January 2, 2016

THE HIGH COST OF NOT GIVING THE SHI'A A FREE HAND:

Islamic State's Deep, Poisonous Roots (ANDREW HOSKEN, Jan. 1, 2016, WSJ) 

The group's forerunner, known by the name Tawhid Wal Jihad, was founded in 1999 by Abu Musab al Zarqawi, who had already been planning world domination for much of the decade. Zarqawi, born in the Jordanian city of Zarqa, was a petty criminal who caught religion and replaced an aimless, poverty-stricken existence with jihad.

While in prison in 1996, Zarqawi and his mentor, Muhammad al Maqdisi, took into their confidence a Jordanian journalist named Fouad Hussein, who was held for a period in the same facility. In a 2005 Arabic-language book, Mr. Hussein outlined Zarqawi's seven-step plan for establishing a caliphate, an explicitly Islamic empire that would claim authority over all Muslims and dominate the region. They envisaged unleashing chaos by toppling governments in the Middle East, which would create the vacuum that the caliphate needed to flourish.

By the time of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, the group was already lying in wait. Zarqawi aimed to foment a civil war between the two major sects of Islam, his own Sunnis and the "apostate" Shiites. He was helped immeasurably by the coalition's decision to wash away all vestiges of Saddam Hussein and his Baath party. The dictator and his acolytes were Sunnis who for decades had persecuted Iraq's Shiite majority.

After the fall of Saddam, many Sunnis, suddenly out of power and fearing reprisals, turned to Zarqawi's toxic strain of Islamist violence. Look closely at the leaders of ISIS and you will find among them some of Saddam's army officers and secret policemen--such as Haji Bakr, Abu Muslim al Turkmani, and Abu Ayman al-Iraqi, all now believed dead.

In late 2004 Tawhid Wal Jihad became "al Qaeda in Iraq," and Zarqawi had pledged allegiance to Osama bin Laden. Yet Zarqawi quarreled constantly with al Qaeda over tactics and targets.

That same year, for example, Ayman al Zawahiri--then a top al Qaeda official and now the group's leader--wrote to Zarqawi asking him to stop beheading hostages and killing Shiites, which was alienating Muslims and harming the image of jihad. Zarqawi refused.

Posted by at January 2, 2016 8:05 AM

  

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