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Bin Laden viewed his terrorism as a prologue to a caliphate he did not expect to see in his lifetime.His organization was flexible, operating as a geographically diffuse network of autonomous cells.
(Its bureaucracy is divided into civil and military arms, and its territory into provinces.) We are misled in a second way, by a well-intentioned but dishonest campaign to deny the Islamic State’s medieval religious nature.
The Islamic State, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), follows a distinctive variety of Islam whose beliefs about the path to the Day of Judgment matter to its strategy, and can help the West know its enemy and predict its behavior.
Its rise to power is less like the triumph of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt (a group whose leaders the Islamic State considers apostates) than like the realization of a dystopian alternate reality in which David Koresh or Jim Jones survived to wield absolute power over not just a few hundred people, but some 8 million.
Our ignorance of the Islamic State is in some ways understandable: It is a hermit kingdom; few have gone there and returned. But his address, and the Islamic State’s countless other propaganda videos and encyclicals, are online, and the caliphate’s supporters have toiled mightily to make their project knowable.
We can gather that their state rejects peace as a matter of principle; that it hungers for genocide; that its religious views make it constitutionally incapable of certain types of change, even if that change might ensure its survival; and that it considers itself a harbinger of—and headline player in—the imminent end of the world.
Where did it come from, and what are its intentions?
The simplicity of these questions can be deceiving, and few Western leaders seem to know the answers.
The most-articulate spokesmen for that position are the Islamic State’s officials and supporters themselves.
They refer derisively to “moderns.” In conversation, they insist that they will not—cannot—waver from governing precepts that were embedded in Islam by the Prophet Muhammad and his earliest followers.
Peter Bergen, who produced the first interview with bin Laden in 1997, titled his first book Holy War, Inc.
in part to acknowledge bin Laden as a creature of the modern secular world.
L’Administration Obama pousse le déni, avec un sommet de Washington contre « l’extrémisme violent » reprenant la terminologie de ses prédécesseurs tout en multipliant discrètement les éliminations ciblées, de toute référence à l’islam …