A letter from Raqqa

A second letter from an Islamic State adherent operating in the part of Syria controlled by the movement.

Paul Rogers author pic
Paul Rogers
31 October 2014

When I last wrote I said that I might add something in a couple of months, but the questions you raise have prompted me to make a more immediate response. The first two were: what am I doing here just now, and how did I come to be doing it? 

As you know, I came two years ago to join my brother and fight for the cause of an Islamic Caliphate. My motivation, as was his, was primarily revenge, given that we had lost two uncles and three cousins in fighting the Americans and British, and our father, two aunts and four cousins to airstrikes. That may still be part of our motivation, particularly the death of our beloved father, but we now see a much more positive future as we embrace the prospect that our leaders hold before us of a true Islamist entity. Whether we live to see it in this life is not relevant - that we are already part of it is.

My original journey here, my haphazard training (quite unlike the professionalism we have now) and my induction into fighting were all over within four weeks when I was caught in a Zionist attack, losing my left arm and very nearly my life. I survived, recovered and was desperate to return to the fight, but our leaders had other plans, telling me bluntly that I could play a far more important role for our cause by joining the analysis team SOBRA. (I understand that this stands for State Office - Briefing Room A, the place in our main bunker where we originally worked).

After more than eighteen months into this work, I have to accept that they were right - it does make far better use of my Masters degree from SOAS and my three years of living in the UK and USA, and I now lead a small team that monitors western media and government output to prepare briefings for the leadership. I have three people working for me, and our whole section numbers more than twenty, covering all the major western languages as well as Chinese and Russian, and with excellent communications systems that have so far been entirely unaffected by the numerous US airstrikes.

Most of our output is for the main planning cells, with some of it going right through to the leadership. But we also feed in a constant supply of information to our colleagues in media production. They tend to use our material in a highly nuanced if not frankly propagandistic manner, but I have to admit that when it comes to propaganda they are the very best, and simply streets ahead of their western opponents. Their numbers have increased substantially and there are now over thirty of them, many being recent recruits from among the more knowledgable of our western brothers and sisters.

That, incidentally, is an area where the rate of expansion is hugely positive. We now have many thousands of young recruits joining us from across the region. Even more importantly, many hundreds a month come from western countries, mostly men but with an increasing number of women.

You ask how I think the struggle is going, especially with what outsiders see as our failure to take Kobane.  I have to say that our leaders have little concern, for two reasons. First, we fully expected that at some stage the Americans would try to start a serious air war and would eventually strong-arm the weak Turks to allow the Iraqi Kurds to help defend the town. Both are proving to be useful training exercises for our less experienced militias. 

Second, as you will recall, our core military leadership has many people who learned how to handle the Americans in Iraq eight to ten years ago, but we have thousands of younger fighters with far less experience. This is what they are now getting. It is going to prove invaluable during the coming winter when the Americans will really step up the air attacks against us here in Raqqa.

One of the things we are expecting is a determined and sustained effort to wreck our civil infrastructure. Transport and communications will be the priority, together with the sustained disruption of power supplies. One of my recent assignments was to investigate the current status of the American “blackout bomb” that they used in Serbia in 1999, disrupting power supplies over 70% of the country. I’ve found out that it is very much around, designated the BLU-114/B and we expect it to be used frequently this winter, so much so that our leaders are already preparing counter-measures. You have probably never heard of this, so here’s a link.

You also ask me about morale and I can only reply that it is currently very high. As I have said, my main function is to analyse the western media and I must admit that they still have little conception of what they are dealing with.  They report, almost jubilantly, our failure to take Kobane but cannot understand that this is little more than a sideshow. Meanwhile, they miss out so many other developments.

Our mission is to create a new Caliphate, starting here in Syria and Iraq but spreading out over the next decade or more to bring in links right across the Islamic world. Let me just give you just three examples of current progress. 

First, our leaders have now formally stated the connection between our cause and the suffering of our Uyghur cousins in China. Just making that statement, and publicising it widely across our world, begins the process of unification.

Second, as the Americans and British finally withdraw from Afghanistan, our Taliban cousins spread their control over more and more territory. They are doing it quietly but to great effect and this will continue, with a substantial increase in control after the winter. We do not pretend that we control them, nor do we seek or need to do so.  In the wider scheme of things it is enough that they make progress.

Third, I simply cannot understand how the west, especially the Americans, fails repeatedly to recognise the effect of the actions of the Zionists. Even now, they have no appreciation of how useful the Gaza war was to us and how much anger it induced across the Muslim communities in the west - and still does as the Zionists and the Egyptian leader al-Sisi together block the rebuilding.

On top of this, Binyamin Netanyahu announces the building of 1,000 new settler homes in East Jerusalem and then closes Haram al Sharif, one of the holiest of all our sites. It is simply unbelievable, and the effect on recruitment to our cause will be a joy to behold.  Do you seriously need to ask how we see the future? To say that we see it with confidence is a masterpiece of understatement.

Raqqa  31 October 2014

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