Abu Bakr Baghdadi, the Pied Piper of hypocrisy
When the conflict in Syria erupted in early 2011, it slowly began to dawn on those who cared to look that in the British capital London, something was amiss. Thousands of young Sunni Muslim men were being indoctrinated by the impassioned pleas and sermons pumped out on YouTube by televangelist preachers, trained in the Saudi-backed Wahhabi ideology. Preachers like Mohammed Arefe, Adnan Arour & Abdur Rahman Dimashqiyah all played a pivotal role in cementing the uprising as a violently sectarian, supremacist one.
Young men travelled off to join the earliest manifestation of Syrian rebel terrorism, the “Free Syrian Army (FSA),” ostensibly to fight the “regime” but before long they were attacking religious minorities, threatening to massacre Shia Muslims & destroy their holy sites and calling for the re-establishment of the Caliphate which, under the Umayyad dynasty, was based in Damascus.
As the war grew more and more brutal and the better organized al-Qaeda off-shoots Al Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq came to the fore (before the latter’s hostile takeover attempt saw the birth of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), the young foreigners seamlessly made the move over to these more radical groups. The new groups were better armed, better organized and their leaders less corrupt (or so it seemed).
For as long as the mainstream media and political discourse ignored the role of extremist preachers in radicalizing young men, and with propaganda outlets like the BBC glowingly covering the exploits of “aid convoys” which in many cases were so obviously cover for extremists to travel to Syria, groups like ISIS were always going to be the natural destination for those schooled in this type of hatred.
But something which has been under-explored is how Abu Bakr Baghdadi himself, the self-appointed caliph of the so called Islamic State has played a huge role in promoting recruitment for his organization. Baghdadi himself has masterfully played the role of the Pied Piper of Hamelin. In the ancient tale, the Pied Piper clears the town of Hamelin of a rat infestation by playing a beautiful song on his pipe. When the town reneges on a promise to pay him, the Piper harbors the resentment and then returns later on, kidnapping the town’s children by leading them away to the sound of his mesmerizing music.
One of the abiding features of any Wahhabi extremist is the relentless sense of victimhood, the belief that the whole world has wronged them. In Baghdadi’s case, the despised Shia majority ruling over Iraq is enough for him to consider the world an unjust place and he is now doing everything to put that situation right.
To achieve this, Baghdadi has sought to increase the number of fighters within his ranks and has employed some brutal but highly effective forms of propaganda in order to do so. His flute playing has come in the form of high-quality videos produced by his in-house propaganda outlets, Al-Hayat, Al-Furqan and Al-I’tesam, which combine a harking for a former Sunni glory with a murderous and graphic bloodlust.
In this, Baghdadi has been highly successful. Normally, the profile of the typical ISIS foreign recruit has been one of a disenchanted young man, fed up with his lack of opportunity in his home country and lashing out at the world as a result.
As it goes, Baghdadi has lured some highly intelligent young men (and women) to join his insane attempt at world domination. Take the example the twin Somali girls from Manchester. A-grade students and on course to become doctors, they left their lives behind to become Jihadi brides. Their mother travelled to Syria, risking her life, to try to get them to come home. Instead she was kidnapped by ISIS, released back into Turkey, then told by her own daughters that they weren’t coming home because “God had chosen them to stay” in Syria with ISIS.
Or take Nasser Muthana. A bright student who had just started medical school, he decided to run off to join Baghdadi’s campaign of terror. A recent ISIS execution video featured the killing of 16 Syrian soldiers and Muthana is suspected of being one of the killers. Muthana’s father says that if it is his son in the video, he should be executed himself.
Clearly, Baghdadi has managed to tear up families all across the Muslim and non-Muslim world and he cares not one jot. In fact, part of the allure is telling these young people that their families are “munafiqeen” (hypocrites) and aren’t good Muslims. The young people are thus duty-bound to disobey their parents and keep dancing to the tune played by Baghdadi himself, a new father figure for these young men and women.
Late last month, Abu Rumaysah, a British citizen and extremist supporter of Anjem Choudhary, took his heavily pregnant wife out of the UK, across Europe and into ISIS-controlled territory in Syria. The British security apparatus probably would rather he was out of their country and did little to stop him. Last week, he posed for a photo in the de facto ISIS capital of Raqqah with his new-born son in one arm and an automatic weapon in the other.
But while naive, easily-duped young men and women risk their lives and the lives of their families to join the colonial-settler project that is the Islamic State, Baghdadi himself puts his own family far out of harm’s way.
The Lebanese army confirmed this week that they had arrested one of Baghdadi's wives - Saja Al-Dulaimi, a member of one of the largest Sunni Arab tribes in Iraq. She had travelled from Iraq to Lebanon with one of Baghdadi's sons, presumably to escape from the significant advances made in recent weeks against ISIS by the Iraqi army and its allies in the Shia volunteer forces & pro-government Sunni tribes.
The sooner those sympathizing with the so called Islamic State realize that its leadership is made up of nothing more than opportunistic ex-Saddam loyalists who are using these eager recruits to regain their lost power, the sooner they'll have to abandon a doomed cause that is ripping their families apart.
Eisa Ali, RT UK’s correspondent in London. (Twitter: @EisaAli_RT)
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.