Friday, June 20, 2014

The GREAT NAMAZU RESPONDS: WHAT IS THE ISIS? AN AAB BACKGROUND POST

THEIR NOT YOUR GRANDFATHER'S  al-QAEDA 


 The Great Namazu, our leading maritime, economic, and political analyst:

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  Greetings Bipeds! Some of you have written in to ask about exactly who the ISIS is that is causing so much trouble in Iraq. You have questions, I have answers. Some are researched, but you already know about the budget issues that have prevented me from hiring that cube farm of research assistants that I need. So many questions are answered out of my personal 3,000 years of experience on the planet. Here is my take on the fiends of the ISIS some of it researched, a lot from memory and judgement tempered by experience. Overall the ISIS will be tough to deal with at this time in history when Washington and some other world capitols are utterly lacking in adult supervision.

 The unrelenting over running of Iraq by the ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham) is down right scary. They over ran the city of Mosul with only a few hundred men causing an Iraqi force fifteen times larger to flee. Some broke and ran, some were ordered to leave their posts. Captured stragglers were shot to death by ISIS forces in gross and murderous violation of the international laws of armed conflict.  They are not invincible, far from it, but they are terrible, evil, aggressive beyond belief, utterly bereft of any moral foundation. The West has seen their kind before and coming out of the same geography, and the same intellectual quasi religious cess pool. 

 The year was 1565, the place was Malta. The level of barbarism by the invading Jihadi horde was unsurpassed until they went one step too far. The Islamic forces of the day had taken a smaller outer fortification and sent the headless crucified bodies on cruciform rafts across 1,000 yards of water to the last standing main fortification commanded by Grand Master Jean Parisot de la Valette of the Knights of St. John.  The smaller over run fort was called St. Elmo. By sending over the headless crucified bodies of the defenders of St. Elmo the Ottoman commander intended the ultimate in psychological warfare. He hoped to convince the seemingly hopelessly outnumbered Christian defenders to ask for quarter. Of course Jean Parisot de la Valette knew that surrender simply meant that he and his men would be granted a quick death by beheading , vice crucifixion. He also knew that when Malta fell the enemy would move on to invade all of Europe spreading their havoc and eventually wiping out Christianity. Faced with such a violent, determined and ruthless enemy, hopelessly out numbered, with the fate of Christianity resting on his little band of knights he decided on a most un-Christian and un-civilized response to the determined enemy. From deep within his fortress walls he hauled up each of his prisoners of war and cut their heads off one by one. Then he loaded each head into a cannon and shot towards the now enemy occupied Fort St. Elmo. This was his signal that Malta would be defended to the last Christian left standing. 
 The Turkish Fleet Arrives May 18, 1565 painting by 

Matteo Perez d'Aleccio (PD)


 The Ottoman Turks,  of Valette's day were as resistant to psychological warfare as the Christian Knights in Fort St. Angelo with Valette. 

 Fort St. Angelo today (PD)



Their response to the cannon barrage of the heads of their compatriots in arms was to lay violent seige to Fort St. Angelo. It took a lot longer than they anticipated. Several times they breached the wall but the 70 year old Valette personally entered the breach and led the repulsion. It went on for weeks, but Fort St. Angelo held on. Then something unexpected happened, disease swept the camp of the Ottomans and decimated the force. The Ottoman army simply left Fort St. Angelo intact and Valette and his knights in possession for a while, then reinforcements arrived from Europe and attacked the remaining Ottomans who took to their ships and fled. Of the Ottoman army of 40,000 originally engaged in the siege, roughly 10,000 made it back to Suleiman who had little patience with failure.

   Flight of the Turks by 

Matteo Perez d'Aleccio (PD)



 Every Christian European and American should know about the Siege of Malta and its defense by the Knights of St. John led by Jean Parisot de la Valette. History speaks little of Valette, and even though he literally saved Christianity and Western civilization he is not a candidate for saint hood by the Church, beheading prisoners and shooting their heads out of cannon, no matter how desperate a Christian soldier is to make a responsive statement to terror tactics, can't be condoned. No matter how imperfectly he did so, he defended Christianity and Western civilization.  There is no doubt that you are not required to own a prayer rug, bow down towards Mecca, pay tribute to a ruling elite that you don't know or care about , see your relatives and friends arrested for holding differing opinions from that elite and beaten, hanged, beheaded, or crucified periodically. Its worth a minute to look at what the Ottomans were like.

 The leader of the Ottomans was known as "Suleiman the Magnificent" still much revered by many in the Islamic world today including many non Jihadi. To western sensibilities he doesn't appear very admirable.


Suleiman in a portrait attributed to Titian c.1530 (PD) 

 He was, at the peak of his power, the single most powerful man on earth, which is the reason he is revered in the Islamic world. His self proclaimed titles included "Vice-Regent of God on Earth", "Lord of Lords of East and West" ( he actually didn't quite complete the West Part thanks to Valette and 700 Knights of St. John, and "Possessor of Men's Necks"( he was quick to decapitate inefficient servants). He was one of the richest men of all time (another reason for the admiration of him in parts of the world today). He never wore the same cloths twice, ate off of golden plates with implanted precious jewels, and had a harem of more than 300 women. But in a real break from previous tradition he also had a legal wife who he was very fond of.  Islam is of course still a polygamist religion, many Muslim males would regard Suleiman as simply a highly successful polygamist though he had only one legal wife. His was not a political marriage but rather he married his favorite out of the Harem.   He helped avoid palace intrigue by employing an assassination squad of deaf mutes, they couldn't hear the pleas of their victims and couldn't tell any tales. Westerners are just unable to see anything really admirable about Suleiman but to the Islamic people of his time he was actually something of a reformer. Previous occupants of the same office had done far worse with more terrible effects not only on the "infidels" or the palace elite, but to the general public of the Sultanate. For example one declared his right to shoot ten or more citizens a day with his bow and arrow from the parapet of his palace. Another drowned hundreds of women at one time from his harem when he simply tired of them. Most of them silenced dissent by having molten lead poured down the mouths of the dissident. Suleiman actually reduced the number of taxation offenses punishable by death and protected some Christian and Jewish minorities within the Kingdom. He was not beyond forming alliances with Christian kings when it suited his purpose and once did so temporarily with France. In all he was not the worst of worst but no one that a Westerner would want to live under, even back in 1565.

Why is all this relevant? The ISIS of today is the direct ideological descendant of the schools of Islamic thought that brought the planet Suleiman and his predecessors.  The ISIS is as ruthless, as merciless as their hero and intends to be "the Owners of men's necks" first in the Middle East and to branch out from there to be "The Vice Regent of God on earth". Their concentration is on the over throw of any Islamic government not in conformance with their brand of Islam. That's pretty much every presently existing Islamic government on the planet. Modern day Turkey, a NATO member, Jordan,a constitutional monarchy are especially disliked by the ISIS.  Iraq with the American withdrawal and reluctance to reenter is the first stop on what they see as their express train to at least regional dominance. However Christians and the rest of the Western populations can take no comfort in the ISIS blood lust focus on their non conforming "fellow" Muslims. They want to own our necks as well, but all in good order.

  As unprecedented as the ISIS execution of prisoners and others behind their lines was, as unprecedented as their rapid advance in the face of far superior armed numbers; every thing fits neatly into their plans and grand strategy.  This is Suleiman revisited. As near as we can tell the ISIS began in 2002 when Abu Musab al-Zarqawi of Jordan in the midst of the Iraqi insurgency of 2003 to 2006 founded a Jihadi organization called Tawhid wal-Jihad in northern Iraq.

  Zarqawi had been linked with al-Qaeda while in Afghanistan in the 90s. However he was not an official member of al-Qaeda and had a major disagreement with their policies. He was for the time being relatively uninterested in dealing with what al-Qaeda called the "far enemy" ( the United States and Europe). Zarqawi  was an admirer of Suleiman. He wanted to establish a universal Caliphate with the  type of rule and law that would have pleased his idea of Suleiman.  The "near enemy" that is the focus of ISIS is the existing Islamic world. As unreasonable and barbaric as the present government of Iran is, they are relatively mild compared to the operatives and the intentions of the ISIS. The al-Qaeda organization and decentralized "affiliates" is a brutal and lawless group of brigands but is repulsed by the ISIS use of not untypical al-Qaeda tactics indiscriminately on entire populations of Muslims. The objections of al-Qaeda are of course tactical, they are afraid that such tactics will alienate their support base. The ISIS by contrast believes in taking over territory then murdering all opposition.  Anyone left standing is a de facto "supporter" willing or not.  

  The core of what is now the ISIS was originally "al-Qaeda in Iraq" (AQI). In 2006 AQI joined with eight violent Caliphate oriented Jihadi groups to form ISI without the permission of the central leadership of al-Qaeda. At that point ISI became an embryonic Caliphate governed by their unique and terrifying version of Islamic law to which it held all Muslims within its territory to strict allegiance. It is very much territory that the ISIS is interested in. Recognized or not, ISIS is erecting an ever expanding dictatorial nation state dedicated to the violent suppression of free men every where.  The "al Sham" part of the present name of the organization is Arabic for "Greater Syria" and definitely has connotations to earlier Caliphates. Their presently held territory includes much of Iraq and parts of Syria. Any potential serious opposition within the areas behind their lines has probably been eliminated.

  If the ISIS is to be pushed out it will have to be by forces now outside their lines such as the present defenders of Bagdad. This is not really as difficult as it sounds. The ISIS forces are not all that numerous and though uniformed and armed like a modern army their arms are not as formidable as what can be brought against them. What is needed is another Valette. We can forget cutting off heads and firing them out of cannons. We can't stoop to the ISIS level of barbarianism. But the fierce dedication to resistance must be there. We must understand that the only thing that has deterred the Suleiman factions that keep arising in the region is death. The overwhelming majority of the ISIS force must be killed in combat. We already missed the opportunity to hand them a "highway of death" when they were in columns and Obama didn't act. 

 We have the fire power, they have removed many of the "innocent" from the battle area by killing them. Despite the surety of some "collateral damage" extreme firepower must be applied to both break their assault and in subsequent pursuit to annihilate them. Malta was saved by determined resistance that held out until over whelming firepower in the form of germs and a modest reinforcement of arms decimated the Ottomans and sent them into flight.   The ISIS is a vicious rabid sponge like organism that must be removed from the earth. Once removed they always come back but sometimes the complete elimination of a manifestation gives the region a hundred to two hundred years of relative peace. Determined resistance however has to come from not only the West, but the targeted Islamic societies. The rapid flight of a superior Iraqi government military from the first contacts was not a good sign. But our failure to strike them on the road when they briefly were in something of an advance by column is inexcusable as well. Its time to give the defenders of Baghdad a hand. It is not out of altruism that we recommend this. If we fail eventually one of the predictions of the ISIS supreme leader to his American captors before he was foolishly released will become true....:"See you in New York".

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