In late June, a meeting was held in Rome for the coalition that was formed by the United States to combat the Islamic State. The meeting discussed ongoing problems of the Islamic State insurgency in various parts of the world with particular concerns expressed about the Islamic State expansion and presence in Africa. The Islamic State's al-Naba' newsletter has made this meeting the subject of its editorial in this week's issue. The editorial mocks the coalition (which it incorrectly claims was formed eight years ago: the coalition was actually formed in September 2014) for its supposed inability to defeat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, let alone inflict 'enduring defeat' on it.
The editorial then discusses with glee Italy's particular concerns about the Islamic State insurgency in Africa (including the Sahel region of West Africa) and potential threats to Europe. In this regard, it should be noted that the Islamic State has recently placed much propaganda emphasis on its activities and expansion in Africa in general. The editorial links the holding of the meeting in Rome with the threats that the Islamic State's predecessors made to conquer Rome in accordance with Islamic prophecy and certainty in the promise of God, which the 'Crusaders' and their allies did not properly understand. While the Crusaders contrive their plans in Rome, things will eventually come to a head in the great epic battle in Dabiq, and the Islamic State lives on not only by reviving past glories but also through certainty in God's promise for victory and conquest and living out that certainty through practical action in life.
Analytically speaking, there are some features of this editorial to note. First, although it has been correctly noted how focus on Dabiq and the prophesied epic battle was greatly reduced in the Islamic State's public propaganda as the group lost territory in Iraq and Syria (including the loss of Dabiq to Turkish-backed Syrian rebels in a rather unremarkable engagement in late 2016), it should also be remembered that the group still propagates the belief among its fighters and supporters that the epic battle of Dabiq and the prophesied conquest of Rome will eventually occur. Thus, prophecy (a kind of historical narrative, as noted by Alastair Reed and Jennifer Dowling) still has some role to play in the Islamic State's propaganda.
Second, the editorial invokes other historical narratives with the theme of continuity with the past: just as the Islamic State's predecessor leaders were also certain of the truth of God's promise for the Muslim conquest of Rome, so too are the Islamic State's leaders and fighters still certain today, and they are certain of the truth of this promise just as the Prophet's Companions were certain of the promise of conquest of lands even as they faced hardship in the assault of the 'parties' (/confederates) upon them.
The final feature of significance is tied to the previous point and that is the emphasis on the concept of certainty in this editorial. This certainty is contrasted with what is supposedly today's era of doubt, confusion and uncertainty. It is this certainty in God's promise to the believers that is one of the 'secrets of the steadfastness of the mujahideen.' Certainty is understood from the standpoint of social identity theory to be a key feature of extremism: the extremist worldview can appeal to people through offering certainty about understanding how the world works and will turn out, in contrast to uncertainty and lack of surety which can be troubling.
Below is the editorial translated by me in full.
In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
Thursday 28 Dhu al-Q'ida 1442 AH
The Crusader Alliance Between Rome and Dabiq
The Crusader alliance was previously affirming that its aim was to inflict 'defeat' on the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham, and after eight years since its formation for this aim that has not been realised, it has begun affirming that its aim is to inflict 'enduring defeat' on the Islamic State. So how can the one who cannot inflict 'defeat' make it 'enduring'?! And how can the one who has drowned in the wildernesses of Iraq and al-Sham get out of the quagmires of Africa and the Sahel and East Asia and other wilayas?!
And the ministers of the Crusader alliance met face-to-face days ago representing 83 states in Crusader Rome, in the first direct meeting of theirs since two consecutive years during which the Crusader alliance in all its forces failed to father its leaders out of fear of the epidemic that God Almighty imposed on them.
And in view of the outcomes of this new meeting that was called for by Italy and America, the alliance affirmed a group of objectives summarised in the necessity of continuing 'joint work' in order to wage war on the Islamic State and the necessity of supporting the 'liberated areas' that 'they liberated' from the rule of Shari'a and so have lost security and stability and have become areas of fallow, fear and destruction, after they were areas of security, faith, soundness and Islam.
Also the Crusader alliance affirmed the necessity of tracking and prohibiting 'sources of financing' for the soldiers of the Caliphate who continue their jihad relying on the full storages of God Almighty that neither America nor all the Tawagheet of the Earth can stop or prohibit even if they were to come together.
And the Crusader alliance did not forget to affirm the necessity of waging war on the media of the Islamic State and preventing it from 'exploiting social media platforms' on the Internet, and it is the aim for which the alliance mobilised huge armies of the disbelievers, apostates and hypocrites, led and inspired by Iblis, striving to silence the voice of truth and extinguish the light of faith. The Almighty has said: 'They want to extinguish the light of God with their mouths and God insists on fulfilling His light even if the disbelievers hate it'- (al-Tawba 32).
And indeed the defeated alliance, the dozens of states that it had join its crisis-stricken coalition did not suffice for it, for it has announced that four new states are joining and they are 'Central African Republic, Congo, Mauritania and Yemen,' so that it should inflict the governments and armies of these states with the 'curse of the alliance' just as they curse today 'Rumsfeld' the deceased American defence minister who perished while the Islamic State has reached Mozambique!
But the most prominent and heaviest file on the table of the Crusader alliance in this meeting is the field of Africa and the Sahel. For the Italian foreign minister admitted that 'it is not enough' to confront the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, but rather they must look at 'other places' in which it is present, considering that the expansion of the Islamic State in Africa and the Sahel is 'concerning,' affirming that protection of the Sahel regions means 'protecting Europe'!
And it is no coincidence that the Crusaders and their apostate allies should meet in Crusader Rome after eight years since the establishment of their coalition, and it is not insignificant that Italy should feel fear of the threat of Africa and the Sahel and terrify with it Europe in its entirety as it holds its breaths and observes the soldiers of the Caliphate in the African Sahel going back and forth and inflicting damage on its apostate allies. And Europe becomes more agitated and terrified whenever it hears the news of the lions of the Caliphate in Libya waging fearless battles. Indeed the fears of Crusader Europe are in their place without doubt, and indeed the fears of Crusader Rome are natural and justified, for they were and still are on the list of the greatest targets for the mujahideen, because they are the promise of God Almighty for His believing servants who are certain for its realisation and await it with the utmost patience, and have been making preparations for it since the launching of their blessed jihad in Iraq.
In those days the leaders of the Islamic State did not tire from threatening Rome in their addresses and speeches, and the world in those days did not realise that the leaders of the mujahideen were thus fulfilling the act of worship of certainty in the heart that many of the people lack today in the era of uncertainty, doubt, confusion and weakness of certainty.
The mujahideen threatened Rome from the deserts of Iraq in the heat and bareness! There in those regions that contained the bodies of heroes who changed the map of the world and redrew it by their blood, from there they threatened Rome, and the Crusader Romans did not know back then and with them the hypocrites from the Arabs that the certainty of these heroes was a certainty springing from their faith in God Almighty and their belief in the Exalted's promise for victory and tamkin, and the glad tidings of His Prophet (SAWS) about the conquest of Rome.
And after years of patience and certainty, God Almighty granted conquest for His mujahideen servants in Iraq and facilitated for them by His force and management the expansion to al-Sham, so that they should be on the peripheries of Dabiq in which the Muslims await the great epic battle if God wills. Imam Muslim brought out in his authentic collection on the authority of Abu Huraira (may God be pleased with him) that the Messenger of God (SAWS) said: 'The hour will not arise until the Romans descend on al-Amaq or Dabiq...'
So here is Rome including the coalition of the Cross and renewing it and demanding it to do more to protect the African Sahel from the expansion of the Islamic State and openly proclaiming that that means 'protecting Europe'! And here is Crusader America that took responsibility for the grandeur of this despicable alliance, withdrawing its armies from some areas in order to reinforce its presence in other areas, among them the East Euphrates in al-Sham, as the Kurdish atheists announced the 'expansion of airstrips in the areas of their control to prepare to accommodate the American forces withdrawing from the other areas.'
Indeed they plan in Rome and intend Dabiq! And here we recall the words of Sheikh al-Adnani (may God accept him) when he said addressing America: 'So do not rejoice America, and indeed you will continue mobilising your forces, and mobilising your allies from the Crusaders, until you come down in Dabiq in which by the permission of God, you will be broken, defeated and overcome.'
Indeed these alliances and conspiracies that the Crusaders contrive from Rome to Dabiq remind us of what the Companions (may God be pleased with them) were upon when the Prophet (SAWS) was giving them glad tidings of the conquest of lands while they were under the oppression of the coming together of the parties against them, but their belief in the promise of God Almighty was stronger than all that. Indeed it is certainty and how tortuous it is! For it is one of the secrets of the steadfastness of the mujahideen on the path of truth that the many have abandoned, for the soldiers of the Caliphate have not lived on the stories of the past, nor have they abandoned work in waiting for the glad tiding of the future, but rather they have revived the glories of the past through blood and sacrifices, and they strive hard to realise the future of Islam through work, jihad, distancing in wala' and bara', and separation, for their certainty has been the certainty of the one who puts true reliance in God and not the uncommitted person.
And the mujahideen of the Islamic State still await the realisation of the promise of God Almighty to them, for this Dabiq, this Ghouta, this al-Quds and that Rome: we will enter them for sure, and here we are and the days are among us and the epic battles are coming and the happy one is the one who has continued the course.