Category Archives: Islamic History

Commanders of ISIS: European Masters of Caliph Al-Baghdadi?………

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On an unusual surreal day early last summer a man I had never heard of before climbed a podium in Mosul, Iraq. He was dressed in presumably 7th century Arab attire, accurate enough to make Hollywood proud. In hindsight, he may have been playing a role selected for him. He declared the recreation of the Islamic Caliphate (meaning the state run by the heirs and followers of the Prophet Mohammed). He declared himself the new Caliph; to wit, public ruler and religious leader of Muslims- non-Wahhabis need not apply.

Then this character Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi (reportedly  Ibrahim Awwad Al Samarrai) disappeared from view. No more public pronouncements, no appearances. Gradually we have been getting reports, photos, and videos of others, of less swarthy men with red and blond beards dominating the Wahhabis in Syria and Iraq. Chechens (Shishan, or Shishani in Arabic), from Russian Chechnya, have been reported to be in Syria and Iraq for a couple of years. Now they seem to have been flooding the place, if some media reports are accurate. The most famous media face is that of Omar Al-Shishani: his real name is reported to be Batirashvili, which means he originally hails from Georgia (I think any name ending in –Shvili is Georgian, just like one Dzhugashvili who became known as Stalin). They are alleged to be the mainstay of the street fighting, the sharpshooters of city and town warfare. They also presumably have women there, as sharpshooters and as, er, companions and entertainers of the Jihadis when they are not blowing up Iraqi civilians or taking Syrians as hostages and slaves.

That probably explains the extreme bloodiness of their treatment of the captives. That is a typically European practice as we know from the history of the past two centuries. From Germany to Russia (including Chechnya) to the Balkans. The Chechnya rebellion was typically praised in the West, until the inevitable happened, just as it has happened in Syria. The inevitable is that the Wahhabi outsiders with a lot of money and a hateful message, both imported, took over the Chechen rebellion, just as they did the initial Syrian uprising. The Chechens took up chopping heads and hands and stoning quickly in their Caucasus homeland, with the zeal of the converted. Now they are in our region, likely the new European masters of the Caliphate.

One should not exaggerate: there are no doubt Arab commanders as well. We know some of the names, noms de guerre, many others are not known. This reliance on foreign military prowess has normally happened in Islamic history in the declining years of previous Caliphates and Sultanates. It was a practice from Baghdad to Cairo to Istanbul. Often the imported ‘help’, usually imported former slaves, ended up in effective command.

But there are also other ‘Europeans’ involved. This new brief Caliphate, like other Islamic Caliphates before it has fallen to reliance on the imported help. Reliance on the particular Europeans with the bloodiest recent memories and lessons of massacres and mass killings and genocide.

Is this just a repeat blast from past Islamic history? Is this Al Baghdadi (al Samarrai) a hapless figurehead for the real strongmen of the Islamic State?………….

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Women of ISIS: Religion and Slavery and the Onus of Islamic History……….

_9OJik4N_normal Sharqeya-Baneen-15    DennyCreek2

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“Women in Syria and Iraq are at high risk for sexual enslavement by ISIS. ISIS is capturing, abusing, raping, trading, and selling women in areas it controls. America is politically polarized and citizens are divided on the U.S. policy on ISIS. Some think the U.S. should be doing more to combat the organization. They think America should use its full strength to ward off possible terrorist attacks on home soil. Others worry that air strikes will incur too many civilian deaths and collateral damage. They believe America should be more cautious about declaring war on another country in the Middle East………”

Classic slavery in the Middle East and North Africa lasted well after Europe and the Americas ended it. Slavery was ‘officially’ ended in Saudi Arabia only in the 1960s. In Mauritania, an Arab League member, there have been sporadic reports that slavery still exists.

Reports of Wahhabi Jihadis enslaving women and using them for sex and other labor are not exactly new. This Jihadi inclination has been more publicized in recent years, starting with developments in Iraq and Africa. These are a new wilder breed and they make their Al-Qaeda predecessors seem tame and absolutely family-oriented in comparison. (Maybe a case of “the devil you know“, etc).

Trafficking in women by these groups inside Iraq has been reported for years. Now, with full-blown wars raging in both Iraq and Syria and their territorial gains, they have the expanded access and the excuse to replenish their supply of females. The victims come mainly from among the religious minorities and non-Sunnis, but probably not exclusively so.
Others, including many in the West, also traffic in women as sex objects. But this new breed of Wahhabis are not subtle about it and they take it to historic extremes. They have a certain historical flair for the subject. They simplify the matter by throwing the onus on ancient history, blaming their ancient predecessors, their Salaf, for it.

They claim, and correctly, that early Muslims in the Arabian Peninsula took women as war booty after battles and often they sold them or used them as slaves and concubines. They also converted and married them in a few famous cases. But that was during the early ‘tribal stage’ of the expansion of Islam, when the battles were with and among the rival Arab tribes. A few of the battles were also against the Jewish tribes and clans of Madina and other parts of Hijaz in western Arabia. These latter battles also yielded slaves, concubines, and at least one famous very good wife.

Slavery existed from long before the three monotheistic religions appeared and continued long afterwards. It was an important part of the economy of the Roman Empire: the wealth and the income, the GNP. None of the major faiths of the Middle East, Judaism or Christianity or Islam, banned slavery. This is the basis of the alibi that the Caliphate of ISIS uses in taking female war captives and distributing them among its fighters to ‘use’ or sell or trade. It revives slavery because it existed under Islam and anything that existed under early Islam is considered kosher and mandatory by the Salafis.

That is why the Salafis are widely reputed in the Middle East to prefer toothpicks (miswak) to toothpaste (I am not being flippant here, it is common to profile them so in our Gulf region). You see, early Muslims did not have access to Crest or Colgate…………


Ancient Black Flag Revolutionaries: Abu Muslim of Khorasan and Marwan the Jackass………

_9OJik4N_normal Sharqeya-Baneen-15    DennyCreek2

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A bit of high school history here:
Why is no leader of this Wahhabi “Khorasan” group called Abu Muslim Al Khorasani? Given their penchant for noms de guerre starting with Abu and their use of Khorasan (a province in northeastern Persia/Iran)?
Abu Muslim Al Khorasani (also reportedly a nom de guerre) was the original man behind the original ‘black flag’. A Persian, he led the forces of the Abbasid, the original black flag revolution that overthrew the Umayyad dynasty which ruled from Damascus, in the eighth century (A.D.). The last Umayyad Caliph was named Marwan, he was nicknamed by some Al Homar (the Jackass) for obvious reasons.

After the Abbasids took power and started their dynasty, they started to eliminate their former allies and potential future rivals. They started by beheading the man who made their revolution possible, Abu Muslim Al Khorasani.

The Abbasids ruled for five centuries, often through Persian and Turkish surrogates and top ministers. The Abbasids were more cosmopolitan than their predecessors: they intermarried extensively with other ‘subjected’ peoples. They also shared administrative duties, unlike the extremely tribal Umayyads who kept power and influence within their own tribal kin.

The Abbasid rule was ended by the Mongols who sacked Baghdad and trampled the last Caliph, al-Must’asim, to death under their horses hoofs (reportedly after rolling him inside a nice Persian carpet).
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

A Cultural Crime: Confusing Khorasan with Corazón……….

_9OJik4N_normal Sharqeya-Baneen-15    DennyCreek2

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Suddenly Khorasan is “the word” to throw around in American media. Yesterday I posted  briefly on Khorasan here.

What is irking is that most media types mispronounce it by pronouncing it as “Corazón“. It becomes more so as it is repeated over time. So please, por favor, s’il vous plait, bitte, pozhalste, arjook, khahesh mikonam, do not pronounce it as “heart“. Not this Wahhabi use of it. Not this ugly context and incarnation of this beautiful historical word Khorasan which has deep roots and great significance in Islamic, Persian, Arab, and Central Asian history.  Verstanden?
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

The New Black Flag of Khorasan: Back to Abbasid History…….

_9OJik4N_normal Sharqeya-Baneen-15    DennyCreek2

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“‘Imminent Attack’ in U.S. Prompted Airstrikes on Khorasan…..” Bloomberg

This is the type of headline I woke up to early this morning. It can be shocking to read that U.S. warplanes have bombed an Iranian place with historical significance. But this is a new Khorasan, a Wahhabi Khorasan with an Iranian name that had deep impact on Islamic and Arab history. A concept.

Suddenly this new Middle East term is making headlines in the USA: part of the continuing dubious education of America on things Middle Eastern and Islamic. Courtesy of an Al Qaeda affiliate.

Khorasan is a large scenic province in northeastern Iran: it includes Nishapur, the birthplace of Omar Khayyam. The province has significance in Islamic history and in the past it encompassed parts of Afghanistan and other nearby countries. It was from eighth century (A.D.) Khorasan that the flames of the Abbasid revolution spread from Persia across to Iraq and eventually to overthrow the brief Umayyad dynasty of Damascus. The rebellion was strongest among the ‘disenfranchised’ Persian subjects and various Shi’a Arabs, especially in the homeland of Shi’ism in Iraq. The Abbasids carried a black flag throughout their campaign. The Abbasids also moved the Islamic capital from Damascus to Baghdad from which they ruled until the Mongol invasion in the 13th century.

It can be amusing to see the Wahhabi terrorists of Al Qaeda call this cell by the name of an Iranian place full of Shi’as and mullahs.
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Where is Caliph Al Baghdadi? the Road to Manhattan………

_9OJik4N_normal Sharqeya-Baneen-15    DennyCreek2

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“Put yourself in the shoes (and sixth-century black robes) of ISIS’ Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the mysterious boss of the terror group that is striking fear into the hearts of leaders around the world………. Baghdadi, his Cabinet advisers and his two key deputies comprise the executive branch of the government, known as “Al Imara.” The two deputies — Abu Ali al-Anbari and Abu Muslim al-Turkmani, veteran Iraqi military officials who served under Saddam Hussein — to oversee Syria and Iraq………..”

This Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, reportedly Ibrahim al-Samarrai, is a curious character, as far as Wahhabi terrorist mass murderers go. We have had only one public sighting of him, with a Hollywood-style setting and Ben Hur attire. Allah be praised, as old Hollywood films claim we always say. That was when he gave us the good news and glad tidings that, yes, he has decided to declare himself the latest Caliph, the latest Khalifa successor of the Prophet Mohammed. Ruler of the Umma (that would not be all of us, only those willing to convert to the joys of Wahhabism).

What is interesting now is that he seems to have joined Waldo in an undisclosed location. There has been no news from or about him. There is no personality cult around him. No hint of it after that inaugural appearance, not yet. A personality cult is the first thing a new Arab regime usually starts with. But that is probably related to the religious nature of this movement and this temporary “state”. Even Osama Bin Laden had more of a personality cult in the Western media than he did among Sunni Muslims or even among many fellow Wahhabi Muslims (no need to explain what Shi’as and others thought of him).
Could be that power among the leadership of ISIS is more dispersed and less concentrated, more by consensus, than is common in our region. That could be a deliberate attempt to imitate the very first four Caliphs of Islam, from Abu Bakr through Ali. After that came the Umayyads and the Islamic State became a hereditary monarchy. Or could be that this Caliph is just trying hard to avoid the same fate as the humorless Jordanian terrorist Abu Mus’eb Al Zarqawi and Osama Bin Laden and a few others.

No news yet on whether Caliph Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi plans to attend the coming session of the United Nations General Assembly. It would be fun if the president of Columbia University invites him to be grilled or roasted on campus, as he did for Ahmadinejad a few years ago. Perhaps he will send Izzat Ibrahim al Douri (Abu Baath), Saddam’s surviving albino deputy.

Legend has it that al Samarrai has,  in the past, promised to get to New York,  to get New York. I strongly suspect and hope, however, that New York will get to him, will get him, first.

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

What’s in a Name? the Jihadi Invasion of American Politics and Media……..

_9OJik4N_normal Sharqeya-Baneen-15    DennyCreek2

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Americans are learning a whole new type of names, or noms de guerre. While the earlier PLO and Fatah celebrities like Arafat (Abu Ammar) and his pals made the “Abu” a familiar term to some Westerner media types, they were few and far between. That is because the honorific Abu is socially mostly common in the Arabian Peninsula and the Gulf, as well as Iraq and parts of Jordan and Syria. In our region (that I mentioned), almost everybody who is adult male is Abu somebody or something, even if he is not really Abu anybody or anything biologically.
ISIS leaders and fighters apparently have adopted this naming system, an imitation of the very early Muslims from the Hijaz part of the Peninsula many of whom often went by such names. Here are some real and suggested such noms de guerre for the IS denizens, announced and unannounced:

Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi
Abu Khalid Al Canadi
Abu Bieber Al Canadi
Abu London Al Crazy
Abu Qutada Al Polygami
Abu Goatee Al Horni
Abu Al ‘Alaa Al Mo’arri
Abdul Salam Al Nabulsi
Abu Brood Al Saudi
Abu Al-Saud Al Abiari
Abu Jumbaz Al Aflangi
Abu Sisi Al Masri
Abu Assad Al Souri
Abu Zayed Al Dhabiani
Abu Muslim Al Khorasani Al Wahhabi
Abu Thani Al Qatari
Abu Turkey Al Saudi
Abu Prince Al Harami
Abu Izzat Al Douri

Americans celebrities who might consider adopting some Jihadi noms de guerre and the most likely acquisition:

Abu Bama Al Hawaii
Abu Bo Al Amriki
Abu Biden Al Delawari
Abu Nancy Al Pelosi
Abu Kerry Al Bostoni
Abu Hegel Al Nebraski
Abu Clinton Al Chapaqui
Abu Petraeus Al Spooki
Abu Mitch Al Kentucki
Abu Badhair Al Trumpi
Abu Sarah Al Alaski Al Wasilli
Abu Kim Al Kardashi

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

The Three Sects of Islam: the Cultural Equivalent of ISIS Yuppies……..

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“The tomb of the Prophet Mohammed is located in the Saudi Arabian city of Medina. The prophet’s remains are under the Green Dome in the Al-Masjid al-Nabawi mosque, which is visited by millions of Muslims every year. According to the U.K.’s Independent, however, a 61-page consultation document outlines plans for destroying chambers around the tomb, which are especially revered by Shi’ite Muslims, and removing the prophet’s remains to an anonymous grave. The document was exposed by a Saudi academic, the Independent said, but there is still no indication that the Saudi goverment has adopted the plans. The document was given to supervisors of the mosque in Medina……….”

Islam is often portrayed as consisting of two major sects: Sunni and Shi’a. In fact culturally Islam consists of three major sects: (1) Sunni (the largest sect), (2) Shi’a (the next largest sect), and (3) Wahhabi (now the smallest sect but it is growing fast nowadays from Indonesia to Morocco and into Europe). There are others, smaller sects and offshoots of the others.

Wahhabi doctrine, unlike Sunni and Shi’a doctrine, is set against the very survival of historic monuments of any kind (now some f them venerate princes and potentates). They are not, however, against making money at the expense of history. Many major monuments of the early Islamic period in central Mecca have been destroyed and replaced with shopping malls and 5-7-star hotels.

If this new report is true, then it represents a brazen attack on the very history of early Islam, by people who do not believe in history and seek to destroy it. Still, I am not sure they can be serious about this plan for the grave of the Prophet, knowing the possible reaction. Maybe it is a trial balloon to see the reaction, or maybe it is a cultural nod to the up and coming fellow Salafis, the new yuppies of ISIS.

If I were prone to exaggeration to make a point, and I am not, I’d say this is the Wahhabi cultural equivalent of the military drive and the massacres of ISIS in Iraq and Syria. The paths of the tree and its fruit do not diverge much, to rephrase another cliché (FYI: no, that is not a cliché of a Chinese proverb, although it sounds like it).
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Economics of Jihadist Sex: Caliph of Mosul as a Family Man……..

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The Caliph of ISIS and Mosul, Mr. Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi, prefers that to his name of birth (reportedly the very ordinary Ibrahim Al Samarrai). Actually his Caliphness has now added two new names to his known nom de guerre: al Husseini and al Quraishi, thus claiming that he is a descendant of the Prophet and a member of his extinct tribe of Quraish. (How about some DNA tests?)

His predecessor the mirthless Jordanian Abu Mos’ab Al Zarqawi bin Humorless (also a fake name) was offed by the American forces in Iraq before he could ascend the Caliphate. Maybe he just did not think of it: too stupid or not so ambitious, or maybe he did not get the humor of it all.

There is a report that the leader of the “Islamic State”, the Caliph Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi is now encouraging his followers to marry if they are not married and to remarry if they are already married. That is, if they are not satisfied with the ‘freebees’ they have reportedly been getting from non-Wahhabi female war captives and female groupies who have flocked from North Africa and Europe to, er, satisfy the Jihadists trying to find a shortcut to Paradise.

I have been told by my special reporter on Wahhabi affairs that he Jihadists, especially those from the Arabian Peninsula and North Africa normally prefer ‘female company’ from Europe or even America. That might explain the increase in online Internet and social media advertisement for Jihadista ‘sisters’ to come to Syria and Iraq and serve their faith in the only way women are allowed by the Caliph to serve.

Anyway, this Caliph is now offering to pay the wedding costs of his fighters: a house (probably taken from a Shi’a or a Kurd or a Yazidi or a Christian), furniture, in addition to US$1200 in cash (yep: real heathen kaffir American greenbacks). He is also offering an increase in their wages of $100 per wife plus $50 per child. It would be interesting to see the study that led to these specific figures. After all: captured war booty, the concubines, might be cheaper in more than one way.

All that might explain the sudden spike in online trafficking and enticements to Arab and Western women to “go to the Caliphate, young woman, while it lasts“. Older women need not apply.
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Grand Ayatollah of Al Azhar Gets His Just Reward on the Gulf………

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Qatari daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi reports that His Excellency the ‘Great Imam’ shaikh of Al-Azhar went to Dubai last week by private plane. He was to receive the Dubai Holy Quran International Prize (WTF that be). He is reported to have received the award as “Islamic Personality of the Year” as a reward for his efforts in the service of Islam (WTF they be). It does not say if he is rewarded for siding with the military coup that overthrew the elected Muslim Brotherhood presidency of Mohammed Morsi in July 2013, nor if he was awarded for siding with Hosni Mubarak during the uprising of 2011. As I noted in a recent post here, he was bound to win the prize.

This is news to most people, the fact that now Shaikh Dr. Al Tayeb calls himself the “Great Imam”, or is it the “Grand Imam”? Apparently the Al Azhar bureaucracy and its hierarchy are now copying some of the Shi’a (Shi’ite if you prefer) titles like Grand Ayatollah, etc. It is now not too fat-fetched that Dr. Shaikh Al Tayeb will pop out some day with the title “Grand Ayatollah” of Al Azhar, possibly earned from one of them ubiquitous online for-profit theology colleges.

Now what would their Wahhabi allies and financiers in Riyadh think of all this? A Grand Ayatollah leading Al Azhar, just as its original creators of the Fatimid Dynasty had intended? Thus undoing the military coup of Salah El Din Al Ayyoubi (Saladin) who overthrew his Fatimids bosses and benefactors long before Al Sisi overthrew his Morsi boss and benefactor. Saladin did atone for it later by liberating Jerusalem from the European barbarians. No wonder there are complaints, warnings, and fears about the spread of Shi’ism in Egypt. No wonder the military regime and its Salafi and Wahhabi-Liberal allies ban Bahrain activists and Iranian tourists from coming to Egypt. It can be risky. Look, even the recently Wahhabi-ized Al Azhar shaikhs are adopting Shi’a titles now. Soon they might start allowing Shi’a mosques and Husseiniyyas all over Cairo. Who knows, some day we might see Al Sisi playing Shimr, or maybe even Al-Hurr, in a re-enactment a Shi’a passion play about the Battle of Karbala.

And our princes and pals on the Persian-American Gulf had thought their man Al Sisi had come to power and was generously rewarded in order to stop all that.


Mohammed Haider Ghuloum