Daesh and the Caliphate
The early membership of the al-Nusra Front (al-Qaeda in Syria) were Syrians who went to fight in Iraq after the fall of Baghdad in 2003. They returned to Syria to participate in the planned insurgency against the Republic, which was later postponed until July 2012. For two years – until 2005 – they benefited from the aid of Syria, which allowed them to circulate freely, believing they had come to fight the US invader. However, when General David Petraeus arrived in Iraq, it became apparent that their true function was to fight the Iraqi Shiites, to the greater glory of the occupiers. In April 2013, the Islamic Emirate in Iraq, from which they all originated, was reactivated under the name of the Islamic Emirate in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS). The members of the al-Nusra Front, who now had their own leading roles of in Syria, refused to rejoin to their parent company.
In May 2013, an American Zionist association, the Syrian Emergency Task Force, organised a trip by Senator McCain to rebel-occupied areas in Syria. He met various criminals, including Mohammad Nour, spokesman for the katiba Northern Tempest (al-Qaeda), which had kidnapped and imprisoned 11 Shiite Lebanese pilgrims in Azaz, Syria. A photograph published by his Press service showed McCain in deep discussion with leaders of the Free Syrian Army, some of whom also displayed the black Al-Qaeda flag of the al-Nusra Front. Some doubt arose about the identity of one of these men. I wrote later that he was actually Daesh’s future Caliph, which the Senator’s spokesperson vehemently denied. As this man had also been a translator for journalists, there was room for doubt. The spokesperson insisted that my theory was absurd, since Daesh had several times made death threats against the Senator. But shortly afterwards, with no worries about contradicting himself, John McCain declared on TV that he knew the leaders of Daesh personally, and was “in permanent contact with them”. Supposedly he entertained no illusions about the Islamists, but he could brag that he had learned a thing or two in Vietnam, and was supporting them against “Bashar’s régime” out of strategic necessity. So even before the events in Syria began, McCain had organised their weapons supply from Lebanon, where he chose the village of Arsal as a rear base of operations. His fact-finding tour of jihadist Syria would help in planning Daesh’s future operations.
In December 2013, the Turkish police and Ministry of Justice determined that for a number of years, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had been secretly meeting with Yasin al-Qadi, the banker of al-Qaeda. Photographs showed that he came in a private plane, and was welcomed once the surveillance cameras of the airport had been switched off. US vice-President Dick Cheney was at that time (and probably still is) a personal friend of Al-Qadi. He was taken off NATO’s wanted list only on 5 October 2012, and off the State Department list on 26 November 2014, but had been coming to see Erdoğan for a long time before that. He admitted financing Bin Laden’s Arab Legion in Bosnia-Herzegovina (1991-95), as well as Bosnian President Alija Izetbegović. According to the FBI, he also played a central role in the financing of the attacks against the US embassies in Tanzania and Kenya (1998). The FBI also pointed to Al-Qadi as the owner of the software firm Ptech, (now Go Agile) suspected of having play a role in international terrorism (the 9/11crimes, in particular) .
A short time afterwards, the Turkish police searched the headquarters of the IHH and interrogated Halis B., the suspected leader of al-Qaeda in Turkey, and İbrahim Ş., second-in-command of the organisation for the Near East. Erdoğan managed to fire the policemen and free the suspects.
In January 2014, the United States began a vast programme for the development of an unnamed jihadist organisation. Three training camps were set up in Turkey, in Şanlıurfa, Osmaniye and Karaman. Huge supplies of weapons arrived for ISIL, arousing the envy of al-Nusra. For several months, the two groups fought each other mercilessly. France and Turkey, who were not aware of the plan, at first of sent ammunition to al-Nusra (al-Qaeda) to help them get their hands on ISIL’s treasure trove. Saudi Arabia demanded to be given the leadership of ISIL, and proclaimed that would now be commanded by Prince Abdul Rahman al-Faisal, brother of the Saudi ambassador to the United States and the Saudi Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Gradually, the situation became clearer – on 18 February, the White House convened the heads of the secret services of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar and Turkey. The US National Security Advisor, Susan Rice, told them that Prince Bandar was not recovering from his injuries, and would be replaced by Prince Mohammed bin Nayef as supervisor of the jihadists. But Nayef had no natural authority over people, and this only whet Turkish appetites. Rice also shared the new organization chart of the Free Syrian Army, and told the assembled spy chiefs that Washington would entrust them with a vast secret operation to redraw the borders. At the beginning of May, Abdelhakim Belhaj (ex-officer of al-Qaeda, military governor of Tripoli, and founder of the Free Syrian Army) went to Paris to inform the French government about the US-jihadist plans, and to end the war waged by France against ISIL. Notably, he was received at the Quai d’Orsay, the Foreign Ministry. From 27 May to 1 June, several jihadist chiefs were invited for consultations in Amman, the capital of Jordan.
According to the minutes of the meeting, the Sunni combatants were to be regrouped under the banner of ISIL (Islamic Emirate of Iraq and the Levant). They would receive vehicles and massive amounts of Ukrainian weaponry. They were to take control of a vast zone straddling Syria and Iraq, mainly desert, and would proclaim an independent state there. Their mission was to cut the Beirut-Damascus-Baghdad-Teheran route and obliterate the Franco-British frontiers of Syria and Iraq. Iraqi ex-vice-President Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, who was master of the Order of the Naqshbandis in his country, announced that he would bring 80,000 veteran soldiers of Saddam’s army with him. The CIA confirmed that 120,000 combatants from the Sunni tribes of Al-Anbar province would join ISIL as soon as it arrived, and would supply them with heavy weaponry that the Pentagon would deliver, officially for the Iraqi army. Masrour “Jomaa” Barzani, head of the secret services of the Kurdistan Regional Government, brokered an agreement allowing his government to annex the disputed territories of Kirkuk as soon as ISIL annexed Al-Anbar. Less obvious is the reason for the presence of Mullah Krekar, who was serving a prison sentence in Norway, and who nonetheless arrived in a special NATO aircraft. For many years he had been playing an important role in the ideological preparation of the Islamists for the proclamation of the Caliphate. But that question would not be examined during the meeting.
At the same moment, at West Point military academy, President Barack Obama announced the resumption of the “war on terrorism” with an annual budget of $5 billion. The White House later announced that this programme included the training of 5,400 “moderate rebels” annually (therefore not the Muslim Brotherhood).
In June, the Islamic Emirate launched attacks, first of all in Iraq, then in Syria, and proclaimed a caliphate. Until then, Daesh – this was the name it was given, based on its Arab acronym – was only supposed to be composed of a few hundred combatants, but miraculously, it was suddenly swollen by several hundred thousand mercenaries. The gates of Iraq were opened to them by ex-officers of Saddam Hussein, who were taking revenge on the government of Baghdad, and by Shiite officers who had emigrated to the United States. Daesh grabbed the weapons that the Pentagon had just delivered to the Iraqi army, and cash reserves from the Central Bank of Mosul. Simultaneously, and in coordinated fashion, the Regional Government of Kurdistan annexed Kirkuk and announced that there would be a referendum on self-determination. In order to prevent jihadists from competing groups of the Islamic Emirate from crowding into Turkey, Ankara closed its frontier with Syria.
As soon as it was settled in, Daesh installed civil administrators trained at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, some of whom had recently taken part in the US administration of Iraq. Instantaneously, Daesh had a state administration apparatus at its disposition, in conformity with the US army’s theory of state-building. This was a miraculous makeover for what had been only a minor terrorist group a few weeks earlier.
Almost everything had been planned in advance. So, when Daesh took the Iraqi military airports, it immediately inherited combat-ready airplane and helicopter pilots. These could not have been ex-Iraqi air force pilots, since combat efficiency was considered to be lost after six months without flight experience. But the planners had forgotten to supply the necessary technical teams, which meant that part of the equipment could not be used.
Daesh also was given a media arm, apparently composed mostly of MI6 specialists, who were tasked with editing newspapers as well as staging the violence of Allah. This was another change for the jihadists. Until now, they had used violence to terrorise the population. From now on, they would magnify it in order to shock and hypnotise them. Remarkably polished and well-filmed, their videos would burn into people’s minds and recruit the fans of snuff movies.
The astonishing success of Daesh attracted Islamists from all over the world. If al-Qaeda had been their reference during the time of Osama Bin Laden and his cohort of look-alikes, Caliph “Ibrahim” was now their new idol. One by one, the majority of jihadist groups in the world swore allegiance to Daesh. On 23 February 2015, the Prosecutor General of Egypt, Hichem Baraket, notified Interpol that Abdelhakim Belhaj, military governor of Tripoli, was the head of Daesh for the whole of Maghreb.
Daesh exploited Iraqi and Syrian oil. Crude oil was transported either via the pipe-line controlled by the Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq, or by tank trucks owned by the Turkish companies Serii and SAM Otomotiv, via the border posts of Karkamış, Akçakale, Cilvegözü and Öncüpınar. A part of the crude oil was refined for Turkish use by Turkish Petroleum Refineries Co. (Tüpraş) in the city of Batman. It was then shipped to Ceyhan, Mersin and Dortyol on ships of the Palmali Shipping & Agency JSC, the company of Turko-Azeri billionaire Mubariz Gurbanoğlu. Most of the crude oil was transported to Israel, where it received false certificates of origin, thence to Europe (including France, at Fos-sur-Mer, where it was refined). The rest was sent directly to Ukraine.
This system was perfectly well known to industry insiders, and was mentioned at the World Petroleum Council (15 to 19 June in Moscow). The speakers assured that Aramco (USA/Saudi Arabia) organised the distribution of Daesh’s oil in Europe, while Exxon-Mobil (the Rockefeller company that rules Qatar) sold the oil stolen by al-Nusra. A few months later, during a hearing of the European Parliament, the representative for the European Union in Iraq, ambassador Jana Hybaskova, would confirm that the member states of the EU were sponsoring Daesh by buying their oil.
At first, the UN Security Council was incapable of denouncing this traffic – at best, its President noted that trading with terrorist organisations was forbidden. We had to wait until February 2015 for the vote on resolution 2199. Mubariz Gurbanoğlu then retired, selling several of his ships (Mecid Aslanov, Begim Aslanova, Poet Qabil, Armada Breeze and Shovket Alekperova) to BMZ Group Denizcilik ve İnşaat A.Ş., the maritime company belonging to Bilal Erdoğan, son of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Bilal continued the traffic. It was only in November 2015, during the G20 summit in Antalya, that Vladimir Putin accused Turkey of violating the UN resolution and selling Daesh’s oil. When President Erdoğan denied it, the head of operations for the Russian army, General Serguei Rudskoy, presented satellite images at a public Press conference, showing 8,500 tanker trucks crossing the Turkish border. The Russian air force immediately destroyed the trucks present in Syria, but the greater part of the traffic continued via Iraqi Kurdistan, under the responsibility of its President Massoud Barzani. Work was then begun on expanding the oil terminal “Yumurtalık” (linked to the Turko-Iraqi Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline), boosting its storage capacity up to 1.7 million tons.
These tank trucks all belonged to Powertans, a company which had obtained the monopoly for the transport of oil on Turkish territory, without it being put out for competitive bids. It was owned by the very mysterious Grand Fortune Ventures, based first in Singapore, then transferred to the Cayman Islands. Behind this financial set-up was Çalık Holding, the company belonging to Berat Albayrak, President Erdoğan’s son-in law and his Minister for Energy.
The oil which travelled via the Kurdish pipeline was also sold in the same way. However, when the Iraqi government denounced the Barzani clan’s complicity with Daesh, and the theft of Iraqi public property which they had organised together, Ankara feigned surprise. Erdoğan blocked the income of the Iraqi Kurds in a Turkish bank account, while waiting for Erbil (the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan) and Baghdad to clarify their positions. Although this money was supposedly blocked, income was generated by investing it, which was not declared to the Turkish Budget, but paid to Erdoğan’s AKP (Justice and Development Party).
In September 2014, the Caliph purged the cadres of his organisation. The North African officers in general and the Tunisians in particular were accused of disobedience, condemned to death and executed. They were replaced by Georgian Chechens and Chinese Uyghurs. The Georgian Military Intelligence officer Tarkhan Batirashvili became the Caliph’s right-hand man, under the name of “Abou Omar al-Chichani”. Innocently, Georgian Minister for Defence and ex-head of the “Abkhazian government in exile” (sic) Irakli Alassania, announced at the same time that his country was preparing to set up training camps for Syrian jihadists.
On 13 September, reacting to the large-scale atrocities and the execution of two US journalists, President Obama announced the creation of an anti-Daesh Coalition. During the battle of Kobane in northern Syria, the USAF kept the game going by bombing Daesh on certain days and dropping them weapons and ammunition on other days.
The Coalition declared it was leading an operation against a certain Khorasani group of al-Qaeda in Syria. Although there is no proof whatsoever that this group actually existed, the US media claimed that it was led by an explosives expert on mission for the French secret services, David Drugeon, which the French Defense Minister denied. The American media then claimed that Drugeon, on behalf of the French secret services, had trained Mohammed Mera (accused in the attacks in Toulouse and Montauban in 2012) and the Kouachi brothers (blamed for the attack on Charlie Hébdo in Paris in 2015).
In order to increase its resources, Daesh levied taxes in the territories it controlled, ransomed prisoners, and smuggled antiques. The latter activity was supervised by Abu Sayyaf al-Iraqi. The stolen artefacts were brought to Gaziantep, in Turkey, not far from Aleppo. Then they were either delivered directly to the collectors who had ordered them, via transport companies like Şenocak, Devran, Karahan and Egemen, or sold at the Coppersmith Bazaar in Gaziantep.
Additionally, when Afghan President Hamid Karzai left power, he took the transport of opium and Afghani heroin from the Kosovars and handed it over to the Islamic State Caliphate. For many long years, the family of the Afghan President – notably his brother Ahmed Wali Karzai, until his assassination – had reigned over the main opium cartel. Under the protection of US armed forces, Afghanistan produced 380 tons of heroin per year of the 430 tons available on the world market. This commerce had enriched the Karzai clan by $3 billion in 2013. Daesh was tasked with transporting the drugs to Europe via its African and Asian subsidiaries.
The Liquidation of Daesh
On 21 May 2017, President Donald Trump announced in Riyadh that the United States had abandoned the idea of creating a Sunnistan (Daesh Caliphate) straddling the border between Iraq and Syria, and would cease to support international terrorism. He directed all Muslim states to do the same. This speech had been carefully prepared with the Pentagon and Prince Mohamed Ben Salman, but not with London.
While Saudi Arabia obediently began dismantling the gigantic system of support for the Muslim Brotherhood that it had developed over sixty years, the United Kingdom, Qatar, Turkey and Malaysia refused to follow this US initiative.
In August 2017, London launched the Army for the Liberation of the Rohingyas of Arakan against the Burmese government. For a month, international public opinion was flooded with truncated news clips blaming the exodus of the Muslim Royinghas from Myanmar to Bengal on the crimes of the Burmese Buddhist army. This is the beginning of the second phase of the war of civilisations – after the Muslim attack on the Christians, now we saw the Buddhist attack on the Muslims. However, the operation was interrupted when Saudi Arabia ceased its support for the Army for the Salvation of the Rohingyas, whose headquarters was in Mecca.
Finally, the United States, Iran and Iraq chased Daesh out of Iraq, while Syria and Russia chased them from Syria.
A vast operation was then mounted by Daesh in Sri Lanka on the occasion of the Christian holiday of Easter, on 21 April 2019, killing 258 people and wounding 496.
The re-establishment of the Caliphate, imagined in 1928 by Hassan el-Banna, had been attempted by President Anouar el-Sadate for his own personal profit, which cost him his life. It was finally realised by Daesh, but ended in failure. The resistance of the Arab populations was too strong, and President Trump’s opposition prevented the pursuit of the experience. It is not possible for the moment to determine whether the Islamic Emirate had received the Guide’s mandate to proclaim itself as a Caliphate, or if it had profited by Western support to do so. In any case, the jihadists did not stop there.
To be continued
Source: Voltaire Network