ISIS defectors reveal the nightmare behind the propaganda
By: Sarah Sinno
We in the West have been debating, literally for years, the best way to tackle Islamic State (Isil/ISIS). Key to the group’s success, we are repeatedly told, are its sophisticated online and social media recruitment strategies, providing it with a limitless supply of young foreign fighters.
Yet rather than wring our hands at our impotence in tackling Isil, which has relentlessly spread its reach and influence, we should examine a wealth of new information which documents Isil’s frailties. Crucially, this information has been provided by insiders – defectors from Isil ranks who know better than anyone the reality of life under the so-called caliphate. In dozens of interviews, these fighters, who have risked execution by fleeing the Isil-ruled zone they once rushed to join, give the inside account of Isil hypocrisies and failings, and in so doing, identify the best method of attack for Western governments seeking to demolish Isil’s appeal.
So what do these Isil defectors reveal?
1 – If you feel alienated and isolated in the UK, you will feel alienated and isolated in “the caliphate”
The International Centre for the Study of Radicalization and Political Violence (ICSR) has just published a report based on interviews with dozens of deserters from Islamic State. In it, many explained that they originally joined Isil because they felt alienated at home. Isil propaganda, with its romantic idea of the Caliphate, appeals to those looking for a sense of belonging. But, crucially, once in territory under Isil control, many foreign fighters felt just as excluded as they had at home. On first arriving in Syria they were welcomed, interviews reveal, but soon thereafter were told by locals: “You are here to sabotage my country, you are coming to force something on us.”
The fact that foreign fighters were portrayed as liberators by their recruiters but received as oppressors by Syrian people themselves was a powerful influence in providing a cognitive opening for their defection. Instead of being the heroes they were aspiring to be, they found themselves forcing a brutal interpretation of Sharia on people who didn’t want it. Ultimately, those interviewed said that lack of integration and alienation were key drivers of their defection as IS “citizens”, just as they had previously been drivers of their radicalization and departure from the West.
As one defector explained: “The Syrian people once welcomed us, now they don’t.”
2 – If you are joining Isil to fight the enemies of Islam and defend oppressed Muslims, bad luck
The Isil narrative, and that of its predecessor al Qaeda, is based on the idea of protecting the Ummah (Muslim world) – saving the oppressed from both evil, external Western “crusaders”, and the equally evil, internal “apostates”. But the reality, defectors reveal, is that Isil willingly murders pretty much anyone who disagrees with it. According to some Isil defectors, they were even told they would get closer to God by killing other Muslims. This emerges in particular in a series of videos from the Sawab Centre, which offer some testimonies of Isil defectors and sheds further light on what has motivated them to leave the group. What comes up time and again is the terrorist group’s killing of other Muslims. The defectors found this abhorrent and contrary to everything they had previously been taught.
One defector, Abdulla Al-Sahli, made clear the ideological inconsistencies in justifying murder with words from the Koran. Referring to his Isil lieutenants, he said: “They come and say, ‘By his blood we want to get closer to God.’”
3 – The “caliphate” is not utopia, but bloody internecine chaos
Many foreign fighters rushed to Syria to be part of a newly-established utopian society that allows them to fulfil their religious duty. But on arrival these defectors concluded that Isil is actually inciting chaos (or fitnah) among Muslims. That Isil disproportionately fights other Sunni Muslim groups rather than Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad is a consistent sore spot for these defectors. That fellow Sunni Muslims who get on the wrong side of the caliphate’s religious police are victim to the same barbaric punishments handed out to Westerners, gay people and Yazidis in Isil propaganda is a key motivating factor for defectors for whom the organisation, its leadership and, on occasion, Isil’s cause has become delegitimized.
Mohamed Al-Suleiti was particularly inspired to leave Isil’s death cult due to the realization that “[it’s] a situation where Muslims are combating Muslims.”
4 – Think the caliphate will be all sex and heroic fighting? Think again
What shines through the interviews with defectors is the gulf between the propagandised fantasy of life under the caliphate and the harsh reality. Isil propaganda conveys the idea that it is both the saviour of all Muslims and can govern a well-functioning caliphate. By giving the impression of a prosperous lifestyle, through images of people celebrating during festivities, children playing, or city renovations, Isil masks the harsh reality of those living under its tyranny. Through the testimonies of these defectors, we now have confirmation of the corruption and the brutality, and also of the dysfunctionality and the boredom that many recruits face.
Ultimately, as Mefrih Al-Khathami said, many defectors like him “had reached a stage where I did not know what I had come to do in Syria”. Isil propaganda may have been a pull to get him to join the group in the first place, but once he was a member that propaganda was exposed as lies.
So how can we use this information to defeat Isil. Certainly it can be hugely powerful, and has obvious value for the intelligence and security services. For the individuals concerned, defection should lead to further disengagement and, eventually, deradicalisation. More importantly, however, their stories can give hope to others looking to leave; personal testimonies can act as counter-narratives and carry equal and opposite weight to the propaganda that is targeting those vulnerable to radicalisation. Quilliam’s report “In and Out of Extremism”, for example, reflects how Maajid Nawaz’s and Dr Usama Hasan’s personal deradicalisation journeys have helped extremists reconsider their commitment to radical groups and further the deradicalisation process for many others.
Counter-narratives come in all shapes and sizes, and are valuable whether political, theological, or emotional. But nothing is more compelling than the personal account of a defector. As the West weighs up its strategy to take on Isil in the long term, it is clear that shattering the Isil myth through the eyewitness accounts of defectors must play a key role.
7 Interesting Facts About Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca
1. The Hassan II mosque, also called the Grand Mosque of Hassan II, is the the second largest mosque and third largest religious building in the entire world. The only mosque larger is in Mecca, and the minaret on the Grand Mosque is the tallest one around the globe, even taller than the one located in Mecca.
2. Most Casablanca Morocco hotels offer a view of the mosque, which is not difficult considering it towers over the city and surrounding area. This mosque was not completed until the year 1993, and it took 7 years to build during which the work was done around the clock by thousands of craftsmen and laborers.
12-Year Old Child Reveals One Of The Best Kept Secrets In The World (Video)
Most people in the world, young or old, have little idea that our world is so incredibly corrupt and coldly calculated to create an enslaved population. Luckily, this is changing with each passing day as a switch seems to be turning on in people that allows them to see and realize that something isn’t quite right here.
Subhana’llah: Peacock (IMAGES)
Peacocks are ground-feeders that eat insects, plants, and small creatures. There are two familiar peacock species. The blue peacock lives in India and Sri Lanka, while the green peacock is found in Java and Myanmar (Burma). A more distinct and little-known species, the Congo peacock, inhabits African rain forests.
How Zakat Impacts Productivity
Deep down, you may think of zakat as a tiresome once-a-year event that simply involves a quick online payment of 2.5% of your cash and a bunch of gold weighed on scales in your kitchen! But there is a lot more to it. Fully understanding and practising this beautiful pillar of Islam can lead to a more productive and successful existence at both an individual and community level. How? Paying your zakat correctly triggers some marvellous productivity boosters that you probably have never thought of! Here’s what actually happens to you and your
1. Purifies Your Soul
Nothing prevents us more from reaching the heights of productivity than our sins. Day and night, we disobey Allah (glorified and exalted be He) in all sorts of ways, knowingly and unknowingly, blotting our hearts and blocking the light of Allah (glorified and exalted be He) from entering them. One critical way of clearing out the junk from our hearts is to pay zakat.
Linguistically, zakat carries meanings of cleansing and purification, originating from the same root as the word Tazkiyah. In fact, when Allah (glorified and exalted be He) commanded the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) to collect zakat, He (glorified and exalted be He) specifically mentioned its purifying power:
“Take from their wealth a charity to cleanse and purify them through it and pray for them. Indeed your prayer gives them tranquility. And indeed Allah is All Hearing, All Knowing.” [Qur’an: Chapter 9, Verse 103]
2. Blesses Your Wealth
Apart from purification, zakat also carries meanings of growth and enhancement. Paying your zakat means that what is left of your money will be more blessed and more productive for you. Our Prophet (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) emphasised this by warning against delaying the payment of Zakat or not paying it at all:
“Zakat is never intermingled with any amount of wealth without destroying and rotting it.” [Bukhari]
It is said that zakat represents the ‘filth’ within our wealth, i.e. an amount that we may have incurred through some form of sin or dishonesty, however small or great. For our money to remain blessed, it is vital to get rid of the ‘filth’ as soon as possible. This is akin to the dross that is filtered from a blast furnace, leaving a pure, pristine metal behind.
Masjid Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin Masjid, Putrajaya in Malaysia
When we know the status of something, it is easier to honor it. Unfortunately, Muslims today do not honor the mosques as they should be honored. We know that the masjid is the House of Allah, but we fail to internalize the nobility this title holds. When any object or person is connected to the Grand Name of Allah, it shows prestigious rank. For example, Allah calls some of His exclusive slaves, “ebaadur-Rahman”, the slaves of the Most Merciful. By connecting them with His Name; Allah is honoring them. Similarly, the masajid are known as “Buyutullah”, the Houses of Allah. Of all the places on this earth, the Prophet informed us that the mosques are the most beloved placed to Allah . Think about it: Our Lord loves the masajid! Even the name holds great honor; “masjid” literally means “place of prostration (sujud)”. They are the greatest places to worship Allah and to remember Him. Allah says, “And the mosques are for Allah (Alone).” (72:18)
Article source: http://muslimmatters.org/
Early copy of the Qur’an discovered
By: John Fontain
Allah says, “Indeed, it is We who sent down the Qur’an and indeed, We will be its guardian.” (Quran English Interpretation Chapter 15 verse 9). Now read this amazing piece of info below:
A Quran manuscript has been carbon dated to have been written almost 20-40 years (with 95% precision) after the Prophet Mohammad’s صلى الله عليه وسلم death. It was donated to the University of Tubingen (Germany) in the 19th century. This manuscript (and many others with it) goes to show as tohow early such copies of the Quran were in circulation. Such manuscripts also debunk many wild and sensational orientalist theories about the origins of Islam. As far as early Muslims were concerned, religious practices and scripture were well established within the life of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم. The article below provides a link to the entire electronic copy of the manuscript, enjoy. It is mistakenly stated that the manuscript is written in Kufic script. That is not the case rather the script is Hijazi (earlier in origin than the Kufic script). The contents and the order of the surahs is exactly the same as what we read today alhamdulillah. The parchments contain verses from surah 17 to 36 (over 25% of the Quran). Please share this crucial piece of information with all those who dispute with you in this matter.
Sheikh Dr Haitham Al-Haddad: Being Thankful to Allah (Video)
This is an excerpt from the course, ‘Tafseer Surah Al-Qalam’. For more information, links to the full lessons, notes and exams, please visit http://www.islam21c.com/ecourses. The full lessons are absolutely full of benefits and reflections alhamdulillah, so please watch and share.