Bottom Line Up Front: U.S./West Should Consider Setting Up Some Kind Of Evasion And Escape Activity — To Aid Those Foreign Fighters Who No Longer Believe In What ISIS Is Doing — And Want To Escape Back Home V/R, RCP
ISIS Beheads And Executes 17 — ‘In Desperate Bid To Maintain Control Of Syrian ‘Caliphate,’ In Face Of Growing Acts Of Rebellion — ‘Bloom Coming Off The Rose?’
Is the romantic infatuation of the young and downtrodden with the Islamic State — starting to reverse? There have been more frequent reports indicating that may well be the case. In the latest case, “ISIS has murdered 17 men in Syria the past two days,” according to a human rights monitoring organization — The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights. The organization added that all “the victims were either beheaded, or shot — in response to a series of hit-and-run, guerrilla-style attacks on the terror group…which killed ten terrorists.”
Darren Boyle, writing in the January 16, 2015 edition of TheDailyMailOnline, notes that “ISIS is being attacked on several fronts, by forces loyal to Syrian ‘President Bashar Assad, rival insurgent groups, and coalition air strikes.” Mr. Boyle writes that “the terror group has been hit in its stronghold of the Deir al-Zor Province, from Raqqa, down as far as the town of al-Mayadin, along the banks of the Euphrates River.”
Syrian media claims — which are hardly unbiased, claims “that the attacks on ISIS, which have not claimed by any particular group, or state agency — are part of a ‘popular resistance’ to the terror group.”
Is The Bloom Coming Off The Rose?
This latest report follows reporting last month that ISIS had slaughtered 100 of its ‘own,’ when as many as 100 of the new ‘recruits’ decided that the allure of the jihadi life — was not what they envisioned — and, they attempted to return to their home countries. Erika Solomon, The Financial Times, Beirut correspondent, wrote on December 19, 2014, that “flagging morale, desertion, and factionalism…are starting to affect the Islamic State of the Levant and Iraq, known as ISIS, testing the cohesion of the jihadi force as its military momentum slows.”
“Morale isn’t falling — it’s hit the ground,” said an opposition activists from ISIS-controlled area of Syria’s eastern Deir Ezzor province. “Local fighters are frustrated –they feel they’re doing most of the work and dying…foreign fighters who thought they were on an adventure, are now exhausted.”
“An activist opposed to both the Syrian regime and ISIS, and well known to The Financial Times, said he had verified 100 executions of foreign ISIS fighters trying to flee the northern Syrian city of Raqqa, ISIS’s de facto capital.” In addition to beheadings, and firearms executions, there have been reports of ISIS strapping down deserters on the front of their tanks as they move about the battlefield.
“After the fall of Mosul in June, ISIS was presenting itself as unstoppable; and, it was selling a sense of adventure,” a U.S. official said. He added that “the dynamics have changed since the U.S. launched airstrikes in August; and, helped break the momentum of the ISIS advance, which has helped stem the flow of foreign recruits — though he warned that the change of mood, doesn’t affect the hardcore people of ISIS.”
Analyst Torbjorn Soltvedt, of Verisk Maplecroft, a U.K.-based risk analysis group, said “morale may be taking a hit, as militants grapple with the shift from mobile (moving to capturing territory, to actually have to hold and control it). “Before, they were seizing territory, forcing armies in Iraq to retreat. Now, they’re basically an occupying force trying to govern.”
“After flocking to Syria and Iraq during ISIS’s heady days of quick victories, some foreign fighters may be questioning the long, grueling fight ahead,” Ms. Solomon wrote. Mr. Soltvedt said “his organization has had many reports of foreign fighters, including Britons, contacting family members, and state authorities — seeking a way to return home. ISIS members in Raqqa, Ms. Solomon adds, have ‘created a ‘military police [force] to crack down on fighters who fail to report for duty. According to activists, dozens of fighters’ homes have been raided, and many have been arrested. Militants told a local journalist that they [foreign fighters] must now carry a document identifying them as a fighter; and, showing whether they are currently assigned to a mission.”
“In Raqqa, they have arrested 400 members so far, and printed IDs for the others,” the activist said. “The identification document for one fighter from the Gulf, consisted of a printed form, “stating name, location, section, and mission assignment,” with his details filled in by hand,” Ms. Solomon wrote. “The situation is not good,” he grumbled…adding, that “fighters had become increasingly discontented with their leaders.”
“Foreign militants have often been the most active in major battles; but, opposition activists said as fighting intensifies, more demands are being made on local fighters who do not have deep-rooted loyalties to ISIS. They pledged allegiance to ISIS, so they could keep fighting the [Assad] regime; and, not have to go against ISIS,” the Deir Ezzor activist said. “They feel they are the ones going to die in big numbers on the battlefield, but they don’t enjoy any of the foreigners’ benefits — higher salaries, a comfortable life, and female slaves.”
The U.S./West Should Consider Setting Up Some Kind Of Evasion And Escape Activity — To Aid Those Foreign Fighters Who No Longer Believe In What ISIS Is Doing — And Want To Escape Back Home
Reality appears to be setting in. The romantic and intoxicating portrait that ISIS portrays in social media to lure these young men, and some women into their lair, doesn’t live up to the reality on the ground. Perhaps one of the most important things that the U.S. and the West could do — is set up some kind of “rescue center,’ that would seek to assist the evasion and escape [much as the French resistance did in WWII] of those foreign fighters who seek to leave ISIS because they no longer believe in the message they are touting. These young men could then be employed telling their stories on the same sites the jihad uses to lure them in the first place. It could be a powerful message. Yes, these ‘guys’ would certainly have targets on their backs, so we’d need to figure out a safe haven and also undertake steps to change their identities. And, there would also be the risk that there will be a Trojan Horse or two among those we assist in escaping; but, it is a thought worth considering…I think, and perhaps a form of social media ‘medication’ that can do some good. What do you think? V/R, RCP