The Caliphate and Kobe Bryant: Between Mafia and Sharia (La Stampa, Italy)
"In a few months, the squad of ISIL rejects, without Kobe Bryant's jersey but with turbans and the ugly mug of the stern Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi, has conquered half of Iraq, overtaken the Mosul dam, routed the tough infantrymen of the Kurdish Peshmerga, captured American artillery, and after a quarter of a century, brought the U.S.-Europe coalition back to Iraq. ... More than a Caliph, Al Baghdadi has the personality of the Godfather. ... While he fights, rebuilds homes, profits from crime and recruits terrorists, Baghdadi would be laughing at the 'jayvee team putting on Kobe Bryant jerseys' - if anyone took the time to translate the naive text of the cultured New Yorker magazine."
With methods right out of The Godfather, but also rudimentary welfare and a civil service
that works: the Islamic State is born.
President Barack Obama didn't take the fundamentalist
militia ISIL seriously enough, considering that, even
in January, in the chic weekly magazine The
New Yorker, he satirized ISIL, comparing it to a college
basketball team, "If a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn't
make them Kobe Bryant." A brilliant but troubling image, considering that
in a few months, the squad of ISIL rejects, without
Bryant's jersey but with turbans and the ugly mug of the stern Sheikh Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi, alias Abu Duaa,
alias Dr. Ibrahim Awwad Ibrahim Al Badri Al Samarrai, has conquered
half of Iraq, overtaken the Mosul dam, routed the tough infantrymen of the Kurdish Peshmerga, captured American artillery, and after
a quarter of a century, brought the U.S.-Europe coalition back to Iraq [since
the massive collection of nations assembled by George H.W. Bush for
the First Gulf War, 1990-1991].
Yet, while the president underestimates ISIL,
persuaded, as he was in his 2012 election debate against the Republican Romney
that "al-Qaeda in Iraq has been defeated," there already hangs a
bounty of $10 million "for information leading to his death or capture"
on the head of the mysterious caliph, Al Baghdadi, for whom until recently
there were only two known photos, one of which, faded, is from a 1971 Samarra birth
Understanding how an Islamic militia chief with such a price
on his head could be considered by the White House "a jayvee basketball reject,"
explains the Western strategy in Iraq - or lack thereof, and how the
metamorphosis of al-Qaeda in Iraq, from a group of bombers massacring Shiites into
a local, self-governing organization, alters the political landscape in the
Middle East. For four years, Al Baghdadi was a prisoner of the Americans at Iraq's
Camp Bucca. His release, due to post-invasion
administrative confusion - a hesitation between heavy-handedness and compromise
with the former henchmen of Saddam Hussein, created rumors of conspiracy,
when instead, it was due to the usual errors of bureaucracy.
Free again, Al Baghdadi challenged the leadership of Osama bin
Laden's heir, Ayman Al Zawahiri. The old al-Qaeda
wanted ISIL to concentrate on Iraq, leaving the
campaign in Syria to the fundamentalist al-Nusra
Front. But more than a Caliph, Al Baghdadi has the personality of the
Godfather. He fights on the border between Syria and Iraq, plays cat and mouse
with Assad's Alawite regime, often fighting Western-friendly
rebels more bitterly than the Damascus army. When it occupied the oil fields in
the east of the country, ISIL reaped handsome profits
selling barrels of oil to Assad under the table. Upon entering Mosul, in Iraq,
Al Baghdadi worked with the Mafia model developed at Raqqa,
in Syria: smuggling, drug trafficking, kidnapping for ransom, extortion,
blackmail and the theft of works of art and archaeological treasures.
From all companies large and small, right down to the fruit
and vegetable stalls of peasants, ISIL demands protection
money, and according to Council on Foreign Relations calculations, thereby generates up to
$8 million a month. Funds arriving from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are only part
of the group's cash flow, because smuggling oil between Syria and Iraq has
enriched ISIL's coffers from just over $900 million
last spring to almost $2 billion today. Once Mosul fell, ISIL
officials went immediately to the local branch of the Iraqi Central Bank and
plundered millions in bank notes and bonds, even hunting for the offset plates
for printing money.
Posted By Worldmeets.US
Recruits, who come from all over Europe, are attracted by fascination
with a caliphate spanning from Spain to Persia, by threats to occupy the hated
Christian Rome (the spokesman for ISIL, who had
promised to hoist the group's black flag over the White House, soon fell in
combat). The recruits coming from poor countries come instead for the money.
As mentioned before in regard to Hezbullah and Hamas, ISIL (the acronym stand for Islamic State of Iraq and the
Levant, recently shortened to IS, Islamic State) operates through primordial
welfare, punishing and executing dissenters with the ferocity of Sharia - the Islamic law, but provides subsidies to families
of the fallen, summarily executes the corrupt, subsidizes schools and mosques,
repairs roads and aqueducts, reconnects sewers and even, according
to the magazine Foreign Policy -
runs post offices. What can be done to stop them? The White House and the U.S. Joint
Chiefs of Staff are at odds. The military wants Obama to give it free hand to strike
ISIL in Syria.
The president, who a year ago wanted to bomb Assad only to
backpedal in the face of the British Parliament, the Pope and a possible veto
by the U.S. Congress, doesn't want to find himself in the grotesque position of
being an ally of Assad opposing ISIL. The mistake of
not helping Western-friendly Syrian rebels, for which Obama has been chided by
his former rival and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, weighs on him like
never before. While he fights, rebuilds homes, profits from crime and recruits
terrorists, Caliph Al Baghdadi would be laughing at the "jayvee team
putting on Kobe Bryant jerseys" - if anyone took the time to translate the
naïve text of the cultured New Yorker
magazine for him, because the jihad is not taking three-point shots.