"Convert, vow absolute allegiance, beg for mercy, atone, or face certain death!" Those are the gruesome choices forced on Sunnis, Shiites, Christians, Yazidis or other non-Sunni Arab minorities by the jihadi executioners of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi -- the self-declared caliph of the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham ("Greater Syria") otherwise known as ISIS or ISOL.
ISIS or ISOL is the evil incarnate of a 1990s vision to create a Sunni state in northern Iraq. Satanic beheadings, crucifixions, live burials, mass executions, mass starvation, rapes, medieval torture, the whole ruthless nine yards of alleged Sha'ariah justice sanctioned and committed by Islamic terrorists and terror-aspirants in the name of the Koran whose only exposure to Islam is reading a copy of "Islam for Dummies."
As the gross inhumanity escalates, the Islamic State's terrorist death cult is doing more damage to the name of Islam than most Muslims care to admit. Judging by the number of website hits in the Arab world ISIS atrocities are big horror attractions.
What, in Allah's name, is going on?
It is incredible that so few Muslim voices have condemned ISIS and its self-anointed caliph (yes, the Saudi Grand Mufti did a few weeks ago), but where is the popular outcry throughout the Arab and broader Muslim worlds against this barbarism committed in their religion's name?
ISIS Was Al Zarqawi's Nightmare Come Alive
We can damn Jordanian Abu Musab al Zarqawi, anointed by Al Qaeda as the "Emir of Iraq" and finally put out of his and our misery by U.S. forces in 2006 -- for creating the present day ISIS. Zarqawi, a diabolical hater of Shiites, and a fiendish beheader of several Americans, including Nicholas Berg and Owen Armstrong, is the godfather of ISIS. His third in-command and loyal deputy is the current "Emir" of ISIS -- Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Al-Baghdadi -- Caliph of ISIS
Al-Baghdadi learned the sordid death cult from his master, Al Zarqawi and super-sized Zarqawi's evil. Having earned a Ph.D. in Islamic studies from the Islamic University of Baghdad, al Baghdadi is more steeped in Islamic theology than either Bin Laden or Zarqawi. Starting his terror career as a rank and file insurgent fighting Americans in Fallujah, al-Baghdadi became the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq when the U.S. took down Zarqawi's designated successor -- Abu Abdullah Rashid Baghdadi. His ruthlessness is only matched by his hubris claiming (still unsubstantiated) to be a direct descendant of the Prophet Mohammed's holy Quraysh tribe -- one of the key Islamic qualifications for becoming the Caliph (leader of all Muslims).
Ironically, he was briefly held 2004 by U.S. forces as a low-life street thug cum terrorist. When he was released al-Baghdadi vowed to his U.S. captors that he would "see them in New York!"
He picked up Zarqawi's mantle and declared himself Emir of the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI). Having inherited disgruntled experienced Sunni commanders purged by the deposed Iraqi PM Maliki, al-Baghdadi decided to hone his battle skills initially against Syria's Alawites -- the Shiite minority sect ruling Syria under Bashar al Assad. Following the capture of Iraq's second largest city Mosul, by Baghdadi's ISIS forces, he anointed himself Caliph of the Islamic State.
Al-Baghdadi made his reputation in 2011 as a military commander -- not merely a terrorist squad leader -- when he announced the start of the "Destroying the Walls" campaign of violence to wrest control of Raqqa Province in Syria and northern Iraqi cities. Two days after his self-declared jihad, a massive wave of attacks struck over 20 Iraqi cities and left more than 115 dead after detonating in coordination nearly 30 major car bombs simultaneously.
YES! ISIS Murders Fellow Sunnis As Well as Shiites
If Sunnis believe they are not targets of ISIS, they are dead wrong. Thousands of Sunni tribesmen in northern Syria and Iraq have been executed by al-Baghdadi's forces. Case in point: hundreds of the leaders of the 150,000 member Sheitat tribe, one of the larger Sunni tribes in Syria which controls the oil fields in Deir el Dour Province, refused to vow blind allegiance to ISIS and were tortured on camera and executed in cold-blood. ISIS has deemed the Sheitat tribe "hostile apostates."
Iraq's Rare Minorities Face IMMEDIATE Genocide
The poor hundreds of thousands of Yazidis who were not rescued from Mt Sinjar join the Shiite Turkmen, the 250,000 Shiite Shabaks, and over a 200,000 Chaledean Christians, including Assyrians and other smaller Christian denominations, who are being systematically massacred by ISIS.
Before patting itself on the back for rescuing a mere several thousand Yazidis from genocide, let us not forget that this White House has declared "mission accomplished" and has not thrown the same passion against the daily massacres that are taking place that amount to a region-wide genocide against these other minorities. The city of Amerili has been under siege for over 70 days -- the ancestral home of 70,000 Iraqi Shiite Turkmen -- and is nothing less than the equivalent of a Nazi-style siege of Leningrad.
How Geographically Large is this ISIS Caliphate?
The north country of Syria and Iraq is terra incognita to most -- sort of an out of sight/out of mind barren land populated by ancient tribes, very old Christian communities, and non-monotheistic civilizations, such as the persecuted Iraqi Yazidis.
Intel sources state that ISIS now controls approximately 35,000 square miles in both Syria and Iraq -- an area the size of Jordan (or almost all of New England). From its de facto capital of Raqqa, Syria, the so-called caliphate controls roughly a third of the territory of both Syria and Iraq.
The occupied territory includes the oil-rich eastern Syrian province of Deir el-Zour, and parts of Hassakeh and Aleppo provinces, the entire Syrian province of Raqqa, key Iraqi urban areas, such as Mosul -- Iraq's second largest city, and Anbar and part of Nineveh provinces of Iraq. The combined oil production output under ISIS control now exceeds 135,000 barrels a day, and is able -- yes, able -- to sell that crude oil at below OPIC prices to middlemen transporting the oil to parts of Turkey and Iraq.
What is the Size of the Caliph's Forces?
There are only rough estimates. Some intel estimates place the ISIS fighting force at between 17,000 to 25,000 jihadis, and growing daily, depending on forced enlistments, etc. Most of al-Baghdadi's top lieutenants are former military commanders under Saddam Hussein. Today's New York Times details a military command structure that includes a three-person war cabinet, and eight others who manage departments, such as finance, prisoners and recruitment. There are 25 field commanders -- all Iraqis, with a smattering of Saudis who manage the "Religious Guidance' and "Media Affairs" departments. Having seized whole divisions of top-notch U.S. built military equipment when the Iraqi military disintegrated before it. ISIS has plenty of firepower, including advanced MANPADS (man portable air defense systems), shoulder-fired, surface-to-air missiles seized when its forces overran the Syrian Taqba air force base just yesterday (and executing 250 Syrian soldiers filmed for social media). The SA-24 Russian-made MANPADS can take down a fighter plane flying at an altitude of 20,000 feet.
Insofar as actual armaments, there are many reports estimating the bonanza of weaponry seized by ISIS from Iraqi and Syrian forces (or purchased on the black market) sufficient to arm 200,000 combat personnel. Sources of the autonomous Kurdish government of Iraq say ISIS has plundered in the past fortnight enough advanced U.S.-made weapons to hold onto the territory they have already seized and possibly undertake further territorial conquests in Syria and Iraq. The arms include the arsenals of the four Iraqi divisions supposed to have defended Mosul, Kirkuk, its oil fields and the Saluddin province. The Los Angeles Times reported on August 26 that US armored Humvees, artillery pieces as well as truck rockets from Iraq were seen on the Syrian battlefield. There are unconfirmed, but alarming reports in some British press that ISIS is secretly building an arsenal of drones to attack Baghdad, Kirkuk and Jordanian cities.
Al Baghdadi has engaged in racketeering, extortion, kidnapping, bank robbery, and crude oil revenues to fuel his operations, generously aided by Sunni-sourced money from Qatar and from wealthy Kuwaiti and Saudi citizens enjoying the spectacle of inter-Muslim debauchery against Shiites.
How Many Foreigners Are Fighting with ISIS?
Since 2011, rough estimates suggest that there are over 3,000 foreigners who have joined ISIS (approximately 100 Americans, 800 Britons, 2,500 Frenchmen, 700 Germans and a smattering of others from Spain, Italy and northern Europe) making their way from the U.S. and Europe through Turkey to northern Syria. According to Khalid Mahmood, a British MP, there are twice as many British Muslims fighting for ISIS as there are in the British armed forces!
Until 2012, Turkey did not bar foreign fighters making their way to join ISIS, but has since barred 4,000 foreigners from entering Turkey. Most of the foreign fighters are new or "dummy" Muslim wannabees, adventurists, misfits, and criminals looking for a quick buck on the backs of confiscated goods from persecuted families. Just yesterday, Kurdish government officials declared that 400 Kurds have joined ISIS, as well.
ISIS Social Media: Death Cult Propaganda
Al-Furqan (translated as "The Criterion" or Noble Message of the Book) Media is the social media production arm of ISIS run by Saudis deploying state-of-the art multilingual technology. In the jihadalogy of social media websites, it is pretentious in its weirdly pathetic messaging, but effective in conveying its barbaric message of "submit or perish" warnings. I spent hours watching its rantings (worthwhile only from the perspective of deciphering its abject lies and distortions). It achieves the elementary goal of showcasing its neo-medieval brand of Sha'ariah justice and its extermination of infidels.
Arab website viewership has spiked as ISIS has marketed its atrocity stories of be-headings and abhorrent behavior -- either out of prurient interest or more sinister motives. What is clear is that aside from recruiting foreigners, most of ISIS's sinister media is produced to scare the living daylights out of its adversaries. Al-Furqan does not attempt to dispute fabricated stories of repugnant acts attributed to it, whether it be horror stories of forced female circumcision, or the water-boarding, and drowning of captured Kurdish Pesh Merga soldiers. Each of its social media sites on Twitter, YouTube and Facebook has multilingual commentators. There are even ISISI "heroes" who have their own websites.
Al-Furqan also produces documentary-style series under the title "Messages from the Land of Epic Battles." Even the reclusive al-Baghdadi gets into the act. On July 4, following his capture of Mosul, the terrorist leader delivered a speech that was immediately uploaded to YouTube.
Which Countries are Next in ISIS Cross-Hairs?
As it teams up with its "less-brutal" Al Qaeda-linked Al Nusra Front, ISIS forces have already engaged both Lebanese and Jordanian military forces in border skirmishes. ISIS propaganda has been relentlessly targeting King Abdullah of Jordan as an "apostate" and 'traitor" and in two Jordanian cities -- Maan and Zarqa (the latter infamously known as the birthplace of al Zarqawi) several black flags belonging to ISIS have been raised.
In early August, ISIS forces attacked the Lebanese Syrian refugee border town of Arsal, provoking a major fire-fight with the Lebanese Army. Apparently, one of ISIS's major military commanders -- Imad Ahmad Jomaa -- had been apprehended inside the refugee camp (holding hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees) likely on a recruiting mission to create a fifth column of ISIS operatives inside Lebanon.
Just yesterday, a terrorist force including the Al Nusra Front and "other extremists" attacked and seized control of the only border crossing between Syria and Israel in the Golan Heights at Qeneitra.