ISIS: five-year plan
Summary: ISIS appear to have an expansion plan for where they want to be in five years, looking back to previous caliphates, to encorporate Spain and the greater Balkans.
I was very struck by this map that has emerged, purporting to show the area that ISIS feels it should have conquered by 2020. Areas and states have been renamed. I have no idea if this is genuine although I am reasonably confident that it is unattainable. There seem to be many variants, both historic and aspirational, if you Google on “Map muslim caliphate”
I wonder how it makes the various Talibans in Afghanistan and Pakistan feel when they see this – a mixture of worry and envy, I guess. I remember Gulbuddin Hekmatyar making a comment in or around 2006 to the effect he had hoped that, as in the 1980s, the Afghan mujahideen would have been at the forefront of the anti-Imperialist jihad but that it seemed to be that Al Qaeda in Iraq were way ahead. The low levels of reporting of an ISIS presence in Afghanistan might seem to suggest that, if an ISIS presence became significantly entrenched – largely through existing insurgent groups “re-badging” themselves – the Taliban are at risk of fracturing as some look to become associated and others fight against them.
There is a really excellent article by Graeme Wood, looking at who ISIS are and what they want. He highlights strongly that we, the West, do not yet really understand what ISIS is, but notes that:
…the Islamic State’s countless other propaganda videos and encyclicals, are online, and the caliphate’s supporters have toiled mightily to make their project knowable. We can gather that their state rejects peace as a matter of principle; that it hungers for genocide; that its religious views make it constitutionally incapable of certain types of change, even if that change might ensure its survival; and that it considers itself a harbinger of—and headline player in—the imminent end of the world…much of what the group does looks nonsensical except in light of a sincere, carefully considered commitment to returning civilization to a seventh-century legal environment, and ultimately to bringing about the apocalypse
Too rigid to survive? And the direction of ISIS is not merely pointed at Westerners and non-Muslims:
Denying the holiness of the Koran or the prophecies of Muhammad is straightforward apostasy. But Zarqawi and the state he spawned take the position that many other acts can remove a Muslim from Islam. These include, in certain cases, selling alcohol or drugs, wearing Western clothes or shaving one’s beard, voting in an election—even for a Muslim candidate—and being lax about calling other people apostates. Being a Shiite, as most Iraqi Arabs are, meets the standard as well, because the Islamic State regards Shiism as innovation, and to innovate on the Koran is to deny its initial perfection. (The Islamic State claims that common Shiite practices, such as worship at the graves of imams and public self-flagellation, have no basis in the Koran or in the example of the Prophet.) That means roughly 200 million Shia are marked for death. So too are the heads of state of every Muslim country, who have elevated man-made law above Sharia by running for office or enforcing laws not made by God.
Following takfiri doctrine, the Islamic State is committed to purifying the world by killing vast numbers of people. The lack of objective reporting from its territory makes the true extent of the slaughter unknowable, but social-media posts from the region suggest that individual executions happen more or less continually, and mass executions every few weeks. Muslim “apostates” are the most common victims. Exempted from automatic execution, it appears, are Christians who do not resist their new government. Baghdadi permits them to live, as long as they pay a special tax, known as the jizya, and acknowledge their subjugation. The Koranic authority for this practice is not in dispute.