Last Friday we celebrated America’s 238th Independence Day – but we weren’t the only ones having a celebration on that day.
Granted it’s still to be vetted and verified, but according to Fox News, the new head of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Bagdhadi, released a 21-minute video sermon from the Great Mosque in the northern Iraq city of Mosul, the country’s second largest.
Fox News says Iraqi officials are working to determine the authenticity of the video, but if it is the real deal, al-Baghdadi is evolving as the public face of the movement, after initially being quite secretive.
Speaking from a balcony as self-appointed “Caliph Ibrahim, Baghdadi announced himself as “the leader who presides over you,” urging Muslims to join him and “make jihad” for the sake of Allah.
“God gave your mujahedeen brothers victory after long years of jihad and patience… so they declared the caliphate and placed the caliph in charge,” he said.“This is a duty on Muslims that has been lost for centuries.”
Fox News says “the sermon in Mosul would the first public appearance for al-Baghdadi, an ambitious and notoriously elusive Iraqi militant with a $10 million U.S. bounty on his head. Since taking the reins of the group in 2010, he has transformed it from a local branch of al-Qaida into an independent transnational military force, positioning himself as perhaps the pre-eminent figure in the global jihadi community.”
Wearing black robes and a black turban, the man in the video said to be al-Baghdadi urges his followers to jihad — certainly not a Pharell-happy-dance version of jihad — and emphasizes the implementation of a strict interpretation of Islamic law.
The video surfaced five days after al-Baghdadi’s group declared the establishment of an Islamic state, or caliphate, in the territories it has seized in Iraq and Syria. Fox reports, “the group proclaimed al-Baghdadi the leader of its state and demanded that all Muslims pledge allegiance to him.”
Now of course apologists will say the ISIS leader has hijacked Islam and represents only a small minority of the 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide – but if that’s only 10 percent of the total, it’s still 150 million, a sizeable force. And consider the real War on Women he’ll unleash in his new caliphate under strict Islamic law – but that doesn’t raise any alarms among liberal progressives who are still up in arms about free abortion pills for all.
Fox reports that “over the past month, al-Baghdadi’s fighters have overrun much of northern and western Iraq, adding to the territory they already control in neighboring Syria. The Sunni group’s initial surge in Iraq has crested, at least for now, after having grabbed most of Iraq’s predominantly Sunni Arab regions and reaching majority Shiite areas, where resistance is tougher. One of the main battlefronts now is the country’s largest oil refinery near Beiji, some 155 miles north of Baghdad, where government forces are besieged by Islamic State group fighters.”
I continue to assert ISIS will not move against Baghdad or other heavily defended Shiite controlled areas. The group may continue isolated terrorist attacks but will not commence a wholesale engagement, especially as long as al-Maliki has Iranian military and Shiite militia backing.
I believe ISIS will turn its eyes west towards Jordan, as well as continue to prosecute its actions in Syria. ISIS has operationally succeeded in cutting off the land support route of Iran to Bashar Assad in Syria — a clever move. ISIS knows the US doesn’t have the will to intervene and so has divided Iraq along sectarian lines, thanks to the intransigence of Nouri al-Maliki.
ISIS must gain enough strength to make it a viable threat to Iran and Hezbollah, and the more we dither about reducing its capability, the stronger it will become.
If ISIS can become strong enough to force Iran into a tenuous alliance in order to strike at the region’s true enemy, Israel, you can bet it will happen. The next secular Islamic country and leader in the region to be threatened is Jordan and King Abdullah – the clock is ticking.