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Letter from London: India next for ISIS

A young follower sees Western policy recruiting the dispossessed from West Africa to India, in the latest of a series imagined by Paul Rogers.

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Paul Rogers
13 September 2019
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Netanyahu and Modi, a dream team for ISIS?
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Ilia Yefimovich/DPA/PA Images

Thank you for your news and I am sorry for taking so long to respond since my last letter back in April. Thanks also for asking once more after my brother, especially as I had been so worried about him. The latest news is both good and bad. On the positive side he did return safely from Marawi in the southern Philippines where he completed his work of establishing a deep cell to coordinate our future operations, both there and in Indonesia. The bad news is that because of his obvious skills he has already moved to eastern Afghanistan to aid our expansion there, though, as I will explain, this will only be for a few months.

The news about your degree programme at Baghdad University is welcome but I can understand your fears about the continuing insecurity of parts of Baghdad. You may be interested to know that the Western media scarcely report anything that is happening anywhere in Iraq unless their own people are affected. It is as if they bear no responsibility at all for the death and destruction they wreaked on the country. I suppose I should not be surprised since my work over four years for our leaders has been about analysing British and US policy, but the way they have created failed states in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya and have then ignored the consequences is still quite something. Their actions, of course, have been immensely valuable to our cause, and I should be thankful for that.

Talking of my work, I really must tell you about the extraordinary position I find myself in. You will probably recall that my early studies in London, before I joined the cause, enabled me to come back here and continue to provide our leaders with analysis, even while I took that postgraduate degree in international security! Even more amazing was the way I was then able to take up a post with this exceptionally well-resourced private intelligence company.

Well, since I joined them last year, I have been able to provide them with what are to us obvious insights, to such an extent that they feel they are getting exceptionally well-informed analysis. In practice I nuance much of it so that it consistently, if modestly, presents underestimates of the true state of our developments. I can get away with this because my knowledge of what is really happening, even if slightly self-censored, is still better than anything else available to them.

The company has many links with the military and security services in both Britain and the US, and I now give presentations at classified meetings both here and in DC where I pick up much useful information. This means that I get excellent insights into their thinking and likely future policies and feed them back to my superiors. Not only this but I have just been promoted to senior analyst on a salary far larger than I could ever have dreamt of!

But enough of that. Last time I wrote to you, one of my aims was to convince you that I and others like me believe that our movement has not just recovered from the Crusaders’ brutal air war but is transforming itself into a far more transnational and effective body. In your last letter you do make it clear that you still have problems accepting this so perhaps I can convince you further.

The starting point is that there is an underlying acceptance among our leaders, though never stated in public, that we rushed too quickly into establishing the new caliphate back in 2013-14. The chaos in Iraq and Syria certainly did provide a remarkable opportunity but pushing too far into Mosul and northern Iraq to the point where we might have taken over Baghdad was a step too far, leading to the air war. That lesson has been learnt and I had hoped that my assessment back in April would convince you of our future. I know that you do not share our aims, but I do hope that our very long friendship means that we can continue to discuss our differences.

Resentment and recruitment

May I therefore bring you up to date on those points I made in earlier letters, starting with the Zionists? When I mentioned Netanyahu’s annexation of the Golan Heights and the plan to annex some of the West Bank, even I could not have expected that he now plans to annex the whole of the Jordan Valley, apparently with Trump’s approval. As you know only too well, the Zionist colonisation of Palestine is a running sore across the Middle East and one of the greatest aids to our cause, so this really is very good news.

I have written about the rebirth of our movement in Afghanistan and this continues apace, even as Trump continues his desperate move to do a phoney deal with the Taliban so that he can get his troops out before he goes for re-election next year. In West Africa, too, our progress has been impressive, and I have to say that the rare Western media coverage of our growing presence persistently understates just how far we have already come.

I wrote last time about the legacy of bitterness that persists with the killing by the Crusader air forces of tens of thousands of our people in the three-year air war. We now have to add another element, the many tens of thousands of our supporters and their families jammed into overcrowded detention camps run by the Kurds in northern Syria. These camps are already proving to be exceptionally good recruitment bases for both men and women joining our cause, but the significance of another development may be even greater.

Because of the political impact of migration into Europe, both from the Middle East and North Africa, the EU has moved rapidly if quietly to counter this. Measures include substantial funding of the Libyan coastguard force to catch would-be migrants and turn them back and these have been spectacularly successful. In 2016 over 180,000 people made the crossing but last year it was down to less than 24,000. The consequence has been tens of thousands of people trapped in militia-controlled camps in Libya and subject to appalling conditions and treatment. Believe me, these camps are ideal recruiting grounds for our cause, and we have successfully infiltrated many of them.

The EU has also successfully bribed Turkey to the tune of over €5 billion to keep migrants from crossing into Europe through Greece, but this only adds to the huge numbers of marginalised, angry and often stateless people right across North Africa and the Middle East. Believe me, it is a recruiting sergeant’s paradise!

Yet I must still remind you or two further factors. The recent attention over Modi’s India taking central control of Indian-occupied Kashmir is ignoring the much more significant moves by the BJP to reshape the whole of India as a Hindu state. This is at the expense of over 200 million Muslims who are increasingly treated as second-class citizens and I understand on good authority that our leaders now regard India as potentially our most important region of operations over the next decade of more. Indeed, I learnt only yesterday that my brother’s current work in Afghanistan will end early next year when he joins one of our top planning units in India.

Perhaps you can now see why I am so optimistic, and I have not even mentioned the sheer joy of watching the political upheavals and chaos of Brexit Britain. Even here, though, I need to update you with the news that the Far Right is now growing rapidly, especially in its hatred of Islam. As you can imagine, my company has excellent police and MI5 links and we learnt recently what has just been made public: nearly a third of the planned attacks that the authorities have intercepted in the past two years have been by Far Right groups and that this is expected to increase.

In short, we are making progress in Afghanistan and West Africa, we have great potential in India, there are many tens of thousands of potential recruits across the Middle East and North Africa and the West faces increasingly bitter internal divisions. I think you must agree that it is a very far cry from Trump’s claim of a defeated Islamic State.

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