Islamic State: “the psychopaths speak to the psychopaths”

During the Second World War, the BBC radio broadcasted every evening a program destined to occupied France audience and which started each time with the iconic formula “From London, The French speak to the French”. Well, the Islamic State innovated, on Monday 22nd September, by diffusing a threatening audio message to France (and in a broader sense to the West) which could be entitled “From Raqqah, the psychopaths speak to the psychopaths”.


Within a terrorist or jihadist literature that was already debatable, a new level has been reached through this call to attack the US citizens, Europeans, Australians or Canadians – and particularly those “nasty, dirty French”-: “If you cannot find explosives or ammunition then isolate the American disbeliever, the French disbeliever or any of their allies. Hit his head with a stone, cut his throat with a knife, run over him with a car, throw him from a high point, strangle him or poison him”.


This “fatwa” for dummies playing violent, bloody videos games calls for several comments:


- Firstly, it highlights that the Islamic State (IS) falls in line – but reaching another level of violence- with the recent evolution of Al-Qaeda (AQ) which, in the last years, has given priority to individually-led bombing attacks due to its lack of capacity to organize large scale mass bombing attack such as 9/11 or London or Madrid attacks. One can remember the second edition of the magazine “Inspire” which was published by Al-Qaeda in the Arabic Peninsula and which main article was entitled: “How to make a bomb in your mother’s kitchen”… May they be from Al-Qaeda or from IS, jihadists have a full awareness of the rising power of intelligence and of the excellence of the cooperation between Western intelligence and the one of many Muslim countries – Firstly but not only Saudi Arabia and Jordan- and of how this cooperation makes it almost impossible to organize elaborated, large scale, large-team-based attacks. Thus the priority is given to individual attacks, a tendency that I demonstrated and explained last year in my latest book[1].


- Secondly, this message underlines that IS aims to fill the gap left in the last years by Al-Qaeda, which is now a mere shadow of what it used to be in the end of the 1990’s. This is what notably explains the success of IS, but also the evolution of its strategy from leading a war not only against local governments but also from now on against the “faraway enemy” – the central axes of reflection and action of Al-Qaeda.


- Thirdly, one can notice that this is the most basic level of political thought. It is far from those complex speeches, fed with Koranic verses and theological reflections aimed at the development of a specific strategy -which do not justify the heart of the discourse-, to which al-Qaeda was used to. The Islamic State adopts different tactics and appeals to marginal and violent people, to young men -and sometimes women-tempted by raw violence more than by the exegesis of the Caliphate’s sacred texts.


It is thus not a coincidence if the jihadist departures to Syria, which had decreased for one year, have started to increase again since IS entered in Iraq and proclaimed the “Caliphate”: The Shiite, Christian and Yazidi massacres, the considerable number of kidnapped women who are raped and sold as sexual slaves to the “fighters”, the hostage beheadings do not seem to repel the volunteers, but to the contrary, to attract them.


The confirmation of this can be found in browsing the messages which appear on all social networks: Photos of murders and assassinations, videos of dead bodies being dragged at the back of brand new pick-ups, conversations between volunteers on the price and quality of the slaves sold in Raqqah for the fighter’s well-earned rest, films showing barbecue parties organized around swimming pools in splendid villas seized from their owners -certainly slaughtered. This kind of footage attracts small gangsters, former drug addicts, unstable and frustrated people, who represent priority targets for the IS recruitment process. The Islamic State is the “Clockwork Orange” version of the jihad.


When we take into account that this organization has already recruited between 2,500 and 4,000 Western volunteers, that it is 10 to 15 times richer than Al-Qaeda ever was, that it occupies 1/3 of Syria and nearly half of Iraq, and that it is now looking towards Caucasus and the Gulf countries, we can easily understand that this war – and this time nobody can deny that it is a “war” – will be long and painful. And victory can only be proclaimed when the Islamic State is annihilated and its members eliminated. As soon as possible.

[1] Only published in French : Neo-Djihadistes, Jourdan, Paris, 2013.

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