spate of threats imbued with a sense of revenge started appearing on social media, such as: “This is a message for every American citizen. You are the target of every Muslim in the world wherever you are.” Another was more brutal: “ISIS is ready to cut off your heads, dear Americans, O sons of bitches. Come quickly.”
Now, that’s the spirit in which to fight a war. If the US could feel equally inspired to insult and destroy its enemy, it might succeed.
The Islamic State (IS), al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, and Hamas are regiments of the Army of Islam, now waging open war on the non-Muslim world. This is a war of religion.
The strongest military power on the planet, the US, is engaging battle to as small an extent as it can. President Obama, highly sympathetic to Islam, but under pressure (called “advice”) from the Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Martin Dempsey, has reluctantly agreed to let a few bombs be dropped by the US Air Force on IS positions. And some military equipment – not too much and not too big and not too effective – is being supplied to the Kurds who are trying to repel the advance of the IS.
The majority of the Kurds are also Muslims. As the big religious war rages on in the Middle East, North Africa, and wherever else the Army of Islam strikes – Hamas against Israel, Boko Haram against the Christians of Nigeria and adjacent territories, al-Qaeda wherever it can - internecine Muslim battles are being savagely waged; and the Western governments’ and media’s “good guys” of the moment are the Kurds of Iraq, defending themselves against the advancing Islamic State.
The Washington Post reports:
On the newest front line of the expanding war being waged by Sunni militants for control of the Middle East, the juggernaut of the Islamic State’s advance appeared Saturday to have slowed, at least for now.
Buoyed by U.S. airstrikes the previous day, Kurdish pesh merga fighters said they pushed back an attempt by the extremists to overrun one of their artillery positions on the northern edge of the dust-blown town of Makhmour, south of Irbil. Makhmour was seized by Islamic State fighters Thursday.
At the same time, however, commanders said Islamic State fighters had begun to return to positions that US airstrikes had forced them to flee — a reminder that the so-far limited intervention may represent only the beginning of what President Obama warned Saturday could be a long campaign.
Though not – we suspect – if he can withdraw from it.
Hours later, the US military announced it had carried out four more airstrikes, in the Sinjar area farther west.
The Islamic State boasted in a video of its newest conquests, including Iraq’s biggest hydroelectric dam, outside Mosul. If breached, the dam would inundate towns and villages along the Tigris river and unleash flooding as far south as Baghdad.
The Washington Post sees the IS as an off-shoot of al-Qaeda:
The renegade al-Qaeda force is also reported to have made advances elsewhere across the vast stretch of territory it controls, in the Iraqi province of Anbar, in Kirkuk and in the eastern Syrian province of Hasakah.
Their spirits bolstered by the US intervention, Kurdish forces began to regroup after their rout in the past week, in which they retreated from a string of towns and villages. Tens of thousands of civilians, including Christians and Yazidis, were displaced.
As the sound of outgoing artillery and heavy machine-gun fire rang out across the undulating fields outside Makhmour, trucks bearing fresh supplies of ammunition and SUVs carrying uniformed officers hurtled to reinforce the front lines.
Hundreds of volunteers drawn from all over the Kurdistan region also streamed toward the battle, clutching ancient rifles and wearing the ballooning pants and waistcoats traditional to Kurdish culture.
The first of the three US airstrikes had taken out an Islamic State artillery position nearby, and pesh merga commanders said they sensed the militants had been chastened by the attack.
“This power they had before, this momentum — we don’t see it now,” said Col. Mohsin Avdal, who sat poring over maps on an ammunition box beside a pile of several dozen newly arrived 107mm rockets. They were delivered, he said, from stocks the pesh merga already owned.
But there was little indication the airstrikes had done much more than slow the militant blitz through Iraq and Syria, where Islamic State forces now govern a vast swath of territory in the name of their self-proclaimed caliphate.
Pesh merga commanders said they had no immediate plans to attempt to push back the militants but rather were under orders to consolidate the positions they now hold.
“We are not moving forward. We are staying put. We are ready and we are strong,” said Mohammed Mohsin, a brigadier general who has come out of retirement to oversee the reinforcement of another front-line checkpoint outside the town of Kalak, east of Irbil.
“But they are really strong,” he added, referring to Islamic State forces. “Everything the Americans sold to the Iraqi army, they have it now.”
The two other American strikes hit an Islamic State mortar position and a convoy a little more than a mile beyond the checkpoint, deterring an attempt by the militants to advance on the position, Mohsin said. Kurdish fighters who visited the site shortly after the strike found the remains of four US-made Humvees that had been captured from the Iraqi army and the bodies of 13 Islamic State fighters. It was all that remained of a convoy that had attempted to advance on the Kurdish position.
But the Kurdish fighters lacked the resources to hold the location and were ordered back to their base at Kalak, Mohsin said.
Later in the day, Islamic State fighters were seen returning to the area, according to Brig. Gen. Azad Hawezi, who commands forces in the area.
“They are bringing new people and more of those weapons they captured from the Iraqi army,” he said.
“They have American weapons, and they have American vehicles,” he added. “Obviously, they are strong.”
Unless the pesh merga are able to make advances, “it would seem likely that further [Islamic State] progress or escalated US airstrikes are the only eventualities,” said Charles Lister of the Brookings Doha Center in Qatar.
(Interruption: Did you know there was a Brookings Center in Qatar? Why would that be?)
“Airstrikes by themselves can only ever represent a potential temporary fix against a force like the Islamic State.”
The United States has promised to send arms and ammunition, but the pesh merga say they would need a massive influx to be able to make real gains against the militants. Their forces are stretched thin along a 650-mile front line, and although Kurdish civilians swarmed to offer their services as reinforcements, their utility was in question.
“We have guns, but we need heavy weapons,” said Abdul Aziz Ibrahim, 52, a farmer who fled the advance of the Islamic State on Makhmour overnight Thursday and has returned to join the fight as a volunteer, armed with an aged AK-47 borrowed from a relative.
“The pesh merga ran out of ammunition. There were too many of them,” he said, describing how the entire town fled within minutes of the first shell fired by Islamic State fighters. “Only the American Air Force can save us.”
Other Kurdish civilians had bought guns, flak jackets and helmets on the open market, making their way to the front lines from as far afield as the Iranian border.
Though enthusiastic, the volunteers seemed only to be getting in the way. They milled around checkpoints, taking turns to peer through binoculars at the front line about a mile away whenever an explosion thundered through the air, and they clogged roads the real fighters were using to ferry supplies and men to the front.
Lt. Col. Abdul Aziz Ali Mustafa, who was directing the deployment of fighters on the outskirts of Makhmour, predicted a long fight.
“All we can do is defend our territory and prepare to die, until someone finds a solution,” he said. “This is a big problem, involving all the Arab world. It is not something we can solve.”
War is now the only answer. War against Islam waged by all possible means with the intention of winning. If it is not, Islam will win.
For the convenience of our readers, we repeat our post on this religious group, founded in the 11th century and now facing extinction in Iraq at the hands of the savage Islamic State (IS). (Many reports of them in the Western media confuse them with the Mandeans, another minority religious group living in Iraq – south of Baghdad – otherwise known as Sabeans; one of the religions, along with Christianity and Judaism, recognized by Islam as “people of the book”, who may be spared death or conversion if they submit to Islam and pay the jizya tribute to their Muslim overlords. Put “Mandeans” into our search slot to know more about them.)
The Yezidis worship The Peacock Angel, Malak Taus. He’s identified by Muslims and Christians with Shaitan/Satan, so the Yezidis are held to be devil-worshipers. They are ethnic Kurds, most of them settled in Mosul, Iraq. There are some in Iran, Kurdistan, Armenia, and the Caucuses. In all, it’s estimated, there are about half a million of them. Their cult is in part an offshoot of Sufism, with various accretions. They build small temples, shrines with conical white spires, and they keep sacred snakes. They practice circumcision. The colour blue is repulsive to them, and the eating of lettuce is forbidden. They have an hereditary priesthood under a High Priest, and sacred books.
There is no need, they believe, to worship the Supreme God, because he is all good and so will never do you harm. The Peacock Angel, on the other hand, must be propitiated. He is capable of doing harm or good, and so must be won over to doing you good. Eventually he will be reconciled with the Supreme God, and that eventuality could come about at any moment.
In their cosmogony, the Supreme God created the world, which is watched over by 7 lesser divinities or “mysteries”, chief among whom is the Peacock Angel, Malak Taus. God created him first, out of his own light, and ordered him never to bow to other beings. Then God created the other six angels, and ordered them to make Adam out of the dust of the earth. God took the inanimate body of Adam and breathed life into him, and instructed the angels to bow down to him. Of course Malak Taus did not bow. “I cannot submit to him because,” he reminded God, “I am made of your own light, while he is made of dust.” This pleased God who then appointed him his vicar on earth. As its ruler, Malak Taus visits the earth on the first Wednesday of Nisan (March/April – roughly the same time as Easter), which is the Yezidi New Year’s Day, and the anniversary of the day on which God made the Peacock Angel. On that day they feast, make music, dance, and decorate eggs.
God made the earth by first making a pearl, which remained very small for some forty thousand years, and was then expanded and reworked into its present state. From time to time the 7 angels are incarnated in human form and dwell among the living on earth. Their main annual festival is a week-long pilgrimage to the tomb of Sheikh Adi, their founder, who they say was the incarnation of one of the 7 angels. The tomb is at Lalish, north of Mosul.
All Yezidis are descended directly from Adam, not through Eve. At first the sexual roles of Adam and Eve were not fixed. Each produced a seed which was was sealed in a jar. Eve’s seed bred creepy-crawly things, but Adam’s developed into a boy-child who grew up, married a houri, and fathered the Yezidis.
As Adam’s seed, they are different from all other peoples. They permit marriage only within the sect, and members of each caste of their social and religious hierarchy can only marry among themselves.
They pray five times a day facing the sun. Their holy day is Wednesday, but their day of rest is Saturday.
In 2007, al-Qaeda suicide bombers drove oil tankers into two Yezidi communities near Mosul which they exploded, killing more than 500 and injuring about 1,000 more. This sent thousands of Yezidis to the Syrian border to seek asylum.
When the city of Sinjar was recently taken by the Sunni Muslims of IS, the Yezidis fled to Mount Sinjar. Their choice was to die of hunger and thirst on the mountain, or be slaughtered by the IS.
It has been reported that the IS offered them another choice – between conversion to Islam or death. That is not likely to be true. The Muslims call them “devil worshipers” and consider them fit only for death.
Many have already died from starvation and lack of water. Some parents threw their children off the mountain to save them from such a death.
Today US military aircraft dropped packages of food and water to them. Will they continue to do so? For how long?
This sect – numbering in all fewer than 100,000 – is almost certainly now doomed to extinction. (Though there are a few Yezidi communities in Europe, North America and Australia, amounting altogether to a few thousand, which might continue for a while yet.)
Whatever would the human race do without the blessings of religion?