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What ISIS Really Wants

Stashed in: History!, Religion, Awesome, Middle East, Apocalypse, The Nature of the Beast

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A very long, informative, provocative and disquieting look at the theological underpinnings of the ISIS state. Author argues that they are very seriously trying to bring about an apocalypse. For reasons this requires them to control a large territory, establish a caliphate with strict sharia including beheadings and slavery, exterminate Israel of course, be attacked by "Rome" (meaning Turkey or possibly the US) at a particular little farming village, and all die martyrs except for a couple thousand who will be saved by (no shit!) Jesus. It's medieval Islam meets present-day Hollywood, except the blood is real.

They do have an excellent mastery of western video techniques and social media. 

And they run ISIS like a business. 

This is a long article -- going to take a while for me to get through it -- but I'm glad you stashed it.

I found this tidbit fascinating: Christians are exempted from automatic execution if they subjugate.

Following takfiri doctrine, the Islamic State is committed to purifying the world by killing vast numbers of people. The lack of objective reporting from its territory makes the true extent of the slaughter unknowable, but social-media posts from the region suggest that individual executions happen more or less continually, and mass executions every few weeks. Muslim “apostates” are the most common victims. Exempted from automatic execution, it appears, are Christians who do not resist their new government. Baghdadi permits them to live, as long as they pay a special tax, known as the jizya, and acknowledge their subjugation. The Koranic authority for this practice is not in dispute.


Western officials would probably do best to refrain from weighing in on matters of Islamic theological debate altogether. Barack Obama himself drifted into takfiri waters when he claimed that the Islamic State was “not Islamic”—the irony being that he, as the non-Muslim son of a Muslim, may himself be classified as an apostate, and yet is now practicing takfir against Muslims. Non-Muslims’ practicing takfir elicits chuckles from jihadists (“Like a pig covered in feces giving hygiene advice to others,” one tweeted).

Properly contained, the Islamic State is likely to be its own undoing.

No country is its ally, and its ideology ensures that this will remain the case. The land it controls, while expansive, is mostly uninhabited and poor. As it stagnates or slowly shrinks, its claim that it is the engine of God’s will and the agent of apocalypse will weaken, and fewer believers will arrive. And as more reports of misery within it leak out, radical Islamist movements elsewhere will be discredited: No one has tried harder to implement strict Sharia by violence. This is what it looks like.


Given everything we know about the Islamic State, continuing to slowly bleed it, through air strikes and proxy warfare, appears the best of bad military options. Neither the Kurds nor the Shia will ever subdue and control the whole Sunni heartland of Syria and Iraq—they are hated there, and have no appetite for such an adventure anyway. But they can keep the Islamic State from fulfilling its duty to expand. And with every month that it fails to expand, it resembles less the conquering state of the Prophet Muhammad than yet another Middle Eastern government failing to bring prosperity to its people.

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