The book I just finished: “Black Flag: The Rise of ISIS” 2016 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction, by Joby Warrick. But, the book doesn’t skim the surface of ISIS.
I had flipped through it when it first came out; when it wasn’t expensive, yet, and honestly, felt I could write a better history. But, then it won the Pulitzer. I collect Non-fiction and History Pulitzers.
My issue with the writing is he spends too much of the book on the life and activities of Jordanian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, certainly the founder of ISIS, who ran a paramilitary training camp in Afghanistan, but, he died in 2006. Even before the surge in Iraq that had stabilized Iraq at the time. But, more than that, the entire story is one of religious ignorance of ISIS – the real Kafirs: ISIS: thugs, murderers and rapists.
Instead of repeating the author’s account of miscalculations by the United States, Arab leaders and al-Qaeda that he felt empowered the Islamic State; I disagree. Those embittered battles with al Qaeda were predictable over ISIS’s predilection of extreme brutality even more radical than al Qaeda. And, the US “miscalculations” didn’t promote Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the CIA was well- aware of him.
The US presidential administration “miscalculations” were more based on ignoring military commander/CIA initial recommendations (see Looming Towers, and , evidence of which WMD was questionable, embarrassingly sending Colin Powell out to the UN; Presidential administration’s insistence in following the war-hungry Bush/Rumsfeld (on-the-cheap)/Wolfowitz/Chaney recommendations to invade Iraq, with questionable WMD (I felt duped, by 2004); the ill-conceived method of invasion, “Shock and Awe,” a relic of conventional warfare putting innocents at risk; with a Baathist regime infrastructure, thrown out with the effect of civil war opportunities between rival sects of mistreated Iraqi, Kurds, Shia and Sunnis; all of whom initially welcomed us in ridding Saddam, for which we repaid them with no personal security, no military control over criminal anarchy looting; I could go on, but it is, if not frustrating, it is heartbreaking (we needed the wisdom of a General George Marshall).
Had I written it, I would have preferred more about ISIS ideological origins, and an accurate statistical recounting of the insane, bloodlust beheadings of a teenage Sunni for missing Mosque, rapes, torture, destruction of irreplaceable iconic, archeological treasures, anything Mohammed (PBUH)- as Salafists believe in no mediator between Allah (SWT) and Muslim. All Kafirs can be beheaded: moderate Sunnis, Shia, Hindu, Christian, Sufi, Atheists. (Sources: The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11, 2006, Lawrence Wright; Against all Enemies, 2004, Richard Allen Clarke, chief counter-terrorism adviser on the National Security Council; Cultures of War, John W. Dower, 2011, (emeritus of history, Massachusetts Institute of Technology).
Also, what should have been in this book, is the lack of U.S. strategy and questionable invasion of Iraq to begin with. Saddam had nothing to do with 9/11, and Bush and Cheney had unfinished business when Bush Sr. neglected to finish off Saddam when General Schwarzkopf had the Elite Guard and all their airfields and firepower within in its sites, when ordered to pull back.
The US decision to leave US troops on the ground with little, strategic clarification, over 25%-40% unemployment in Iraq, but no hiring of Iraqi workers; on-the-fly crowd control putting US our Armed Forces in harm’s way with no pre-planned exit plan; then, in an effort to reverse bad decisions, made more, bad decisions: Obama’s politically-motivated, premature pull-out caused the vacuum in which ISIS funded by Saudis, Yemen and other Middle Eastern wealth, as ISIS grew.
The repeated miscalculations by the United States, Arab leaders and al-Qaeda wound up empowering the Islamic State. That said, the heroic effort of U.S. Special Forces to train Iraqis and Kurds to fight ISIS, is laudable.
Also, It is important to know radical ideological interpretation of the Islamic religion. Wahhabi/Salafist and Deobandis include al Qaeda and splinter groups, like Daesh/ISIS/ISIL in Iraq and Syria, Boko Haram in Africa, Hamas and Hezbollah in the Levant, Taliban [TTP, Haqqani Network, ASWJ/SSP] in Pakistan, and lone wolf want-a-be’s in the Western world). They are all radical Sunnis from the Wahhabi cult or Deobandi cults of Islam. Many of the suicide bombers are products of the Madrassas (religious schools) funded by Saudi Arabia.
The Jihadists are purists from Saudi Arabian origins of Wahhabism- Religion: Islam. (read, The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11, 2006, Lawrence Wright). Muslims with this Takfiri ideology seek out and destroy sacred religious shrines, and have gruesome history of beheadings of both Sunni and Shia Muslims, Muslim tribal elders that opposed them in Pakistani Northern territories, Balochs, as well as, Ahmadis, Sufis, Hindus, and Christians- innocent men, women and children. There is no question that all Muslim terrorists are from the Islamic religion. They merely have a different interpretation of that religion.
That and the following story, and many like it, should be told:
Typical ISIS narrative, of many, an Arabic interview with an Iraqi Yazidi girl who endured sexual captivity at the hands of the Islamic State, published on March 22, 2016. It appeared on “Shabaab [Youth] Talk,” hosted by Ja’far Abdul. The teenage girl, Birvan, (pseudonym) was enslaved at 15 and after months of captivity escaped. She is now 17.
5,000 Yazidi girls were enslaved. ISIS vehicles “full of men” took the women ages of 9 to 22, all older women went to a different location: They killed any woman or girl who resisted. All boys older than six were taken to a military camp, for ISIS training as fighters. The rest beheaded or otherwise murdered.
40 year old men came and went at will, taking a ten-year-old girl. When she resisted he beat her using stones, and would have opened fire on her if she had not gone with him. Yazidi girls, ISIS consider, sabiya [spoils of war, sex slaves], kuffar [infidels], to be sold without a price,” When a girl’s turn for rape came, men just said “come,” refusal, they were beat savagely.”
Birvan said, “He was truly foul, truly, I mean, if you saw him, there’s no difference between him and a beast. Actually animals have more mercy in their hearts than these [ISIS].”
Birvan said “there were 48 ISIS members in that house, and we were two Yazidi girls!” – as if to say “use your imagination.” Any girl over 9 years old, they took her — raped her.”
Birvan said she tried to commit suicide four times. She also tried to drink gasoline and slice her wrists. “Life was a nightmare,” she said.
She said the Yazidi women were forced to wear burqas when they were traveling outside, and mostly to hide who they were. But, telling was that they also compelled the girls to dress scantily. “Everything,” she said, “was easy for them.”
This is the story that should be being told, not old stories about al-Zarqawi that makes him a martyr.
The story is simple: ISIS is evil, and the world needs to unite against it and eradicate it like a cockroach uses “Black Flag” insect roach extermination.