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Friday, February 6, 2015

ISIS is a Death Cult

The ISIS boys are a tough bunch to figure out.  (I still call them ISIS.  Calling them Islamic State seems overly deferential.  Besides its harder to google that and get a clear result.  And try googling IS.  And ISIL just sounds funny.)    When they took over Mosul last June, I thought their leader, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, had earned the title of a Second Mao.  Had they contented themselves with consolidating their gains in Sunni-stan, they might have pulled off the Islamic State thing.  But no, they decided to attack the Kurds, and by threatening Erbil, they got the US involved.

Then they turned the insignificant town of Kobani into Stalingrad.  Prior to that, it seemed they were concerned about wasting manpower.  Not anymore.  What are they thinking?

They used to swap hostages, or give up hostages for ransom.  They probably could have gotten a deal with the Jordanians.  Certainly the Japanese would have paid up.  But no, they decided to brutally kill their captives.  They don't seem to mind retribution against their own.

Last month they ran a raid into the Kurdish province of Erbil with about 160 fighters, attacking one of the river crossings.  They killed at least two dozen Kurdish interior ministry (asayish) troops.  Maybe more.  But then they got carved up and many were killed trying to return across the Zab river to Ninewa.  What was the point of this operation?  

We are conditioned to think of insurgent organizations like ISIS based on our old Marxist guerrilla movement paradigms.  Well, throw that out: these guys are wired differently.  What we may think of as logical and rational doesn't apply to them.

George Packer calls them a "death cult."  See his article here: ISIS murdered Kenji Goto  Maybe, like the Kali-worshipping Thuggee cult,  that's really the whole objective: just to kill and be killed.
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