Violent Jihad

Battles for Mosul, Raqqa, Met With Peak in ISIS Fundraising and Recruiting

The Islamic State faces a divided coalition with no clear agenda beyond defeating it.

BY CounterJihad · @CounterjihadUS | November 7, 2016

The Islamic State (ISIS) unleashed a series of complex attacks against advancing coalition forces in Mosul this weekend.  The attacks combined car bombs, mortar fire, and snipers in order to drive back what reports variously described as “Iraqi special forces” and Kurdish peshmerga.  The Iraqi units were driven back for a while, but managed to retake the urban areas through a combination of artillery fires and American-backed air support.  Other forces, clearly Kurdish, moved on outlying villages.

While the coalition of Iranian-led Shia militias, official Iraqi army units — some flying Shia flags — and Kurdish irregulars seems to be making progress overall, the fight has been tougher than predicted.  ISIS’s leadership has been firm so far in holding its troops to Mosul, committing beheadings and other terroristic violence in order to minimize its risks of either the flight of its own soldiers, or an uprising by those natives to the city who resent ISIS’s control.

Meanwhile, regime propaganda has increased.  The leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, put out a rare message to his fighters as the invasion of Mosul began.  “Oh you who seek martyrdom! Start your actions! Turn the night of the disbelievers into day,” he told his forces. “Totally decimate their territories, and make their blood flow like rivers.”

ISIS is enjoying a spike in its propaganda’s success in bringing in new funding and recruits.  The pressure that the caliphate faces has brought about real fears among its supporters, and hope among its tormented, that it might collapse.  As a consequence, those worldwide who support ISIS’s vision of a global Islamic caliphate have redoubled their giving.  ISIS is apparently learning lessons from American political campaigns, narrow-casting its message at a segmented market that is divided between support for itself and al Qaeda, according to the Jerusalem Post:

As with many other areas, ISIS has outplayed al-Qaida in this arena….  ISIS has altered its recruiting and propaganda strategy when necessary, notes the report, recently moving from seeking volunteers in Syria and Iraq to focusing on “the ‘far enemy’ and on encouragement for ‘lone wolf’ attacks and cyber attacks against the West” with no strings attached to its central hub.

Moreover, the report indicates that “the competition between the Islamic State and al-Qaida is… manifested in a propaganda battle that includes…’hashtag wars’ and publications on ideological matters….

[J]ust as US election campaigns have shifted from a sole focus on fundraising from big-money bundlers to a large volume of small online contributors, ISIS and others have done the same with their fundraising.

This empowers smaller cells to even do their own fundraising without having connections to high-net-worth individuals or senior terrorist operatives.

Ultimately, the coalition facing the Islamic State does not have any clear goals past the fall of ISIS’s cities.  The Iraqi government seems to be dominated by Iran’s interests, as is Syria’s, and both are currently backed by Russia.  The United States is trying to advance its cause through the use of airpower and military advisers, making it dependent on the local forces on which this strategy relies.  These forces are not aligned except temporarily:  the Kurds who are the major source of effective troops ultimately seek an independence that none of the other actors intend for them to have.  Once the cities fall, American forces will likely find the Russian-Iranian coalition turned against both its Kurdish allies and whatever remaining American ground forces are deployed in the region.  It is likely that America’s allies will be left holding the bag, as American forces are compelled to withdraw by the Russian-Iranian coalition.

Meanwhile, Turkish forces have entered the conflict and now occupy parts of the contested ground.  The Turks are meddling in the conflict in pursuit of their own interests, interests that strongly clash with the Kurds’.  The Kurds have made an appeal to Russia for humanitarian support, showing a lack of confidence in their American allies.  Russia may ultimately have the deciding vote in how the Turkey/Kurdish affair shakes out, which augurs badly for the Kurds:  the Russians have much to gain strategically from Turkey and more from Iran, both of which are hostile to independence for the Kurdish people.

The other question to be dealt with is the disposition of the refugees created by these offensives.  So far only several tens of thousands of refugees have fled Mosul, but predictions are that a million or more will be created by the intense fighting expected before the city has fallen.  The United Nations says that its camps are unprepared for the influx, which may therefore spill into Turkey and Europe beyond.  This can only exacerbate the tensions provoked in Europe by the existing refugee crisis.



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