A new report unveils the effectiveness of the Islamic State’s new fanatical murder squads, shooting anyone with a “more attractive and compelling vision” who happens to come into range.
The Associated Press took a look at the Inghemasiyoun special forces unit of ISIS, whose name means “those who immerse themselves.” What these killers are “immersing” themselves in is a mixture of hardcore Islam, loyalty to a sacred “caliphate,” and blood. They scream “Victory or martyrdom!” and pledge allegiance to Allah before opening new battlefronts with a combination of guerrilla tactics, suicide bombings, and the wanton slaughter of civilians.
“The elite shock troops are possibly the deadliest weapon in the extremist group’s arsenal: Fanatical and disciplined, they infiltrate their targets, unleash mayhem and fight to the death, wearing explosives belts to blow themselves up among their opponents if they face defeat,” reports the AP. “They are credited with many of the group’s stunning battlefield successes – including the capture of al-Sukhna in May after the scene shown in an online video released by the group.”
The ISIS jihadists’s inhuman brutality and religious fanaticism are backed up by effective discipline and tactics. As the AP puts it, their flexibility and determination to achieve strategic goals are “a strong contrast to the rigid, inefficient and corrupt hierarchies of the Iraqi and Syrian militaries, where officers often fear taking any action without direct approval from higher up.”
Former CIA officer Patrick Skinner noted that ISIS forces have a unique and dangerous “ability to jump back and forth between traditional operations and terrorism.” Allied groups beyond the ISIS core of Syria, Iraq, and now Libya are beginning to demonstrate similar tactics, as seen in the recent attacks in Sinai.
ISIS fighters also boast significant weapons and ammo supplies seized from routed Iraqi forces—equipment the AP tactfully avoids mentioning was largely provided by the United States. They are so well-equipped that they apparently have artillery and armor held in reserve. They are even starting to use primitive drone aircraft, and they reportedly have better communications gear than the Iraqi Army. They are also reportedly better-supplied than Iraqi units and eating better food.
This Islamic State’s propaganda output, particularly their mass murder videos, are also having a pronounced effect on the morale of forces opposed to ISIS, the AP notes.
There are weaknesses in the ISIS war machine, to be sure. The AP article concludes by mentioning their lack of an air force—not that Obama’s desultory get-off-my-back bombing campaign has been slowing them down much—and they are vulnerable to espionage due to their diffuse organizational structure and appetite for foreign recruits. So far, they seem to have been fairly effective at rooting out spies, but there might be assets in place the Western public has not been told about, and the atmosphere of paranoia from constant neurotic spy-hunting could theoretically become a morale and communications problem for ISIS forces.
But for the moment, it is clear they have not been “degraded and ultimately destroyed,” as President Obama vowed. They are on the march, retaining the strategic initiative in each theater, successful enough to spare suicide troops for murderous sore-loser attacks against the Kurdish city of Kobani.
“This broader challenge of countering violent extremism is not simply a military effort. Ideologies are not defeated with guns, they are defeated by better ideas and more attractive and more compelling vision,” said President Obama during his embarrassing attempt to explain why he is losing the war with ISIS. He outlined a vision of winning a 20- to 40-year-long debate with ISIS, after which all the true Muslims will realize the head-choppers have nothing to do with Islam and ostracize them.