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Peter Bergen, who produced the first interview with bin Laden in , titled his first book Holy War, Inc. Bin Laden corporatized terror and franchised it out. He requested specific political concessions, such as the withdrawal of U. His foot soldiers navigated the modern world confidently.

There is a temptation to rehearse this observation—that jihadists are modern secular people, with modern political concerns, wearing medieval religious disguise—and make it fit the Islamic State.

In fact, much of what the group does looks nonsensical except in light of a sincere, carefully considered commitment to returning civilization to a seventh-century legal environment, and ultimately to bringing about the apocalypse. They often speak in codes and allusions that sound odd or old-fashioned to non-Muslims, but refer to specific traditions and texts of early Islam.

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But Adnani was not merely talking trash. His speech was laced with theological and legal discussion, and his exhortation to attack crops directly echoed orders from Muhammad to leave well water and crops alone—unless the armies of Islam were in a defensive position, in which case Muslims in the lands of kuffar , or infidels, should be unmerciful, and poison away. The reality is that the Islamic State is Islamic.

Very Islamic. Yes, it has attracted psychopaths and adventure seekers, drawn largely from the disaffected populations of the Middle East and Europe. But the religion preached by its most ardent followers derives from coherent and even learned interpretations of Islam.

Muslims can reject the Islamic State; nearly all do. In November, the Islamic State released an infomercial-like video tracing its origins to bin Laden. Zawahiri has not pledged allegiance to Baghdadi, and he is increasingly hated by his fellow jihadists. His isolation is not helped by his lack of charisma; in videos he comes across as squinty and annoyed.

But the split between al-Qaeda and the Islamic State has been long in the making, and begins to explain, at least in part, the outsize bloodlust of the latter.

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On most matters of doctrine, Maqdisi and the Islamic State agree. In time, though, Zarqawi surpassed his mentor in fanaticism, and eventually earned his rebuke. In Islam, the practice of takfir , or excommunication, is theologically perilous. The punishment for apostasy is death. And yet Zarqawi heedlessly expanded the range of behavior that could make Muslims infidels.

Denying the holiness of the Koran or the prophecies of Muhammad is straightforward apostasy. But Zarqawi and the state he spawned take the position that many other acts can remove a Muslim from Islam. Being a Shiite, as most Iraqi Arabs are, meets the standard as well, because the Islamic State regards Shiism as innovation, and to innovate on the Koran is to deny its initial perfection. The Islamic State claims that common Shiite practices, such as worship at the graves of imams and public self-flagellation, have no basis in the Koran or in the example of the Prophet.

That means roughly million Shia are marked for death. So too are the heads of state of every Muslim country, who have elevated man-made law above Sharia by running for office or enforcing laws not made by God. Following takfiri doctrine, the Islamic State is committed to purifying the world by killing vast numbers of people. The lack of objective reporting from its territory makes the true extent of the slaughter unknowable, but social-media posts from the region suggest that individual executions happen more or less continually, and mass executions every few weeks.

Exempted from automatic execution, it appears, are Christians who do not resist their new government.


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Baghdadi permits them to live, as long as they pay a special tax, known as the jizya , and acknowledge their subjugation. The Koranic authority for this practice is not in dispute. Centuries have passed since the wars of religion ceased in Europe, and since men stopped dying in large numbers because of arcane theological disputes. Hence, perhaps, the incredulity and denial with which Westerners have greeted news of the theology and practices of the Islamic State.

Countdown to the Apocalypse: Learn to read the signs that the last days have begun.

Many refuse to believe that this group is as devout as it claims to be, or as backward-looking or apocalyptic as its actions and statements suggest. Their skepticism is comprehensible. Look instead, these scholars urged, to the conditions in which these ideologies arose—the bad governance, the shifting social mores, the humiliation of living in lands valued only for their oil. Without acknowledgment of these factors, no explanation of the rise of the Islamic State could be complete.

Many mainstream Muslim organizations have gone so far as to say the Islamic State is, in fact, un-Islamic. It is, of course, reassuring to know that the vast majority of Muslims have zero interest in replacing Hollywood movies with public executions as evening entertainment. Of partial Lebanese descent, Haykel grew up in Lebanon and the United States, and when he talks through his Mephistophelian goatee, there is a hint of an unplaceable foreign accent.

According to Haykel, the ranks of the Islamic State are deeply infused with religious vigor. Koranic quotations are ubiquitous. This behavior includes a number of practices that modern Muslims tend to prefer not to acknowledge as integral to their sacred texts. The Koran specifies crucifixion as one of the only punishments permitted for enemies of Islam.

Leaders of the Islamic State have taken emulation of Muhammad as strict duty, and have revived traditions that have been dormant for hundreds of years. They conquered most of what is now Saudi Arabia, and their strict practices survive in a diluted version of Sharia there. If al-Qaeda wanted to revive slavery, it never said so. And why would it?

Silence on slavery probably reflected strategic thinking, with public sympathies in mind: when the Islamic State began enslaving people, even some of its supporters balked. Nonetheless, the caliphate has continued to embrace slavery and crucifixion without apology. A study group of Islamic State scholars had convened, on government orders, to resolve this issue.

Tens of thousands of foreign Muslims are thought to have immigrated to the Islamic State. Many have come to fight, and many intend to die. Peter R. Online recruitment has also widened the demographics of the jihadist community, by allowing conservative Muslim women—physically isolated in their homes—to reach out to recruiters, radicalize, and arrange passage to Syria. Through its appeals to both genders, the Islamic State hopes to build a complete society. For three years he was a televangelist on Iqraa TV in Cairo, but he left after the station objected to his frequent calls to establish a caliphate.

Now he preaches on Facebook and Twitter. Cerantonio—a big, friendly man with a bookish demeanor—told me he blanches at beheading videos. He hates seeing the violence, even though supporters of the Islamic State are required to endorse it. He speaks out, controversially among jihadists, against suicide bombing, on the grounds that God forbids suicide; he differs from the Islamic State on a few other points as well.

He has the kind of unkempt facial hair one sees on certain overgrown fans of The Lord of the Rings , and his obsession with Islamic apocalypticism felt familiar. He is stuck in Melbourne, where he is well known to the local constabulary.

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If Cerantonio were caught facilitating the movement of individuals to the Islamic State, he would be imprisoned. Cerantonio grew up there in a half-Irish, half-Calabrian family. On a typical street one can find African restaurants, Vietnamese shops, and young Arabs walking around in the Salafi uniform of scraggly beard, long shirt, and trousers ending halfway down the calves.

Cerantonio explained the joy he felt when Baghdadi was declared the caliph on June 29—and the sudden, magnetic attraction that Mesopotamia began to exert on him and his friends. Baghdadi spoke at length of the importance of the caliphate in his Mosul sermon.


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He said that to revive the institution of the caliphate—which had not functioned except in name for about 1, years—was a communal obligation. Unlike bin Laden, and unlike those false caliphs of the Ottoman empire, he is Qurayshi. The caliphate, Cerantonio told me, is not just a political entity but also a vehicle for salvation. They are neither obviously saved nor definitively condemned.

Similarly, Cerantonio said, the Muslim who acknowledges one omnipotent god and prays, but who dies without pledging himself to a valid caliph and incurring the obligations of that oath, has failed to live a fully Islamic life. I pointed out that this means the vast majority of Muslims in history, and all who passed away between and , died a death of disbelief. Cerantonio nodded gravely. This last criterion, Cerantonio said, is the hardest to fulfill, and requires that the caliph have territory in which he can enforce Islamic law.

He and others spoke quietly to those in power and told them that further delay would be sinful. They prepared a letter to various powerful members of ISIS , airing their displeasure at the failure to appoint a caliph, but were pacified by Adnani, the spokesman, who let them in on a secret—that a caliphate had already been declared, long before the public announcement. They had their legitimate caliph, and at that point there was only one option. His report, among others, suggests a still-steady inflow of foreigners, ready to give up everything at home for a shot at paradise in the worst place on Earth.

They all expressed desire to emigrate to the Islamic State, as many of their colleagues already had, but the authorities had confiscated their passports. Like Cerantonio, they regarded the caliphate as the only righteous government on Earth, though none would confess having pledged allegiance. He frequently appears on cable news, as one of the few people producers can book who will defend the Islamic State vociferously, until his mike is cut. He has a reputation in the United Kingdom as a loathsome blowhard, but he and his disciples sincerely believe in the Islamic State and, on matters of doctrine, speak in its voice.

Choudary and the others feature prominently in the Twitter feeds of Islamic State residents, and Abu Baraa maintains a YouTube channel to answer questions about Sharia. Since September, authorities have been investigating the three men on suspicion of supporting terrorism. Because of this investigation, they had to meet me separately: communication among them would have violated the terms of their bail.

But speaking with them felt like speaking with the same person wearing different masks. Choudary met me in a candy shop in the East London suburb of Ilford. He was dressed smartly, in a crisp blue tunic reaching nearly to his ankles, and sipped a Red Bull while we talked. But create a caliphate, and this law, along with a huge body of other jurisprudence, suddenly awakens. In theory, all Muslims are obliged to immigrate to the territory where the caliph is applying these laws.

On the day I met Choudary, Abu Rumaysah tweeted out a picture of himself with a Kalashnikov in one arm and his newborn son in the other. Hashtag: GenerationKhilafah. The caliph is required to implement Sharia. Any deviation will compel those who have pledged allegiance to inform the caliph in private of his error and, in extreme cases, to excommunicate and replace him if he persists. In return, the caliph commands obedience—and those who persist in supporting non-Muslim governments, after being duly warned and educated about their sin, are considered apostates.

Abdul Muhid, 32, continued along these lines.

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He was dressed in mujahideen chic when I met him at a local restaurant: scruffy beard, Afghan cap, and a wallet outside of his clothes, attached with what looked like a shoulder holster. When we sat down, he was eager to discuss welfare. The Islamic State may have medieval-style punishments for moral crimes lashes for boozing or fornication, stoning for adultery , but its social-welfare program is, at least in some aspects, progressive to a degree that would please an MSNBC pundit.

Health care, he said, is free. All Muslims acknowledge that God is the only one who knows the future. But they also agree that he has offered us a peek at it, in the Koran and in narrations of the Prophet. It is in this casting that the Islamic State is most boldly distinctive from its predecessors, and clearest in the religious nature of its mission.

In broad strokes, al-Qaeda acts like an underground political movement, with worldly goals in sight at all times—the expulsion of non-Muslims from the Arabian peninsula, the abolishment of the state of Israel, the end of support for dictatorships in Muslim lands. The Islamic State has its share of worldly concerns including, in the places it controls, collecting garbage and keeping the water running , but the End of Days is a leitmotif of its propaganda. Bin Laden rarely mentioned the apocalypse, and when he did, he seemed to presume that he would be long dead when the glorious moment of divine comeuppance finally arrived.

During the last years of the U. They were anticipating, within a year, the arrival of the Mahdi—a messianic figure destined to lead the Muslims to victory before the end of the world. For certain true believers—the kind who long for epic good-versus-evil battles—visions of apocalyptic bloodbaths fulfill a deep psychological need. Of the Islamic State supporters I met, Musa Cerantonio, the Australian, expressed the deepest interest in the apocalypse and how the remaining days of the Islamic State—and the world—might look. Parts of that prediction are original to him, and do not yet have the status of doctrine.

It is here, the Prophet reportedly said, that the armies of Rome will set up their camp. Now that it has taken Dabiq, the Islamic State awaits the arrival of an enemy army there, whose defeat will initiate the countdown to the apocalypse. During fighting in Iraq in December, after mujahideen perhaps inaccurately reported having seen American soldiers in battle, Islamic State Twitter accounts erupted in spasms of pleasure, like overenthusiastic hosts or hostesses upon the arrival of the first guests at a party.

The Prophetic narration that foretells the Dabiq battle refers to the enemy as Rome. But Cerantonio makes a case that Rome meant the Eastern Roman empire, which had its capital in what is now Istanbul. We should think of Rome as the Republic of Turkey—the same republic that ended the last self-identified caliphate, 90 years ago.

Other Islamic State sources suggest that Rome might mean any infidel army, and the Americans will do nicely. After its battle in Dabiq, Cerantonio said, the caliphate will expand and sack Istanbul. Some believe it will then cover the entire Earth, but Cerantonio suggested its tide may never reach beyond the Bosporus.

Just as Dajjal prepares to finish them off, Jesus—the second-most-revered prophet in Islam—will return to Earth, spear Dajjal, and lead the Muslims to victory. But he is hopeful. The Islamic State has its best and worst days ahead of it. Osama bin Laden was seldom predictable. He ended his first television interview cryptically. In London, Choudary and his students provided detailed descriptions of how the Islamic State must conduct its foreign policy, now that it is a caliphate. But the waging of war to expand the caliphate is an essential duty of the caliph. Choudary took pains to present the laws of war under which the Islamic State operates as policies of mercy rather than of brutality.

He told me the state has an obligation to terrorize its enemies—a holy order to scare the shit out of them with beheadings and crucifixions and enslavement of women and children, because doing so hastens victory and avoids prolonged conflict. If the caliph consents to a longer-term peace or permanent border, he will be in error.

Temporary peace treaties are renewable, but may not be applied to all enemies at once: the caliph must wage jihad at least once a year.


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He may not rest, or he will fall into a state of sin. One comparison to the Islamic State is the Khmer Rouge, which killed about a third of the population of Cambodia. Even to hasten the arrival of a caliphate by democratic means—for example by voting for political candidates who favor a caliphate—is shirk.

For the Islamic State, that recognition is ideological suicide. Other Islamist groups, such as the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, have succumbed to the blandishments of democracy and the potential for an invitation to the community of nations, complete with a UN seat. Moneymaker, as this book reveals, was a bit luckier than most. But when he awakens one day transformed into a walking, talking puddle of pee, he vows to destroy every toilet in town.

The Final Days

Two major events in recent Jewish history have profoundly influenced his thinking: the Holocaust and the prolonged Israeli domination of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. An anthology of true-life stories from comic book legends, authors, TV and film writers, journalists, and people from all walks of life on how comic books changed their lives. A band of Arabs was sent out to war against the renegade tribe but were unsuccessful and had to retreat. Loved Countdown to the Apocalypse: Learn to read the signs that the last days have begun.

And it helps me keep my sense of humor as I face the frustrations of doing business in China. I will give helpful information if I am able. I love the design on the cover, and the feeling is almost like a super soft rubber, not glossy or rough. Before you know it you will feel confident enough to order cafe au lait in Paris and vin rouge in Toulouse. I was enthralled from page one and by the last few pages, I was crying, laughing and my heart was dancing with joy. This is a delightful story I read in one sitting. If you want to learn a lot about the RWS tarot deck, purchase this book.

Well written, concise and with good advice. Being with close friends and family is the key. This book helped me get over some barriers I had about self-promotion. Sadly I must say that this is not a good book, and those seeking to understand prophecy will be led astray by it. This, and most modern prophecy books, interpret the Bible based on current headlines, and whip people into a frenzy that the end is.

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