ISIS and the Virtual Caliphate

January 4, 2017 - San Francisco, CA - – Despite predictions by many that ISIS would be defeated in 2016, the Sunni terrorist army has – in the face of some battlefield setbacks - ingeniously developed new capabilities which make it a far more dangerous foe going forward.

Such is the conclusion of an important new study by Harleen Gambeer [The Virtual Caliphate: ISIS' Information Warfare] and published by the Institute for the Study of War.

In the author’s own words:

“The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) poses an evolving threat to the U.S., its allies, and its broader interests. Its approach to information warfare has represented a key component of its overall strategy, including during the period it has faced sustained pressure. ISIS has suffered significant setbacks on the ground, yet has demonstrated the ability to adapt.

ISIS will likely maintain the capacity to align its military and information operations (IO) in the coming years. Continuing conflicts and the plodding effort to address the underlying conditions where it has taken root will likely help ISIS retain physical sanctuary and command and control capability in Iraq, Syria, and North Africa, even if it loses control of major cities.” [pg. 7]

ISIS’ Information Operation [IO] was largely devised by Abu Mohammad al-Adnani who though killed in a U.S. air raid last year, lives on in the virtual army he created. This ghostly fighting force is one heavy on recruitment using the group’s lurid video’s and “how to” instruction manuals as a tool to embolden would be mujahid into acting on their own or in consort with would be fellow jihadists.

From our perspective perhaps the most troubling aspect of this very thorough survey - and one unstated but certainly implicit – is that America’s “war on terror” has so far been ineffective for one reason. It has consistently failed to engage enemy in the arena of ideas.

In previous conventional wars, say the Cold War with the USSR, in addition to military force/counterforce considerations [potential elements in kinetic confrontations] there was a commensurate propaganda war; the enemy’s ideology being directly attacked to weaken our foe’s resolve.

Due to the victory of cultural Marxism in the West we have been shamed into abstaining from attacking the jihadists at their source of ideological inspiration, the very words of the Qur’an and accompanying texts which preach the doctrine of jihad

Before his death, Adnani spoke with great assurance about the eventual triumph of jihadist groups knowing that Islam’s holy book, believed to be the very word of Allah, constitutes what used to be called an enemy threat doctrine before the social justice warrior class took over war fighting capability of the West:

“…We will be defeated and you victorious if you could remove the Qur’an from the heart of the Muslims, and that [is not possible].”

Though there is much more to glean from Gambeer’s superlative study, understanding the power of a electronically transformed and hence diffuse enemy, bred on the triumphal notion of eventually dominating the globe ranks as perhaps the key takeaway.

Until the United States and its dispirited allies are willing to understand the Qur’an’s ultimate role as Islam’s ideological marching orders - and act accordingly - any hope of ultimately defeating this threat is slim indeed.

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