ISIS after al-Baghdadi: What now?

"If a man calls a brother takfir, [then at least] one of them is right." —Hadith attributed to "Prophet" Muhammad

"Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules."

"Ridicule is man's most potent weapon." —Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals, Rules 4, 5

"The best time to kick a man is when he's already down." —American proverb

The recent, unlamented death of ISIS chieftain Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi raises the question: what now?  ISIS still exists.  Its offshoots have metastasized all over the world, among jihad movements that fly its flag, such as Boko Haram and al-Shabaab.  And its members certainly haven't repented.  So what now?

ISIS always had an inherent strength: the fervor of Islam.  It likewise always had a vulnerability: the fervor of Islam.  This vulnerability can be exploited.

"Takfir" is an Arabic word best translated into English as "apostate."  This means someone who has left "true" Islam.  In Islam, takfir is worse than "infidel."  It is worse than Christian, because at least Christians have not committed the sin of leaving Islam; they were never in it.  Takfir is worse than pagan or Christian or Shi'a.

It is even worse than Jew.

In Islam, a difference of opinion of theology between two Muslims means that at most, only one of them can be "right."  Therefore, by definition, the other is "wrong," and being "wrong" means "takfir."  It is not an accusation to be tossed around lightly, because anyone making such an accusation is opening himself up to the same charge.

This was all described in an excellent article that appeared in the Atlantic monthly magazine in 2015: "What ISIS Really Wants."  It describes the rise of ISIS and its founding "caliph," Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.  In view of the death of al-Baghdadi in the recent Special Forces raid, this article deserves renewed attention, because it contains hints on how to exterminate ISIS once and for all should it raise its head again.

"Eschatology" is defined as a branch of theology that deals with prophecies concerning the End Times.  In Christianity, this primarily means the Book of Revelation and the Book of Daniel.  Islamic eschatology is murkier and more obscure than the Christian one, because there is no lengthy source for it.  Instead, Islamic eschatology consists of hints gleaned from the Qu'ran or a hadith.  A "hadith" is a quotation from Islam's founder, "Prophet" Muhammad.  A hadith is not considered a direct quotation from Allah — those are duly recorded in the Qu'ran — but instead comes only from "Prophet" Muhammad, relayed to us via a chain (called an "isnad") of hearsay witnesses.  For this reason, some are considered more reliable than others, and the most esteemed of the compilers of hadiths, Al-Bukhari, actually rejected about 80% of the 300,000 purported hadiths he examined as being worthless.

The Atlantic article discusses all of this in far greater detail than this writer will here, but for our purposes, Islamic eschatology comes down to this: only a true caliph can establish an Islamic state.  After the twelfth true caliph, the Islamic Armageddon will occur, and the Mahdi will arrive to rule over a unified Islamic world.  To qualify as a true caliph, the candidate must come from the Quraysh tribe that originally inhabited Mecca and must control a stretch of northern Syria, from modern Iraq to the Mediterranean.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi certainly qualified for the first criterion.  And when he founded the Islamic State, he controlled the stretch of Syrian land mentioned in the prophecies.  In his view, he was the eighth true caliph.

What would the Islamic Armageddon look like?  It would consist of the armies of "Rome" converging on Dabiq, where they will meet the armies of Islam for the final showdown.  Dabiq is a town in northwest Syria, very near the Turkish border and about forty miles northeast of Aleppo.  Al-Baghdadi took this prophecy so seriously that he even named his slick ISIS propaganda magazine Dabiq.  (Or at least he did, until Turkish-backed Syrian rebels took the place in October 2016.  The magazine has since borne the title "Rumiya," after another Islamic prophecy concerning the End Times.)

These facts suggest weaknesses for ISIS that can prove to be fatal to it, if exploited cleverly enough.  For one thing, anyone who claims to be the caliph and then falls down on the job must never have been the caliph.  Worse, he must be takfir, because he made a false Islamic claim.  And worst of all, his followers must all be takfir, too!

Although al-Baghdadi made a credible claim to be the caliph, he lost his territory, including the town of Dabiq.  No true caliph can do that if he wants to retain the title of caliph.  When al-Baghdadi lost his caliphate, he proved himself to be just another false caliph. Therefore, he must have been nothing but a takfir infidel. His followers must likewise be takfir.

This suggests the line of propaganda that the Trump Administration should now take: demoralize what is left of ISIS, by shouting that they are all just a bunch of takfir infidels. Utilize Alinsky's Rules for Radicals Number 5: endlessly ridicule ISIS. Keep pounding in this point, day after day. The best time to kick a man is when he is already down, and ISIS is certainly down right now.

However: suppose that the "caliphate" revives itself? What do we do then? The prophecy of Dabiq also suggests a strategy to wipe out the next "caliphate," if and when it arrives: Alinsky's Rule for Radicals Number 4, which is "Make the enemy live up to his own book of rules."

The way to do this is to seize the town of Dabiq. Drop a brigade combat team of the 101st Airborne Division onto the place, with orders to dig in and wait for neo-ISIS to arrive. And arrive it will. It will not be able not to. For if an army of "Rome" (which is what modern America certainly is) takes Dabiq, then that must mean that the End Times are here and the Islamic Armageddon at hand. For a devout follower of ISIS to see that and not take up arms and fight the modern "Romans," is to implicitly reject the prophecy.

Which can be nothing but takfir. Any neo-ISIS follower who so reveals himself as takfir, proves himself to be undeserving of entry into Allah's Great Bordello in The Sky.

In the end, it's like in the movie Field of Dreams: "If you build it, they will come." If "Rome" seizes the town of Dabiq, then neo-ISIS will come. It will be forced to so because failure to do so is disbelief in the prophecy and therefore takfir.

And then? Why then, Dabiq is in the middle of a flat plain consisting of farmland. Any neo-ISIS army converging there will be right in the open with no cover. And when that neo-ISIS army converges on Dabiq, then that's why God invented B-52s with their Arc Light air raids.

And that's how to deal with ISIS if it ever returns.

The author is an Iowa truck driver known to some AT readers as Kzintosh.

"If a man calls a brother takfir, [then at least] one of them is right." —Hadith attributed to "Prophet" Muhammad

"Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules."

"Ridicule is man's most potent weapon." —Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals, Rules 4, 5

"The best time to kick a man is when he's already down." —American proverb

The recent, unlamented death of ISIS chieftain Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi raises the question: what now?  ISIS still exists.  Its offshoots have metastasized all over the world, among jihad movements that fly its flag, such as Boko Haram and al-Shabaab.  And its members certainly haven't repented.  So what now?

ISIS always had an inherent strength: the fervor of Islam.  It likewise always had a vulnerability: the fervor of Islam.  This vulnerability can be exploited.

"Takfir" is an Arabic word best translated into English as "apostate."  This means someone who has left "true" Islam.  In Islam, takfir is worse than "infidel."  It is worse than Christian, because at least Christians have not committed the sin of leaving Islam; they were never in it.  Takfir is worse than pagan or Christian or Shi'a.

It is even worse than Jew.

In Islam, a difference of opinion of theology between two Muslims means that at most, only one of them can be "right."  Therefore, by definition, the other is "wrong," and being "wrong" means "takfir."  It is not an accusation to be tossed around lightly, because anyone making such an accusation is opening himself up to the same charge.

This was all described in an excellent article that appeared in the Atlantic monthly magazine in 2015: "What ISIS Really Wants."  It describes the rise of ISIS and its founding "caliph," Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.  In view of the death of al-Baghdadi in the recent Special Forces raid, this article deserves renewed attention, because it contains hints on how to exterminate ISIS once and for all should it raise its head again.

"Eschatology" is defined as a branch of theology that deals with prophecies concerning the End Times.  In Christianity, this primarily means the Book of Revelation and the Book of Daniel.  Islamic eschatology is murkier and more obscure than the Christian one, because there is no lengthy source for it.  Instead, Islamic eschatology consists of hints gleaned from the Qu'ran or a hadith.  A "hadith" is a quotation from Islam's founder, "Prophet" Muhammad.  A hadith is not considered a direct quotation from Allah — those are duly recorded in the Qu'ran — but instead comes only from "Prophet" Muhammad, relayed to us via a chain (called an "isnad") of hearsay witnesses.  For this reason, some are considered more reliable than others, and the most esteemed of the compilers of hadiths, Al-Bukhari, actually rejected about 80% of the 300,000 purported hadiths he examined as being worthless.

The Atlantic article discusses all of this in far greater detail than this writer will here, but for our purposes, Islamic eschatology comes down to this: only a true caliph can establish an Islamic state.  After the twelfth true caliph, the Islamic Armageddon will occur, and the Mahdi will arrive to rule over a unified Islamic world.  To qualify as a true caliph, the candidate must come from the Quraysh tribe that originally inhabited Mecca and must control a stretch of northern Syria, from modern Iraq to the Mediterranean.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi certainly qualified for the first criterion.  And when he founded the Islamic State, he controlled the stretch of Syrian land mentioned in the prophecies.  In his view, he was the eighth true caliph.

What would the Islamic Armageddon look like?  It would consist of the armies of "Rome" converging on Dabiq, where they will meet the armies of Islam for the final showdown.  Dabiq is a town in northwest Syria, very near the Turkish border and about forty miles northeast of Aleppo.  Al-Baghdadi took this prophecy so seriously that he even named his slick ISIS propaganda magazine Dabiq.  (Or at least he did, until Turkish-backed Syrian rebels took the place in October 2016.  The magazine has since borne the title "Rumiya," after another Islamic prophecy concerning the End Times.)

These facts suggest weaknesses for ISIS that can prove to be fatal to it, if exploited cleverly enough.  For one thing, anyone who claims to be the caliph and then falls down on the job must never have been the caliph.  Worse, he must be takfir, because he made a false Islamic claim.  And worst of all, his followers must all be takfir, too!

Although al-Baghdadi made a credible claim to be the caliph, he lost his territory, including the town of Dabiq.  No true caliph can do that if he wants to retain the title of caliph.  When al-Baghdadi lost his caliphate, he proved himself to be just another false caliph. Therefore, he must have been nothing but a takfir infidel. His followers must likewise be takfir.

This suggests the line of propaganda that the Trump Administration should now take: demoralize what is left of ISIS, by shouting that they are all just a bunch of takfir infidels. Utilize Alinsky's Rules for Radicals Number 5: endlessly ridicule ISIS. Keep pounding in this point, day after day. The best time to kick a man is when he is already down, and ISIS is certainly down right now.

However: suppose that the "caliphate" revives itself? What do we do then? The prophecy of Dabiq also suggests a strategy to wipe out the next "caliphate," if and when it arrives: Alinsky's Rule for Radicals Number 4, which is "Make the enemy live up to his own book of rules."

The way to do this is to seize the town of Dabiq. Drop a brigade combat team of the 101st Airborne Division onto the place, with orders to dig in and wait for neo-ISIS to arrive. And arrive it will. It will not be able not to. For if an army of "Rome" (which is what modern America certainly is) takes Dabiq, then that must mean that the End Times are here and the Islamic Armageddon at hand. For a devout follower of ISIS to see that and not take up arms and fight the modern "Romans," is to implicitly reject the prophecy.

Which can be nothing but takfir. Any neo-ISIS follower who so reveals himself as takfir, proves himself to be undeserving of entry into Allah's Great Bordello in The Sky.

In the end, it's like in the movie Field of Dreams: "If you build it, they will come." If "Rome" seizes the town of Dabiq, then neo-ISIS will come. It will be forced to so because failure to do so is disbelief in the prophecy and therefore takfir.

And then? Why then, Dabiq is in the middle of a flat plain consisting of farmland. Any neo-ISIS army converging there will be right in the open with no cover. And when that neo-ISIS army converges on Dabiq, then that's why God invented B-52s with their Arc Light air raids.

And that's how to deal with ISIS if it ever returns.

The author is an Iowa truck driver known to some AT readers as Kzintosh.