Al-Raqqah, Syria: “a city where fear prevails. Music has been banned, Christians have to pay an Islamic tax for protection, people are executed in the main square and face-veiled women and pistol-wielding foreigners in Afghan-style outfits patrol the streets enforcing Shariah restrictions.” Prayer is mandatory and shops must be closed during prayer times. Smokers are arrested on sight and whipped in public. Hookah shops and cafes are closing for good as customers no longer feel safe, and women and men may not sit at the same tables. Veiling rules are posted (full covering for face and hands) and flogging is the punishment. Unmarked cars patrol the streets looking for transgressors. We think Kafka would recognize al-Raqqah.
ISIL are the same group who, in the past 12 months, unleashed 30 suicide murderers against Iraqi Sunni militias and security forces (and the innocent civilians who died along with the fighters). This is the same group that al-Qaeda thought too violent (against Muslims) to be tolerated. Imagine getting kicked out of al-Qaeda for being too violent!
About five thousand ISIL control the city of 500,000. They swarmed there from other areas since they ousted the al-Nusra Front fighters in January. Few in number, strong in dedication to violence, and willing to kill with ease they have terrorized an entire city.
Zawahiri’s al-Qaeda, and its al-Nusra offshoot, consider themselves a battle group engaged in the struggle to become the major power in a future Syrian Islamic state. Zawahiri’s main focus is Assad and he claims to act in the interests of the people, without specifying the governance to come. Like many apocalyptic groups they feel that the future will sort itself out after the battle is won. Faith insists that Allah will provide the correct answer.
Baghdadi’s ISIL see themselves as rulers now; of whatever territory they control now; of whatever people they subject now. Their future is now, and it is horrible to behold.
March 7 2014 by Bruce Wallace, 121Contact
Thanks to Haider for the AP article I had missed.