The top 10 very strange circumstances that led to the rise of ISIS.
Opinion — Last week, the US said it was working to create “alternative government authorities” on Syrian territory. This latest move, aside from demonstrating once again that the US has no respect for Syria’s territorial integrity, indicates we may be seeing more from that group of mercenaries known as Islamic State.
Thus, it seems to be an appropriate time to reflect upon a set of very strange circumstances that led to the rise of this loathsome terrorist group. Here are the top 10 reasons, in no particular order, as to why we should be very suspicious about this group.
10. Convenient Timing
In late August 2013, the United States was on the verge of initiating a massive attack on the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad over a deadly chemical attack that had occurred in the town of Ghouta just days earlier. Although it would have made no sense for Assad to have resorted to such dirty tactics, Washington had found its casus belli. It should be noted that at this time the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant was largely unknown. That would change soon enough.
Meanwhile, a terrible thing happened on the way to this jolly little war. UK Prime Minister David Cameron suffered a stunning defeat in the House of Commons, voting down his effort to join the Americans in Syria. Apparently the British were America’s obedient poodle no longer.
The setback had an apparent sobering effect on Barack Obama, who suddenly – in a feigned nod to democratic procedure and all that – called for Congress to decide whether or not to use military force against Syrian. Tellingly, that vote never materialized.
What did materialize, however, and with alarming speed and viciousness, was a terrorist group that rose up like a phoenix from the ashes of Iraq known as Islamic State (ISIS), with evil designs to create an Islamic caliphate across a wide swath of Iraq and Syria.
In other words, the perfect casus belli for the US in Syria that would require no need for a vote from Congress.
9. Journalist Killings
As if to draw gratuitous attention to itself more than anything else, the Sunni terrorist group ISIS, under the leadership of one Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, began to grab world headlines not by its battlefield exploits, but by carrying out videotaped executions of Western journalists, as well as destroying cultural heritage sites. I still can’t help wondering: Why didn’t the group just let its fighting skills speak for itself? Why the apparent need for such outrageous publicity stunts? Was this compensation for something the group was desperately lacking?
In any case, starting in August 2014, almost one year to the day that Obama was forced to put the brakes on his Syrian attack, the beheadings began in earnest.
On August 19, US journalist James Foley, seen kneeling on the ground in some undetermined location next to his apparent executioner, ‘Jihadi John,’ reads out a short statement before being beheaded by his captor. However, Islamic State spared its audience the gore by not showing the moment of the actual beheading; the video only shows a head lying on a body following the purported act.
Even Western mainstream publications admitted that something didn’t seem quite right.
Under the headline, ‘Foley murder video may have been staged’ the Telegraph, a reputable British newspaper, interviewed forensic experts who called into question the moment in the video when Foley is allegedly being beheaded by his captor.
“After enhancements, the knife can be seen to be drawn across the upper neck at least six times, with no blood evidence to the point the picture fades to black,” the expert said.
Another expert who examined the video for the newspaper said: “I think it has been staged. My feeling is that the execution may have happened after the camera was stopped.”
Incredibly, every subsequent beheading video put out by Islamic State attracted the same amount of scepticism – not just from alternative websites, who were also noticing the many irregularities contained in the videos, but from mainstream media news sources.
Following the release of the video purported to show the beheading of Steve Sotloff, a journalist who worked with the Jerusalem Post, The Australian newspaper reported that “the apparent beheading on camera of a second US hostage by a man with a British accent was again staged, according to forensic analysis.”
Then there was the video of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians, dressed in impeccably clean orange jumpsuits, being led along a Libyan beach by black-clad members of ISIS, all of whom appear to be members of some NBA basketball team.
Veryan Khan, editorial director of the Florida-based Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium, told Fox News that “the speaker, “Jihad Joseph” is much larger than the sea in both the close up and wide shots, and his head is bizarrely out of proportion, meaning he was filmed indoors and the sea added behind him… In addition, the jihadists featured in the film look to be more than 7 feet tall, towering as much as two feet above their victims…”
In July 2015, yet another strange report emerged, CyberBerkut, a Ukrainian group of hackers, said it hacked John McCain’s laptop while he was on an official visit to Kiev around the first week of June 2015. In a report by TechWorm, what they purported to find was a fully staged production of an ISIS execution video, with an actor portraying an executioner who is holding a knife in preparation to behead the prisoner.
The authenticity of this video has not been independently verified.
None of this proves that the individuals in all of the ISIS beheading videos did not go on to meet some grisly fate. However, it seems worth noting that so many forensic experts have spoken out on the “staged” nature of these videos, and that the actual moment of execution during these film productions is never actually shown. Why would such a barbarous group of villains like ISIS need to script and censor their videos?
8. ISIS freedom of movement
Despite employing state-of-the-art fighter jets, like the F-16 Fighting Falcon and A-10 Warthog, the US campaign to destroy Islamic State was largely an exercise in utter futility. There is no other way to explain it. In June 2014, a convoy of hundreds of ISIS fighters drove through 200 km of the Syro-Arabian Desert in fresh-off-the-lot Toyota pickup trucks on the way to Syria. For any modern military, eliminating such a target would have been the equivalent of a lazy afternoon at the shooting range, or shooting fish in a barrel. The fact that these terrorists made it to Syria unmolested tells us everything we need to know about America’s real agenda.
“With state of the art jet fighter aircraft … it would have been – from a military standpoint – ‘a piece of cake’, a rapid and expedient surgical operation, which would have decimated the Islamic State convoys in a matter of hours,” Michel Chossudovsky wrote in Global Research.
“Instead what we have witnessed is an ongoing drawn out six months of relentless air raids and bombings, and the terrorist enemy is apparently still intact.”
“And we are led to believe that the Islamic State cannot be defeated by a powerful US led military coalition of 19 countries,” he added.
The only reasonable conclusion to make from all of this is that the air campaign was not designed to eliminate Islamic State.
In 2002, Rita Katz and Josh Devon founded Search for International Terrorist Entities Institute (SITE), which, according to its website, is “the world’s leading non-governmental counterterrorism organization specializing in tracking and analyzing online activity of the global extremist community.”
In 2006, in a New Yorker article entitled, “Private Jihad: How Rita Katz got into the spying business,” it was mentioned how SITE spoke directly with jihadists via various message boards:
“Katz has a testy relationship with the government, sometimes acting as a consultant and sometimes as an antagonist. About a year ago, a SITE staffer, under an alias, managed to join an exclusive jihadist message board that, among other things, served as a debarkation point for many would-be suicide bombers.
For months, the staffer pretended to be one of the jihadis, joining in chats and watching as other members posted the chilling messages known as “wills,” the final sign-offs before martyrdom. The staffer also passed along technical advice on how to keep the message board going.
When Katz called officials in Washington, she was reportedly met with resistance: ‘Oh, Rita, I’m not sure you should even be communicating with them—you might be providing material support!,” they told her.
In an interview with CNN, Katz admitted that her group was able to “beat [ISIS] with a release” of a video before it had even been disseminated.
In 2007, SITE came under fire for obtaining an alleged Bin Laden video a month prior to its formal release.
Some have raised questions as to how this small group is able to do what the government has not been able to: track ISIS and other terrorist groups with uncanny efficiency.
6. Toyota Trucks
Watching mainstream media reports detail the adventures of Islamic State as they speed carefree across wide-open desert, beards blowing in the wind, one would be forgiven for thinking they were watching a Toyota commercial.
The Times of Israel went so far as to ridicule the leaders of the West for expressing such fear over these militants in their Toyotas like hell raising teenagers speeding around the parking lot of McDonald’s on a Friday night to impress their friends.
“It’s almost unbelievable,” Avi Issacharoff wrote. “They used to say in the IDF that ‘the man in the tank will win,’ justifying the preference for armor over infantry. Now we hear that, from a US source no less, ‘the man in the Toyota’ will defeat the West.”
Somehow we are expected to believe that these shiny new trucks, along with over 2,000 Humvee vehicles, fell into the terrorists’ control by winning some battles in Iraq, like in Mosul and Palmyra. That absurd explanation falls very wide of the mark and needs far more inquiry.
5. Drone attack on Russia
On New Year’s Eve and on January 6, 2018, Russia’s Khmeimim Airbase in Syria was attacked. The first incident involved militants armed with mortars that resulted in the death of two Russian soldiers and damage to several aircraft. The second attack involved a swarm of 13 drones armed with bomblets, which Russian forces countered by means of electronic warfare and air-defense systems. Around half of the drones were electronically hijacked by Russian forces, while the others were shot down without incident. Nevertheless, the attack required a high level of expertise from a “technologically advanced country,” according to Russia.
The United States countered the claim, suggesting that such technology can be easily purchased. Pentagon spokesman Maj. Adrian Rankin-Galloway said the “devices and technologies can easily be obtained in the open market.”
Meanwhile, however, President Putin never mentioned Islamic State when he discussed the incident with the media.
“Those aircraft were only camouflaged – I want to emphasize this – to look like handicraft production. In fact, it is quite obvious that there were elements of high-tech nature there,” the Russian leader said.
So are we expected to believe that Islamic State terrorists were able to buy these UAV drones, or is it more realistic to believe, along with the Russians, that some outside major power was needed to provide the know-how?
4. Never attacked mainland Israel
In March 2016, the warriors of Islamic State picked up their pens in an effort to explain away a question that has been perplexing many observers: why don’t they ever attack Israel?
In the article, translated by a group called MEMRI, the group said it holds to the position that the Palestinian cause does not take precedence over any other jihadi struggle.
“If we look at the reality of the world today, we will find that it is completely ruled by polytheism and its laws, except for the regions where Allah made it possible for the Islamic State to establish the religion…. Therefore, jihad in Palestine is equal to jihad elsewhere,” the article said.
“The apostate [tyrants] who rule the lands of Islam are graver infidels than [the Jews], and war against them takes precedence over war against the original infidels,” the article said, as reported in the Times of Israel.
Whatever the case may be, this seems to be the first time in modern history that a radical jihadist group has had no reason to quarrel with Israel.
3. Oil Export Business
After Islamic State managed to make it across the vast desert between Iraq and Syria without attracting so much as a damaged fender, it managed to do the unthinkable: it set up a very lucrative oil-export business practically overnight in the north of the country. And this was not some small-time operation.
According to one estimate, the motley crew of mercenaries was generating profits of more than £320million a year from oil exports, or about 40,000 barrels of crude every single day.
Are we really expected to believe that a 19-member military organization led by the United States was powerless to put this rag-tag operation out of business?
The reason why the story is so utterly preposterous is that Russia, in a matter of several days, was able to do what this multinational outfit could not do in over a year. In mid-November 2015, Russia had announced that it had destroyed in a matter of days some 500 fuel trucks – and there is plenty of videotape of the Russian attacks for the naysayers who doubt the Kremlin’s claim.
According to Russian General Staff spokesman Colonel General Andrey Kartapolov: “In just the first few days, our aviation has destroyed 500 fuel tanker trucks, which greatly reduced illegal oil export capabilities of the militants and, accordingly, their income from oil smuggling.”
2. Islamic State’s Israeli medical plan
In March 2015, The Wall Street Journal reported a rather stunning revelation that Israel was treating “Al-Qaeda fighters wounded in the Syria civil war.”
Since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war, Israel has provided medical assistance to nearly 2,000 Syrians.
The Wall Street Journal quoted “an Israeli military official” who said no questions were asked of the patients.
“We don’t ask who they are, we don’t do any screening,” the official said. “Once the treatment is done, we take them back to the border and they go on their way.”
Amos Yadlin, the former military intelligence chief, told the Journal that Hezbollah and Iran “are the major threat to Israel, much more than the radical Sunni Islamists, who are also an enemy.”
“Those Sunni elements who control some two-thirds to 90% of the border on the Golan aren’t attacking Israel. This gives you some basis to think that they understand who is their real enemy – maybe it isn’t Israel.”
The Jerusalem Post repeated a joke allegedly told by Syrian President Bashar Assad to Foreign Affairs, ‘How can you say that al-Qaida doesn’t have an air force? They have the Israeli air force…They are supporting the rebels in Syria. It is very clear.”
1. The Pentagon report that speak volumes
In May 2015, a declassified Pentagon document provided shocking evidence that the US-led campaign in Syria not only contributed directly to the rise of the Islamic State (IS), but that Washington was perfectly satisfied with such an outcome.
The US Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) report, obtained by Judicial Watch, dated August 2012, states that the “major forces driving the insurgency in Syria” comprise “the Salafist, the Muslim Brotherhood, and AQI [al-Qaeda in Iraq].”
Furthermore, it states, these forces are being supported by a Western-led coalition – “The West, Gulf countries and Turkey support the opposition.”
It went on to predict that the takeover of Hasaka and Deir Ezzor would possibly create a militant Islamist political entity in eastern Syria:
“If the situation unravels there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist Principality in eastern Syria (Hasak and Der Zor), and this is exactly what the supporting powers want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion (Iraq and Iran).”
According to Nafeed Ahmez from Middle East Eye, “This extraordinary passage confirms that at least three years ago, the Pentagon anticipated the rise of a ‘Salafist Principality’ as a direct consequence of its Syria strategy – and that the ‘supporting powers’ behind the rebels ‘wanted’ this outcome ‘to isolate the Syrian regime,’ and weaken Shiite influence via Iraq and Iran.”
Let that sink in for a moment. The US-backed coalition, which seemed so inexplicably lacklustre in its fight against Islamic State, to the point where this group was actually able to open an oil export business, not to mention drive its Toyota trucks across wide-open desert unmolested, was more content to let a band of terrorists occupy Syria than the legitimate government in Damascus.
It seems safe to say, based on the findings of this incredible document, that such a rationale is exactly what guided Washington’s hand not only in Syria, but in other regime-change war zones, like Iraq and Libya. Democracy building was not the desired result in these fated places, but absolute chaos.
Top Photo | Iraq’s federal police forces celebrate as they hold a flag of the Islamic State group they captured after regaining control of Gawsaq neighborhood in the western side of Mosul, Iraq, Feb. 27. 2017. (AP/Mohammed Saad)
Robert Bridge is a writer and journalist. He authored the book, ‘Midnight in the American Empire,’ released in 2013.