A Shout out to Muslims and ISIS-are you listening?


The author of this piece, while dismantling ISIS also swipes at common Muslim conceptions which he thoroughly discredits. Can you spot them?  Read on

In separate attacks last week, ISIS terrorists killed 39 tourists at a beach resort in Tunisia, and close to 30 worshipers at a Shia Mosque in Kuwait. The onslaught came shortly after the group called on its militant Jihadi sympathizers to expand operations in the month of Ramadan.

ISIS has demonstrated an unflinching determination to take out anyone who dares to disagree with it. Its members have slaughtered Yazidis and Christians, but the vast majority of its victims have been Muslims who resist it and refuse to acknowledge its authority. ISIS has even executed Sunni clerics who refused to swear allegiance to it, and Muslim women who did not submit to its worldview.

This feature is shared across all terrorist groups operating in the name of Islam. The vast majority of the victims of the Taliban, for instance, are also Muslims. Hundreds of Shia Muslims have been killed just in the last few years. And I have lost many close friends in similar attacks on the Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and even in America.

So when some anti-Islam critics keep doggedly associating the faith of us Muslims with the acts of our tormentors, we call them out for their insensitivity.

I do not disagree that part of the motivation for religious extremism is rooted in perverted interpretation of scripture by radical extremists. However, it is dishonest to label the vast majority of Muslims who reject such interpretations as non-devout or “nominal.”

An honest study of the Quran shows that groups like ISIS act in complete defiance of the injunctions of Islam. The Quran, for instance, equates one murder to the elimination of the whole human race (5:32), and considers persecution and disorder on earth as an even worse offense (2:217). It lays emphasis on peace, justice and human rights. It champions freedom of conscience and forbids worldly punishment for apostasy and blasphemy.

A study of the traditions of the Prophet Muhammad also demonstrates that he warned us of the rise of religious extremism in this age in astonishing detail.

1,400 years ago, he prophesized that a time would come when nothing would remain of Islam but its name, nothing of the Quran but its word, and that many “Mosques would be splendidly furnished but destitute of guidance” (Mishkatul Masabih). In these latter days, the true spiritual essence of Islam would be lost, and religion, for the most part, would be reduced to a ritualistic compulsion. He foretold that the clergy would be corrupt and be a source of strife during these times.

How true this is of the extremist clerics in parts of the Muslim world that abuse the pulpit to preach division and hate.

He also went on to describe terrorist groups such as ISIS that would try to hijack the Islamic longhairedfaith. At this time of dissension, he said there would appear “a group of young people who would be immature in thought and foolish.” They would speak beautiful words but commit the most heinous of deeds. They would engage in so much prayer and fasting that the worship of the Muslims would appear insignificant in comparison. They would call people to the Quran but would have nothing to do with it in reality. The Quran would not go beyond their throats, meaning they wouldn’t understand its essence at all, merely regurgitating it selectively. The Prophet then went on to describe these people as “the worst of the creation.”

Oct 17, 2013 - Aleppo, Syria - ISIS fighters holding the Al-Qaeda flag with 'Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant' written on it. on the frontline. Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant aka ISIS. The group An-Nusra Front announced its creation January 2012 during the Syrian Civil War. Since then it has been the most aggressive and most effective rebel force in Syria. The group has been designated as a terrorist organization by the United Nations. April 2013, the leader of the ISIS released an audio statement announcing that Jabhat al-Nusra is its branch in Syria. (Credit Image: © Medyan Dairieh/ZUMA Wire/ZUMAPRESS.com)

Oct 17, 2013 – Aleppo, Syria – ISIS fighters holding the Al-Qaeda flag with ‘Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’ written on it. 

As if this outline wasn’t clear enough, another tradition in the book Kitaab Al Fitan reported by Caliph Ali, the fourth successor to Prophet Muhammad, describes these people as having long hair and bearing black flags. Their “hearts will be hard as iron,” and they would be the companions of a State (Ashab ul Dawla). Interestingly, ISIS refers to itself as the Islamic State or Dawla. The tradition further mentions that they will break their covenants, not speak the truth and have names that mention their cities. The ISIS caliph, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, comes to mind.

Prophet Muhammad furiously and painfully described these evildoers, and admonished Muslims to beware of their evil and fight it. “Whoever fights them is better to Allah than them,” he proclaimed.

Reflect on this critical point. Whenever ISIS kills in the name of Islam, claims to follow the Quran, or uses the Holy month of Ramadan to spread anarchy across the globe, know that Prophet Muhammad explicitly warned us of these imposters, and entrusted us to root them out.

The only people who refuse to reflect on this point are ISIS, ISIS sympathizers and anti-Islam extremists who want the world to believe that ISIS is legitimate. Intelligent people, meanwhile, see Prophet Muhammad’s prophetic wisdom and thus remain united against both ignorance and extremism.

This is what Ramadan looks like around the world


BuzzFeed produced an excellent, graphically pleasing look at Ramadan at places around the world.  I wish they had posted a picture of American Muslims celebrating Ramadan, but nevertheless here’s their piece

TURKEY

Thousands of Turkish people break their fasting at the Blue Mosque square in Istanbul, during the first day of the holy month of Ramadan. Ramadan is sacred to Muslims because it is during that month that tradition says the Qur’an was revealed to the Prophet Mohammed. The fast is one of the five main religious obligations under Islam. Ozan Kose / Getty Images

Thousands of Turkish people break their fasting at the Blue Mosque square in Istanbul, during the first day of the holy month of Ramadan. Ramadan is sacred to Muslims because it is during that month that tradition says the Qur’an was revealed to the Prophet Mohammed. The fast is one of the five main religious obligations under Islam. Ozan Kose / Getty Images

INDONESIA

Indonesians Muslims pray in the first Tarawih as Muslims begin fasting for Ramadan at Al-Akbar Mosque in Surabaya, Indonesia Robertus Pudyanto / Getty Images

Indonesians Muslims pray in the first Tarawih as Muslims begin fasting for Ramadan at Al-Akbar Mosque in Surabaya, Indonesia Robertus Pudyanto / Getty Images

CHINA

Muslims pray after breaking their fast on the first day of Ramadan, the muslim holy month, at a mosque in Beijing. China has banned civil servants, students and teachers in its mainly Muslim Xinjiang region from fasting during Ramadan and ordered restaurants to stay open. Greg Baker / AFP / Getty Images

Muslims pray after breaking their fast on the first day of Ramadan, the muslim holy month, at a mosque in Beijing. China has banned civil servants, students and teachers in its mainly Muslim Xinjiang region from fasting during Ramadan and ordered restaurants to stay open. Greg Baker / AFP / Getty Images

ENGLAND

Men carry out Wudu, a washing procedure in preparation for prayer, at the East London Mosque before the first Friday prayers of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan in London, England. Rob Stothard / Getty Images

Men carry out Wudu, a washing procedure in preparation for prayer, at the East London Mosque before the first Friday prayers of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan in London, England.  Rob Stothard / Getty Images

JERUSALEM

Palestinian Muslim worshipers pray outside the Dome of the Rock at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem during the first Friday prayer of the holy month of Ramadan. Israel announced it was relaxing restrictions on the movement of Palestinians to and from the West Bank and Gaza Strip, ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Men aged over 40 and women of all ages from the West Bank will be able to pray at the Israeli-controlled holy site, and 800 people from the Gaza Strip will be allowed to attend Friday prayers.  Ahmad Gharabli / AFP / Getty Images

Palestinian Muslim worshipers pray outside the Dome of the Rock at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem during the first Friday prayer of the holy month of Ramadan. Israel announced it was relaxing restrictions on the movement of Palestinians to and from the West Bank and Gaza Strip, ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Men aged over 40 and women of all ages from the West Bank will be able to pray at the Israeli-controlled holy site, and 800 people from the Gaza Strip will be allowed to attend Friday prayers. Ahmad Gharabli / AFP / Getty Images

KENYA

Kenyan Muslim men pray on the first Friday of Ramadan, at Jamia mosque in Nairobi, Kenya.  Khalil Senosi / AP

Kenyan Muslim men pray on the first Friday of Ramadan, at Jamia mosque in Nairobi, Kenya. Khalil Senosi / AP

PATTANI

Thai Muslim women pray at the Pattani Central Mosque to mark the holy month of Ramadan in Pattani. Tuwaedaniya Meringing / Getty Images

Thai Muslim women pray at the Pattani Central Mosque to mark the holy month of Ramadan in Pattani. Tuwaedaniya Meringing / Getty Images

PAKISTAN

Pakistani Muslims perform a special “Taraweeh” evening prayer on the first day of Ramadan at a mosque in Lahore. Arif Ali / AFP / Getty Images

Pakistani Muslims perform a special “Taraweeh” evening prayer on the first day of Ramadan at a mosque in Lahore.
Arif Ali / AFP / Getty Images

INDIA

Indian Muslim boys offer prayers prior to breaking their fast on the first day of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan at Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad.  Noah Seelam / AFP / Getty Images

Indian Muslim boys offer prayers prior to breaking their fast on the first day of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan at Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad. Noah Seelam / AFP / Getty Images

AFGHANISTAN

Afghan children study the Quran during first day of the month of Ramadan at a mosque in Jalalabad. Noorullah Shirzada / AFP / Getty Images

Afghan children study the Quran during first day of the month of Ramadan at a mosque in Jalalabad.
Noorullah Shirzada / AFP / Getty Images

MALAYSIA

A Malaysian Muslim arrives to offer prayers on the first Friday of the holy Islamic month of Ramadan in Kuala Lumpur. Manan Vatsyayana / AFP / Getty Images

A Malaysian Muslim arrives to offer prayers on the first Friday of the holy Islamic month of Ramadan in Kuala Lumpur.
Manan Vatsyayana / AFP / Getty Images

BANGLADESH

Bangladeshi street vendors prepare Iftar food for breaking the daytime fast on the first day of Ramadan, the holy fasting month of Islam, at a traditional bazaar in the old part of Dhaka. Munir Uz Zaman / Getty Images

Bangladeshi street vendors prepare Iftar food for breaking the daytime fast on the first day of Ramadan, the holy fasting month of Islam, at a traditional bazaar in the old part of Dhaka.
Munir Uz Zaman / Getty Images

SRINAGAR

Kashmiri Muslim women are accompanied by a child as they pray during the first day of the month of Ramadan, at the Shah-i-Hamdaan shrine in Srinagar. Tauseef Mustafa / AFP / Getty Images

Kashmiri Muslim women are accompanied by a child as they pray during the first day of the month of Ramadan, at the Shah-i-Hamdaan shrine in Srinagar.
Tauseef Mustafa / AFP / Getty Images

PHILLIPINES

Filipino Muslims take part in prayers at the Golden Mosque in Manila. Jay Directo / AFP / Getty Images

Filipino Muslims take part in prayers at the Golden Mosque in Manila.
Jay Directo / AFP / Getty Images

LEBANON

A vendor carries traditional sweets called ‘Qatayef’ during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan in Sidon’s Old City in southern Lebanon. Ali Hashisho / Reuters

A vendor carries traditional sweets called ‘Qatayef’ during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan in Sidon’s Old City in southern Lebanon.
Ali Hashisho / Reuters

GAZA

Blind and visually impaired Palestinian girls read the Braille version of the Qur’an during a Qur’an memorization class at the main center of Dar al-Quran Society, on the first day of the holy month of Ramadan in Gaza City. Thousands of Palestinians, among them blind and visually impaired students, are taking lessons which are sponsored by the Muslim organization Dar al-Quran Society. The society teaches people the right recitation of the Muslim holy book and helps them memorize the whole Qur’an, directors in the organization said. Suhaib Salem / Reuters

Blind and visually impaired Palestinian girls read the Braille version of the Qur’an during a Qur’an memorization class at the main center of Dar al-Quran Society, on the first day of the holy month of Ramadan in Gaza City. Thousands of Palestinians, among them blind and visually impaired students, are taking lessons which are sponsored by the Muslim organization Dar al-Quran Society. The society teaches people the right recitation of the Muslim holy book and helps them memorize the whole Qur’an, directors in the organization said.
Suhaib Salem / Reuters

IRAQ

Iraqi Muslim men gather, on the roof of Imam Ali Mosque, waiting to see the crescent moon marking the beginning of Ramadan, at sunset in Basra, Iraq. Nabil Al-jurani / AP

Iraqi Muslim men gather, on the roof of Imam Ali Mosque, waiting to see the crescent moon marking the beginning of Ramadan, at sunset in Basra, Iraq.
Nabil Al-jurani / AP

BOSNIA

Bosnian Muslims offer a prayer during late night prayer for upcoming holy month of Ramadan, inside memorial room for Srebrenica massacre victims, at the memorial center Potocari, northeast of the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo. Family members of the Srebrenica victims killed in July, 1995, will mark the first night of Ramadan at the memorial center Potocari, in front of the graves of killed Muslims from this small Bosnian town. Amel Emric / AP

Bosnian Muslims offer a prayer during late night prayer for upcoming holy month of Ramadan, inside memorial room for Srebrenica massacre victims, at the memorial center Potocari, northeast of the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo. Family members of the Srebrenica victims killed in July, 1995, will mark the first night of Ramadan at the memorial center Potocari, in front of the graves of killed Muslims from this small Bosnian town.
Amel Emric / AP 

MYANMAR

Muslims pray on the first day of Ramadan at a mosque in Taunggyi capital city of Shan State, Myanmar. Soe Zeya Tun / Reuters

Muslims pray on the first day of Ramadan at a mosque in Taunggyi capital city of Shan State, Myanmar.
Soe Zeya Tun / Reuters

SINGAPORE

Bangladeshi workers prepare to break fast during the holy month of Ramadan at a makeshift mosque near their dormitory in Singapore. Edgar Su / Reuters

Bangladeshi workers prepare to break fast during the holy month of Ramadan at a makeshift mosque near their dormitory in Singapore. Edgar Su / Reuters

GAZA

A family shares in a pre-dawn Suhoor meal in Gaza City. Facebook: ShehabAgency.MainPage

A family shares in a pre-dawn Suhoor meal in Gaza City.
Facebook: ShehabAgency.MainPage

TUNISIA

A vendor displays his dates on the first day of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan, in a market downtown in Tunis, Tunisia. Zoubeir Souissi / Reuters

A vendor displays his dates on the first day of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan, in a market downtown in Tunis, Tunisia.
Zoubeir Souissi / Reuters

ITALY

Migrants pray for the start of Ramadan as they gather at the French border hoping to enter the country in Ventimiglia, Italy. A group of around 200 migrants, mostly from Libya, Sudan and Eritrea, were left stranded at the border after French police refused them entry to the country. Patrick Aventurier / Getty Images

Migrants pray for the start of Ramadan as they gather at the French border hoping to enter the country in Ventimiglia, Italy. A group of around 200 migrants, mostly from Libya, Sudan and Eritrea, were left stranded at the border after French police refused them entry to the country. Patrick Aventurier / Getty Images

PAKISTAN

Pakistani Muslims perform a special “Taraweeh” evening prayer on the first day of Ramadan at the grand Faisal Mosque in Islamabad. Aamir Qureshi / AFP / Getty Images

Pakistani Muslims perform a special “Taraweeh” evening prayer on the first day of Ramadan at the grand Faisal Mosque in Islamabad.
Aamir Qureshi / AFP / Getty Images

NEPAL

Nepalese Muslims offer the first Friday prayers of Ramadan at The Kashmiri Mosque in Kathmandu. Prakash Mathema / Getty Images

Nepalese Muslims offer the first Friday prayers of Ramadan at The Kashmiri Mosque in Kathmandu.
Prakash Mathema / Getty Images

EGYPT

People read the Qur’an at a mosque during the first day of Ramadan in Cairo, Egypt. Asmaa Waguih / Reuters

People read the Qur’an at a mosque during the first day of Ramadan in Cairo, Egypt.
Asmaa Waguih / Reuters

To the Muslim readers of this blog


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The definitive word on ISIS and how it’s more a manifestation of Ba’athist frustration than Islamic terrorism


This story makes it as clear as can be what is the true nature of the so-called Islamic State. The clarity presented in the article shows that the Islamic State, ISIS,  has nothing to do with Islam and everything to do with the re-emergence of Ba’athist loyalists who are extremely upset with how they were ignored when it came to rebuilding Iraq after the US invasion in 2003.  Perhaps the Ba’athists have every reason for their anger; their country was illegally invaded and occupied by the Bush Administration under false pretenses and essentially ruined.  What is equally disturbing however is how those same people who had a reason for their righteous indignation turned around and used Islam in order to garner the support they needed to re-take Iraq because they realized it would offer them a broader appeal than their own outdated, irrelevant brand of Arab socialism that many other countries were rejecting.  In doing so they also deployed some of the same barbarity under the ISIS banner, beheadings, executions, ethnic cleansing, that have nothing at all to do with Islam but considered by Ba’athists to be legitimate tools of oppression needed to promote social cohesion or silence.  Don’t let spin fool you; an Islamic movement didn’t start an ISIS that incorporated former key figures of Saddam Hussein’s government rather it was the reverse.  Ba’athists seething at being left out after Saddam’s ouster rounded up people they thought would give their movement religious credibility.  “Even the appointment of  (Abu Bakr) al Baghdadi to lead the Islamic State of Iraq in 2010 is reported by an ISIS defector to have been engineered by a former Baathist: Haji Bakr, an ex-colonel from the Iraqi Revolutionary Guard.” Notice the choice of words, “appointment” of the leader of the Islamic State….implying someone else gave him this position, power. One only need to look at those close to him. Two of Al-Baghdi’s deputies are former Ba’athists  no doubt put in place by other Ba’athists to keep tight reins on ISIS.  The WaPo article below gives further detail

Saddam Hussien with members of his Revolutionary Council

Saddam Hussien with members of his Revolutionary Council

When Abu Hamza, a former Syrian rebel, agreed to join the Islamic State, he did so assuming he would become a part of the group’s promised Islamist utopia, which has lured foreign jihadists from around the globe.

Instead, he found himself being supervised by an Iraqi emir and receiving orders from shadowy Iraqis who moved in and out of the battlefield in Syria. When Abu Hamza disagreed with fellow commanders at an Islamic State meeting last year, he said, he was placed under arrest on the orders of a masked Iraqi man who had sat silently through the proceedings, listening and taking notes.

Abu Hamza, who became the group’s ruler in a small community in Syria, never discovered the Iraqis’ real identities, which were cloaked by code names or simply not revealed.

Saddam Husseing and Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri

Saddam Husseing and Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri

All of the men, however, were former Iraqi officers who had served under Saddam Hussein, including the masked man, who had once worked for an Iraqi intelligence agency and now belonged to the Islamic State’s own shadowy security service, he said.

His account, and those of others who have lived with or fought against the Islamic State over the past two years, underscore the pervasive role played by members of Iraq’s former Baathist army in an organization more typically associated with flamboyant foreign jihadists and the gruesome videos in which they star.

foreign ISIS fighterEven with the influx of thousands of foreign fighters, almost all of the leaders of the Islamic State are former Iraqi officers, including the members of its shadowy military and security committees, and the majority of its emirs and princes, according to Iraqis, Syrians and analysts who study the group.

They have brought to the organization the military expertise and some of the agendas of the former Baathists, as well as the smuggling networks developed to avoid sanctions in the 1990s and which now facilitate the Islamic State’s illicit oil trading.

Abu Hamza a former ISIS supporter, fighter now in Turkey

Abu Hamza a former ISIS supporter, fighter now in Turkey

In Syria, local “emirs” are typically shadowed by a deputy who is Iraqi and makes the real decisions, said Abu Hamza, who fled to Turkey last summer after growing disillusioned with the group. He uses a pseudonym because he fears for his safety.

All the decision makers are Iraqi, and most of them are former Iraqi officers. The Iraqi officers are in command, and they make the tactics and the battle plans,” he said. “But the Iraqis themselves don’t fight. They put the foreign fighters on the front lines.”

The public profile of the foreign jihadists frequently obscures the Islamic State’s roots in the bloody recent history of Iraq, its brutal excesses as much a symptom as a cause of the country’s woes.

The raw cruelty of Hussein’s Baathist regime, the disbandment of the Iraqi army after thesaddamexecution U.S.-led invasion in 2003, the subsequent insurgency and the marginalization of Sunni Iraqis by the Shiite-dominated government all are intertwined with the Islamic State’s ascent, said Hassan Hassan, a Dubai-based analyst and co-author of the book “ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror.”

“A lot of people think of the Islamic State as a terrorist group, and it’s not useful,” Hassan said. “It is a terrorist group, but it is more than that. It is a homegrown Iraqi insurgency, and it is organic to Iraq.”

Paul Bremer, center who said ten years later: 'We made major strategic mistakes. But I still think Iraqis are far better off'

Paul Bremer, center who said ten years later: ‘We made major strategic mistakes. But I still think Iraqis are far better off’

The de-Baathification law promulgated by L.­ Paul Bremer, Iraq’s American ruler in 2003, has long been identified as one of the contributors to the original insurgency. At a stroke, 400,000 members of the defeated Iraqi army were barred from government employment, denied pensions — and also allowed to keep their guns.

The U.S. military failed in the early years to recognize the role the disbanded Baathist officers would eventually come to play in the extremist group, eclipsing the foreign fighters whom American officials preferred to blame, said Col. Joel Rayburn, a senior fellow at the National Defense University who served as an adviser to top generals in Iraq and describes the links between Baathists and the Islamic State in his book, “Iraq After America.”

The U.S. military always knew that the former Baathist officers had joined other insurgent groups and were giving tactical support to the Al Qaeda in Iraq affiliate, the precursor to the Islamic State, he said. But American officials didn’t anticipate that they would become not only adjuncts to al-Qaeda, but core members of the jihadist group.

“We might have been able to come up with ways to head off the fusion, the completion of the Iraqization process,” he said. The former officers were probably not reconcilable, “but it was the labeling of them as irrelevant that was the mistake.”

AbuBakr al-Baghdadi

AbuBakr al-Baghdadi

Under the leadership of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Islamic State’s self-proclaimed caliph, the former officers became more than relevant. They were instrumental in the group’s rebirth from the defeats inflicted on insurgents by the U.S. military, which is now back in Iraq bombing many of the same men it had already fought twice before.

At first glance, the secularist dogma of Hussein’s tyrannical Baath Party seems at odds with the Islamic State’s harsh interpretation of the Islamic laws it purports to uphold.

But the two creeds broadly overlap in several regards, especially their reliance on fear to secure the submission of the people under the group’s rule. Two decades ago, the elaborate and cruel forms of torture perpetrated by Hussein dominated the discourse about Iraq, much as the Islamic State’s harsh punishments do today.

Like the Islamic State, Hussein’s Baath Party also regarded itself as a transnational

BAGHDAD, IRAQ:  Members of the ruling Baath party parade with kalashnikovs and portraits of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein on Iraqi flags in Baghdad 08 February 2002 during celebrations marking the 39th anniversary of the 1963 coup that brought the party to power.       AFP PHOTO/Ramzi HAIDAR (Photo credit should read RAMZI HAIDAR/AFP/Getty Images)

BAGHDAD, IRAQ: Members of the ruling Baath party parade with kalashnikovs and portraits of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein on Iraqi flags in Baghdad 08 February 2002 during celebrations marking the 39th anniversary of the 1963 coup that brought the party to power. AFP PHOTO/Ramzi HAIDAR (Photo credit should read RAMZI HAIDAR/AFP/Getty Images)

movement, forming branches in countries across the Middle East and running training camps for foreign volunteers from across the Arab world.

By the time U.S. troops invaded in 2003, Hussein had begun to tilt toward a more religious approach to governance, making the transition from Baathist to Islamist ideology less improbable for some of the disenfranchised Iraqi officers, said Ahmed S. Hashim, a professor who is researching the ties at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University.

With the launch of the Iraqi dictator’s Faith Campaign in 1994, strict Islamic precepts were introduced. The words “God is Great” were inscribed on the Iraqi flag. Amputations were decreed for theft. Former Baathist officers recall friends who suddenly stopped drinking, started praying and embraced the deeply conservative form of Islam known as Salafism in the years preceding the U.S. invasion.

In the last two years of Hussein’s rule, a campaign of beheadings, mainly targeting women suspected of prostitution and carried out by his elite Fedayeen unit, killed more than 200 people, human rights groups reported at the time.

The brutality deployed by the Islamic State today recalls the bloodthirstiness of some of those Fedayeen, said Hassan. Promotional videos from the Hussein era include scenes resembling those broadcast today by the Islamic State, showing the Fedayeen training, marching in black masks, practicing the art of decapitation and in one instance eating a live dog.

Some of those Baathists became early recruits to the al-Qaeda affiliate established by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Palestinian Jordanian fighter who is regarded as the progenitor of the current Islamic State, said Hisham al Hashemi, an Iraqi analyst who advises the Iraqi government and has relatives who served in the Iraqi military under Hussein. Other Iraqis were radicalized at Camp Bucca, the American prison in southern Iraq where thousands of ordinary citizens were detained and intermingled with jihadists.

Zarqawi kept the former Baathists at a distance, because he distrusted their secular outlook, according to Hashim, the professor.

It was under the watch of the current Islamic State leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, that the recruitment of former Baathist officers became a deliberate strategy, according to analysts and former officers.

Tasked with rebuilding the greatly weakened insurgent organization after 2010, Baghdadi embarked on an aggressive campaign to woo the former officers, drawing on the vast pool of men who had either remained unemployed or had joined other, less extremist insurgent groups.

Some of them had fought against al-Qaeda after changing sides and aligning with the American-backed Awakening movement during the surge of troops in 2007. When U.S. troops withdrew and the Iraqi government abandonedthe Awakening fighters, the Islamic State was the only surviving option for those who felt betrayed and wanted to change sides again, said Brian Fishman, who researched the group in Iraq for West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center and is now a fellow with the New America Foundation.

Baghdadi’s effort was further aided by a new round of de-Baathificationlaunched after U.S. troops left in 2011 by then Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who set about firing even those officers who had been rehabilitated by the U.S. military.

Among them was Brig. Gen. Hassan Dulaimi, a former intelligence officer in the old Iraqi army who was recruited back into service by U.S. troops in 2006, as a police commander in Ramadi, the capital of the long restive province of Anbar.

Within months of the American departure, he was dismissed, he said, losing his salary and his pension, along with 124 other officers who had served alongside the Americans.

“The crisis of ISIS didn’t happen by chance,” Dulaimi said in an interview in Baghdad, using an acronym for the Islamic State. “It was the result of an accumulation of problems created by the Americans and the [Iraqi] government.”

He cited the case of a close friend, a former intelligence officer in Baghdad who was fired in 2003 and struggled for many years to make a living. He now serves as the Islamic State’s wali, or leader, in the Anbar town of Hit, Dulaimi said.

“I last saw him in 2009. He complained that he was very poor. He is an old friend, so I gave him some money,” he recalled. “He was fixable. If someone had given him a job and a salary, he wouldn’t have joined the Islamic State.

“There are hundreds, thousands like him,” he added. “The people in charge of military operations in the Islamic State were the best officers in the former Iraqi army, and that is why the Islamic State beats us in intelligence and on the battlefield.

This map highlights the countries of Iraq, Syria and Turkey. Called out are the cities of Mosul and Kobani. The area of ISIS controlled or contested territory is highlighted in red.

This map highlights the countries of Iraq, Syria and Turkey. Called out are the cities of Mosul and Kobani. The area of ISIS controlled or contested territory is highlighted in red.

The Islamic State’s seizure of territory was also smoothed by the Maliki government’s broader persecution of the Sunni minority, which intensified after U.S. troops withdrew and left many ordinary Sunnis willing to welcome the extremists as an alternative to the often brutal Iraqi security forces.

But it was the influx of Baathist officers into the ranks of the Islamic State itself that propelled its fresh military victories, said Hashem. By 2013, Baghdadi had surrounded himself with former officers, who oversaw the Islamic State’s expansion in Syria and drove the offensives in Iraq.

Some of Baghdadi’s closest aides, including Abu Muslim al-Turkmani, his deputy in Iraq, and Abu Ayman al-Iraqi, one of his top military commanders in Syria, both of them former Iraqi officers, have since reportedly been killed — though Dulaimi suspects that many feign their own deaths in order to evade detection, making its current leadership difficult to discern.

Any gaps however are filled by former officers, sustaining the Iraqi influence at the group’s core, even as its ranks are swelled by arriving foreigners, said Hassan.

Fearing infiltration and spies, the leadership insulates itself from the foreign fighters and the regular Syrian and Iraqi fighters through elaborate networks of intermediaries frequently drawn from the old Iraqi intelligence agencies, he said.

“They introduced the Baathist mind-set of secrecy as well as its skills,” he said.

The masked man who ordered the detention of Abu Hamza was one of a group of feared security officers who circulate within the Islamic State, monitoring its members for signs of dissent, the Syrian recalled.

“They are the eyes and ears of Daesh’s security, and they are very powerful,” he said, using an Arabic acronym for the Islamic State.

Abu Hamza was released from jail after agreeing to fall into line with the other commanders, he said. But the experience contributed to his disillusionment with the group.

The foreign fighters he served alongside were “good Muslims,” he said. But he is less sure about the Iraqi leaders.

They pray and they fast and you can’t be an emir without praying, but inside I don’t think they believe it much,” he said. “The Baathists are using Daesh. They don’t care about Baathism or even Saddam.

“They just want power. They are used to being in power, and they want it back.

Whether the former Baathists adhere to the Islamic State’s ideology is a matter of debate. Hashim suspects many of them do not.

“One could still argue that it’s a tactical alliance,” he said. “A lot of these Baathists are not interested in ISIS running Iraq. They want to run Iraq. A lot of them view the jihadists with this Leninist mind-set that they’re useful idiots who we can use to rise to power.

Rayburn questions whether even some of the foreign volunteers realize the extent to which they are being drawn into Iraq’s morass. Some of the fiercest battles being waged today in Iraq are for control of communities and neighborhoods that have been hotly contested among Iraqis for years, before the extremists appeared.

“You have fighters coming from across the globe to fight these local political battles that the global jihad can’t possibly have a stake in.”

Former Baathist officers who served alongside some of those now fighting with the Islamic State believe it is the other way around. Rather than the Baathists using the jihadists to return to power, it is the jihadists who have exploited the desperation of the disbanded officers, according to a former general who commanded Iraqi troops during the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990 and the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. He spoke on the condition of anonymity because he fears for his safety in Irbil, the capital of the northern Iraqi region of Kurdistan, where he now resides.

The ex-Baathists could be lured away, if they were offered alternatives and hope for the future, he said.

The Americans bear the biggest responsibility. When they dismantled the army what did they expect those men to do?” he asked. “They were out in the cold with nothing to do and there was only one way out for them to put food on the table.”

When U.S. officials demobilized the Baathist army, “they didn’t de-Baathify people’s minds, they just took away their jobs,” he said.

There are former Baathists with other insurgent groups who might be persuaded to switch sides, said Hassan, citing the example of the Army of the Men of the Naqshbandi Order, usually referred to by its Arabic acronym JRTN. They welcomed the Islamic State during its sweep through northern Iraq last summer, but the groups have since fallen out.

But most of the Baathists who actually joined the Islamic State are now likely to have themselves become radicalized, either in prison or on the battlefield, he said.

“Even if you didn’t walk in with that vision you might walk out with it, after five years of hard fighting,” said Fishman, of the New America Foundation. “They have been through brutal things that are going to shape their vision in a really dramatic way.”

Far too many from the West who romanticize fighting and going to fight for a cause they consider noble in fact are only offering themselves up to satisfy centuries old rivalries between communities and more recent power struggles of a political party that refuses to go away and some might say necessary for the survival of the Iraqi nation. Syria is the birthplace of the ISIS movement….it is also the home of the Ba’athist president, Bashar al-Assad, an authoratarian secularist who no doubt finds more in common with the Ba’athist elements of ISIS than the religious side of this pseudo religious movement. More needs to be done to make it clear ISIS is no  more Islamic than the Ba’ath socialist party.

This kind of rampant racism is still going on in America


Before I make the post, Domino’s Pizza has issued a statement on the page where the video below appears and it reads

Domino’s does not tolerate discrimination against customers. This store was owned and operated by an independent franchisee and that franchisee exited our system in 2013.

Michael P. Jarvis of Winter Haven is named in the Circuit Court suit along with his company, Michael J’s Pizzaria, Inc., which owned the Domino’s Pizza where the incident occurred. Jarvis has said  he sold the store about two years ago and  he was unaware of the lawsuit.  He declined to comment further.  Here’s the video

Here’s the story

Hakima Bennadi

Hakima Bennadi

Hakima Benaddi said she had picked up pizza at a Domino’s store in Davenport dozens of times since she moved to the neighborhood in 2011.

The only difference from her routine July 27, 2012, Benaddi said, was that she was wearing a Muslim head scarf.

A lawsuit filed in her behalf contends she was discriminated against by employees, including an accusation by one that she threatened to blow up the building.

The charges were later dropped, but Benaddi said Thursday that her life was turned upside down because of the false accusations.

She’s suing the former owner of the Davenport pizzeria and his company. The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in Circuit Court on behalf of Benaddi by the Council on American-Islamic Relations Florida.

Benaddi said she’s still shaken over being handcuffed and put into jail.

“I never imagined I’d be in that situation,” Benaddi said, standing next to her lawyer, Thania Diaz Clevenger, civil rights director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations for Florida, at a news conference outside the Polk County Courthouse. “I know they discriminated against me.

A Domino’s Pizza spokesman at corporate headquarters in Detroit said the corporation didn’t own the store and wasn’t named in the lawsuit.

“The employees were his (the franchisee), and he is no longer with our system,” said spokesman Tim McIntyre.

Benaddi moved to the United States in 2009 from Morocco.

She was arrested by Polk County sheriff’s deputies on charges of making a bomb threat after the July 27, 2012, incident at Domino’s Pizza, 45717 U.S. 27 N.

The charges were dropped in August 2012 because of “conflicting witness statements,” according to the lawsuit. Her arrest record was ordered expunged on Sept. 13, 2013, by a circuit judge, the lawsuit says.

According to the lawsuit, which is seeking damages, Benaddi’s civil rights were violated and she was wrongly arrested because of false statements made by the store’s assistant manager, Whitney Green.

Green was the only employee who told investigators she heard a bomb threat. “The woman came into the store screaming about her pizza,” Green told deputies, according to an arrest report. “When I went to find out what was wrong, she started yelling, ‘It’s because you’re American, and I’m Muslim. I’m gonna come back with a bomb. I’ll blow you all up.’?”

The argument started over a vegetarian pizza Benaddi ordered. Benaddi said it was her first time wearing a hijab, the Muslim head scarf, at the Domino’s. She bought the pizza and, when she got home, found it was missing toppings, some crust and cheese. She called the store to complain and returned with the pizza.

The suit said when Benaddi asked for a refund, she was told by Green and two other employees that there was nothing wrong with the pizza. Following a verbal confrontation with Green, Benaddi said, “You can keep your pizza” and left the store, the suit says.

Green called deputies about the bomb threat after Benaddi left about 6 p.m. Sheriff’s Deputy William Tull investigated the complaint, placed the pizza box into evidence then questioned Benaddi. She was arrested about midnight, according to the lawsuit.

Sheriff’s spokesman Scott Wilder said he couldn’t discuss the case because the criminal records had been expunged.

This kind of racism is illegal and should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.  I congratulate Ms. Bennadi for doing just that and hope she prevails.  Lying because of poor service rendered to a paying customer is unacceptable.

ISIS Ideology Is Not True To Islam, And These Imams Are Fighting Back


Britain Imams
Using a twisted version of Islam, the militant group Islamic State, or ISIS, has pushed online campaigns to attract youth to its bloody crusade in Syria and Iraq. Now a group of British imams and scholars is looking to “reclaim the Internet” with a new magazine aimed at shifting the conversation and spreading a message of truth.

Haqiqah, meaning “the truth” or “the reality” in Arabic, is a digital magazine created by Islamic scholars with the purpose of educating young people about the realities of extremism, according to its backers at Imams Online. The goal, they say, is to “drown out” the voices perpetuating violence.ImamsOnline

“Someone has to reclaim that territory from ISIS, and that can only be imams: religious leaders who guide and nourish their community,” Qari Asim, senior editor at Imams Online, told the BBC. “But now that we live in a digital mobile world, some young people are not coming to the mosque so we must reach out to them -– and this is the Muslims’ contribution to combat radicalization on the net.”

More than 100 imams were reportedly present at the launch of the magazine in London Thursday night, including influential U.S. scholar Hamza Yusuf and Sheikh Abdallah Bin Bayyah, president of the Forum for Promoting Peace. One imam told BuzzFeed “Haqiqa would reach out to vulnerable people, who are often targeted by extremists on social media.”

ISIS-masjidCNN reports ISIS claims to have a $2 billion budget that it can use for the recruitment of youth around the globe, including funds for the production of videos and social media efforts. It’s been estimated there may be as many as 70,000 pro-ISIS accounts on Twitter alone, and according to The Independent some 700 British people have traveled to join the group in Syria.

The first issue of Haqiqah calls ISIS an “empty banner” and states that “interspersing the occasional out of context Qur’anic verse with hyperbolic arguments” doesn’t equate to legitimacy. This misconstruction, the magazine argues, is not Islam.

They are individuals who study Islam from a superficial point of view and emerge with their own ideas and imaginary interpretations, which often diverge greatly from established Islamic principles. We can see that many of the characteristics found in these young men and women are similar to those identified as the Khawarij (Extremist/Dissenters) by the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). They have no grounding in Islamic sciences or jurisprudence and yet want to establish an ‘Islamic state’/‘Islamic System’. In the pursuit of their illintended aim, they are prepared to bulldoze the fundamental teachings of Islam.

Those in the wider Muslim community are optimistic about the effect a publication like Haqiqah can have.

“If this is part of community-led initiatives to counter ISIS, then it is exactly what’s needed,” Salam Al-Marayati, president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, told The Huffington Post in an email Friday. “Governments and their military forces cannot bomb away ideas of violent extremism. Authentic and credible community voices can wash away the filth from the cult of death, bring the the light of life to lost souls, hoping to rehabilitate them so they don’t destroy themselves and their families.”

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