Small Wars Journal

On Self-Declared Caliph Ibrahim’s May 2015 Message to Muslims

Fri, 06/05/2015 - 12:14am

On Self-Declared Caliph Ibrahim’s May 2015 Message to Muslims: Key Problems of Motivation, Marginalization, Illogic, and Empirical Delusion in the Caliphate Project

Paul Kamolnick


On May 14, 2015 a 34-minute audio message was released by the self-proclaimed Islamic State’s media arm al-Furqan. This latest message, “March Forth Whether Light or Heavy,”  from self-appointed caliph Ibrahim ibn Awwad al-Husayni al-Qurashi (birth name: Ibrahim ibn Awwad Ibrahim Ali Muhammad al-Badri al-Samarrai; aka: Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi; Abu Du’a),[1] was the first issued in six months: a 17-minute audio was last uploaded November 14, 2015 announcing recent declarations of loyalty and expansion into new environs.[2] Probably designed to reassure potential followers that despite reports he suffered shrapnel wounds to his spine in a recent bombing attack he remains in charge, a careful reading of this message supplies potential insight into present critical vulnerabilities confronting the Islamic State Organization’s (ISO) quest to found and lead a Muslim caliphate.

The Caliph’s ‘Islamic Problem’: Islam Is Ultra-Jihadism

One would expect the caliph of 1.6 billion Muslims to expound on the fullness of what is demanded of Muslims as exemplars of righteous faith and deeds. Instead, for Caliph Ibrahim,  Islam is equated with what might be termed ultra-jihadism. There is here nothing of prayer, alms, fasting, or pilgrimage; nothing of compassion or mercy, humility or reflections on righteousness. This caliph instead proclaims: “[W]here are you O Muslim in relation to the command of your Lord, who commanded you to fast in one verse, and commanded you with jihād and fighting in dozens of verses?”

One could ask, however, what about the thousands of verses on prayer, alms, righteous deeds, honoring covenants and promises and oaths; on forgiveness of sins, and honoring one’s mother and father; of hospitality and generosity; on security, prosperity, rights, and honor?

No. Islam is war. Islam is jihad. Worship is fighting. Fighting is proof of faith.

O Muslims, Islam was never for a day the religion of peace. Islam is the religion of war. Your Prophet (peace be upon him) was dispatched with the sword as a mercy to the creation. He was ordered with war until Allah is worshipped alone. He (peace be upon him) said to the polytheists of his people, “I came to you with slaughter.” He fought both the Arabs and non-Arabs in all their various colors. He himself left to fight and took part in dozens of battles. He never for a day grew tired of war. He (peace be upon him) passed away during the period he was preparing the expedition of Usāmah (may Allah be pleased with him). (emphasis in original).[3]

Caliph Ibrahim supplies quotes from authoritative sources, as do most other ‘jihadis,’ to prove that fighting in the path of Allah (jihad fi sabil Allah) is enjoined on righteous Muslims (e.g. Qur’an 2:216; 4:74; 9:38-39). One can declare that expansive military jihad is obligatory until the Day of Judgment. This ‘jihad-realist’ premise is well-supported in all authoritative sources, and must be conceded by those who do not seek to avoid genuine scholarship.[4] But it is another matter entirely, to equate Islam with this superlative form of obligatory duty, or to demand that this obligation must be immediately operationalized without exception, everywhere and unconditionally. Despite this martial dimension in Islam, rules do apply, and among these rules for fighting in the Way of Allah, is the requirement that the authorized war leader (e.g. emir, caliph) very carefully evaluate the conditions, abilities, and opportunities available; the potential benefits versus costs of violent armed struggle; the possible loss of life, for believers and non-believers alike; and other less costly alternative means (in blood, honor, property, and other sanctities upheld in Islam) available to expand receptivity to the Call (Da’wa) to Islam, and for enjoining good and forbidding evil conduct (al-amr bil-ma’ruf wa’l-nahy ‘an al-munkar).[5] Baghdadi reveals, and at the same time conceals one of these shari’a requirement of lawful jihad: capacity and power relative to one’s opponents.

And we call upon every Muslim in every place to perform hijrah to the Islamic State or fight in his land wherever that may be. And do not think that we are calling upon you to march forth out of weakness or incapability, for we are strong by Allah’s bounty, strong by Allah, strong by our faith in Him, our seeking of His aid, our seeking refuge with Him, our reliance upon Him alone without any partners, and our good expectation of Him. This is because the battle is one between the allies of the Merciful and the allies of Satan, and so Allah (the Mighty and Majestic) will support His soldiers, grant His slaves authority, and preserve His religion, even if the days alternate between victory and loss, even if war is competition, and even if wounds afflict both parties. We do not call upon you O Muslim out of weakness or inability. We call upon you out of advice for you, love for you, and compassion for you. We remind you and call you so that you do not attain Allah’s anger, torment, and punishment, and so that you do not lose this good that the mujāhidīn for Allah’s cause obtain.[6] (emphases supplied)

Another explanation for this unconditional demand to fight everywhere and immediately without condition is this caliph’s apocalypticism, hinted at above in his reference to battle between Allah and Satan. This shall be further explored in a concluding section.

The Caliph’s ‘Muslim Masses’ Problem

A more mundane explanation for this caliph’s appeal to ultra-jihadism is available, however: a relative failure of the Muslim masses to be roused to fight for, or really even understand, this ultra-jihadist Islamic State project. It is clear from a careful reading of this message that the Muslim masses exhibit reluctance and have failed to ‘buy in’ to this caliphal project. “Why will you not fight for your state?! Why will you not fight for our Caliphate?!,” he seems to scream.  The caliphs manipulative employment of  fear, guilt, and also insinuations of cowardice and unmanliness, are then fully displayed.  

So where are you O Muslim in relation to the command of your Lord, who commanded you to fast in one verse, and commanded you with jihād and fighting in dozens of verses? Where are you in relation to your Prophet (peace be upon him), whom you claim to emulate, and who spent his whole life (peace be upon him) as a mujāhid for the cause of Allah, fighting His enemies?[7] (emphases supplied)

Muslim! O you who claims to love Allah (the Mighty and Majestic), and claims to love His Prophet (peace be upon him)… If you are truthful in your claim, then obey your beloved and fight for the cause of Allah, and emulate your beloved (peace be upon him), and do not die except as a mujāhid for the cause of Allah.[8] (emphases supplied)

Muslims! Do not think the war that we are waging is the Islamic State’s war alone. Rather, it is the Muslims’ war altogether. It is the war of every Muslim in every place, and the Islamic State is merely the spearhead in this war. It is but the war of the people of faith against the people of disbelief, so march forth to your war O Muslims. March forth everywhere, for it is an obligation upon every Muslim who is accountable before Allah. And whoever stays behind or flees, Allah (the Mighty and Majestic) will be angry with him and will punish him with a painful torment.[9] (emphases supplied)

So there is no excuse for any Muslim who is capable of performing hijrah to the Islamic State, or capable of carrying a weapon where he is, for Allah (the Blessed and Exalted) has commanded him with hijrah and jihād, and has made fighting obligatory upon him.”[10](emphases supplied)

The Caliph’s Jewish, Christian, and “Crusader” Problem

Baghdadi cites the standard quranic verses that supposedly prove that Jews and Christians are, and will forever remain, unreservedly hostile to Muslims and Islam generally (2: 105, 120, 217). However, this caliph faces two serious obstacles. Merely citing a few quranic passages is insufficient to fully justify a contemporary ruling (hukm) on whether relations among Muslims, Christians, and Jews, are today permissible. Second, the evidence he does cite actually tells against his position. What Baghdadi shows is that the United States and its allies in the anti-IS coalition, and majority-non-Muslim populations throughout Europe, have given Muslims very little to fear, and much to hope for. It is easy to feel Baghdadi seething since the demonology he requires is unsupported by contemporary facts. Baghdadi’s invective is first stated, and then accompanied by the key quranic passages referenced above.  

Muslims! Whoever thinks that it is within his capacity to conciliate with the Jews, Christians, and other disbelievers, and for them to conciliate with him, such that he coexists with them and they coexist with him while he is upon his religion and upon tawhīd (monotheism), then he has belied the explicit statement of his Lord (the Mighty and Majestic), who says, {And never will the Jews or the Christians approve of you until you follow their religion} [Al-Baqarah: 120]. {And they will continue to fight you until they turn you back from your religion if they are able} [Al-Baqarah: 217]. {Neither those who disbelieve from the People of the Book nor the polytheists wish that any good should be sent down to you from your Lord. But Allah selects for His mercy whom He wills, and Allah is the possessor of great bounty} [Al-Baqarah: 105]; (emphases in original).[11]

The illogic of Baghdadi’s position emerges, however, when he tries to infer from states of fact, what he claims will and must inevitably happen in the future. Consider these non sequiturs.

And if the Crusaders today claim to avoid the Muslim public [i.e. meticulously avoiding Muslim non-combatant civilian casualties]and confine themselves to targeting the armed [i.e. IS] amongst them, then soon you will see them targeting every Muslim everywhere.[12] (emphases supplied)

And if the Crusaders today have begun to bother the Muslims who continue to live in the lands of the cross by monitoring them, arresting them, and questioning them, [i.e. enhanced employment of intelligence and law enforcement assets due to IS-inspired criminal terrorist actions] then soon they will begin to displace them and take them away either dead, imprisoned, or homeless. They will not leave anyone amongst them except one who apostatizes from his religion and follows theirs. [13] (emphases supplied)

From the premise that the US does deliberately minimize loss of Muslim life, one is to infer that the US will necessarily seek to maximize the loss of life. From the premise that many societies have, (owing to IS-inspired terrorist actions) increased surveillance and law enforcement, one is to infer these same societies will necessarily force persons out of their homes, into prison or force them to apostasize. Really? This is the logic followed by the caliphate’s leader? The illogic of Baghdadi’s rant against the broader anti-IS coalition is similarly on display.

America and its allies from amongst the Jews, Crusaders, Rāfidah (Shiites), secularists, atheists, and apostates claim that their coalition and war is to aid the weak and oppressed, help the poor, relieve the afflicted, liberate the enslaved, defend the innocent and peaceful, and prevent the shedding of their blood. They also claim to be in the camp of truth, good, and justice, waging war against falsehood, evil, and oppression, alongside the Muslims! Rather, they claim to defend Islam and the Muslims! Indeed, they lie. And Allah spoke the truth and His Messenger (peace be upon him) spoke the truth.[14]

That is it? This is the caliph’s proof?  Argument ad hominem is produced--“Rather, they claim to defend Islam and the Muslims! Indeed, they lie [but I do not!].”-- but not a shred of evidence or actual fact is offered that disputes or refutes what he himself asserts that this coalition claims for itself. According to him this coalition “aid[s] the weak and oppressed, help[s] the poor, relieve[s] the afflicted, liberate[s] the enslaved, defend[s] the innocent and peaceful, and prevent[s] the shedding of their blood”. According to him, this coalition claims to be “in the camp of truth, good, and justice, waging war against falsehood, evil, and oppression, alongside the Muslims!” Yes, indeed, that is what is claimed by the anti-ISO coalition. And it is not surprising that this could be “alongside the Muslims” because Islam as civilization and faith, faith and deeds, stands for precisely those Abrahamic-derived moral imperatives as bequeathed by priests, lawgivers, prophets, and righteous communities of faith.

The Caliph’s ‘Iraqi Problem’: ‘Ahlus-Sunnah,’ Shi’a, and Kurdish Iraqi

The Ahlus-Sunnah (“People of the Sunnah”) refers to the Sunni Muslim world. In its Iraqi setting, it refers to the specific reality of approximately 25% of the population, and their future within the present Iraqi state. The destruction of that state is the IS’s declared goal, and enmity and fomented civil war among Iraq’s constituent religious communities, an essential method for accomplishing this subversion.

The caliph’s message evidences desperation, however, since this has not happened, and is not happening on the scale it must. This section of Baghdadi’s speech also nicely illustrates the caliph’s ‘demon theory’ of Sunni dis-empowerment. Instead of referencing the ISO’s own violent subversion and occupation of Sunni lands, villages, and homes, by a strangely twisted logic he instead, rails against demonic “evil scholars” and other wayward religious culprits. Moreover, he admonishes the Ahlus-Sunnah for daring to seek and find refuge among those communities for whom the ISO harbors only vitriolic hatred. The denial of IS atrocities; the demon theory of emigration; the denial that non-Sunni hospitality is possible; and by default, the presentation of the Islamic State as exclusive safe harbor, are all on display here.

And what saddens us and eats at our souls is to see some of the women, children, and families of Ahlus-Sunnah seeking refuge in the areas controlled by the Rāfidah [Shi’a] and Kurdish atheists in Iraq. They stand at their doors, humiliated, disgraced, and displaced in the lands. And there is no might nor strength except by Allah. Those who carry the blame for the displacement of these Muslims and their humiliation are the evil scholars from the supporters of the apostate tyrants, the callers [preachers] at the gates of Hellfire, those who confuse those poor people and portray the Islamic State to them as being the cause of evil and the source of hardships. They say, “If not for them, you would live in safety, extravagance, luxury, and peace.” They portray the Crusaders, Rāfidah, atheists, and apostates to them as being people of good, justice, mercy, and compassion, and that they are the peaceful defenders of Ahlus-Sunnah! There is no doubt that these are the years of deception.[15] (emphases supplied)

Ahlus-Sunnah in Iraq, and specifically our people in al-Anbār, be certain that our hearts are broken on account of your leaving of your homes and your lands, and your seeking of shelter in the territory of the Rāfidah and the Kurdish atheists, and your being forced to wander the lands. And even if some of your relatives are apostates waging war against the religion of Allah and allied with the Rāfidah and the Crusaders, then we don’t hold you accountable for their crimes. So return to your lands, and remain in your homes, and seek shelter – after first seeking shelter with Allah – with your people in the Islamic State, for you will find therein, by Allah’s permission, a warm embrace and a safe refuge. For you are our people. We defend you, your honor, and your wealth. We want you to be mighty and noble, we want you to be safe and secure, and we want your salvation from Hellfire.[16]

So seek shelter – after Allah – with the Islamic State. What do you wait for after the truth has become clearer than the day and after the spiteful Rāfidah exposed their reality? Here they are today slaughtering everyone considered from Ahlus-Sunnah in Baghdad and elsewhere. No one was saved from them, even their allies, supporters, aids, tails, and dogs from the apostates who had once belonged to Ahlus-Sunnah, those in the Sahwah, army, police, and elsewhere, those whom the evil scholars confused into fleeing the implementation of Allah’s law in the territory of the Islamic State. So they became homeless, humiliated, fearful, and worrisome of the Rāfidah’s cruelty, whereas the Muslims live in the territory of the Islamic State with might and honor, secure by Allah’s bounty alone, with a life of comfort, going about the affairs of their business, livelihood, and trade, enjoying the grace of living under the rule of their Lord’s law, and all praise and grace is Allah’s. Therefore, O Muslims, seek shelter – after Allah – with the Islamic State.[17] (emphases supplied)

The Caliph’s Wahhabi (Muhawiddun) ‘Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Problem’

The conservative Wahhabi kingdom may be accused of many things, but the caliph’s charges border on grossly caricatured agitational propaganda at best, delusional thought at worst. It would have been smart for Baghdadi to follow a tried and true path of accusing the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) of failing to fully implement the strictest elements of the comprehensive shari’a, or of ostentatiousness, lavishness, sinfulness and decadence: the sins of the corpulent wealthy monarchies whom the preachers and prophets of all faiths have condemned for their iniquities and sin. Baghdadi states, for example: “[T]he rulers of the Arabian Peninsula are not people of war nor do they have the patience for it. Rather, they are people of luxury and extravagance, people of intoxication, prostitution, dances, and feasts. They have become accustomed to the defense of the Jews and Crusaders for them and their hearts have drunk humiliation, disgrace, and subservience.”

But Baghdadi’s shifts to a riskier path and accuses the Saudi Wahhabi monarchy of two things: being servants and slaves of the Crusaders, Jews, and Shi’a and thereby failing to lead Ahlus-Sunnah to destroy the Shi’a; and, turning a blind eye to many sources of oppression afflicting Sunni Muslims. Several paragraphs are devoted to denouncing and delegitimizing Saudi leadership of the Ahlus-Sunnah for abandoning Muslims on every key front, and being subservient to their true masters, the Crusaders, Shi’a, and various other apostates. One discussion in particular is exemplary of Baghdadi’s approach.  

Āl Salūl, [a derogatory name for the House of Saud; Kingdom of Saudi Arabia] the slaves of the Crusaders and allies of the Jews, do not wish that any good should be sent down to the Muslims from their Lord. They [1] remained for decades not caring about the tragedies of the Muslims all over the world generally, and in Palestine particularly. Thereafter, they [2] remained for years allied with the Rāfidah of Iraq in a war against Ahlus-Sunnah (the Sunnis). Thereafter, they remained [3] observing the barrel bombs of death and destruction in Shām for years, enjoying and taking delight in the scenes of Muslims being killed, imprisoned, slaughtered, and burned, and their honor raped, their wealth plundered, and their homes destroyed, all at the hands of the Nusayriyyah.[18] [derogatory term for Syrian ruling Alawites, founder Ibn Nusayr]. (numbered brackets supplied)

Abandonment of Muslims in general, and Palestinians in particular? Opposing the Sunnis in Iraq and Syria? “[T]aking delight in the scenes of Muslims being killed, imprisoned, slaughtered, and burned, and their honor raped, their wealth plundered, and their homes destroyed” ? One is left to ponder how far this caliph feels he can traffick  in allegations so contrary to fact. Again, one may accuse this Wahhabi kingdom of insufficient application of shari’a; decadence; and any number of defects. But to claim that Saudi Arabia has abandoned the cause of orthodox Sunni Islam throughout the world, including the unmentioned (by Baghdadi) theatres of Afghanistan, Bosnia, and Chechnya, or to deny they actively promote a worldwide Da’wa and philanthropic mission; to deny the historic Saudi role in the Israel-Palestine conflict; is contrary to known fact. If this caliph seeks to win this particular contest for leadership of the Ahlus-Sunna, known facts of history will be essential; hyperbole or wildly inaccurate claims, a deadly liability.

The Caliphate’s ‘Universal Muslim Rulership Problem’

But it is not just “Al-Salul” but the entire planet that must be cleansed of its supposed apostasy. This Caliph’s universal pretensions appear to demand universal delegitimizing. And he has ‘discovered’ such in all of the places that Islam now presently exists. In stark contrast to the  shari’a of lawful jihad that requires a prudent calculation of costs and benefits, and also adherence to a classical legal tradition amounting to an Islamic law of warfare, what this caliph appears to call for and condone is a virtually unconditional universal theatre of violent confrontation.

Muslims, the apostate tyrannical rulers who rule your lands in the lands of the Two Holy Sanctuaries (Mecca and Medina), Yemen, Shām (the Levant), Iraq, Egypt, North Africa, Khorasan, the Caucasus, the Indian Subcontinent, Africa, and elsewhere, are the allies of the Jews and Crusaders. Rather, they are their slaves, servants, and guard dogs, and nothing else. The armies that they prepare and arm and which the Jews and Crusaders train are only to crush you, weaken you, enslave you to the Jews and Crusaders, turn you away from your religion and the path of Allah, plunder the goods of your lands, and rob you of your wealth. This reality has become as obvious as the sun in the middle of the day [noonday’s sun]. No one denies this except for one whose light Allah has obliterated, whose foresight Allah has blinded, and whose heart Allah has sealed.[19]

Apocalypse Now

Several academic analyses confirm that apocalyptic prophecy is one key ingredient underpinning the creed, method, extravagant violence, and killing in masse exemplifying the Islamic State’s will to power.[20] Baghdadi in his latest message further illustrates this prophetic apocalyptic dimension. What is key here is the sense of emergency, imminence, and End Times that transforms what under normal historical circumstances demands rational, logical, empirical, and careful investigation, into an eschatological demonology demanding immediate, urgent action. Ethics are radically suspended, or transformed, to fight and win these final battles of human existence: battles from and through which sins are to be fully and completely expiated. Jihad here makes its appearance as an ultimate sacrificial offering that cleanses and readies one for that prized, superlative verdict on the Day of Resurrection.

His [Prophet Muhammad’s] companions after him and their followers carried on similarly. They did not soften and abandon war, until they possessed the Earth, conquered the East and the West, the nations submitted to them, and the lands yielded to them, by the edge of the sword. And similarly, this will remain the condition of those who follow them until the Day of Recompense. Our Prophet (peace be upon him) has informed us of the Malāhim (bloody battles) near the end of time. He gave us good tidings and promised us that we would be victorious in these battles. He is the truthful and trustworthy, peace be upon him. And here we are today seeing the signs of those Malāhim and we feel the winds of victory within them.[21] (emphases supplied)


Several critical vulnerabilities threaten the foundations and future expansion of the self-proclaimed caliph Ibrahim’s ISO caliphate project. First, the Islamic faith in its totality is illicitly equated with a single though superlative dimension: jihad. Though a superlative form of duty and sacrifice--even the superlative form (whether an individual duty (fard ‘ayn) to assist in collective defense, or collective duty (fard kifaya) to expand the Islamic sphere of authority and hegemony), it is indefensible to the vast majority of Muslims to equate all of the rights, duties, and obligations of Islam to this supreme but single dimension. Moreover, the lawful waging of jihad in the path of Allah (jihad fi sabil Allah) demands the most careful, exacting legal and prudential judgments. The Islamic faith and its rule of law are here in direct contradiction with this caliph’s demand that Islam is only warfare, and that warfare is now to be waged by all in every Muslim-majority  and Muslim-minority land.

Second, this caliph is at present deeply marginalized from a broad range of observant Sunni Muslims--whether the conservative orthodox Wahhabi Saudi kingdom, the Ahlus-Sunnah of Iraq, every existing Muslim government, or the Muslim masses generally. Demonized within this Sunni faith are also those Sunni scholars and mosque preachers who deny the ISO the legitimacy it seeks, and who call into question the ultra-jihadist sectarianism and killing in masse  modus operandi of the ISO.

Third, Baghdadi is marginalized from the non-Sunni Muslims in Iraq--whether observant Shi’a or secular (“atheist”) Kurds--and his call to fratricidal civil war and sectarian carnage has  in general been resisted. To the contrary, these people and lands have made their abodes available to Sunni’s fleeing the ISO caliphate project. Fourth, though rare exceptions exist,  Jews and Christians do not seek to force Muslims to apostasize, nor do they harbor an eternal enmity that precludes amicable co-existence on the basis of recognized covenants, shared interests, and earned respect. The empirical refutation of Baghdadi’s archaic position will continue to threaten any rational comprehension of potential and actual alliances. Fifth, deeds done: facts, actions, empirical realities, all tell against the caliphate project. Baghdadi’s obvious recognition that the anti-ISO coalition claims with much success to defend Muslims,  vividly contrasts with ISO’s own record of atrocities, displacement, treachery, subversion, crucifixion, immolation, and killing in masse. Fighting a “war of deeds” against ISO should pay great dividends.[22] Finally, apocalyptic prophecy--whether Zoroastrian, Jewish, Christian, or Muslim--supplies an erroneous and extremely dangerous foundation for human action, particularly ethical-moral action. One direction this may take--wanton destruction meted out by fanatics seeking to expedite the End Times, and win their station in an Eternal Heavenly Abode--has a natural half-life, and must eventually reckon with the stubborn facts of human nature, and history. It appears, in short, caliph Ibrahim has taken on the world--Muslim and non-Muslim--and also history, in his sure faith that he is right, and we are wrong. It will be sooner rather than later, that a verdict shall be rendered. I believe the caliph will be quite disappointed.  

End Notes

[1] English translation available at:, accessed 18 May 2015.

[2] An Address from Amirul-Mu’miniin [Commander of the Faithful], the Khalifah of the Muslims Abu Bakr al-Husayni al-Qurashi al-Baghdadi, “Even if the Disbelievers Despise Such,” 13 November 2014, available at www.gulfup/NuPaRN, accessed on 14 Novembe4r 2014. See also: Rukmini Callimachi, “ISIS Releases a Recording it Says was Made Its Leader,” 14 May 2014, available at, accessed on 15 May 2015.

[3] Ibid.

[4] See, for example: Paul Kamolnick, Delegitimizing Al-Qaeda: A Jihad Realist Approach, Strategic Studies Institute, Carlisle, PA: US Army War College, Strategic Studies Institute, 2012. Available at:

[5] Paul Kamolnick. “The Egyptian Islamic Group’s Critique of Al-Qaeda’s Interpretation of Jihad.” Perspectives on Terrorism, , October 2013, Vol. 7, No. 5, pp. 93-110.; Paul Kamolnick  “Al  Qaeda’s Shari’a Crisis: Sayyid Imam and the Jurisprudence of  Lawful Military Jihad.”  Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, May 2013, 36(5): 394-418. DOI: 10.1080/1057610X.2013.775478.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Ibid.

[17] Ibid.

[18] Ibid.

[19] Ibid.

[20] For important analyses: See, David Cook, Abu Mus’ab al-Suri and Abu-Musa’b al-Zarqawi: The Apocalyptic Theorist and the Apocalyptic Practitioner,  Unpublished Manuscript, 2007. (15 pp.); David Cook, “Iraq as the Focus for Apocalyptic Scenarios,” CTC Sentinel, October 2008, Vol. 1, No. 11, n.p., available at, accessed April 21, 2015; Emma Glanfield, “The 1,300-year-old apocalyptic prophecy that predicted a war between an Islamic army and ‘infidel horde’ in Syria is fuelling ISIS’s brutal killers,” October 9, 2014, available at, accessed on May 5, 2015; BBC Monitoring, “Why Islamic state chose town of Dabiq for propaganda,” November 17, 2014, available at, accessed on April 30, 2015; Jessica Stern, “ISIS’s Apocalyptic Vision,” February 25, 2015, available at, accessed on May 5, 2015; Jessica Stern and J.M. Berger, ISIS: The State of Terror, New York: Ecco, 2015.  An important recent exchange occurred with the publication of and commentary on Graeme Wood’s article for the Atlantic. See: Graeme Wood, “What ISIS Really Wants: The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse. Here’s what that means for its strategy -- and for how to stop it,” March 2015, available at, accessed on February 20, 2015. [6,543 comments as of Feb. 20; 14,163 comments as of May 13, 2015]; Fareed Zakaria, “the limits of the ‘Islamic’ label,” February 19, 2015, available at, accessed on February 20, 2015; Caner K. Dagli, “The Phony Islam of ISIS,” (c. February 19, 2015; n.d.), available at, accessed on March 2, 2015; Jack Jenkins, “What the Atlantic Gets Dangerously Wrong About ISIS and Islam,”  February 18, 2015/updated February 19, 2015, available at, accessed on February 19, 2015; J.M. Berger, “Enough about Islam: Why religion is not the most useful way to understand ISIS,” February 18, 2015, available at, accessed on February 19, 2015. Various official publications of the ISO are also key: Islamic State News, #1, June 1, 2014, available at, accessed on December 10, 2014; Islamic State News, #2, June 2014 [Shaban 1435], available at,  accessed on December 10, 2014; Islamic State Report, #2, June 2014 [Shaban 1435], available at,  accessed on December 10, 2014; Islamic State News, #3, June 2014 [Shaban 1435],,  accessed on December 10, 2014; Dabiq, #1, July 5, 2014 [Ramadan 1435], available at…/dbq01_desktop_en.pdf, accessed on August 19, 2014; Dabiq, #2, July 28, 2014 [Ramadan 1435], available at, accessed on August 19, 2014; Dabiq, #3, August 2014 [Shawwal 1435], available at, accessed on October 6, 2014; Dabiq, #4, c. September/October? 2014 [Dhul-Hijjah 1435], available at, accessed on October 13, 2014; Dabiq, #5, November 22, 2014 [Muharram 1436], available at, accessed on December 16, 2014; Dabiq, #6, c. December/January 2015 [Rabi’ al-Awwal 1436], available at, accessed on January 7, 2015; Dabiq, #7, February 12, 2015 [Rabi’ al-Ahkir 1436], available at, accessed on February 13, 2015; Dabiq, #8, c. March 2015 [Jumada al-Akhirah 1436], available at, accessed on April 2, 2015; Dabiq, #9, May 21, 2015, available at, accessed on May 26, 2015. For the Black Flag Book Series and Shuhada [Martyrs] Book Series: As of May 13, 2015, all books available on: The Original Shuhada Series: Lover’s of Maidens of Paradise [Lover’s of the Hur al Ayn]. A copy of Abdullah Azzam’s, The Martyrs of Afghanistan, Azzam Publications. Covers period 1979-1989. Available at, accessed on May 13, 2015; Miracles in Syria (2012-13), available at, accessed on May 13, 2015; Martyr’s of Syria (2014), [2011-2014] available at, accessed on May 13, 2015; The Undead Warriors, [Iraq, 2003-2006], accessed on May 13, 2015; Revivers of the Khilafah (Global Caliphate) [2005-2010], available at, accessed on May 13, 2015. For the Original series of 6 Conquest works confirmed by prophecy: East, Syria, Arabia, Persia, Rome,  Palestine, [then Major End Times Signs, Events];  [#1] Black Flags of the East (1979-2012+),  available at, accessed on May 13, 2015; [#2] Black Flags from Syria, Revolution 2011-2020+, available at, accessed on May 13, 2015; [#3] Black Flags from Arabia, available at, accessed on May 13, 2015; [#4] Black Flags from Persia, available at, accessed on May 13, 2015;  [#5] Black Flags from Rome, available at, accessed on May 13, 2015;  [#6] Black Flags from Palestine, available at, accessed on May 13, 2015. For Post-Conquest of Raqqa/Mosul: The Revived Caliphate, (2014) [The Islamic State, 2003-2014+,, accessed on May 13, 2015; The Islamic State (2015), available at, accessed on May 13, 2015; How to Survive in the West: A Mujahid Guide (2015), available, accessed on May 13, 2015; Hijrah to the Islamic State [2015], available, accessed on May 13, 2015.

[21] Ibid.

[22] For this approach to counterterrorist counter-messaging see: Paul Kamolnick, Countering Radicalization and Recruitment to Al-Qaeda: Fighting the War of Deeds.  Letort Papers, Strategic Studies Institute, US Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, PA. , June 2014, available at


About the Author(s)

Paul Kamolnick is professor of sociology at East Tennessee State University. He has published articles and reviews in Perspectives on Terrorism, Terrorism and Political Violence, Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, and Small Wars Journal. Kamolnick has also authored three monographs  through the Strategic Studies Institute of the US Army War College, Carlisle, PA: De-legitimizing Al-Qaeda: A Jihad-Realist Approach (April 2012); Countering Radicalization and Recruitment to Al-Qaeda: Fighting the War of Deeds (June 2014); and, The Al-Qaeda Organization (Tanzim Qa’idat al-Jihad) and the Islamic State Organization (Tanzim al-Dawla al-Islamiyya): History, Doctrine, Modus operandi, and United States Policy  to Degrade and Defeat Terrorism in the Name of Sunni Islam (Ahl-us Sunnah).  (Forthcoming, Spring/Summer 2016).