Global iGuerilla Update

Sayyaf and Ramadi

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Taking Ground.

On May 18th Ramadi, the capital of the Sunni Al Anbar Province,fell to roughly 300 Islamic State fighters. The IS fighters moved during a sandstorm which concealed them and grounded opposing airstrikes. They fooled the Iranian backed Iraqi Security Forces (ISF)into thinking they were surrounded. Reputation took over from there as the much larger ISF fled in anticipation of the mass shootings and beheadings that follow Islamic State victories. Iraq’s Iranian-backed Shia militias have vowed to retake Ramadi; a move likely to inflame the Anbar Sunnis given the Shia tendency to kill and loot Sunnis while liberating them. Ramadi is about 70 miles from Baghdad; closer than Gettysburg is to Washington DC.

Losing Leaders.

A few days earlier, a Delta Force team slipped across the Iraqi border into Syria in Black Hawks and V-22 Ospreys. They sought Abu Sayyaf, the IS money man who manages the loot and oil revenues taken by conquest. Sayyaf put up a fight using women and children as human shields and was killed along with 11 of his bodyguards. His wife and fellow IS member, Umm Sayyaf, was captured and a Yazidi slave woman was freed. There were no American casualties. Delta’s sensitive site exploitation (SSE) bagged some priceless Assyrian artifacts along with a “treasure trove” of intel materials including cell phones and laptops.

A day or so earlier, Ezzat Ibrahim al-Douri (the King of Clubs) was killed in Hawija of the Salahuddin Province of Iraq. al-Douri was Hussein’s right-hand man, led the Sunni insurgency, and was Baathist liaison to the IS. The Iraqi Badr Shia militia took him out thinking they were ambushing someone else. al-Douri was born in Saddam’s hometown Tikrit and helped him seize power in a coup in 1968. He was Sadam’s vice-president until the 2003 invasion and was responsible for the gas attack of 1988 that killed thousands of Kurds. He lent military expertise to the Islamic State in support of their goal of ridding Iraq of its pro-Iranian/Shia government.

The Terror Network.

The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) was a terror network from 2003 to 2014 like Al Qaeda or Hizballah. Like Al Qaeda, its goals were aspirational with the Caliphate being a future dream. Terror networks don’t hold ground, preferring the ambiguity of hiding in other peoples land. They don’t govern and their main job is recruiting and launching periodic high vis attacks followed by propaganda outbursts and demands. Al Qaeda’s magazine, Inspire, sums it up with its title (aspirational) and its purpose (attract and motivate followers).

Terror networks are diagrammed to uncover links and nodes. The nodes are key individuals who become High Value Individuals (HVI) to be captured or killed. The links are lines of communication between nodes. Eliminate the nodes and break the links...the network degrades and disintegrates over time.

The Terror State.

In 2014 ISIS declared itself the resurrected Caliphate in the 1,400 year old prophetic tradition of Muhammad himself. ISIS became IS, transforming from a terror network into a terror state. The aspirational virtual caliphate became the actual dirt Caliphate and Al Bagdadi became Kalifa Ibrahim, leader of the faithful. And with that...everything changed.

According to purist Islamist tradition; the ummah (Muslim nation) owes its loyalty to the Caliphate and must try to move there. They are bound to the Caliph who, in turn, must enforce Sharia and follow the traditions of the Prophet without adding manmade laws which are deemed un-Islamic innovations. The Caliph must ignore borders and always seek expansion; he must take and hold ground. Treaties of up to 10 years are allowed but only to buy time for the faithful to regroup and restart the Jihad. IS’s magazine, Dabiq, sums it up with its title (a Syrian city where Mohammad claimed Islam would defeat the West) and its purpose to legitimate the geographic Caliphate as home for the faithful.

You defeat a terror network by eliminating its key players. You defeat a terror state by taking its land thus delegitimizing its Caliph. The Delta raid was a magnificent operation but it cannot stand alone. It must part of a larger strategy, one that takes ground. That’s what it will take to defeat the Islamic State.

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iGuerilla should be the first book packed in the duffel bag for those carrying the fight to the enemy.”
–Peter J. Schifferle PhD, Lt Colonel.(ret) Professor, School of Advanced Military Studies U.S. Army.

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