ISIS Update: Sophisticated strategic advance puts Baghdad in the crosshairs
posted at 6:41 pm on July 22, 2014 by Noah Rothman
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria followed through with their threat over the weekend to expel Christians from Iraq’s second largest city and to impose Sharia law on the residents who remain. Those Christians who passed through ISIS checkpoints on their way out of the besieged city were robbed of their belongings by Islamist militants.
The Wire reported that the end of this month will mark the first time in 1,600 years that a Christian mass will not be held in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. The report, via Adam Chandler, also notes that the Dubai-based news outlet Al Arabiya reported over the weekend that ISIS consolidated its gains by torching one of the oldest Christian churches on earth.
— Al Arabiya English (@AlArabiya_Eng) July 20, 2014
The Islamic State, the name ISIS prefers in order to convey their legitimacy as a state-like entity, is not merely pursuing a strategy of terror. According to a Reuters report filed on Tuesday, the Sunni fundamentalist group is using a sophisticated mix of “soft” and “hard power” to advance further into Syria and Iraq, putting Baghdad in peril.
The Reuters report described one operation in which ISIS fighters captured 30 al-Alam families, forcing tribal leaders to cede control of their town. “Weeks later, only a few masked gunmen guard checkpoints surrounding al-Alam at night, so comfortable is the Islamic State in its control through fear,” the report read.
The report adds that ISIS, an amalgam of anti-Western fighters with disparate ideologies, have put their differences aside in order to pursue one common aim: sacking Baghdad.
The assault on Iraq’s capital has been ongoing for weeks as terror operations aimed at softening Baghdad’s defenses have continually been linked to ISIS militants. Over the weekend, ISIS took responsibility for a series of five car bombs inside Baghdad’s mainly Shiite areas which took the lives of 27 people.
In this detailed (and GRAPHIC) report on ISIS, the six minute mark reveals how the group keeps meticulous records on their activities. Showcasing the group’s annual report from 2013, one analyst said she thought that the tactic was aimed at either an audience of potential or existing donors which financially support the nascent Islamic caliphate.