Why ISIL Wants to Be In a War With America
September 22, 2014
Paul Waldman / The American Prospect & The London Daily Mail
On September 19, the Islamic State posted a 55-minute video titled 'Flames of War' on YouTube. The video was quickly removed. Only a short trailer remains. Those who saw the censored video report it bears the hallmarks of previous IS propaganda -- including bloodthirsty, call-to-arms language. At end of the tape, a masked jihadist speaks directly to the camera in an American accent and captured Syrian soldiers are seen being ordered to dig their own shallow graves before being shot.
Why ISIL Wants to Be In a War With America
Paul Waldman / The American Prospect
(September 17, 2014) -- The videos they produce are an attempt to bait us into responding.
As we continue to debate our new war, or semi-war, or whatever you want to call it, it's important for people like me whose job it is to write about political developments not to pretend to know more than we do. It's not always easy to restrain yourself, since if you're a political blogger you have to have an opinion about everything (and fast).
When we get into a topic like this that touches on so many different areas -- the presidency, Congress, public opinion, terrorism, and so on -- it can be difficult if not impossible to stay in the lane of the topics where you actually know what you're talking about.
When it comes to the United States's actions, what does ISIL want?
All of which is an extended throat-clearing to let you know that I'm going to be speculating a little, but I think this is an important question: When it comes to the United States's actions, what does ISIL want?
The occasion for this question is a new video that has been released, purportedly created by the group, that apes the form of a movie trailer (I was able to watch it here, but by the time you read this YouTube may have taken it down). It's basically a montage of images of fighting, America, and ISIL itself, including shots of American soldiers with explosions superimposed on them (as though ISIL is blowing them up), a shot of President Obama, and one of the White House. It ends this way:
For all the talk of how "slickly produced" this stuff is, it's nothing your teenage nephew couldn't create with a few hours and a copy of any of a dozen free video editing programs. But one thing's for sure: They wouldn't be doing this kind of stuff if they were terrified that the United States was going to come get them. That's the kind of thing you do when you want the US to come after you.
I don't know any more about the internal politics of ISIL than anyone else, nor am I a terrorism expert. ISIL has multiple goals, which may not all be in concert at all times -- securing areas in Iraq, trying to overthrow Bashar Assad, waging a global propaganda war, and so on. But there are some obvious reasons why we can assume ISIL is only too happy to be all but officially at war with the United States.
Most importantly, it elevates them. America is the global hegemon, and if America is waging war against you, you're one of the most important actors on the world stage. Few things are more vital to a terrorist organization's recruitment efforts than the ability to tell young men that they can do something heroic by joining the struggle. ISIL can say to any disaffected young Muslim man anywhere: "You're mad at America? The way to fight it is to come join us."
Just to be clear, the fact that ISIL wants to be in a war with America doesn't necessarily mean a war with America is going to work out well for them. They can be utterly wrong about what's in their interests. But as we go after them, we may well end up weakening them in some ways and strengthening them in others, and in ways that are hard to anticipate.
When we took away Al Qaeda's safe haven in Afghanistan, it essentially transformed from a centralized corporation into a franchise system, which made it less capable of launching large-scale attacks but more challenging to go after, since it's now so diffuse.
But as we see more of these videos, it's good to remember that ISIL is trying to bait us. The Obama administration has decided that taking the bait is the right thing to do. They might be right about that, or they might not, but it isn't as if we had no choice.
Masked Man with American Accent Appears
In Latest ISIS Propaganda Film 'Flames of War'
LONDON (September 19, 2014) -- The latest suspected ISIS propaganda film has been uploaded to YouTube and appears to feature a jihadist with an American accent. The 55-minute 'Flames of War' video was posted online today and bears hallmarks of previous Islamic State tapes including Hollywood-style effects and bloodthirsty, call-to-arms language. The clip bears the stamp of the al-Hayat Media Centre, ISIS' English-language propaganda arm.
An ISIS jihadist spoke with an American accent on the Flames of War propaganda film which was uploaded to YouTube today. In the video, the masked extremist stands before Syrian soldiers, loyal to dictator Bashar al-Assad who are digging their own shallow grave outside the city of Raqqa.
A male voice in well-spoken English with a non-specific American accent provides the voice-over, using dialogue seemingly hijacked from a blockbuster action film. He says: 'In the face of the dark wave of the crusader force, the historical land of two rivers bore life to a mission that would transform the political landscape of the world.'
Almost an hour follows of battle scenes where militants wield rocket launchers, the footage manipulated with special effects. Piles of bloodied corpses are spliced with speeches by President Obama and former president George W. Bush.
The tape builds to shaky camera footage of the extremists' raid on the 17th Division Air Force base in Raqqa, Syria, under the cover of darkness.
In the final minutes of the tape, a masked jihadist in desert fatigues, speaks directly to camera in a different American accent to the man who provided the voice-over. An ISIS flag billows as Syrian soldiers, loyal to dictator Bashar al-Assad, dig their own shallow shallow graves in the sand.
In a deep voice, the ISIS militant, who appears tall and well-built, speaks first in Arabic before transitioning into fluent, well-spoken English to deliver a chilling message. He said: 'We're here in the 17th division military base just outside the city of Raqqa.
We're here with the soldiers of Bashar, you can see them now digging their own graves where they were stationed. The very place they were stationed, terrorizing the Muslims in Raqqa.
He goes on to say that the work of Allah will be carried out on the soldiers by the mujahideen who captured them. 'This is the end that they face,' he said, gesturing to the men digging in the sand. The tape then cuts to a captured soldier holding a shovel in a pit who says: 'Today we're digging our graves with our own hands. . . . Our fate is to be slaughtered.' He said that ISIS with just a few dozen soldiers were able to take over the 800-strong Syrian army base.
The tape ends with the American-accented jihadist brandishing a handgun and saying: 'The fighting has just begun.' A line of masked ISIS militants then shoot the kneeling soldiers in the back of their heads, the bodies pitching forward into a mass shallow grave. MailOnline is not running the full video.
The US State Department had yet to comment on Friday when contacted by MailOnline about the authenticity of the tape and the suspected involvement of an American.
Just days ago, ISIS had released a similarly slickly-produced 'Flames of War' trailer warning the US of the carnage it wants to inflict in Iraq if President Obama deploys troops to the war-torn nation as he attempts to 'degrade and ultimately destroy' the terror group.
Timing of the trailer and the feature-length film, suggested ISIS were directly responding to General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who told the Senate Armed Services Committee this week that fighting in Iraq may require the use of ground troops.
The trailer was also released by the al-Hayat Media Center, which has become known for its propaganda videos for ISIS, which include high-production values, CGI explosions and slow-motion footage. The movie is just the latest heavily-edited video from ISIS that has included gruesome footage of the beheadings of two American journalists and a British aid worker.
In the latest hostage video released on Thursday, British photojournalist John Cantile sits behind a desk and in a measured tone makes the case for Western powers to negotiate with his captors. His appearance is very similar to that of fellow British hostages Alan Henning and David Haines, who were seen in a video released by ISIS earlier this month.
The footage taken of the other hostages, including American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, was characterised by the masked figure of 'Jihadi John'. He -- and his weapons -- are absent from the video of Mr Cantile.
"Lend Me Your Ears." Statement by Hostage John Cantile / Channel 4 News
(September 19, 2014) -- A new video has been released which is thought to show another Briton being held by Islamic State militants. John Cantlie, who is dressed in orange, makes a statement to the camera.
Photo caption: In the chilling tape released on Friday, ISIS line up the Syrian soldiers captured during an attack on an airbase in Raqqa.
Photo caption: In the sickening footage, the soldiers are shot in the back of the head by the ISIS militants, their bodies rolling into a shallow grave.
HOW MANY AMERICANS ARE WITH ISIS? FBI 'INVESTIGATING 40'
David Martosko / The Daily Mail
LONDON (September 19, 2014) -- As many as 40 Americans have returned to the US after fighting for the ISIS terror army overseas and are under investigation by the FBI. Democratic Rep. Tim Bishop made the remarks during a speech to Long Island Metro Business Action on September 12.
'One of the concerns is the number of US citizens who have left our country to go join up with ISIS,' he said. 'It is believed there have been some number up to 100 that have done that.'
'It is also believed that some 40 of those who left this country to join up with ISIS have now returned to our country. Those 40 are under FBI attention and surveillance. So they are known and they are being tracked by the FBI.'
American jihadis, part of a swelling 'foreign fighter' contingent aiding the self-designated Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) could put their ideologies and experience to work in the United States, a fact that has some in Congress clamoring for easier ways to revoke their citizenship.
The Pentagon said two weeks ago that only about a dozen Americans had left the country to join up with ISIS, while as many as 100 are suspected of taking up arms with a wider range of Islamist extremist groups in the Middle East and Africa.
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