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Saturday, February 21, 2015

Haroon Moghul offers a rebuttal to Graeme Wood's "What ISIS Really Wants" essay in The Atlantic. For openers: "That a movement that has earned the world's nearly universal opprobrium for its grotesque violence and wickedness is nevertheless honest in describing why it does what it does. I beg to differ. The only Muslims who think ISIS represents Islam, or even Muslims, are ISIS themselves." read more


A prominent rabbi has pleaded guilty to 52 counts of voyeurism after secretly filming women in his congregation's ritual baths. Barry Freundel, 63, may have recorded as many as 150 women in the changing area at his orthodox synagogue in Washington D.C. The women were disrobing for the ritual Jewish bath, known as a mikvah. read more


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The trade in antiquities is one of Islamic State's main sources of funding, along with oil and kidnapping. For this reason the UN Security Council last week banned all trade in artefacts from Syria, accusing IS militants of looting cultural heritage to strengthen its ability "to organise and carry out terrorist attacks".


An Oklahoma legislative committee overwhelmingly voted to ban Advanced Placement U.S. History class, persuaded by the argument that it only teaches students "what is bad about America." Other lawmakers are seeking a court ruling that would effectively prohibit the teaching of all AP courses in public schools. Oklahoma Rep. Dan Fisher (R) has introduced "emergency" legislation "prohibiting the expenditure of funds on the Advanced Placement United States History course." Fisher is part of a group called the "Black Robe Regiment" which argues "the church and God himself has been under assault, marginalized, and diminished by the progressives and secularists." read more


It's the first day of Lent, and St. Joseph Catholic Church in Stuart knows people are busy.

So the church is offering 'drive-thru ashes' for those unable to get to morning Mass read more


Comments

The author suggests:

One way to un-cast the Islamic State's spell over its adherents would be to overpower it militarily and occupy the parts of Syria and Iraq now under caliphate rule. Al‑Qaeda is ineradicable because it can survive, cockroach-like, by going underground. The Islamic State cannot. If it loses its grip on its territory in Syria and Iraq, it will cease to be a caliphate. Caliphates cannot exist as underground movements, because territorial authority is a requirement: take away its command of territory, and all those oaths of allegiance are no longer binding....

Given everything we know about the Islamic State, continuing to slowly bleed it, through air strikes and proxy warfare, appears the best of bad military options....

Properly contained, the Islamic State is likely to be its own undoing. No country is its ally, and its ideology ensures that this will remain the case. The land it controls, while expansive, is mostly uninhabited and poor. As it stagnates or slowly shrinks, its claim that it is the engine of God's will and the agent of apocalypse will weaken, and fewer believers will arrive. And as more reports of misery within it leak out, radical Islamist movements elsewhere will be discredited: No one has tried harder to implement strict Sharia by violence. This is what it looks like....

That the Islamic State holds the imminent fulfillment of prophecy as a matter of dogma at least tells us the mettle of our opponent. It is ready to cheer its own near-obliteration, and to remain confident, even when surrounded, that it will receive divine succor if it stays true to the Prophetic model. Ideological tools may convince some potential converts that the group's message is false, and military tools can limit its horrors. But for an organization as impervious to persuasion as the Islamic State, few measures short of these will matter, and the war may be a long one, even if it doesn't last until the end of time.


It's a lengthy, thoughtful, and insightful piece - highly recommended those interested in the subject read the piece in its entirety.

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