Thursday Morning Reading Club

Reuters has a really good article about ISIS today, "In Northeast Syria, Islamic State Builds a Government."

Among the many interesting points, it says Baghdadi is calling all the shots, even as to beheadings. He also still fights with the group sometimes. He fought during the Division 17 battle in July to take over a Syriran army base. (He was wounded, but is better now.)

I'll add some more articles throughout the day. What are you reading about ISIS you find worthwhile?

I'm also surprised that no major media has been writing about ISIS military chief Omar Shishani lately, or its chief enforcer, Abu Waheeb (also spelled Wahib.) And no one is trying to figure out who the executioner is any more. Either the Government knows and isn't saying, or they are still not sure. I don't think it is any of the four Brits the media has named, particularly the so-called rapper. He's much more hyper when he speaks and his speech isn't the same.

Again, this is kind of an open thread related to ISIS, and articles you have found helpful and would recommend to others.

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    Probably a smart move (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by CaptHowdy on Thu Sep 04, 2014 at 09:28:00 AM EST
    Mobile payments startup Isis Wallet is changing its name to Softcard to avoid association with the Islamic militant group known as ISIS.

    The company said in July that it would be rebranding for that reason, but didn't have a new name to announce then.

    "However coincidental, we have no desire to share a name with this group and our hearts go out to those affected by this violence," said Isis CEO Michael Abbott, in a company announcement.

    I am reminded of the Ayds diet plan.

    I fear for the fate of (none / 0) (#31)
    by ruffian on Thu Sep 04, 2014 at 11:57:16 AM EST
    We need to take back the word Isis (none / 0) (#32)
    by CaptHowdy on Thu Sep 04, 2014 at 12:20:58 PM EST
    Already Done (5.00 / 1) (#33)
    by squeaky on Thu Sep 04, 2014 at 12:41:44 PM EST
    It is IS now..

    But the news media finds ISIS more catchy...


    Depends on what the definition (none / 0) (#52)
    by CaptHowdy on Thu Sep 04, 2014 at 08:37:42 PM EST
    Of IS is?

    Exactly (none / 0) (#55)
    by squeaky on Thu Sep 04, 2014 at 09:21:11 PM EST
    Sort of..

    Wow. That is the longest mostdetailed intro to (none / 0) (#40)
    by oculus on Thu Sep 04, 2014 at 05:10:31 PM EST
    a link evah!  Mozart thanks you.

    2 links (none / 0) (#44)
    by CaptHowdy on Thu Sep 04, 2014 at 05:26:15 PM EST
    Still,.... (none / 0) (#46)
    by oculus on Thu Sep 04, 2014 at 05:40:44 PM EST
    Meh (none / 0) (#47)
    by CaptHowdy on Thu Sep 04, 2014 at 05:58:15 PM EST
    I was lazy.  Is that bad for some reason?  Bandwidth wise?

    I thought it was remarkable. In a good (none / 0) (#48)
    by oculus on Thu Sep 04, 2014 at 06:04:46 PM EST

    In the wake of PM Cameron's ... (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Thu Sep 04, 2014 at 10:23:41 AM EST
    ... alarmist declarations about foreign fighters within the ranks of ISIS, the BBC has endeavored to determine who they are:

    "According to a report attributed to the Syrian military, almost 54,000 foreign combatants from 87 different countries have come to the country since the start of the civil war. Thousands of them are said to have been killed. [...] It says Chechens top the list of foreign fighters with 14,000 combatants, of which 3,691 have been killed. Besides Chechens, the largest groups of fighters are thought to be Saudis, Lebanese, Libyans, Iraqis and Tunisians."

    The Guardian reports that the British government has decided to arm the Kurds, but will withhold direct military aid to Baghdad until a new Iraqi government is formed.

    John Meoli of the Baltimore Sun reports that former Ravens wide receiver Donte Stallworth has been signed by The Huffington Post to write about national security issues. I know the punchlines practically write themselves, but as far as celebrity analysts go, Stallworth can't possibly be any worse than Phil "Convert 'em or kill 'em" Robertson, the Duck Dynasty patriarch who's become a Fox News favorite.

    That's what I've read about ISIS and related issues this morning. Aloha.

    It's weird the way conservatives converge (none / 0) (#22)
    by Mr Natural on Thu Sep 04, 2014 at 10:38:47 AM EST
    into similar veins of intolerance, from whatever form their religion takes.

    It's hard to imagine right wing Buddhists or Hare Krishnas, but who knows.  Maybe they're stockpiling guns too.


    The rightness or leftness of your wing (none / 0) (#26)
    by CaptHowdy on Thu Sep 04, 2014 at 10:45:41 AM EST
    Depends on which way you are facing -

    BBC 2013

    Why are Buddhist monks attacking Muslims?

    Of all the moral precepts instilled in Buddhist monks the promise not to kill comes first, and the principle of non-violence is arguably more central to Buddhism than any other major religion. So why have monks been using hate speech against Muslims and joining mobs that have left dozens dead?

    According to a devout Myanmar Buddhist, (5.00 / 1) (#42)
    by oculus on Thu Sep 04, 2014 at 05:17:23 PM EST
    much like Christianity, Buddhism has varied adherents. Some strains are militant. Some are non-violent n

    I was once non violent :) (none / 0) (#43)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Sep 04, 2014 at 05:23:21 PM EST
    That was a great phase in my life.  I just loved everything.  Then I became a mother and it broke my brain :) I'm not exactly militant, but I am no longer willing to love a burglar :). I will take you out!

    People have long done terrible things ... (none / 0) (#45)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Thu Sep 04, 2014 at 05:37:46 PM EST
    ... in the name of their respective religions. Hindus and Muslims in India have been guilty of committing some truly barbarous acts against one another. It was the two groups' mutual antipathy toward each other and their inability to reconcile their longstanding differences which led to the subsequent partition of that country in 1948, in the immediate wake of its independence from the British Empire.

    The predominantly Muslim population of Hyderabad, an autonomous state in the southern part of the Indian subcontinent, soon came to regret their decision to stand in place as an independent constitutional monarchy and not emigrate to the new nation of Pakistan. Untold numbers of them were ruthlessly slaughtered by the Indian Army in the ensuing five-day invasion of that state ("Operation Polo," Sept. 13-18, 1948). The official death toll was 44,000 but truthfully, it was probably seven- to tenfold that number.

    Hyderabad was annexed to India, but the carnage inflicted on the resident Muslim population proved so heinous that then-Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru ordered an independent, non-sectarian inquiry into the atrocities. However, that report was later suppressed on grounds of national security, which leads one to freely speculate that its contents were likely very damning.



    CNN.com (none / 0) (#1)
    by BarnBabe on Thu Sep 04, 2014 at 07:46:38 AM EST
    They have a piece running currently on a ISIS defector telling his story along with a video of how life is within ISIS.  

    Thank you (none / 0) (#3)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Sep 04, 2014 at 08:08:56 AM EST
    For putting this up. I will watch it.

    You should watch the VICE (none / 0) (#8)
    by Chuck0 on Thu Sep 04, 2014 at 09:44:46 AM EST
    piece on the Islamic state. Chilling.

    I will (none / 0) (#13)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Sep 04, 2014 at 09:48:37 AM EST
    Thank you

    There is a link in the comment below (none / 0) (#15)
    by CaptHowdy on Thu Sep 04, 2014 at 09:53:53 AM EST
    I found it on youtube (none / 0) (#38)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Sep 04, 2014 at 02:27:16 PM EST
    What to say?  It reminds me of the brainwashing the fundies do to children here, complete with camps, tears of emotion, pseudo good works policing everyone else.  The false safety of inclusion and the false safety of conditional love.

    If the fundies took over our government how they often preach they are going to, killing people for disappointing their God would soon follow.


    Just about to post something about this (none / 0) (#14)
    by CaptHowdy on Thu Sep 04, 2014 at 09:53:14 AM EST
    I do not agree with a fair amount of this but I saw it yesterday and I think it meets the "interesting stuff about ISIS" theme.

    ISIS is America's New Terror Brand

    With the above observations in mind, ISIS is well-financed, militarily proficient, and equipped with modern vehicles and weaponry. It also exhibits an uncanny degree of media savvy in terms of propagating its message in professional-looking videos and on platforms such as YouTube and Twitter. "Western intelligence services," the New York Times reports, claim to be "worried about their extraordinary command of seemingly less lethal weapons: state-of-the-art videos, ground images shot from drones, and multilingual Twitter messages."[3]

    Along these lines, ISIS even received a largely sympathetic portrayal in a five-part series produced and aired by the Rupert Murdoch-backed Vice News.[4] Indeed, Vice News' "The Spread of the Caliphate" is reminiscent of the public relations-style reportage produced via the "embedding" of corporate news media personnel with US and allied forces during the 2003 conquest of Iraq.

    ISIS's curious features are readily apparent to non-Western news outlets and citizenries. For example, Iran's PressTV recently asked its readership, "Why does the ISIL have such easy access to Twitter, Youtube and other social media to propagate its ideologies?" The answer choices are, "1) Because the ISIL has very capable technicians who can best use social media, or 2) Because the US and Britain have provided the ISIL with unrestricted social media platform[s]." Note that the first choice is the overarching assumption of Western media outlets. Yet perhaps unsurprisingly, 90 percent of PressTV readers selected choice two.[5]

    I think the media has stopped talking (none / 0) (#2)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Sep 04, 2014 at 08:05:19 AM EST
    About ISIS because the White House has asked them to chill.

    McCain & Graham must be devastated. (none / 0) (#4)
    by Anne on Thu Sep 04, 2014 at 08:14:12 AM EST
    (or as I now like to think of them - thanks to digby - Ralph and Lucy).

    The other possibility is that having to leave room in the broadcast to update us on Joan Rivers' condition (she's in a regular room now!!!) meant something had to go.


    I think we should just... (none / 0) (#50)
    by unitron on Thu Sep 04, 2014 at 08:30:03 PM EST
    ...declare them a "power couple" (like Brangelina) and give said couple the single name "J-Lin".

    Johnsey? (none / 0) (#51)
    by CaptHowdy on Thu Sep 04, 2014 at 08:35:10 PM EST

    McGraham! (5.00 / 1) (#58)
    by Militarytracy on Fri Sep 05, 2014 at 06:42:30 AM EST
    Childish Cracker :)

    Interesting (none / 0) (#6)
    by squeaky on Thu Sep 04, 2014 at 09:34:48 AM EST
    Sounds like Baghdadi is a brilliant social organizer as well as ruthless leader. It is more obvious now why so many are joining the ranks of ISIS. Not just money, but social stability.
    In the cities and towns across the desert plains of northeast Syria, the ultra-hardline al Qaeda offshoot Islamic State has insinuated itself into nearly every aspect of daily life.

        The group famous for its beheadings, crucifixions and mass executions provides electricity and water, pays salaries, controls traffic, and runs nearly everything from bakeries and banks to schools, courts and mosques.

        While its merciless battlefield tactics and its imposition of its austere vision of Islamic law have won the group headlines, residents say much of its power lies in its efficient and often deeply pragmatic ability to govern....

    ...  "Scientists and men with degrees are joining the State," said one Arab jihadi.

        The group has also invested heavily in the next generation by inducting children into their ideology. Primary, secondary and university programs now include more about Islam.

        The group also accepts women who want to fight - they are trained about "the real Islam" and the reasons for fighting....

    "Every three days we receive at least 1,000 fighters. The guest houses are flooding with mujahideen. We are running out of places to receive them," the Arab jihadi said.

    Hitler (none / 0) (#7)
    by CaptHowdy on Thu Sep 04, 2014 at 09:37:32 AM EST
    Made the trains run on time

    Actually, (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by NYShooter on Thu Sep 04, 2014 at 10:42:58 AM EST
    that was Mussolini.

    Whatever (none / 0) (#28)
    by CaptHowdy on Thu Sep 04, 2014 at 10:51:34 AM EST
    My point was I don't see how anyone could look at that footage of ISIS herding people into ditches to be slaughtered and not be reminded of archival Nazi images.

    heh (none / 0) (#37)
    by Wile ECoyote on Thu Sep 04, 2014 at 02:07:40 PM EST
    Heh????? (none / 0) (#41)
    by oculus on Thu Sep 04, 2014 at 05:13:20 PM EST
    Well (none / 0) (#9)
    by squeaky on Thu Sep 04, 2014 at 09:44:58 AM EST
    Baghdadi does not appear to be anything like Hitler, IMO. IOW, he doesn't appear to be minting control of his "state" by fear, but instead providing a stable social structure.

    Very interesting, imo.


    Not using fear? (none / 0) (#10)
    by CaptHowdy on Thu Sep 04, 2014 at 09:46:37 AM EST
    We will agree to disagree.

    Well (none / 0) (#16)
    by squeaky on Thu Sep 04, 2014 at 09:54:39 AM EST
    Apparently ISIS is not as black and white as we have been led to believe.

    The only "news" we have gotten is about Baghdadi's ruthlessness.

    If Baghdadi's power was maintained by fear, like Saddam Husain he would not be gaining so many recruits. And these recruits are apparently not only warriors.

    The comparison with Hitler, as nice as it is to color Baghdadi as a really bad guy is off the mark big time. Dreams of creating a super race for Germans, is quite different than spreading a religious doctrine for anyone who wishes to convert. In the end the adherents are humble not arrogant.  

    Really a bad analogy. But I guess it is an easy one, as ISIS does appear to be perpetuating seriopus war crimes.


    Say what??? (2.00 / 0) (#19)
    by jimakaPPJ on Thu Sep 04, 2014 at 10:16:48 AM EST
    Apparently ISIS is not as black and white as we have been led to believe.

    The only "news" we have gotten is about Baghdadi's ruthlessness.

    Good grief!


    Check Under Your Bed (1.00 / 1) (#34)
    by squeaky on Thu Sep 04, 2014 at 12:43:19 PM EST
    There are reports of ISIS coming through from the unsecured Mexico border...  and seeing your position on Muslims in general, I bet they will head for your head first thing.

    So, check under your bed.


    Interested in your opinion of the (none / 0) (#17)
    by CaptHowdy on Thu Sep 04, 2014 at 09:57:43 AM EST
    "New terror brand" link upthread

    Makes Sense (none / 0) (#23)
    by squeaky on Thu Sep 04, 2014 at 10:39:58 AM EST
    I think that ISIS is the new Al Qaida. The latest fashion in enemies of the west. Iraq, Syria, many countries in Africa and elsewhere have been warring for years now, civil war, takeovers, coups etc.

    How is ISIS different than what we have been paying for in Syria?
    Arming rebels and giving them a billion in humanitarian aid rarely leads to the formation of a western style Coke drinking Hollywood based society.

    Wayne Madsen (remember him) gives another perspective on the advantages US et al. get from ISIS and other similar groups. I linked to that piece yesterday.

    I welcome other perspectives about iSIS, rather than the one sided parade of MSM "news" we have been getting.


    Yeah (none / 0) (#27)
    by CaptHowdy on Thu Sep 04, 2014 at 10:49:32 AM EST
    He had me till this -

    the Bush administration was permitted to wage war on Afghanistan almost immediately following those staged attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

    If that had been left out I would say it was a good piece.  


    Baby, Bathwater (none / 0) (#29)
    by squeaky on Thu Sep 04, 2014 at 11:32:16 AM EST
    I am sure that there are some very smart people who you respect who also tend toward wondering about US involvement in the WTC bombing. (oh did I say bombing?)

    So best to take what makes sense and leave the rest, rather than discount everything because you find one thing too outrageous.


    a religious dectrine for anyone (none / 0) (#35)
    by jondee on Thu Sep 04, 2014 at 01:47:48 PM EST
    who wishes to convert..

    And what happens to those who'd rather not convert?


    Case by Case (none / 0) (#36)
    by squeaky on Thu Sep 04, 2014 at 01:54:35 PM EST
    Some get killed, some pay a tax (if they are considered rich) and some have something of value and are tolerated.


    Oh and many leave.


    They definately don't seem very (none / 0) (#39)
    by jondee on Thu Sep 04, 2014 at 03:09:58 PM EST
    pragmatic in the area of world-wide public relations. Hearts and minds. Unless we're talking about hearts cut out and brains splattered..

    I'm betting that pragmatism is going to lead them right over the edge of a very high cliff sometime in the fairly near future. We'll see.


    Really? (none / 0) (#49)
    by squeaky on Thu Sep 04, 2014 at 07:44:07 PM EST
    Well maybe you are tuned to the wrong news channel.

    Apparently they are recruiting 1000 people a day. And I am sure that the draw is not entirely about killing other people.


    And, if they claim 100,00 per day (none / 0) (#53)
    by NYShooter on Thu Sep 04, 2014 at 09:12:36 PM EST
    you'd acceopt that as gospel?

    And, why is it that everything I've read about ISIS states that they have only one offer to the citizens of the towns and territories they've conquered: Convert, or, die.

    You're benevolent description of those sociopathic murderers is fascinating.


    OK (none / 0) (#54)
    by squeaky on Thu Sep 04, 2014 at 09:20:35 PM EST
    Guess you have not read Jeralyn's link for this thread.

    Of course I have (none / 0) (#56)
    by NYShooter on Thu Sep 04, 2014 at 09:33:09 PM EST
    but, I have my own mind, and, I like to think for myself.

    Huh? (none / 0) (#57)
    by squeaky on Thu Sep 04, 2014 at 10:55:53 PM EST
    And, why is it that everything I've read about ISIS states that they have only one offer to the citizens of the towns and territories they've conquered: Convert, or, die.

    Convert or die?  Did you miss this part?

    Those rebels and activists who stayed largely "repented", a process through which they pledge loyalty to Baghdadi and are forgiven for their "sins" against the Islamic State, and either kept to their homes or joined the group's ranks.

    But after the initial crackdown, the group began setting up services and institutions - stating clearly that it intended to stay and use the area as a base in its quest to eradicate national boundaries and establish an Islamic "state".

    "We are a state," one emir, or commander, in the province told Reuters. "Things are great here because we are ruling based on God's law."

    Some Sunni Muslims who worked for Assad's government stayed on after they pledged allegiance to the group.

    "The civilians who do not have any political affiliations have adjusted to the presence of Islamic State, because people got tired and exhausted, and also, to be honest, because they are doing institutional work in Raqqa," one Raqqa resident opposed to Islamic State told Reuters.

    Since then, the group "has restored and restructured all the institutions that are related to services," including a consumer protection office and the civil judiciary, the resident said....

    ...The group has often traded with businessmen loyal to Assad when it has suited its interests, for instance.

    According to one fighter, a former Assad employee is now in charge of mills and distributing flour to bakeries in Raqqa. Employees at the Raqqa dam, which provides the city with electricity and water, have remained in their posts.

    Islamic State's willingness to use former Assad employees displays a pragmatism residents and activists say has been vital to its success holding onto territory it has captured.        

    As I said before (none / 0) (#59)
    by jondee on Fri Sep 05, 2014 at 12:42:48 PM EST
    we'll see where ultimately all those organizational skills and pragmatism lead to.

    I'm betting it's going to be some configuration of big, smoldering, grease spot.

    In the meantime, they'll keep the trains running on time.



    Ad, of course, (none / 0) (#60)
    by NYShooter on Fri Sep 05, 2014 at 02:52:54 PM EST
    self serving propaganda from a murderous gang of zealots should be taken as gospel, and their inhuman savagery overlooked.


    "The militants, with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, separated the men by sect. The Sunnis were allowed to repent for their service to the government. The Shiites were marked for death, and lined up in groups.
    "Just let him suffer," another militant said. "He's an infidel Shia. Let him suffer. Let him bleed."
    ISIS claimed it killed 1,700 Shiite soldiers."


    1700 Soldiers? (none / 0) (#61)
    by squeaky on Fri Sep 05, 2014 at 03:15:42 PM EST
    How many did we kill?
    151,000? or was it 601,027? or was it 1,033,000?

    Take your pick..



    So (none / 0) (#62)
    by jondee on Fri Sep 05, 2014 at 03:21:42 PM EST
    what are you getting at Squeaky?

    That you think this movement could become the bedrock of some new viable nation state over there that will be allowed by the world to stand?


    War (none / 0) (#63)
    by squeaky on Fri Sep 05, 2014 at 03:26:48 PM EST
    Sunni v Shia have been warring for some time now. 1700 shia Soldiers were killed..

    Considering what we saw so called Civilized Humans capable of in Iraq, I am not surprised by the deaths.

    We have picked a side. Good news is no boots on the ground.

    We will see how much $$ the Saudi's kick in, and Jordan... UAE...

    This will not end unless Sunni's decide to join the coalition.


    Finally, a comment I totally agree with (5.00 / 1) (#64)
    by NYShooter on Fri Sep 05, 2014 at 03:41:03 PM EST
    My problem, however, is with the strangely romantic, and, quixotic notion that a group that opens a daycare center in the front yard, while decapitating innocents in the backyard is, somehow cool.

    Kind of reminds me of the media's benevolent reporting on the Hell's Angels, and, showing them riding down the highway laden down with their "Toys for Tots."


    Touchè. (none / 0) (#12)
    by Chuck0 on Thu Sep 04, 2014 at 09:46:52 AM EST
    The Nazis were meticulous record keepers.

    It was what he did with the trains... (none / 0) (#21)
    by Mr Natural on Thu Sep 04, 2014 at 10:32:19 AM EST
    ... that was the problem.

    Isn't this similar to what Hamas did? (none / 0) (#18)
    by nycstray on Thu Sep 04, 2014 at 10:02:00 AM EST
    Oil (none / 0) (#11)
    by squeaky on Thu Sep 04, 2014 at 09:46:49 AM EST
    By some estimates, the extremist group ISIS controls 60 percent of oil production in Syria, as well as six oil wells in Iraq.

    Much of this oil ends up in the black market, and given that, the "purchase" and sale of this oil is far from typical.

    ...Middlemen take a big cut of the money on the way to the black market. So instead of earning the world market price of $100 a barrel, ISIS pockets half or a quarter of that.

    Still, assuming intelligence estimates that the group sells 40,000 to 60,000 barrels each day, daily revenue comes out to $1 million to $3 million.

    "Once oil is integrated, it's very hard to know, literally impossible to know, if a drop comes from here or from there," says Matthew Levitt, a former Treasury Department intelligence official now with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. "What we are going to need is intelligence identifying those middlemen, and then deciding how to target their ability to continue functioning in that manner."

    As important as oil revenue is to ISIS, Levitt thinks it's a small piece of the group's overall finances.


    War reporter explains why he left the field: (none / 0) (#25)
    by Mr Natural on Thu Sep 04, 2014 at 10:44:52 AM EST
    "Why I Decided War Reporting Was No Longer Worth the Risk"  This reporter, Tom Peter, was interviewed on NPR the other day, on Here and Now.

    He certainly makes sense (5.00 / 1) (#30)
    by ruffian on Thu Sep 04, 2014 at 11:54:21 AM EST
    There was a candlelight vigil for Steven Sotloff locally here at UCF, where he studied journalism for 2 years. Lots of pretty speeches made and the usual public grief displayed. I could not help but wonder how many people had ever actually read anything he wrote, or any other independent journalism that they maybe had to actually pay for or seek out.

    The lack of respect Tom Peter reports is actually a step above the total indifference so many people have for real reporting.