The Kurds are Crowdfunding a Revolution Reply

By all means, donate.

By Jennifer Baker



After 134 days of intense fights against ISIS, the Kurdish city of Kobanê is under reconstruction. An international solidarity movement is now using crowdfunding as a tool to support of the so-called ’Rojava Revolution’.

Initiatives to rebuild Kobanê, a secular progressive, and ecologically sound society are emerging from international angles. Recently a conference called ‘International Mobilization for Rebuilding Kobanê’ was held in the European Parliament and with this approval, an international solidarity movement – in which there are many actors – is developing.

One of these initiatives is a Danish, non-profit start-up internetpage FIREFUND, which is a ‘kickstarter’ project for social movements. Through the site, a number of crowdfunding projects across the health, education, water, electricity, gender equality, and ecological sector, will be presented to the public, giving individuals the opportunity to support Kobanê directly.

FIREFUND launched a global crowdfunding campaign to rebuild Kobanê:
“Crowdfunding and social movements are both building on the concept of mass action. Social media expands our networks, and now we need to strengthen these ties to realize direct solidarity,” says Karl Kristiansen, one of the founders of FIREFUND.

Recently, the struggle of Kobanê has gained massive support on social media, where groups from the whole world stand solidaric with the city. Now the Kurds, in collaboration with the Kurdish reconstruction board, hope to turn this sign of solidarity into concrete cash and direct support by using FIREFUND.


Turkey Kurds fight the ISIS group while being bombed by Turkey Reply

If we had a well-organized and functional anarchist mass movement in the Western countries (or anywhere else), we would be attacking Turkish embassies, consulates, and other outposts all over the world.

Death to Erdogan. Death to ISIS.  Victory to PKK/YPG/YPG.

Associated Press

In this Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015, file photo, Syrian Kurdish militia members of YPG make a V-sign next to poster of Abdullah Ocalan, jailed Kurdish rebel leader, and a Turkish army tank in the background in Esme village in Aleppo province, Syria.
In this Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015, file photo, Syrian Kurdish militia members of YPG make a V-sign next to poster of Abdullah Ocalan, jailed Kurdish rebel leader, and a Turkish army tank in the background in Esme village in Aleppo province, Syria.

BAGHDAD, Iraq  — Turkish jets struck camps belonging to Kurdish militants in northern Iraq Friday and Saturday in what were the first strikes since a peace deal was announced in 2013.

The strikes in Iraq targeted the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, whose affiliates have been effective in battling the Islamic State group.

The Kurds of Syria and Iraq have become a major part of the war against the Islamic State group, with Kurdish populations in both countries threatened by the militants’ advance. Syrian, Iraqi and Turkish Kurds took part in cross-border operations to help rescue tens of thousands of displaced people from the minority Yazidi group from Iraq’s Shingal Mountain in August last year and they continue to fight in cooperation with one another against the Islamic State group in areas along the Iraq-Syria border.

They have been somewhat effective in limiting the expansion of the Islamic State militants across northern Iraq but there are concerns that Turkish airstrikes on the PKK could jeopardize Kurdish positions.



Anarchists Killed By ISIS in Turkey Reply


Alper Sapan: “I am a 19 year-old anarchist. I am against injustice, exploitation and tyranny of the state. I condemn people killing each others, violence and the state. I listen to the inner voice of my conscience for freedom and refuse to serve in the military for a warless, nationless and borderless world where no one could ever be a soldier, no one could ever kill each others. Before militarism kills us, we should kill militarism.”


Evrim Deniz Erol was 19 years old.

11745690_1648962488653530_1166649527561991370_nCaner Delisu was a member of United Anarchist Attack (BAA)

Anarchy Lives: Rojava 2

anarchy rojava

There is place where sex, creed and ethnicity do not harbor division. A place where everyone is military trained so that having a police force becomes obsolete. A place where civilian females, instead of asking for permission, instead of waiting for outside help, have taken up arm against their aggressors, against those who intend to rape, enslave and murder them. This is a place that’s giving birth to its own freedom, in spite of the oppressive forces that surround it.This is a place of sincere revolution, and it’s been happening for years. And it’s happening now. This is Rojava.

female fighters rojava

Where is Rojava?

Rojava consists of three autonomous regions (Afrin, Jazira and Kobanî), on the border of Turkey and Syria.

What is Rojava?

Rojava is an active, historically unique socio-political experiment. It is a stateless direct democracy consisting of bottom-up self-governing structures. It is a feat of cooporative anarchism. It is a true alternative to the embraced nation state systems that do nothing but dominate and fail, mindlessly looping through history.

How Rojava Operates

Rojava is populated by about 2 million people. It has 22 ministries, each has 1 minister and 2 deputies, all three having to be from a different ethnic background, (Arab, Kurd & Syrian) and at least one of 3 has to be a woman.

Every street has their own democratic assembly. They try to resolve problems locally otherwise it gets delegated up if no resolution is found. Municipalities are autonomous and make their own decisions and control their own resources. It is the localities that make demands from the administration. The police and military answer to the localities.

You can own any kind of weapon (guns, rifles, rocket launchers, tanks). They have a police force (Asayaş) that anyone can join after 6 weeks of training.  Their goal is to give every citizen training so that ultimately, they could eliminate the police. They also have the HPC (HezênParastina Cewherî/Individuality Protection Force), a network that anyone can claim to be a member of (like Anonymous). They are the counter-force against the security apparatus.

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There is a huge emphasis on education; permaculture, history, languages (Kurdish, Arabic, French, English, Assyrian, Chechen) and philosophy are given a lot of weight. Rojava has hundreds of cooperatives (500 alone in the Jazira Canton) each consisting of 50-100 people. The majority are agriculture coops (mostly wheat).These cooperatives form a network which helps work out demand. Their goal is to eliminate the necessity for money by having cooperatives trade goods based on need, but they are not anti-money (I would love to see them encorporate bitcoin as it fits their decentralized model). The emphasis is on self-sufficiency & empowering all people.

No one is forced to be part of a cooperative, and some of the coops compete with each other. You can be an independent farmer and sell your goods as you like. People have private property and own businesses. You can buy and sell houses but you must go to the local courts to register the new deeds. You can own land but before you build something, you must go to the assembly for that street and make sure it’s ok with the people there. Basically you explain your project to your neighbors first. It’s all about mutual respect.

Oh, and there is absolutely no tax.


Rojava defends itself with DIY weaponry and anything they can get off the black market or scavenge from ISIS. It has diverse voluntary forces that consist of groups like the YPG, YPJ & PKK.

YPG- The People’s Protection Units

YPJ – Woman’s Protection Unit

PKK- People’s Defense Force

Other supportive forces include the “The Lions of Rojava” which consist of western volunteers

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Rojava’s forces are currently the only boots on the ground fighting against ISIS. Hey are incredibly heroic. They recently conducted a successful rescue mission of over 20,000 Yezidi people, who were trapped and defenseless against ISIS in the Sinjar mountains.

yezidi rescue rojava ypg

This all sounds amazing, and it is, but Rojava is crippled. It receives zero direct help from the West, from NATO, or from neighboring countries who should be unifying in the fight against ISIS. Worst of all, NATO member Turkey has assisted in the crippling of Rojava through the denial of aid and the enforcement of trade embargoes.


Libya, Iraq’s Oil Being Plundered Reply

A documentary from PressTV featuring commentary from yours truly.

Watch the documentary here.

The EU ambassador to Iraq accuses European countries of purchasing oil from ISIL terrorists.

European countries are unwittingly funding the ISIL terror campaign by buying oil from ISIL-controlled oil fields, including those in Iraq.

Reports also talk of Turkey buying and transporting oil from both ISIL and the Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front.

According to the reports, Western intelligence agencies could track ISIL oil shipments as they moved across Iraq and Turkey.

Is ISIS Coming to Damascus? Reply

By Pat Buchanan


That question, which has bedeviled U.S. experts on the Middle East, may need updating to read: Who rises when Assad falls?

For the war is going badly for Bashar Assad, whose family has ruled Syria since Richard Nixon was president.

Assad’s situation seems more imperiled than at any time in this four-year civil-sectarian war that has cost the lives of some 220,000 soldiers, rebels and civilians, and made refugees of millions more.

Last month, ISIS captured Palmyra in central Syria, as it was taking Ramadi in Iraq. A coalition, at the heart of which is the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front, seized Idlib province in northern Syria and is moving toward the coast and Latakia.

Half of Syria has been lost to ISIS, the Nusra front, and other jihadist and rebel groups. All of Syria’s border crossings with Iraq have been lost to ISIS. All of the border crossing with Turkey, excluding Kobani, have been lost to ISIS or rebels linked to al-Qaida. Syria’s border with Lebanon is becoming a war zone.

Some 100 Russian military advisers are said to have pulled out of Syria, suggesting Vladimir Putin may be reconsidering Russia’s historic investment.

Indicating the gravity of the situation, Syrian sources claim 7,000 to 10,000 foreign Shiite fighters, Iraqi and Iranian, have arrived to defend Damascus and launch an offensive to recapture Idlib.

Israel’s deputy chief of staff, Gen. Yair Golan, who headed the Northern Command, was quoted this week, “The Syrian Army has, for all intents and purposes, ceased to exist.”

Israeli sources report that Hassan Nasrallah, leader of Hezbollah, Assad’s indispensable ally, is warning that the real threats to the Shiites of Lebanon are ISIS and the Nusra Front. Fighting between Hezbollah and Syrian rebels is taking place along the Lebanese-Syrian border.

Assad has been written off before, only to survive those who predicted his demise. But given the balance of forces and the way in which the tide of battle is turning, it is hard to see how his regime and army can long resist eventual collapse.


Kurdish Anarchists Inflict the First Major Defeats on the Islamic State Reply

Urfa, Turkey – Subsequent to fierce battles with militants of the Islamic State group (IS/ISIS), the joint forces of People’s Protection Units (YPG) and Burkan al-Furat, supported by the U.S.-led coalition’s warplanes, regained major parts of the strategic city of Tel Abyad (Gire Spi) in Raqqa province, northeastern Syria, YPG sources reported on Monday.

The joint forces attacked ISIS from the eastern and southern sides of the city. More…

ATS Statement on the Motorcycle Club Incident in Waco Reply

By Vince Rinehart

“There’s a number of off base memes and ideas floating on the left regarding this incident.

– Claims have been made that this was a shootout between “Skin Head Gangs.” A look at the mug shots of those arrested show whites, Hispanics, blacks and perhaps an Asian or two. Claiming the groups involved are skin heads is a deliberate misrepresentation.
– Comparisons have been made between the way the cops handled the Twin Peaks shooting vs. protests in Ferguson and Baltimore; that the predominately white Motorcycle Clubs involved were treated fairly. This is often based off pictures of MC members sitting around *in detainment* alongside police who are apparently guarding them. Also, lets remember that cops SHOT AND KILLED MC members at the Twin Peaks shooting.

These misrepresentations are just another attempt on the left to divide and conquer the US by pushing us into the Blue Tribe on the left or the Red Tribe on the right. Both tribes support the system. Attack The System believes that the future struggle will not be Blue vs. Red; it will be those who are for the system vs. those who are against it. To do this we propose developing a third political tribe: the Grey Tribe, made up of dissidents, outcasts and left-behinds from both the left, the right and from communities that defy categorization or reject the system; perhaps including 1%er Motorcycle Clubs.”


Baltimore ‘Bloods’ and ‘Crips’ Call Truce and Unite To Fight Police Brutality 2


In a move reminiscent of the Los Angeles gang truce during the Rodney King protests, Baltimore area Bloods and Crips have agreed to put aside their rivalry and focus on fighting rogue police officers.

Last Saturday, both Bloods and Crips marched side by side in the Baltimore rallies against police brutality. Putting aside differences, both groups united in one voice to demand “Justice for Freddie Grey.”

Reports among members indicate that members of the Nation of Islam organization brokered the truce, much the same as happened in Los Angeles two decades ago.

“I can say with honesty those brothers demonstrated they can be united for a common good,” Carlos Muhammad, a minister at Nation of Islam’s Mosque No. 6 said.

“At the rally, they made the call that they must be united on that day. It should be commended,” he continued.

“We can unite and stop killing one another, and the Bloods and the Crips can help rebuild their community,” Muhammad said in an interview with the The Daily Beast.

A community organizer, DeRay McKesson, confirmed the ceasefire between the groups.

“The fight against police brutality has united people in many ways that we have not seen regularly, and that’s really powerful,” McKesson said.

“The reality is, police have been terrorizing black people as far back as we can remember. It will take all of us coming together to change a corrupt system,” he added.

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake acknowledged the peace-brokering efforts of the Nation of Islam, singling them out specifically for helping to stop the violence in the community.

“I want to also thank the Nation of Islam, who have been very present in our efforts to keep calm and peace in our city,” she stated.

The mayor had nothing to say, however, about their criticisms of police violence.

Baltimore Police: 3 Rival Gangs Uniting to ‘Take Out’ Cops Reply

Electronic Urban Report

baltimore protesters

*Baltimore police say three separate gangs are now working together to “take out” law enforcement officers.

In a statement Monday, the department called it a “credible threat” and said members of the Black Guerilla Family, the Bloods and the Crips have formed an alliance against the police.

The department warned other law enforcement agencies to “take appropriate precautions.”

The police statement came as mourners gathered for the funeral of Freddie Gray, who died of a mysterious spinal injury while in police custody.

Police spokesman Capt. Eric Kowalczyk would not say whether the threat is related to the death of Gray. Kowalczyk said the threat announcement has been circulated to law enforcement agencies nationwide.

The Fulcrum of the Present Crisis: Some Thoughts on Revolutionary Strategy Reply

An interesting new work by Carson.

By Kevin Carson

Center for a Stateless Society

Center for a Stateless Society Paper No. 19 (Winter 2015) [PDF]

The Cult of Mass, Lionization of Protest Culture & Other Industrial Age Holdovers

Protest Culture. The so-called “cargo cults” of New Guinea, Micronesia and Melanesia evolved in response to the influx of American manufactured goods during World War II. Native islanders identified the goods – at least in the received version of the story – not with any material process of production in the countries it came from, but with the proliferation of air bases and air fields in their own countries. The cargo cults, accordingly, operated on the principle of sympathetic magic to stimulate the further delivery of Western manufactured goods by building airplanes and air control centers out of woven bamboo.

Richard Feynman later applied this phenomenon, by analogy, to what he called “cargo cult science.” Cargo cult science equates “science” to incidental features of science like test tubes and lab coats, with no understanding of what constitutes real science: the experimental method.

More generally, a “cargo cult” in any field of human endeavor is an attempt to generate a social phenomenon by replicating all the incidents and stage props commonly identified with it in the public mind.

There’s a danger, in a period of upheavals like the Arab Spring, Occupy, M15, Syntagma, and subsequent networked movements, of our being led astray by a revolutionary cargo cult. The danger is that we will identify “revolution” with incidental things like demonstrations, barricades, slogans and posters.


McVeigh defense archive shows bomber viewed blast as failure Reply

By Michael Graczyk

Associated Press

, is a note from Oklahoma City comber Timothy McVeigh to his defense team. The note, saying "This is the FBI! Do not Panic! We are currently ramming tanks into your house to inject CS gas. Send out your women and children. We know you’re in there and we know you have Bibles and a copy of the Constitution!” is on one of the millions of pages of attorney/client documents donated by attorney Stephen Jones to the center at the University of Texas. (Briscoe Center for American History via AP) © Provided by Associated Press , is a note from Oklahoma City comber Timothy McVeigh to his defense team. The note, saying “This is the FBI! Do not Panic! We are currently ramming tanks into your house to inject CS gas. Send out your women and children. We…
USTIN, Texas — Timothy McVeigh considered the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building 20 years ago somewhat of a failure, viewed himself as a “Paul Revere-type messenger” and even suggested his defense team should receive $800,000 from the government, according an archive of documents donated by the convicted bomber’s lead attorney.

The estimated 1 million pages of paper documents from Stephen Jones now fill 550 file cabinet-sized boxes at the Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas, where the Enid, Oklahoma, attorney received his undergraduate degree. The trove, delivered to the school in three phases since 1998, only became fully organized late last year.


The Terror Strategist: Secret Files Reveal the Structure of Islamic State Reply

By Christoph Reuter

Der Spiegel

Photo Gallery: The Foundation of Islamic State Power

An Iraqi officer planned Islamic State’s takeover in Syria and SPIEGEL has been given exclusive access to his papers. They portray an organization that, while seemingly driven by religious fanaticism, is actually coldly calculating.

Aloof. Polite. Cajoling. Extremely attentive. Restrained. Dishonest. Inscrutable. Malicious. The rebels from northern Syria, remembering encounters with him months later, recall completely different facets of the man. But they agree on one thing: “We never knew exactly who we were sitting across from.”


Mr. Anarchist, we need to have a chat about colonialism 1

By Petar Stanchev


Post image for Mr. Anarchist, we need to have a chat about colonialismThe dogmatic criticism of popular struggles for autonomy in Chiapas and Rojava reveals a colonial mentality that should be stamped out of our movement.

Photo: comrades from the Revolutionary Anarchist Action (DAF) in Turkey express their solidarity with the Kurdish defenders of Kobani at the Turkish-Syrian border. DAF has consistently called on anarchist groups elsewhere to support the Rojava revolution.

Dogmatism is nurtured by abstract truths which become habitual ways of thinking. As soon as you put such general truths into words you feel like a high priest in the service of his god.

– Abdullah Öcalan

Back in 2002, the US journal Green Anarchy published a critical article of the Zapatista movement, including a judgment that seemed to express the author’s worst fears: “The EZLN are not anarchist!” In the piece, the Zapatistas were depicted as “vanguard nationalists” and “reformists” who were denied the privilege of calling themselves anarchist by the anarchist license commission — even if the indigenous rebels never asked to be called such.

The EZLN responded to the article — although, as Subcomandante Marcos made clear, few Zapatistas are willing to engage in arguments with “insignificant elements along an ideological fringe” and even fewer of the EZLN’s militiamen and -women are concerned with the judgments of “people whose greatest virtue is spreading their lack of understanding and knowledge around in newspapers and magazines.” But Marcos decided to reply to the article anyway as it was a clear example of “good old colonialism”:


An Interview with William S. Lind Reply

There are some good nuggets in this. Listen to the interview at Traditional Right.

As an anarchist, I am sometimes asked why I am interested in the work of “right-wing reactionaries” such as Lind, an unreconstructed Hapsburg monarchist. First of all, it’s not a terrible idea to be informed about and familiar with a wide variety of opinions and beliefs, not the just ones closest to one’s own milieu. Lind, for example, is a fascinating theorist of fourth generation warfare.

Also, as an anarchist, I regard authoritarian leftism to be one of the primary and most insidious enemies of anarchism. For example, what’s most funny about the anarchists who identify as antifa is the fact that they claim all this solidarity with communists against fascism, without recognizing that historically there’s been just as strong a rivalry between communists and anarchists as between fascists and anarchists. The Marxists expelled the anarchists from the First International, the Bolsheviks suppressed the anarchists in revolutionary Russia, the Communists back-stabbed the anarchists during the Spanish Civil War. It’s always been this way. I know of no exceptions. I recognized this very early in my “career” as an anarchist, and early on developed the view that anarchists needed to carve out a political identify for themselves that was independent of the conventional Left (social democracy and Leninism). To the degree that anarchists identify with other ideologies or political currents, it should be about recognizing libertarian, decentralist, anti-statist or anti-authoritarian tendencies wherever they appear whether left, right, religious, indigenous, etc. Obviously, anarchists need to be against fascism but no more so than anarchists need to be against communism.

Much can be learned about authoritarian leftism by studying the work of its critics on the far right (because they have spent much more time than most thinking about the question). During the Cold War, one could probably find out more about the true nature of Communism from Readers Digest than from most leftist publications. Likewise, the real nature of totalitarian humanism can be understood more easily through studying the works of critics such as the paleoconservatives or the New Right.


Insight into the little-known ‘anarchist’ revolution underway in Rojava (western Kurdistan) 1

The picture says it all.


Towards the end of last year reports filtered through of an ‘anarchist’ revolution underway in the Kurdistan province of Rojava. It appeared to have all the trappings in place – equality of gender, redistribution of wealth, levelling of hierarchies – and even, purportedly, taking inspiration from the Zapatista revolution of Mexico. More recently there is news of practical support for this revolution from established anarchist organisations in neighbouring Turkey. Over the last three years, especially, the Iraq/Syria region has seen a range of ethnic and religious based militias and alliances (some purely tactical) and while this experiment in Rojava is not without its flaws (see links at end of the article) in the context of the wider region it is arguably unique…

The Kurdish people are a nation who for centuries have existed without a recognised state and who live in regions of Iraq, Syria, Iran and Turkey. In their resistance against repression in Turkey they formed the PKK, which is essentially a Stalinist-based guerilla movement. But then, the story goes, their imprisoned leader, Abdullah Öcalan, happened upon some books by the celebrated American anarchist, Murray Bookchin, and apparently changed his political views. It wasn’t long afterwards that in parts of Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq the guerilla movement there – known as the Movement of the Democratic Society (Tev-Dem) – began to organise differently – in an anarchist way, stressing lack of hierarchy, equality of gender and social revolution. And when Syria collapsed into civil war, the northern Kurdish area of Rojava started to collectivise industry and services in a way probably not seen since the successful, though short-lived, Spanish Revolution in 1936.

However, it was not long after that when ISIS came about and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) took the opportunity to attack the Kurds (though later the Kurds and the FSA formed a tactical alliance). It was also around that time when the Kurdish PYD and its armed militias – the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and Women’s Protection Units (YPJ) – began to implement a programme of what it calls ‘democratic autonomy‘. (It was the YPJ, along with their male counterparts the YPG, who eventually rescued the thousands of Yazidis stranded and encircled by ISIS on Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq.)


Christian foreign fighters deserting Kurdish YPG in Syria because they’re ‘damn Reds’ Reply

An example of why it is essential for anarchists to insure that “anarchist rule” will be fair and tolerant.

By Alex McDonald

Middle East Eye

Foreign volunteers fighting the Islamic State (IS) are leaving the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and joining other militia’s due to the group’s left-wing socialist ideology.

According to foreign fighters quoted by AFP, an exodus is currently underway of US and other Western volunteers from the YPG due their left-wing stance, with one US army veteran – referred to as “Scott” – claiming he decided not to join after finding out they were a “bunch of damn Reds.”


Exclusive: Here is the New Homeland Security Report on ‘Sovereign Citizen Extremist’ Violence Reply

By Jesse Walker


Click the pic & read the report.

Reason has obtained the federal government’s recent report on the sovereign citizens, a largely unorganized subculture whose elaborate legal theories say they do not have to follow most laws. Members of the movement are infamous for filing nuisance lawsuits, making their own drivers’ licenses and license plates, and sometimes attempting to form their own parallel institutions of government. Some of them are also prone to violence, and it is this hotheaded subgroup that is the subject of the report.

The intelligence assessment, which the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) prepared in coordination with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, was circulated to law enforcement on February 5 but was not released to the public. (DHS did not respond to repeated requests from Reason for comment.) CNN revealed its existence last Friday, but the network quoted only a couple of lines from it and did not post the full document for everyone to see.


How ISIS Plans to Sack Rome Reply


An ISIS e-book on how to accomplish their caliphate goal of sacking Rome stresses enlisting “the Islamic State’s secret weapon = secret white converts” to take on Italy.

Much of the book, “Black Flags from Rome,” is dedicated to laying out a case for why Muslims in Europe should rise up and assist ISIS from within, citing justifications for discontent from modern-day anti-immigration protests back to post-Ottoman creation of Muslim “ghettos.”

It uses graphics from Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life to show Muslim distribution throughout Europe. “Starting in the early 90s, a new era would begin for Islam in Europe,” the book states. “A new quality 3rd generation of Muslims would be born who had given up the victim subservient slave mentality the previous generations had. This generation would be emboldened and more confident in their newly (re)discovered beliefs. They would see the world from a new perspective, and unlike the previous generations who only dedicated on earning money for supporting the family ‘back home’, this new generation would see the world through the eyes of a global Ummah (Muslim nation) which transcended all national boundaries.”

It offers the Irish Republican Army attacks of the ’80 and ’90s as an example of a “ruthless” guerrilla campaign in Europe, and the GIA (Group Islamique Army) in France as emblematic of the 1990s “Islamic jihad revival in Europe.” The GIA, notes the text, also trailblazed in Europe with its magazine propaganda and solicitation of donations to smuggle weapons to jihadists in Algeria. More…

‘What ISIS Really Wants’: The Response Reply

By Graeme Wood

The Atlantic

Reuters/The Atlantic

My cover story in The Atlantic’s March issue asked, as simply as possible, What does ISIS believe, and what are its ideological roots? I read every ISIS statement I could find, including fatwas and tweets and road signs, and I front-loaded my mornings with execution videos in hopes that by bedtime I’d have forgotten enough of the imagery to sleep without nightmares. I picked through every spoken or written word in search of signals of what ISIS cares about and how its members justify their violence. I also asked a small group of its most doctrinaire overseas supporters for guidance, and they obliged.

At the time, the dominant cliché about ISIS was that it was a thrill-kill group that had hijacked Islam for its own ends, and that these ends were cynical, pathological, and secular. The investigation yielded something like the opposite conclusion: ISIS had hijacked secular sources of power and grievance, and was using them for religious ends—ends that are, at least among some supporters, sincere and carefully thought through. They include a belief in the imminent fulfillment of prophecy, with the group in a key role.

I am grateful for thoughtful reaction from many sources. (I’ll examine separately the pushback to my claim that ISIS is within the Islamic tradition.) Shadi Hamid of the Brookings Institution emphasized that ideology is deeply embedded in social and political facts, and that ignoring those facts is at least as dangerous as ignoring the ideology. I agree completely: ISIS achieved its successes in a hellish setting where all authority was predatory and nothing was safe; it offered certainty, sincerity, and the promise of reliability; it did this in ways that were antithetical to traditional interpretations of Islam (though not quite as antithetical as some believe).