Terrorism revisited by DAECH

At the time of the international coalition against the terrorist movement called DAECH, the major stake lies in the fact that this criminal and fundamentalist organization, changes the definition of “terrorism”.

Indeed, it is urgent that we do not speak any more about “Islamist state” because the “Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States” of December 26th, 1933, defines a “state” according to four essential characteristics which are:

1/ the existence of a bounded and determined territory. On this matter, DAECH extends over a territory going from Iraq to Syria so big as the United Kingdom. This territory is not internationally or regionally recognized, better it is disputed by Iraq and Syria who want to recover their territorial integrity.

2/ the existence of a resident population on this territory. The resident populations on this territory taken hostage in reality, are for certain sympathizers and others not. For proof, the massive exodus of religious minorities and diverse communities persecuted by the proclaimed caliphate.

3/ the existence of a minimal shape of government. DAECH is a theocratic, self-proclaimed entity which advocates a regime based on a rigorous interpretation of the Sharia. Abou Bakr Al-Baghadadi who proclaimed himself “Caliph” is the leader. He rejects democracy as well as secularism.

4/ the capacity to enter into a relationship with the other states. On this point, DAECH is in connection with no state worthy of the name. On the contrary, this entity challenges almost all the western states and those of the region.

It thus emerges from this analysis that DAECH is neither a state, nor an Islamic entity but a “terrorist fundamentalist entity”! So let’s not make the mistake to call that movement a “state” because it actually fosters its influence and gives credit to its actions.

Another major point to emphasize regarding this illegitimate entity is that, it contributed through its unseen way of functioning, to redefining the notion of terrorism which until recently was based on an asymmetric modus operandi and which suddenly becomes conventional.

Indeed, DAECH operates in two ways. On one hand, the terrorist insidious classic method through operations based on terror (kidnappings, attacks, threats, etc.) and on the other hand, the revolutionary method which rests on conventional warfare operations (a well-equipped and visible army which fights openly).

Let us not forget that DAECH has a strategic objective clearly assumed which is to establish a caliphate in the entire region and especially occupy Iraq and Syria. By the institution of this caliphate, DAECH shows its strength, wants to redefine the borders in the region and challenges the other terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda and Boko Haram.

Besides, the modus operandi of DAECH could be summarized like this: “terrorize and rule “, instead of “divide and rule”. Terror and persecution are at the heart of the strategy of this terrorist movement.

Finally it seems convenient to sketch a strategy of fight against this plague which threatens the region. Indeed, Islam as religion advocating peace should be introduced in high schools worldwide in order to sensitize young people, who are potential victims to be recruited through the internet. The inadequacy between the fundamentalist groups’ practices and the genuine practice of Islam should be underlined. It would largely reduce the recruitment of teenagers. Besides, all religions should unite with the world Muslim community, so as to declare “DAECH outlaw”. This mobilization of the religious faiths could take the shape of an “International Statement to denounce the illegitimacy of DAECH “. The international isolation of this movement is a necessity.

Finally, the efforts made to implement a military strategy in order to overcome this strong group of some 35000 men are crucial and must be maintained, especially because the struggle will be long, costly and hard.

9 thoughts on “Terrorism revisited by DAECH

  1. marenmoon

    I agree with many of the perspectives described. I would like to augment these assertions with an additional consideration.

    Specifically, if we legitimise any notion of statehood to fundamentalist-derived Islamist terrorists, we risk an escalation / resurrection of Dar al Harb doctrine wherein the call for reverting former Islamic territories back into Islamic control becomes “legitimate” political action – most likely through the use of additional violence.

    Granted, in the case of Iraq and Syria, the structure of governance is not converting away from Islamic-territory rule. However, investing notions of actual statehood to the group in question (whether by diplomatic recognition, or semantic replication) rewards the group and legitmises them as political actors – and could lend credence and/or justification to their right to act according to their self-prescribed doctrine.

    In the case of Dar al Harb we could see the actors eventually setting their sights on converting former territories within Europe…starting slowly, and building upward over time. These movements don’t arise out of thin air, typically take years of nurturing, and would be easier domains in which the 4th and 5th generation Jihadists could act.

    Unfortunately, the Dar al Harb targeting of former territories could happen even with the demise of DAECH, if the vacuum left in their wake is filled by longer range, more patient thinkers who adopt different tactics, and indeed actual strategies, to institute an extremist fundamentalist caliphate.

    Forced, or even ceded, acceptance of these groups might act as as a form of rapprochement, but I very much fear it would be hollow in nature and might transform into additional,and urbanised conflict within a wider, more diffuse area.

    Finally, sanctioning any extremist caliphate would most likely generate additional conflict in regards to sectarian violence. Which, is already, horrific enough.

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  2. wissamabdallah77

    I would like to thank you for such interesting article. This matter is obviously concerning and threatening all of us, whether residing in the Middle East or Europe. I do agree with most of what you have pointed at up there, yet I would argue some points.
    The

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  3. wissamabdallah77

    The numbers you have mentioned I think are a little bit exaggerated. There might be more than 35000 men and women as supporters of the Ideology of DAECH and their fundamentalism, but not as fighters.
    Unfortunately, ignorance, sectarian and religious bigotry in addition to the ambiguous sense of security, play a big role in recruiting, mobilising and attracting young generations, and others.
    In regards of the point about DAECH dominating areas between Iraq and Syria worth of the size of the United Kingdom, I would disagree, and say they do dominate some areas, but just some specific areas.

    DAECH has got no mutual thoughts or principles with Islam, Islam is another kind and peaceful religion that disputes everything DAECH is committing from crimes against civilians.

    I still believe that media and propaganda has played and still, a tremendous role in widening DAECH ‘s exposure in the region, and created a new name for terror.

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  4. tjrobinson79

    It seems obvious that these people aren’t Islamic, and obvious that we shouldn’t refer to them as a State. Young, vulnerable, misguided youngsters should not be refered to as British/American/French jihadists, it only serves to justify the trap that these vulnerable, disenfranchised young people fall in to. I get the sense that there is a hidden agenda at work here, propped up by the western media. Perhaps the term “Islamic state” serves to divide and conquer. Why else would we use such romanticised terms such as jihadist and Islamic State, it makes the most vicious and ruthless terrorist organisation I’ve witnessed in my lifetime sound somewhat utopian.

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  5. T.A. Lederer

    Thanks for the interesting posts.

    I certainly agree that IS or ‘Daesh’ is in no way deserved of the title ‘State’. It is by self proclamation only and I stand by academics such as Dr. Haroro Ingram and the French foreign minister Laurent Fabious in the assertion that referring to IS as Daesh is much more fitting and even serves to attach, as Ingram points out, perceptions of crisis to the group.

    Daesh are an insurgency. While they continue to evolve and are quite technologically advanced, their core strategic principles reflect that of any modern insurgency; principles that have remained largely the same since at least 1945 (according to Max Boot). Daesh are clearly adhering to principles such as the use of guerrilla tactics on the ground to defeat opponents and political activities to garner targeted popular support (including on an international level). Their use of media and technology to achieve their goals in this respect far outweighs any COIN operations that the west has attempted to put in place to date.

    As opposed to conventional warfare being a revolutionary method as the author suggests, I would argue that in line with thinkers and strategists from Sun Tzu, Che Guevara and Ho Chi Minh to modern day academics such as Taber, Boot and Kilcullen, revolutionary methods used by insurgencies such as Daesh are very much unconventional. The reliance on guerrilla tactics to oppose vastly superior armies is not new and tend to change dependent on operational circumstance and the need to improvise. Their use of and advertising of terror tactics is simply a way of advancing their cause against a superior military and a way to strike fear into the distant enemy. Referring to Daesh as using conventional warfare operations may imply that they are to be defeated by conventional warfare means, the same means that have and continue to fail against insurgencies since they began, certainly in more recent memory Cuba, Vietnam, Cambodia, Afghanistan and several regions in the Middle East and Africa.

    Sure, Daesh have at times used conventional weapons and manoeuvring when it has been to their advantage. However, this reflects their ability to improvise as part of a military campaign that remains fundamentally unconventional. Since Coalition airstrikes increased in Iraq and Syria, Daesh have tended to revert back to more ‘classical’ guerrilla methods. This transitioning between conventional and unconventional methods is not new to Daesh, it reflects a phased military strategy as an insurgency probes the possibilities of ‘evolving’ to the next politico-military stage.

    In implementing a system of control amongst the chaos in Syria and Iraq, Daesh have attempted to address governance, security (police and military) and judicial needs. They’ve also recently advertised an oil refinery job for $225,000 p.a., further proof of their quest to ‘legitimise’ their ‘system of control’ as a ‘state’ apparatus. The implementation of a such a system of control is typical of modern insurgencies from the Viet Cong to the Taliban.

    As Daesh continue to succeed and with international groups such as Boko Haram and elements of the Taliban (amongst others) and AQIM pledging their allegiance to the so-called caliphate, along with the droves of men and women pledging their support either from abroad or by travelling to the region, it would seem that an insurgency is yet again succeeding as a result of a continuing inability to implement functional COIN strategies. Certainly the use of terminology such Daesh goes a long way in rhetorically delegitimising IS as an entity. However much broader and innovative thinking about COIN strategy is needed to confront entities such as ‘Daesh’. Given recent COIN performances in the Middle East, perhaps a revolution in COIN thinking and strategy is required.

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    1. jfcurtis Post author

      Thank you for your contribution to this post! Your comments are so realistic. I entirely agree with you but still emphasize the dual nature of DAESH (conventional as unconventional). Besides I believe that terrorism has a “new face”: “Conventional terror”!

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  6. T.A. Lederer

    Thanks for taking the time to reply. Although I understand what you’re saying, there is a large body of insurgency literature suggesting that this is in fact not a new phenomenon.

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