Ebook on ISIS
An ISIS defector from the UK has published an e-book called “A Brief Guide to the Islamic State” (2015 Edition) that is posted on a popular social media site used by ISIS to publish propaganda, called Internet Archive.
The Guide is consistent with ISIS terrorist propaganda messages: it gives information on life under the Islamic State to encourage recruitment to Syria; it reveals trade-based terrorist financing; and it ends with threats against the West.
More than anything else, the Guide begs a lot of questions that we should be asking about terrorism and commercial material support from other countries to ISIS controlled areas.
ISIS Trade-based terrorist financing still happening
One of the most disturbing parts of the Guide is that, to the extent the e-book is to be believed, it makes it obvious that nothing appears to be being done in the way of stopping material support in areas controlled by ISIS and in particular trade-based terrorist financing.
The Guide says that in ISIS controlled-areas, new cars from Kia and Hyundia and motorbikes from China are imported and sold. It also says that defectors can buy the same electronics they can get in the West including cellular phones, computers, tablets and laptops. One of the questions this begs is what manufacturers are selling technology to ISIS or for the benefit of ISIS? I get the point that perhaps sales are coming via conduit countries such as Lebanon, Turkey or Iraq but that’s immaterial. We all know by now, in trade-based terrorist financing, that conduit countries are a concern and we all know which are used for ISIS.
The Guide also says all mobile apps from the West are available for download but that some of the free ones are better (Kik, Skype, Ask.fm). Another question arises — surely Apple and Google, who are after all, American public corporations, have blocked IPs from Syria and Iraq in ISIS controlled areas and terrorists in the Islamic State cannot actually download or buy apps from them?
With respect to Skype, Ask.fm and Kik, terrorists say that the companies running those apps provide services to them in ISIS controlled areas. That’s a problem because those services are used to radicalize others to commit terrorist attacks against us in the West and to recruit defectors to Syria who are committing acts of terrorism there. We have the technology to block IPs – are corporations not actually doing that in ISIS -controlled areas?
If there is any doubt that ISIS is engaged in trade-based terrorist financing with foreign companies, the Guide says that eventually ISIS will re-build the destroyed manufacturing base so that it is “less dependent on foreign goods.”
This begs the question as to why we are not preventing corporations from outside ISIS areas from engaging in trade-based terrorist financing and why we are not preventing financial institutions from supporting terrorist financing, and prosecuting those that provide financial or other material support to ISIS? We are a well-connected and wired world and this evidence is not that difficult to obtain as part of a terrorist financing investigation. Counter terrorist financing is not rocket science.
With respect to manufactured goods, foreign trade cannot occur without substantial letters of credit involving financial institutions. How it is possible for ISIS, or any companies within their territory, to be able to obtain letters of credit from financial institutions is incomprehensible. There is no such thing as a company or organization in ISIS-controlled areas that is “independent” and not controlled by ISIS in some material manner, unless they operate underground. Bearing in mind that ISIS controls all of the financial institutions in its area of influence means that it also controls financial transactions involving foreign trade. This is not something we do not know.
In the latest edition of Dabiq, ISIS confirms that they have “billions in the bank,” and are obviously sufficiently funded to carry on any activity they wish, including foreign trade.
The dark and risky side of ISIS continuing to be able to use the banking system internationally for trade is also obvious and if it isn’t, ISIS has spelled it out for us in Dabiq. They say that it will be easy to use their billions of dollars in the bank (i.e., easy to use our financial system because we let them) to obtain WMD from Pakistan and have them smuggled in the US via Nigeria, Libya, South and Central America then into Mexico and then Texas, using transnational criminal organizations. The result, they say in Dabiq, will be “epic.”
Trying to convince defectors that life is normal
ISIS uses social media to recruit, encourage attacks in the West, socialize Westerners and for terrorist financing. You can read more about that in our White Paper on the Twitter Terrorist. The Guide confirms that the social media campaign of ISIS is meant to “persuade.” So obviously is the Guide. It tells prospective defectors that in ISIS controlled areas, when they walk the street, they will be “loved” and supported, and that the people of Syria will seek their counsel and advice because they are symbols of liberation, suggesting that even the most unaccomplished defector will be a superstar in Syria. The average Syrian is only going to kiss the feet of a foreign defector who is destroying their country if there is a gun or a sharp sword pointed at them.
ISIS terrorist propaganda on social media is usually contradictory on the issue of lifestyle. The Guide is similarly inconsistent. The Guide says that ISIS has successfully recruited defectors by honestly focussing on the hardship of life in Syria. But that’s not accurate. ISIS consistently paints a picture of how amazing life is and promises defectors a life of relative comfort with slaves available to carry the load. Even the Guide contradicts its own so-called hardship stance by devoting pages to describe how defectors can buy cafe lattés, cappuccinos, fruit and vegetables, American chocolate bars, new cars and motorcycles in land controlled by ISIS. According to the Guide, there is ample Internet access and the latest technology “gadgets” for sale. According to the Guide, life under ISIS is normal and you won’t want for much in the way of material things.
Threats to West
The Guide ends, as all ISIS terrorist propaganda ends, with the promise that ISIS will descend upon the streets of Washington, London and Paris to spill the blood of, inter alia, Americans, demolish Western landmarks, erase our history, and “most painfully” according to the Guide, convert our children who will then curse us. ISIS will succeed, according to the Guide, because Americans allegedly do not have the stomach to fight ISIS long-term.
The only part of that which is true is that in the West, we have sanitized ISIS’ Reign of Terror and already we do not appear to have the stomach to meet them face on in terms of the atrocities they commit. It appears that we are going to wait until they are defeated before being more vocal.
Atrocities committed by ISIS
The atrocities committed by ISIS include:
- The rendering of over 9 million Syrians homeless and either internally or externally displaced. That’s more than the whole of the population or Switzerland or Austria. Imagine ⅓ of the population of Canada or all of Sweden on the move on foot who have been instantaneous made financially excluded and homeless searching for water, food, shelter and safety. The Syrian refugee crisis is unsustainable and involves more than just Syria. Four million children who are not getting an education is a recipe for disaster in terms of future terrorism mitigation.
- The reinstitution of the practice from earlier times of the sale of young girls and women into slavery to men who have joined or are sympathetic to ISIS, and to foreign men willing to pay the price. Locals in Syria and Iraq say upwards of 40,000 to 50,000 young girls have been sold and bartered from ISIS, some to Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
- The killing of tens of thousands of people for a wide-range of alleged crimes or simply for being, in the view of ISIS, the wrong religion, the wrong gender or for asserting certain rights.
- The destruction of significant parts of the critical infrastucture of Syria that experts estimate will take 30 years to rebuild.
- The erosion of the rule of law and human rights in what is left of Syria and Iraq under the control of ISIS, including the elimination of rights for the whole of the female population who have been financially and governmentally excluded from society.
- The indoctrination of hundreds of thousands of young children in Syria and Iraq on the ISIS way of life, including ingraining in them a disrespect for the rule of law and human rights.
- Less important than any of the above, but still important, the destruction of antiquities in Syria that are irreplaceable that form part of our shared history of humanity.
One of the reasons we should not sanitize ISIS conduct is because Western children are already watching their Reign of Terror on social media (see the White Paper on this point). When parents and the media fail to discuss the ISIS phenomena openly, children are left to process ISIS’ horrific movies they download online out of context. We run the obvious risk that they will be assimilated and terrorist conduct will no longer shock their conscience.
We should be having a dialogue about clips of ISIS’ Reign of Terror in the media and by governments and discuss them in the context of our values, namely the rule of law, democracy and constitutional rights.