Martin Chulov in the Guardian newspaper presents a fascinating insider analysis of the rise of the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) through an interview with Abu Ahmed, the nom de guerre of a claimed IS leader. It includes this nugget:
“The revelation of abuses at Abu Ghraib had a radicalising effect on many Iraqis, who saw the purported civility of American occupation as little improvement on the tyranny of Saddam. While Bucca had few abuse complaints prior to its closure in 2009, it was seen by Iraqis as a potent symbol of an unjust policy, which swept up husbands, fathers, and sons – some of them non-combatants – in regular neighbourhood raids, and sent them away to prison for months or years.
At the time, the US military countered that its detention operations were valid, and that similar practices had been deployed by other forces against insurgencies – such as the British in Northern Ireland, the Israelis in Gaza and the West Bank, and the Syrian and Egyptian regimes.”
Yes, because that is exactly the list of dirty wars you’d want to add your own counter-insurgency struggle to. Talk about military and political myopia. Observers have often complained about the lack of “institutional memory” in the United States Armed Forces, the tendency to make the same mistakes over and over. However just as problematic is the willingness of the various branches to see the world through the eyes of their allies and fair-weather friends, noxious or otherwise, and to accept all too readily their version of the local narrative.
Meanwhile the latest claims detailing the rules the Islamic State expects from its followers in relation to the treatment of captive women and children is beyond horror. From the Independent:
“Question 1: What is al-sabi?
“Al-Sabi is a woman from among ahl al-harb [the people of war] who has been captured by Muslims.”
Question 2: What makes al-sabi permissible?
“What makes al-sabi permissible [i.e., what makes it permissible to take such a woman captive] is [her] unbelief. Unbelieving [women] who were captured and brought into the abode of Islam are permissible to us, after the imam distributes them [among us].”
Question 4: Is it permissible to have intercourse with a female captive?
“It is permissible to have sexual intercourse with the female captive. Allah the almighty said: ‘[Successful are the believers] who guard their chastity, except from their wives or (the captives and slaves) that their right hands possess, for then they are free from blame [Koran 23:5-6]’…”
Question 5: Is it permissible to have intercourse with a female captive immediately after taking possession [of her]?
“If she is a virgin, he [her master] can have intercourse with her immediately after taking possession of her. However, is she isn’t, her uterus must be purified [first]…”
Question 6: Is it permissible to sell a female captive?
“It is permissible to buy, sell, or give as a gift female captives and slaves, for they are merely property, which can be disposed of [as long as that doesn’t cause [the Muslim ummah] any harm or damage.”
Question 9: If the female captive was impregnated by her owner, can he then sell her?
“He can’t sell her if she becomes the mother of a child…”
Question 13: Is it permissible to have intercourse with a female slave who has not reached puberty?
“It is permissible to have intercourse with the female slave who hasn’t reached puberty if she is fit for intercourse; however if she is not fit for intercourse, then it is enough to enjoy her without intercourse.”
Question 19: Is it permissible to beat a female slave?
“It is permissible to beat the female slave as a [form of] darb ta’deeb [disciplinary beating], [but] it is forbidden to [use] darb al-takseer [literally, breaking beating], [darb] al-tashaffi [beating for the purpose of achieving gratification], or [darb] al-ta’dheeb [torture beating]. Further, it is forbidden to hit the face.”
Question 21: What is the earthly punishment of a female slave who runs away from her master?
“She [i.e. the female slave who runs away from her master] has no punishment according to the shari’a of Allah; however, she is [to be] reprimanded [in such a way that] deters others like her from escaping.”
The knowledge that as I write this, and as you read it, women and girls are being subject to systematic physical and sexual abuse in their hundreds or thousands in the borderlands of Syria and Iraq fills me with absolute fury. Whatever about the origins of IS, whomever is ultimately responsible (or to blame), no global civilization worthy of the name can tolerate this.