As the Islamic State loses ground in Mesopotamia, in the west in Syria with the defeat in Palmyra (e.g. Adam Withnall The Independent, 27 March 2016), in the north with an increasingly large territory recaptured by the Kurds (e.g. Avi Asher-Schapiro, Vice News, 22 Dec 2015) and in the east in Iraq, first with the battle of Ramadi (“Battle of Ramadi (2015–16)“, Wikipedia) and now with the start of Iraqi “Operation Conquest” to free Mosul (Paul D. Shinkman, US News, 24 March 2016), it could be tempting to discard the Islamic State and its Khilafah as a bygone threat and a now inconsequential enemy .
If this string of victories against the Islamic State is definitely important and crucial in the war against the Khilafah, uncertainties nonetheless remain. First, even in Mesopotamia, the Islamic State has not given up, but may be, for example, trying to open a southern front, as well shown by Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi (“The Fitna in Deraa and the Islamic State Angle“, Jihadology, 26 March 2016). Then, the Islamic State will most probably attempt to consolidate, develop as well as open new fronts, as underlined previously in “At War against the Islamic State – A Global Theatre of War“. The increasing use of terrorist attacks on various “ribat“* is likely to be part of their defensive strategy, as expected (see An Updated Guide to the Islamic State Psyops, 14 March 2016) and as indeed unfortunately shown by the latest attacks in Istanbul and Brussels (“March 2016 Istanbul bombing” and “2016 Brussels bombings“, Wikipedia).
In the light of this potentially rising number of terrorist attacks, it is thus crucial to understand the perspective and position of the Islamic State as far as these attacks are concerned. That will contribute to define the framework for the Islamic State’s – and its members’ – intentions, as well as to identify sensitive points in terms of legitimacy. From there, we may notably deduce a number of elements and factors that could be useful, in particular to intelligence services and political authorities, to screen and prioritize entities that could be, or not, possible targets, and to identify potential new threats. Conjointly, sensitive points, and discrepancies in messages, may also be used, as we shall point out at the end of the second part and in the third part below, to craft counter-psyops, counter-radicalisation and even psyops messages.
We shall here analyse the long article, “Attentats sur la voie prophétique” (“Attack on the prophetic path” – 32 pages, pp.7-38) devoted to the Islamic State’s justification for the 13 November attacks in Paris, published in Dar al Islam #8 (Al-Hayat Media Center, 6 Feb 2016), the magazine of the Islamic State in French. The very length of the article – one of the longest published in both Dabiq and Dar-al-Islam since their creation – is in itself an indication of the importance of this document for the Islamic State, and thus warrants our attention. This is all the truer that this article is only the first part of two. A second part, meant to be a “case study of the 13 November attacks” (p.38), should be published in the next Dar-al-Islam, assuming the military pressure in Mesopotamia does not disrupt or cancel publication.
We shall use this article as indicating points that are particularly important to the Islamic State. We shall focus first on the Islamic State’s defence of their Islamic status. We shall then turn to they way they seek to establish it is lawful to kill civilians, with a particular attention given to women and children, meanwhile understanding better how the Khilafah categorizes the world, identifying a possible new threat as well as important themes in terms of (counter-)psyops. Finally, we shall look at the Islamic State’s position regarding self-defence and defensive or attacking jihad, and outline possible disagreements thus weakness to exploit in the Islamic State’s discourse.
We shall not, of course, take position on Islamic doctrine and argument, best left to Muslim religious scholars and their authoritative assembly (ulema). Continue reading The Islamic State and Terrorist Attacks: License to Kill