The official spokesperson of the Islamic State (ISIS), Abū Muhammad al-‘Adnānī ash-Shāmī, gave a long and disturbing speech. It is an interesting statement as it clarifies the state of mind of the leadership of ISIS. It is of course also an alarming message as it calls its followers all over the world to kill who-ever they can get hold of. But above all, it is a new strategy to avert an American attack. I have made a selection of the most important paragraphs of the speech in order to understand what ISIS is trying to tell us.
State of mind of ISIS
The starting point of the psychology of ISIS is one of humiliation. The West has humiliated Muslim in all their ‘crusades’. Adnani especially mentions Iraq. The psychological goal of the Islamic State is clearly one of revenge for these humiliations, the feeling that the ‘crusaders’ finally fear them (again).
“Allah has given you might and honor after your humiliation.”
This feeling of humiliation is combined with one of betrayal. Sunnis have been under attack in Iraq and in Syria and nobody came to help them. Adnani concentrates on Syria, where the West didn’t seem to care about what happened there.
“Its sentiments were not stirred during the long years of siege and starvation in Shām, and it looked the other way when the deadly and destructive barrel bombs were being dropped. It was not outraged when it saw the horrific scenes of the women and children of the Muslims taking their last breaths with their eyes glazed over due to the chemical weapons of the nusayriyyah – scenes which continue to be repeated everyday, exposing the reality of the farce of having destroyed chemical weapons belonging to its nusayrī (alawite) dogs, the guardians of the jews. America and its allies were not emotionally moved or outraged by any of this. They closed their ears to the cries of distress from the weak, and turned a blind eye to the massacres carried out against the Muslims in every one of those lands for years and years.”
They see the Islamic State as the only real protector of Muslims in Syria and Iraq. And they seem to be surprised by the fact that their barbaric attitude did upset the rest of the world.
“But when a state emerged for the Muslims that would defend them, take revenge for them, and carry out retribution, America and the crusaders started shedding crocodile tears for the sake of a few hundred rāfidī (shiite) and nusayrī criminal soldiers that the Islamic State had taken as prisoners of war and then executed. The hearts of America and its allies were broken by the Islamic State when it cut off the rotten heads of some agents, spies, and apostates. It was terrified and its allies were terrified when the Islamic State would flog and stone the fornicator, cut off the hand of the thief, and strike the neck of the sorcerer and the apostate.”
You will pay the price
Adnani and thus ISIS give a clear warning to the United States and its allies. He predicts that the coalition will face people who are ready to die and that they will not be broken by air strikes alone. He also predicts that this will be the last crusade and the last campaign. After this campaign, he warns, we will come after you.
“O America, O allies of America, and O crusaders, know that the matter is more dangerous than you have imagined and greater than you have envisioned. We have warned you that today we are in a new era, an era where the State, its soldiers, and its sons are leaders not slaves. They are a people who through the ages have not known defeat. The outcome of their battles is concluded before they begin. They have not prepared for a battle since the time of Noah except with absolute conviction of victory. Being killed – according to their account – is a victory.
If he survives, he lives as a victor with freedom, might, honor, and authority. And if he is killed, he illuminates the path for those after him and goes on to his Lord as a joyful martyr.
And so we promise you by Allah’s permission that this campaign will be your final campaign. It will be broken and defeated, just as all your previous campaigns were broken and defeated, except that this time we will raid you thereafter, and you will never raid us. We will conquer your Rome, break your crosses, and enslave your women, by the permission of Allah, the Exalted.”
Alarming by all means is of course that Adnani not only sends out warnings that the West will pay the price. He also calls to all those who have pledged alliance to the Caliphate of ISIS to take initiative themselves and kill people in the US and the allied countries. This is a very different strategy than the one of Al Qaeda where attacks were organized and rubberstamped by the central authority. Within ISIS everyone who pledged alliance doesn’t need any approval or organizational support. Everyone can act as he wishes. That makes it much more difficult to trace and to prevent.
“You will pay the price when your economies collapse. You will pay the price when your sons are sent to wage war against us and they return to you as disabled amputees, or inside coffins, or mentally ill. You will pay the price as you are afraid of travelling to any land. Rather you will pay the price as you walk on your streets, turning right and left, fearing the Muslims. You will not feel secure even in your bedrooms. You will pay the price when this crusade of yours collapses, and thereafter we will strike you in your homeland, and you will never be able to harm anyone afterwards.
O muwahhidīn in Europe, America, Australia, and Canada… O muwahhidīn in Morocco and Algeria… O muwahhidīn in Khorasan, the Caucasus, and Iran… O muwahhidīn everywhere upon the face of the earth… O brothers in creed… O people of walā’ (allegiance to the Muslims) and barā’ (disavowal of disbelievers)… O patrons of the Islamic State… O you who have given bay’ah (pledge of allegiance) to the Caliph Ibrāhīm everywhere… O you who have loved the Islamic State… O you who support the Caliphate… O you who consider yourselves from amongst its soldiers and patrons…
Rise and defend your Muslim brothers, for their homes, families, and wealth are threatened and deemed lawful by their enemies. They are facing a battle which is of the decisive, critical battles in the history of Islam. If the Muslims are defeated, they will be humiliated in such a manner that no humiliation compares to. And if the Muslims are victorious – and this will be the case by Allah’s permission – they will be honored with all honor by which the Muslims will return to being the masters of the world and kings of the earth. So O muwahhid, do not let this battle pass you by wherever you may be. You must strike the soldiers, patrons, and troops of the tawāghīt. Strike their police, security, and intelligence members, as well as their treacherous agents. Destroy their beds. Embitter their lives for them and busy them with themselves. If you can kill a disbelieving American or European – especially the spiteful and filthy French – or an Australian, or a Canadian, or any other disbeliever from the disbelievers waging war, including the citizens of the countries that entered into a coalition against the Islamic State, then rely upon Allah, and kill him in any manner or way however it may be.”
What is the real message?
Adnani gives essentially three messages to the United States and its allies:
- We didn’t start a war against you
- Starting a war is a mistake, it will be more difficult than you think.
- 3. You will have to face terrorist attacks everywhere
He is of course speaking for his own audience and has to wrap these messages into tough jihadist language.
- We didn’t start a war against you
“O Americans, and O Europeans, the Islamic State did not initiate a war against you, as your governments and media try to make you believe. It is you who started the transgression against us, and thus you deserve blame and you will pay a great price.”
- Starting a war is a mistake, it will be more difficult than you think
“(Obama) you claimed today that America would not be drawn to a war on the ground. No, it will be drawn and dragged. It will come down to the ground and it will be led to its death, grave, and destruction. O Obama, you claimed that the hand of America was long and could reach wherever it willed. Then know that our knife is sharp and hard.”
- You will have to face terrorists everywhere
“If you can kill a disbelieving American or European – especially the spiteful and filthy French – or an Australian, or a Canadian, or any other disbeliever from the disbelievers waging war, including the citizens of the countries that entered into a coalition against the Islamic State, then rely upon Allah, and kill him in any manner or way however it may be. Do not ask for anyone’s advice and do not seek anyone’s verdict. Kill the disbeliever whether he is civilian or military, for they have the same ruling. Both of them are disbelievers.”
In the past weeks ISIS has tried different strategies in trying to convince the US and its allies not to attack. First they made videos of the decapitation of two US and one British journalist. They seemed to hope that the West would buy the hostages out and leave the IS alone. The Western reaction was the exact opposite and the public opinion switched towards a war mood. The next step was a video of another British journalist sitting on a desk, talking with a totally different tone.(1)
It seems this speech of the official spokesperson of ISIS is another strategy in trying to convince the coalition not to attack. It is a dangerous but also a desperate message. However, it might prove to be the worst strategic step they have taken so far. More than anything else the threat of terrorism will convince the US and its allies that they can’t aim for nothing less than the total destruction of ISIS.
For the full translation of the speech see here
- See the interesting analysis of Prof. Peter Neumann.
by Koert Debeuf, 22/9/2014
Koert Debeuf lives in Cairo, Egypt, where he represented the EU parliament’s Alde group for many years. Currently he is Project Coordinator “World Leaders on Transitions towards Democracy” at International IDEA. He is a former advisor of a Belgian prime minister. Reporting from post-revolutionary Egypt, his columns are a window on events in the Arab world. Koert Debeuf is also author of ‘Inside the Arab Revolution’.
For more columns of Koert Debeuf, click here.