Categories: Politics

Which forces are behind ISIS?

“Different claims have been made about which force is behind ISIS, which contradict each other but may contain a grain of truth in each of them. The fight against terrorism is of course important, but if you cannot read the intentions and forces behind it well and do not include the fight against them from the very beginning, you will continue to waste your time and suffer harm.” (Photo: AA)

This question has been puzzling me since the day it first emerged. (*) The organization, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), or its Arabic acronym Daesh, is a transnational Salafi jihadist group. Its origins lay in the Cey’ish al-Taifa al-Mansurah organization, which was founded by Abu Omar al-Baghdadi in 2004 and fought alongside al-Qaeda during the Iraqi insurgency. The group rose to global prominence in 2014 when its militants took advantage of the ongoing Syrian civil war to successfully capture large areas of northwestern Iraq and eastern Syria.

By the end of 2015, the group governed a territory with an estimated population of twelve million; it implemented an extreme interpretation of Islamic law, managing oil fields, an annual budget of more than $1 billion, and more than 30,000 fighters.

Since the defeat of ISIS forces in 2019, the group’s revival in Syria and Iraq has been prevented. Al-Baghuz’s fall was the final straw in a series of defeats that stripped the group of its remaining territorial control in Syria and Iraq, where they declared their caliphate in June 2014. In the five years following its defeat, ISIS attempted to make a comeback by continuing to attack its rivals in Syria and Iraq. However, the group was unable to take advantage of these opportunities, making its return to its pre-2019 situation significantly difficult.

What power is behind ISIS?

If you remember, they came into being right behind Al Qaeda. They first started their actions in Iraq and Syria during the most critical period and then spread to many other Islamic geographies.

Different claims have been made about the real power behind it, contradicting each other but each containing a grain of truth.

It was claimed that ISIS was fed with a significant amount of funds from donors, especially Saudi Arabia and Qatar, as well as countries in the Gulf such as the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait. Another contention was that the main power behind it was the Syrian regime. It is true that Syrian intelligence supported many groups, especially Al Qaeda and former Baathists, to support the resistance against the USA after the Iraqi invasion. The fact that ISIS’s leadership includes high-ranking Iraqi soldiers and intelligence officers from the Saddam era indicates that we should not ignore the possibility of such a direct or indirect connection.

It is known that Gulf capital has been supporting militant Salafi groups in the Middle East, including Afghanistan and Pakistan, for many years. However, Saudi Arabia later included ISIS in its list of terrorist organizations. In fact, Kuwaiti donor Mohammed Haif, a major supporter of Salafi groups in Syria, even accused ISIS of “trying to burn all the gains of the Syrian jihad.”

Therefore, although it is highly likely that Gulf support went to ISIS, it may not be correct to say that these countries are completely behind the organization. Although the Assad regime is not the actor that directly founded and directed the “Islamic State”, it can be said that its existence benefited the Assad regime and sometimes provided indirect support by paving its way.

In the end, who benefits?

Even if these assumptions are partially true, I think there is another nut at play. Conspiracy theories and reducing complex equations to simple black-and-white solutions can be misleading, but a realistic scenario can still be written if some credible signs are followed and who wins in the end.

If you noticed, ISIS did not attack any Israeli targets even once. I even listened to the former MOSSAD chief with my own ears in a television interview. He said, “We are treating some ISIS militants for humanitarian reasons.”

During his presidency, Trump also publicly admitted that they created ISIS in his speeches criticizing Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton. As a matter of fact, he renewed this unthinkable claim a few weeks ago during his election campaign. He went further and implied that the 9/11 New York Twin Tower and Pentagon attacks were actually a conspiracy.

Think about it, when they first emerged under the name of the “Islamic State”, they were so well equipped and trained, and they committed such despicable, primitive, cruel and inhumane massacres that they aroused such hatred that it was their primary goal to first slander the religion of Islam in the eyes of the world public opinion and then to reshape the regional map together with Israel. It seems – looking back – that it was.

The US and ISIS

In 2014, President Obama launched a “counterterrorism campaign” against ISIS, targeting populated areas and civilians in Iraq and Syria.

It paved the way for the sweeping bombing. Then, YPG/PKK was strengthened in the north of Syria and positioned them like US soldiers against ISIS, and the foundations of the Syrian leg of a future Kurdish state in the region were laid.

Moreover, ISIS was used to legitimize a military agenda to pursue “Islamist terrorists,” to wage a worldwide preemptive war to “Protect the American Homeland”.

Meanwhile, while Israel was directly involved in Obama’s “counter-terrorism” attacks on Syria, there were also reports that Tel Aviv was also supporting Al Qaeda and ISIS mercenaries in the Golan Heights. Jihadist fighters met with Israeli IDF officers as well as Prime Minister Netanyahu. Senior officials of the IDF also implicitly acknowledged that the “global jihad elements within Syria” (ISIS and Al Nusra) were supported by Israel.

An author named Michel Chossudovsky clearly claimed that ISIS was secretly supported and financed by its allies, including the US and Israel. According to Chossudovsky, ISIS is actually a product of US intelligence. Of course, the recruited militants are not aware of who is pulling the strings.

Soviet-Afghan war and Al Qaeda

It is not a new practice for the US to set up such organizations, use them, and then crumple up, throw away and destroy them when the job is done. We all remember that it supported Al Qaeda and its affiliated organizations during the heyday of the Soviet-Afghan war. It is reportedly stated that in the ten-year period from 1982 to 1992, approximately 35,000 jihadists from 43 Islamic countries were recruited by the CIA to fight in Afghanistan.

Osama bin Laden, America’s bogeyman and the founder of Al Qaeda, was recruited by the CIA at the very beginning of the US-backed jihadist war against Afghanistan in 1979. He was only 22 years old at the time and trained in a CIA-sponsored guerrilla training camp.

I met China’s special representative to Afghanistan, an ambassador, at a Wilton Park meeting about 10 years ago. As our conversation about China deepened, he showed me a photo of himself with Osama bin Laden. I was shocked. Then he explained: “At that time, we were cooperating with the USA in defeating the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. We were sending the weapons to the Afghan mujahideen upon the request of the CIA and on condition that the money was paid. “This photo includes Osama, me and CIA executives.” he said. It was the first time I encountered a Chinese diplomat who could speak so openly.

With whose support was ISIS initially created?

Reports indicate that like al-Qaeda, ISIS was initially created by US intelligence with the support of Britain’s MI6, Israel’s Mossad, Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence and Saudi Arabia’s General Intelligence Directorate Ri’āsat.

ISIS also supported the campaign that aimed to recruit thousands of Muslim volunteers from Middle Eastern countries and other Islamic lands to fight on the side of Syrian rebels. Some border countries, including Turkey, would host these volunteers, train them and ensure their passage to Syria.

There were reportedly Western Special Forces and intelligence officers in the ranks of ISIS. British Special Forces and MI6 were involved in training jihadist rebels in Syria. Western military experts under contract from the Pentagon also trained the militants.

There were convicted criminals who were released from Saudi prisons on the condition that they join ISIS. Saudi death row inmates were recruited to join terror brigades.

US Senator John McCain met with jihadist terrorist leaders in Syria. The bombings of the US and its allies did not only target ISIS; they were also bombing the economic infrastructure of Iraq and Syria, including factories and oil refineries. ISIS’s caliphate project was part of a long-standing US foreign policy agenda to divide Iraq and Syria into separate regions: a Sunni Islamist Caliphate, a Shiite Arab Republic, and a Republic of Kurdistan.

The “Global War on Terrorism” is deceptively presented as a “Clash of Civilizations”, a war between competing values and religions, when in reality it is an open war driven by strategic and economic objectives.

What kind of purpose could there be behind it?

This war spread over a very wide geography. Al Qaeda terrorist brigades (covertly supported by Western intelligence) were also deployed in Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Central African Republic, Somalia and Yemen. These various Al Qaeda affiliates in the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa, and Asia are considered CIA-sponsored “intelligence assets.” They are allegedly used by Washington to wreak havoc, create civil strife and destabilize sovereign countries.

Boko Haram in Nigeria, Al Sebab in Somalia, the Libyan Islamic War Group (supported by NATO in 2011), Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Jemaah Islamiah in Indonesia and other Al Qaeda affiliated groups are terrorist organizations said to be secretly supported by Western intelligence.

If you ask Beijing, the US also supported Al Qaeda-linked terrorist organizations in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. The main purpose is to trigger political instability in Western China and disrupt China’s resurgence. The declared goal of these China-based jihadist formations (serving US interests) is to establish an Islamic caliphate extending into Western China.
Alleged jihadists are used to create an environment of fear and intimidation.

How far are proxy wars?

Yes, ISIS’s voice is not heard as much as before. Its power was broken, money and weapons support decreased greatly. It may have been left to its natural death after 2019. If necessary, another more useful terrorist machine suitable for strategic purposes can be created soon. As a matter of fact, ASALA was an important instrument used against Turkey at the time, but when it expired, PKK was created instead. It was also used and is being used. It spread to Syria with the YPG and gained fresh power there. Who knows what organizations are currently in the incubation phase next?

Using terrorism is now common practice.

Of course, this work is not only designed and supported by the US and Western intelligence services. “Proxy wars” have become widespread around the world. Russia, Iran, China, Pakistan and the UAE are also using similar methods, although their success or failure is debatable.

The “fight against terrorism”, which has been going on for decades in our country, is of course important, but if you cannot read the intentions and forces behind it well and do not include the fight against them effectively from the very beginning, you will continue to waste your time and suffer further harm.


(*) This question did not come to my mind out of the blue. In my new book titled “Curiosity that Paves the Way to Wealth”, which will soon be published by Destek Publications, I will talk about wide range of issues from space to agriculture, from alternative history to the ancient names of our cities, Russia’s aging population, China’s efforts to be a technology power, the USA’s global energy dominance, the honest and dishonorable ways of being rich.

In one chapter of the book, I detailed how some countries work to create, support, use, and eliminate terrorist organizations in line with their strategic goals. In this article, I wanted to briefly share my assessment of the “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” (ISIS), without waiting for the book to be released.

Mehmet Öğütçü

The London Energy Club - Chair

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