« Making Sense with Sam Harris

#82 — The End of the World According to ISIS

2017-06-15 | 🔗

In this episode of the Making Sense podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Graeme Wood about his experience reporting on ISIS, the myth of online recruitment, the theology of ISIS, the quality of their propaganda, the most important American recruit to the organization, the roles of Jesus and the Anti-Christ in Islamic prophecy, free speech and the ongoing threat of jihadism, and other topics.

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Today. I am speaking with. Graham would Graham, is a national corresponded for the Atlantic magazine. He has for the new Yorker in the Wall Street Journal in the New York Times. And many other publications he as the two thousand fourteen two thousand fifteen Edward, our moral press, fellow at the council on foreign relations, and he teaches political science department at you. University and his the author of the book, the way of strangers. Encounters with these comic state and we get deep into his book. And into the world view of ISIS we use ices and the islamic state interchangeably and we about his experience, reporting on ices them. Of online recruitment challenge the theology of vices with the quality of ice, is propaganda and grow.
Reveals the identity of the most important american recruit to the islamic State We spent a long time talking about the surprising significance of Jesus and the Anti Christ under Islam So this lot here and Graham, is an amazing authority on these topics and was a great. Finally get him on the broadcast, so without further delay. I bring you Ram what I here, with Graham would Graham thanks for coming on. The podcast could be here. You have written this wonderful book. The way of the strangers which is all about the islamic state its rise and you get right up to the point where its fall. Seems plausible things have moved. Gone a little bit since you published a book, but it's just eight really entertaining and deep introduction,
this phenomenon of global too high, It is a more generally than ISIS, but you get into the details in a very accessible way in the book is structured around some very engaging profiles of people and also fairly amusing profiles of people who you have spent some time with. So my first question, for you is just as a journalist did you feel it you're taking much personal risk? reporting this book. I always worried a little bit about what might happen because specially meeting some one for the first time you you never know what here she going to do or what friends that persons can bring along, but ironically, reporting on the Islamic it has been one of the safer assignments. I've had being in war zones, where you don't know where the bullets economy, coming from me, you don't know who you're talking to it is is often a very dangerous thing, but
talking to ices. Supporters is often an experience of subjecting yourself to proselytes nation that they are really eager, to deliver, so it would be weird for them to attack me. If I came to them and said honestly and verifiable, Look, I want to know about ISIS, they are on this planet to oblige, and so They are in general, are pretty happy to talk that comes through in Europe. We knew that you have these really a door. Bull, encounters with people who just have endless disposable times. Who indoctrinate you and then you would you describe their appeal. Loss of enthusiasm once its clear that you are now a good mark for this, but they clearly want to get their message out and I guess, You say that you, you are reporting these stories, not from ISIS held territory. Will you can't be taken for granted that
when one do something horrible to you- in Australia or in Egypt or in Turkey or in the United States. For that matter, and most of the people I spoke to did say I should go to Syria. They said we under. And you'd be afraid to go there, that you think you might get enslaved or be headed, if you went there with permission, unlike Cow James, fully went you'd you'd be okay, so the most dangerous encounters that I had were probably in places that we don't otherwise think of, is terribly dangerous. Like me, in Norway or Australia or the United States, where your ear going to a cafe in a part of town that you dont know, and you know If there's gonna be a van that pulls up next you and pulls your way that there's always a danger, but in the end I was, I was mostly just in danger of being overfed by these people. That's an interesting point. This idea that, if you
to Syria, where Iraq and spoke to ices directly you'd be safe. You did it through the appropriate channels. I was amused and slightly alarmed, that John Walker Lynde from his prison cell was somebody who is advocating you do that he seems completely on rehabilitated Linda to remind people. John Markland was the often referred to as the America Taliban. He was a young man from Marine County, as everyone should know a bastion of privilege decided, Eagle fight with the Taliban very early on in the before September, eleventh and in the aftermath of September. Eleventh he was caught. Fighting for them was quickly persecuted and has disappeared into the bowels of our prison system. It sounds like you still there quite full of faith and happy to advise you to go. Talk to have a bucket of Baghdad. If you can manage it.
The way that I interacted with John Walker. Lynne was as follows. He's been in prison since two thousand one, I wrote to him and said. Look there seems to be this phenomenon called the islamic state and a lot of people who, in some way a kind of like you have gone over there. So given the still on american soil, end Given that you're reading this letter that I sent you in prison of, apparently you can, you can beat you can be reached. So do you, Have anything to tell me about what you think is motivating people and what the islamic states all about, and the letters he wrote back were friendly. Maybe a little bit officious enders, but we're saying in essence the the islamic state would respect its covenants. He believed If I went to them and said, look I'm a journalist, I'm curious. But what you're doing can I go over there and have a kind of guided tour, the Caliphate and YE. I told him. That's not gonna happen
I'm, not gonna, go over there and just take their word for it. That they're, not gonna behead me He said: well, you know it's really. The only way to find out and trust me this they see men of their word, so it appears that these sixteen odd years that is spent in prison has not disabused him of the jihadism and he had had pursued with the Taliban Instead, if anything, he has gone from being a Taliban supporter to perhaps an islamic state. One Heather in journalists who have followed that and others that, though the one german journalist I think who crossed to ICES territorial and met some people. I can remember if he did that with any permission it is, is this: is this theory of of Linz been demonstrated? Yes- and it's been so far verified and one hundred percent of the cases, which is one case- the guy,
is a European tougher whose an elderly german magistrate kind of her people weirdo very interesting political figure? interviewed Bashar, Al Assad and who wrote to a bunch of german jihadis who were in ISIS Territorial said I'd love to go over there can I can I come. They brought him over showed in the city of Mosul under ISIS Control. He took a bunch of five or video, and from the sounds of it. I spoke to him about this once up until the very last moment that, he crossed the turkish border to safety. He wondered whether they might kill him, and even while, was over there. They said look, we will respect the permission that we gave you from the office of the Caliph himself to come over here and and keep you safe, but we promise you eventually were coming to Germany and your name. We'll be on our list. Draw is charming and host. I will keep you save here, but I am coming to kill you where you live yet its hospitality of a sort
So I just want to remind here just to give people a little context that I will have introduced you in my intro to this episode. But unilaterally got into this research you wrote a cover article four, the Atlantic magazine about ISIS years ago, and that, at the time I believe is the most read article the history, the magazine it it may still be all I imagine you ve, had a little competition in the last couple years would be the rise of trump, and now you have gone on to write this book you and I actually did for I had a park as you and I didn't along interview, were. I interviewed you want for my blog that covers territory that I dont think will really cover again in this conversation. So people can can go seek that item a blog if they're interested.
Let us start with the emergence of ISIS and and then I think we were gonna get into current events pretty quickly here. But the birth of this group is fairly a star. Punishing you report on how ISIS conquered Mosul, with a force of something like five huh There are a thousand men and put the entire Iraq, The army to flight, it was almost have proof of their divine aid in some way, amuses like this miraculous display of cowardice on there on the part of an army that that we had trained. How do you explain that first moment you and actually that surprising to me, I was in in most in early twenty thirteen end of two thousand twelve, I believe us Last american reporter to being in Mosul and my experience of the city and then and remember this is a year and a half before ISIS to control the city was that
everybody was afraid of what they were then calling Al Qaeda. They were saying that shopkeepers would be extorted and, if I as Obvious foreigner responded on the street, there's a really good cancer get kidnapped, so even back, then there is the sense that there is no law except our Qaeda's except ices, and is definitely no respect for the iraqi army. So when ISIS came to town and actually took over the city with a four five hundred guys buncher pick ups machine and so forth. It was like yeah, This was a city that that that was an arctic before and they were almost just making it official, but didn't thousands of troops just Flee outright when these five hundred men showed up yet and the troops when I was there in the twenty thirteen was that they were, garrisoned in just a couple spots in the city, they were considered tool
of a she s, sectarian government muscles, mostly a sunny city, and so wasn't as if they were doing foot patrols, winning hearts and minds that they were considered just those people in barracks over there. But we know see- and we would never trust with our safety so just imaginable, bunch of Sunnis come to town, they say We represent your interests, you, the Sunnis of of Mosul, end the his soldiers over there. We will let them run away most of them and will control your city how'd. You like that, and a lot of people in Mosul just said well that that might be better than the status quo. So I think that that explains how they were able to take over so much so fast. Now, how many people of this point have emigrate, To join, I says it is that figure still around forty thousand, yet forty thousand is about right. They in the middle of last year's, told people not to come anymore, so you can expect of us
where's haven't risen too much and a lot of those forty thousand already dead, but yeah from overseas from countries that are not Iraq and Syria. Usually the number quoted is forty two forty five now one of the things you do in your book, which many people die I need to do. Is you you, you get into the head. These guys in a way that is that allows you to see the world from there In our view, and when do that the behaviour of these people becomes fairly logical, the mysteries begin to have operate once you begin to take people at their word and they tell you over and over again what they care about. What motivates them It's amazing to me on the something the has now astonished me for going on sixteen years since September. Eleventh people just find this virtually impossible to do scholars of religion or see me,
the scholars of religion declined to do this. Political scientists routinely prove themselves unable to do that. And you haven't. You quote here, I think, was fairly early about that. I love, which is what some says something to evil to believe one responses not to doubt their sincerity but to expand ones capacity to imagine what otherwise decent people can desire that I concluded is the proper response to these State and you're you're. Encounters with these people just become this exercise. In accepting air account of themselves you pressure tested in a variety of ways, because it no account is free of internal contradictions it's just from my point of view a very as fine excavation a worldview which you tackle
Andrew through many of these profiles, you do with jihadis of various commitment. You know you gave a list of a few disciplines that have been neglectful in their duty to explain some of these things: religious studies, political scientists and so forth, and in some ways: I've taken to heart messages that they ve given about Muslims in other contexts that they seem not to apply themselves in this one, which is that we The West non Muslims secular academics, we? have taken it upon ourselves to speak on behalf of people from far off lands from brown. Be for brown people for Muslims, and so part of what I was doing was just heeding the the call to in said: listen to them. Let them speak for themselves, it's not as if I buy examining their sosius your economic status or the political circumstances of where they come from can expect
to just understand what they believe but the world I will be to understand some things, but why not talk to them? Why not? Let them speak for themselves so What I ended up doing was, I think, an exercise that was as much anthropological is journalistic. It was trying to describe a culture, a mindset, a view of the way old and two to describe it in a way that the people who were speaking would recognise as accurate or at least interesting. One thing that is, I think, surprising, will be surprising to many of our listeners. Is that this myth of they. Online recruitment is in fact a myth. There's this picture that has emerged, which is that people get recruited entirely on the basis of online contacts, and they have no fear. It's in the real world. That could explain,
how their their sympathy had been toward jihadism. I'm sure they're there be some pure cases of that, where it really is a an internet phenomenon, but for the most part, that is a myth. Yet, for the most part, that is nonsense. The idea that people will just go on twitter and be told ices is the way to go. I've read these websites, Reed Debit, magazine and to get a ticket to Turkey and you're on your way. That is not how it goes in as far as until almost any cases of men and women in a second usually for four p, look over there. They know somebody who's already gone. Obviously there was an up and a first mover someone who, went over and told his buddies, hey, it's really. Over here through his house, I gotta soon as I arrived in that kind of thing, but in general,
there's. There's someone who you ve met outside the Moscow in a cafe or on a sports team, and that person has his then something important in and showing you that a human being can go over there. It's not it's not God's who have gone over, but people like you and me and that that changes everything in the end. Everything flows from that now in the case of women. Little bit, You could look at the women who were recruited to Al Qaeda and first, while there are very many of them, are applied. I was like a military organisation who was very mail and it it most, we thought of women as as incumbrances, because they they wouldn't be fighting whereas with ISIS they're trying to create a society and so that they need men, they need women, they need children, and so they ve had to reach out in different ways and for that online recruitment has been really really valuable? They ve been able to talk to people who otherwise
be in very conservative millions with it's not like they could go talk to some stranger leave the house whenever they wanted, and so online. You can find people who are purely online recruited and to eventually the Syria, if, if their women, suffer putting on the men per second the impulse for women to join the islamic state at I must say, as it remains a bit inscrutable to me, but for the man it really doesn't, and at one point you talk about, what jihadis in general do and in an ices has taken this to the point of perfection is a day and this quote from you, they weapon eyes a fanatical sense of shame by declaring that you hard, as the only absolution, talk about this notion of shame for a moment, because the probably doesn't have a reference, point in the ears of of many of our listeners when
was being recruited to and ISIS like organizations is before the time of ISIS. I was in Cairo speaking with a I can only describe as a master recruiter and one of the first things that he would try to emphasise to me was I had done horrible things in my past. It he would ask me, would not ask me to confess details of hey my sexual history or whether it use drugs or alcohol or my feelings, but he would point out. God has requested that you not do these things and There will be punishment for you in the hereafter for the things that you ve done so really turned to emphasise this. This sense of deep, deep sin, which I think is familiar to almost any one who has gone over to ISIS Isis says exactly the same thing God is watching you. He is nearer to you than your own jugular vein as one of the most famous lines from from from me on the scriptures that that ISIS likes to to add
who invoke, and so what, when they say to someone, especially someone who has an especially sinful past as a rent, boy or drug addict her. What have you then part of their appeal is that they can. Zol view from the sins of your past, If you die in battle, you don't have to pay the bill when it comes to judgment day, because you read a martyr and you get fast tracked straight paradise, whereas people who die comfortably in there ads, they do have to go through an absolution process, purification, a kind of birth limbo before they enter the gates of Paradise. Don't don't ribs get crushed together and cracked at the moment of the day of judgment the devil, love to talk about the lurid punishments and yeah, there's something the punishment of the graves. This is not
just by the way, a nicest things? This is part of a fairly orthodox reading of of the idea of the hereafter and Islam that when you die like you, get trash compacted within your grave and you scream as your ribs crack and eventually touch each other and the only ones who can hear this screaming are animals and Jeannie's. Satan is also a bad things that have to you after you die. Unless You are one of two categories, a martyr, someone who dies in the course of jihadi horn, few other categories of death and a profit which none of us are. So if, if you have a sense that that you ve got a steep steep build a pay in the house after. Before you go through the pearly gates, then you have all the more incentive to die faster and more gloriously too, to avoid paying that bill to dine and dash theory of the hereafter I feel like I'm paying that bill on the Jujitsu mats, no one.
Here's my screams, not even the genies when I get crushed, but you can always tat out and tap out when the creator, the universe is doing it to you. One hears he's got you interfere naked choke can't do anything about that This is something you keep confronting throughout the book you continually been to the problem of argue. Against the Islamic States theology and on fortunately, is a non. Trivial problem is a problem that said many scholar and many mainstream Muslims. Shirk upon. The arabic term for polytheism should be intended there, Sir, many so called moderate Muslims and their apologists just lie about the doctrines from which the islamic state is drawing its inspiration at one point, quote the head of care. The Council of American Islamic Relations claim there are no in time prophecies in Islam. I hear people like me
is ass lawn saith the Koran? Abolishes slavery right, there's, no support for slavery in Islam, countless b You have said that ices has nothing to do with Islam. President Obama quite famously said this over and over again One reason why I think Hillary Clinton lost as that she seemed inclined to follow that quite delay. Not wine rather than talk about the actual link between specific doctrines, with respect martyrdom and jihad and past ASEAN, last Sunday and all the rest and this death called behaviour. People reflexively talk about: U S, foreign policy and the bath party and bad people who would do bad things anyway, right this just religions being used as a pretext, they claim it Ices has no theological justification for its actions at one point
quote somebody was a guardian writer who even argued that ISIS, through its actual inspiration from the french Revolution and from from you, the scientific enlightenment. You have people like to wreak Ramadan, saying that I This is not a religious phenomenon is purely political em. There's just this, soon Army of obscurantism, that right is up every time a person attempts to talk about the theological roots of this phenomenon. So have you encountered that? SK guarantees them an end? Will you taken in by that initially and then gradually d? programme through your encounter with sincere believers. What was that like for you in terms of disabuse in yourself of that myth? I had the fortune or baby misfortune of encountering ISIS Ike beliefs or jihadist beliefs abnormally early in my life, I was about to see twenty twenty two years old. When I
I met someone who is a follower of Bin Laden. I was at a conference in push our Pakistan. I was just a backpacker passing through with there's a conference going on, so I was curious. What was there and it was basically a bunch of jihadist, were getting together and they were in fact addressed remotely by Bin Laden himself. So I got to talk to people and from that early stage. I already had a sense that there was more. You jihadism, then just political grievance or any of the other things that you listed and there was certainly among the people who were part of that group aid. Absolute devotion to islamic scriptures and two interpretations of the scriptures that have been around for a long time. It are not made up out of thin air in the twentieth century or twenty first century, so that came first for me and some of the apologetic efforts. Hit my ears well after an end. Well after I knew what the the
sponsors were from from the jihadist side, for me it was, it was so the response was so ubiquitous. Every side was was saying, especially in this country, that I This was not a religious phenomenon that ISIS was best understood in in in in ways that had little to do with the history of Islam, except for some extreme Islamophobia, of course, so that sentiment was was was So constant that, for me, what was much more interesting was defined the Muslims who were actually opposed to ices and who, unlike the ones who would say hate slavery has been abolished in Islam permanently in forever and or that Isis has has no knowledge of its scriptures was defined. The ones who didn't have that that level of ignorance or willing. To lie about the about the history of the religion and their turned out to be alive.
Them who had arguments against ISIS that came from an islamic perspective, sometimes a very conservative, possibly jihadist islamic perspective and to ask them where they got those ideas swell much has been made of the fact that some recruits to the islamic state were found to buy books like with titles like Islam, for dummies, as though this proof those that religion played no real role in their behaviour, because they obviously didn't understand their religion, all that well or their inside. Ways there. Their claims ever religious motive must be insincere if their buying books like that again, this is precise the sort of point that I've heard someone like red Joseline make on television. I noticed you dispatch that idea at some point in the book dispatch it here because at that has always struck me as a fairly crazy and and in many cases insincere point the other
or a couple guys from Birmingham. England who were trying to get ISIS territory and had in their Amazon dot Coda UK shopping carts, the Koran for Dummies and Islam for dummies and ever since then you hear this invoked as evidence that these, for I know nothing about. Islam have no interest in Islam and its it's obviously just not so the the idea that that first of all, that someone who is reading books about Islam has no interest in Islam is self evidently a non secular. But beyond that, you have to understand that the amount of time that has that someone has spent as a devoted jihadist or as Muslim is, is not correlated with the intensity of their feeling of of devotion or or piety. I think a lot of people think that that.
How do you judge whether someone is believing muslim wealth? You look at time in grade. How long is this person been identifying as a muslim and the answer for many ices supporters. It's true, it's rather short, but how in if they do. They believe this quite a lot. So you find me like many Hassan now of Al Jazeera, who will at any chance invoke this exists. We should say now of the intercept isn't it isn't writing for the intercept yeah I he's out is your Andy intercept now and at any time you you you talk about this here, your likely to hear someone not always messy, say look. This is the an example of of how foolish these people are in I'm not saying they're, not foolish. I would just point out that that educating yourself Reading books about Islam is the sign of someone who actually cares a lot about this stuff. Now the other point that people will make,
bout, someone who's reading the Koran for dummies is that this person is not a learned Muslim, its he's not a shake her and allies, hard train, theologian, and I would not deny that what I I think, people people miss from this, though, in their zeal fur denigrating. The followers of ices is that it in The human population. You would find some people who are novitiate in some people who of small fraction of people who are low and scholars of of of the faith in you could go as room collar Marcie once said to me. If you went to US town in ITALY in you, approached people coming out of mass on a Sunday and you ask them about obscure doctrines within Catholicism, Canon law. The average person would have no idea what you're talking about. Would you, then? include that that persons- not Catholic or has no interest in Catholicism, know that
just came out of mass and probably identifies very closely with Catholicism, just happens not to be someone who is tremendously learned and that's the case of course, with the majority of of of of islamic state, recruits as well yeah the eyes very important point this time in great illusion that I think happily named it because the point gets made another way quite frequently to which people say that the person has no background in Madrid CASA, for instance, by this summer, had a fairly secular background and then all of a sudden has changed his world. As though knows sudden change could be sufficient to count. A real religious conviction. But of course, people have awakened means to one or another religion, all the time and and when you trace people's connection to the rest of the community,
what you find rather often is not necessarily jihadism, but you find a religious context which is. Fairly conservative by any comparison with, even with christian fundamental in the west and, as you find throughout the religious landscape, you find that religious ideas are systematically protected from criticism. So the belief in Paradise is endemic. Two planet earth in one or another form, and it certainly incredibly all subscribe throughout the muslim world among Muslims, who have varying degrees of can and knowledge about the faith, and so people who can seem quite secular still live in many cases their entire lives. In a context where I believe in Paradise and the legitimacy of martyrdom and the divine origin
the Koran all that the building blocks of this world view are in place, whether they ve taken a real interest in it or not, up until I point I can give you an example of how some of these is go from being dormant to being active. A lot has been said about the apocalyptic side of ISIS Isis. Officially believes that the end of the world is coming and it's coming. Ices instigation at their hand, and it's not can be pretty, and it's gonna cause the Anti Christ to come back and great battles and so forth. These are not things that are generally spoken in mosques? If you go to your local mosque, you're, very unlikely, to find an mom said dreaming about the end of the world just like. If you go to your local church, probably not to be the width of the favourite topic of a sermon fur at any mega church, although there were be a kind of understanding that these ideas,
as are out there and in the case of of Muslims. As one scholar told me, this is the kind of thing that that is told to muslim kids when they go to bed at night. It's odd stories to two too to make them be. Good kids to obey their mom and dad too, to think about about good and evil and try to develop a moral sense. They. They are not stories that that are necessarily going to be weapon Ized into ISIS, they're they're, just part of the folk lore of of of culture. Now ISIS, it finds people who have been told these stories, and these largely benign stories, I think, and then it comes to them and says aright. All those stories you ve heard that were not emphasised by your religious authorities. Their real their happening right now and since people had have hearing them over and over again, but to fairly
simple action to to wake them up to the idea that these great Battle happening right now and you better get there soon, other otherwise you'll be thought of in the hereafter. As someone who ran away yet talk about the end times prophecies in some detail because they really are the goopiest stories ever told and the fact that anyone believes them literally is fairly astonishing. But before we get there see, You said that in the course of reporting, this book you encountered people who were not mere obscurantists with respect ice has but still disagreed with them. Found scholars who, rather than play hide the ball, would the articles of faith they dealt with the of ISIS in a more honest way, I'm either with they, would acknowledge, for instance, that the prophet had sex.
Lives right, rather than condemn slavery or even sexual slavery, the prophet practiced it right. This is unambiguous in his biography and is not an accident. Therefore, ISIS thinks they can do this, and therefore the challenges for honest critics of this sort of faith to find a theological basis from which to criticise it. How did those efforts parity on. Did you find people who were offering a counterpoint to the theology of ISIS that you felt could sway potential jihadist. There a few different categories of especially from bleeding muslims of bleeding Muslims who were opposed to ices. There would be some whose main effort was to make Muslims look good. I would put s example care
would probably won't be one organization that that that was involved in that in trying to say look. We are not ass, it is true, they are not ISIS they're, not supportive vices. They are also of the I very willing to say things that are false about Islam and that about the history of of the beliefs that Muslims have had over, there's another category is of of people who would they do not lie about him? long, but they would lie about ISIS? They claim that ices has not doesn't believe it believes, doesn't say what it says. That's that's. Maybe it s a slightly slight easier to deal with category and then you'd find others whose it was not of their own tradition, is extensive enough to think they couldn't. Possibly simply deny the reality of slavery in Islam or station of hands of thieves or beheading, sorcerers, end apostates and,
that last category was was what I found to be the day was fruitful, diverse category. There were many different muslim scholars. Muslims with it. But it is also the most interesting because, as you say, that they were not play hide the ball. They were. They were instead engaging in a very complicated and sincerely felt battle within within the faith, and yet they would to take the issue of slavery, specifically one of those earlier categories might have, they might have said slavery has been abolished in Islam. That is true. If you think Islam is the government of muslim majority countries. They have pretty much all abolished slavery, not true of the tradition of Islam, which has for most of its existence, recognise the legitimate c of slavery and in codified the institution. So you you'd find one of the most distinguished living muslim jurists. Turkey, as
A Pakistani who said of this argument that slavery has been simply abolished by the consensus of all Muslims to eat. He said so ridiculous. It would make a grieving mother laugh. That's That's that person. I wanted to talk to it with someone who is aware of the place in the tradition and yet was able. Give me an explanation of why ices version of this was not ok before we go further natural, I just want to comment on this impulse that so many Muslim and their apologists feel to above all make sure that Islam doesn't look bad weather. Muslims? Don't look bad in the aftermath of a terrorist attack of the sort. We recently experienced This is so wrong. Head admitted there are few things make the can unity of Muslims, look worse then their reliably lying about the faith there.
Lying about the existence of danger doctrines which are so easy to find system. So, whatever the motive for these lies, it can't help but appear sinister is an end. This right, tool is now so widely repeated. That is just it's become a caricature of itself in the air the mouth of an event like Manchester or London, which just happened. You have Muslim jumping on the airwaves representatives of care or or people who claim to be secular and, and in fact in many cases, certainly are secular. You got people like that. Comic dean over dollar. You know, who's got a post on CNN and only they jump on television and they centuries it? What do you want from us which we condemn terrorism? Look I condemn terrorism, I'm condemning terrorism, I dont support ISIS Wise, the burden on Muslims taken down
terrorism every time, something like this happens. This is I've hit this before, but I just I view this is like a public service Mt. The issue is not that Muslims don't condemn terrorism. Condemning terrorism is a trick. Really easy thing to do, and I and I- and it goes without saying that my most Muslims, don't support the cavities of a man who shows up at an Oriana Grundy Concert and massacres, children right that need not be said, but what is altogether lacking is an honest acknowledgement that this violence is arising out of sincere belief in the truth of specific religious doctrines, that that is the problem of Muslims. Dont have to condemn terrorism. They have to condemn the trends of martyrdom and jihad, which is a much heavier lift rights, the and and so,
surely, and then they need to condemn all of the triumphal bullshit about Islam, eventually, conquering the world that is This is message and that's what has to be confirmed, It had on by honest secular, liberal, or otherwise, conservative and nonetheless tolerant Muslims, and that is something I met I feel like. I can count on one hand, maybe two hands at most the people who honestly do that, reliably and Missus and miss someone like magic nowise who gets on CNN and just you can actually track through his statements. And remain saying at the end so anyway, This is my hobbyhorse, but it it just. You the time there's a new terrorist event and we see the same shells for delusion jump television, it really is just crazy making.
I'm largely in agreement with what you just said that I will say I do get the question all the time why dont moderate Muslims condemn ISIS, so I think there are people out there, probably a lot of them, who really think that there are huge numbers of, say fifty percent of Muslims out there, who believed that ices is in the right and our secretly staying at home and keeping their mouths shut so that they can wait for the true full day when Baghdad he comes to Washington, that's simply false that there is no peace. Relation of Muslims in anywhere in the world that are approaches. Fifty percent, the think that ISIS is just straightforwardly on the right track but yes, whenever there is a big attack, there is this dance of obscurantism. That does begin where people will a Muslim or not by the way that the they will say. Isis has nothing to do
this long or they get Islam right. So you'll find Jews or Christians saying that ISIS gets Islam right as if Juicer Christians had any it stand within the muslim community to say that. One variety of saying that this has nothing to do with Islam is a form of political correctness and in both good and bad senses, where Just as the answer is always know, you don't look fat in that shirt. If your partner asks you that question, you can say well now this has nothing to do with Islam. So that's just a matter of politeness. What I am happy to say is that in muslim scholars are talking about ISIS amongst themselves and when they're talking do we seriously? You do not find at the highest level. Those discussions, anyone anymore, who says that ISIS simply is is ignorant simply as a bunch of Baptists. There are instead in many cases there they they will actually
led. The discussion start, the discussion by saying yes, ISIS consists is muslim Organization, with sincere belief in the correctness of its interpretation of the Koran and the profit and the life of the prophet Mohammed people, homes Use is probably the most prominent american Muslim scholar says exactly that and an another, surely a scholar friend of mine. He said to me, look it if I hear another, some say that Islam is a religion of peace, I'll kill him myself so even within the community that there we ve got to appoint a of within the muslim community. We ve got to a point where people are tired of platitudes is Islam and are much more willing to talk about ices interpretation and no successfully or unsuccessfully try to debate them in an honest way. Let's talk about just the quality of ice messaging and how they ve been so successful and then and then I think, will move on to
What may be happening now in terms of the seeming fall of ISIS as a caliphate, but everyone is very interested to know what you think about. The future of the ideology and and the phenomenon of global jihad. One thing that I have always thought is a very bad sign with respect. Ices has just how good their messaging is, and as I once read from an issue of diabetic there, their online This magazine on this podcast and comment on the fact that one of the sea, various things about it. From my point of view, was how good the copy editing was. There were no typos. I find typos in books printed by prince University press. I find typos in my own books talk a little bit about just how they manage to bring that level of polish off They have a magazine called debauch which show
The source of the article that you read calls. I believe that's why we hate you and why we fight you end in the earliest days of static, it was a beautiful magazine. I speak from someone who writes in magazines for living. I can say that we, the copy editing, was superb and by the way, was difficult copy, editing it had diet, critical marks, on the Arabic and they re really knew where those words were to go. There is also well written in English. Very clearly done, and the design was out of this world. I was it looked like a up and coming like men's magazine or for something it was, is an extraordinary piece of propaganda in the last issues of debate in the magazine when other business at the end of last year, you can see that that some of the copy editors head had been bombed. He added you you'd see lines that would run off the end of the page, typos here and there
the designers. I had probably met the same fate so instead of looking like partake, really hip men's magazine. It would look instead more like something that that some high school kids put together at the last minute with their with their cork express or whatever the leader programme, as it is these days, so it it has, has changed a bit, but in the early days there they were their great at it. Now that the peace that you read out, You may not have the same, but I I believe I have discovered the author of that peace and it's John Georgia lists the highest ranking American in the islamic state, so I can say from not just from the peace itself, but for from all the bag, difficult details. I found out about this guy who's now, in Syria fighting for ISIS that he's a brilliant guy and yes, it is deeply alarming, to find out that, in addition to the door, these they have going over there with the intention of dying as fast as they can. They ve got some people who, in an another, said
circumstances would be doing very, very well and in academic jobs in the U S saw or as computer programmers and in any number of fields yeah. Why, I must say, detected some other signs of of power progress in the war against ices, because I was reading your book. I decided to Google someone you described as perhaps the smartest and most magnetic of the pre. Why is there this man named Turkey Ben Ali. Discover that I think he was killed, maybe like days ago in some drone attack, it seems like losing some of their talent. You meant this guy, John John Georgia, less What I wanted to. I wanted you to talk about him, because you really was a wonderful bit of sleuthing. By wish you identified him. Do you recall how you did that? Well, one of the first people I found who could speak to me fairly authoritatively about the ideas of ices. The theology vices
was an australian guy Musa Chair Antonio and I went to Australia more than one to hang out with him and his followers play soccer with them and try to absorb what they believed and part of that was trend at the trend to observe how they got the ideas that they believed and Musa started talking about of the figure in named Yahoo. Who is clearly his teacher? He was the and who, if I stumped Musa, which was pretty rare, he would be illegal on his phone and send a message to ya. Ya and Yahoo would answer it so I figured this guy at least was one more run up the ladder than Musa himself and moose at that point was sort of the unofficial in, language translator of the islamic states. He wasn't nothing when I asked him, though, about more details. You wouldn't say more, except that that yeah,
He had been captured by the free syrian army recently and I cleaned that he was greek So I started looking around for people who had the belief that he had and who were calling themselves yeah and who were greek and that that had to be pretty small universe. I mean that there are not very many Greeks in the islamic State, and there certainly are very many people who believe all the things that the islamic state believes in and have the competence to explain why ya had had all those things so eventually I found a reference to a guy who had a greek name and who was an islamic state log and his name was your niece Georgia, which is again one of those super unique names. I it's a cretin name
and so now I thought. Ok, there's a guy in Crete whose evidently mousses teacher- and so I started experimenting with permutations of one and a convert to Islam call himself. If his original name is you want. Is your galaxies and Google was my friend here, because there are not very many people who are looking for terms that that follow exactly that and then eventually found a guy who called himself Jaska. Abu Hassan AL bathroom me DE the one from the Mediterranean and a few other things that were indicative of fluent greek speaking then, through that I was able to zero in on what the guy's name possibly was from seeing that he had some English speaking friends.
Figured. Maybe he might be Greek American, so you want us or Yahoo in in English, is John and eventually found this guide. John George, less, who had been arrested for jihadist activities in the mid two thousand and eventually was able to confirm that that was the guy, the teacher of Malta and at this point, probably them important American in the islamic state. Now that that is a fascinating path by which you proven: Urim journalistic chops, in a way that most journalists can't equal. That's really beautiful! Thank you. It was. It was a lot of fun to do because, this world of online jihadist ideology is not huge and the people in it are such show offs, such weirdos that they leave breadcrumbs everywhere so yea. It felt deeply satisfying from journalistic or Sherlock Ian Perspective, too, to figure out the real.
Identity, the guy. So then you went and you you interviewed his father right. I door stopped his dad here How did you set that up? Did you you'd do? Did you tell him exactly who you are and what you want to talk about it? It was an element of surprise and in why you were there. It's a sad story. It's here the only son and his family and his we're coming home. So when I knocked at the door and said I am here because of ya. Hear Abu Hassan AL bathroom me I'd the guy who answered, knew exactly what I was talking about Anti he had a kind melancholy exhale before each he sat down and in talks with me for a very short time and yeah. He knew that his son had gone completely off the deep end when it came to jihadism, but I I don't think he even quite realised that hit it.
Let him to the the pre eminence that he had achieved in in the islamic State or even to that he had made it to the islamic state until I informed them of this in mid two thousand and fifteen. So, sadly, from his father's point of view, John- wasn't amounting to anything. It seemed like he could have no clue that he had achieved a non trivial level of expertise in this domain of night Let's weirdness his son is, is it a genuine leader of men and eight, had surprising mastery of of arabic sounds like he say I'm extremely accomplished in his on way and at this based on what would your important the book it's has like his father would be astonished by this yeah he's dead. Helps to know it is a form of colonel in the. U S: Airforce he's a practising radiation,
just right now in North Dallas, wealthy guy from a pre, wealthy family and so the weight he has chosen his dad has chosen to to live a life. It's it's a fairly tracked kind of career where you? U progressed through the ranks, Really, and you can see how well you ve done by how far you get so his son converted and became a jihadist, probably in his late teens early twenties. And was full bore into this stuff, but was doing it in a way that it was actually almost invisible to his parents. He was in the basement. Hacking on his computer and reading texts about Islam and the Caliphate end assembling a following worldwide of people who were listening to him about this and he went. He would say you got to go to ISIS territory, they would listen so it it's almost as it imagine a ver
successful father, who has his fuck up son in the basement playing video games. What are the chances that that day, it is going to realise that that kid in the basement is the best video player in the world of that videogame, pretty low The video game and he happens to be playing, is called jihadism. It's called ISIS and it was a huge surprise and an embarrassment I think, to the family to discover that that this is what the sun had been doing in this house. I had gotten it, and this is really one of those cases which it sounds self serving to say it and perhaps it is but- and this is the kind of case that proves my thesis about the power of ideas, this is all you need to know that the necessary sufficient conditions for jihadism, need not include poverty or lack of education or political oppression
or living in some failed state. If you find specific ideas captivating sufficiently captivating That is all you need, and there are so many examples of this pure case where person has no plausible political grievances, no prior relationships with anything that would make sense of a life to ranging commitment to jihadism. And we look at the buyers of even people who are poor used in a more traditional muslim circumstance, disproportion These are. These are well educated people with other life, opportunities who become jihadist it we're talking about engineers and even doctors and people for not from the poorest families, but middle class. Families are better so Someone like John I recognise in him people. I know
frankly and or or even myself at age twenty years ago, when I look at what I did like when I dropped out of college not really into meditation and spent what amounted to you too, years on silent meditation retreats that was all defy and by the ideas that I was finding credible and then so it is with any human life and but for the fact that I happened to be into meditation and thinking about the nature of consciousness. When didn't happen, to be into thinking about the pleasures that await martyrs and paradise and the need to spread the ones. Faith to the ends of the earth. That is the relevant difference, not a background of of subjugation by the Israelis, or been victimize by an? U S, foreign policy, so am I find some like John on some level camp, lately unsurprising, even though It is on his face fairly surprise in this one with nothing, but an internet connection can suddenly become the most important foreign Recruit ISIS
why you say that about the familiarity of of Johns type in the kind of questing Savior that he had ass a teenager, because I felt the same way you know I I described the way I unmasked John was largely through. I was a language not when I was when he became a jihad not, and I I felt the same kind of satisfaction of kind of discovering, a realm of ideas that I devoted myself to end. It was clearly something that he felt too. It was a whole realm of of of human intellectual activity daddy. He found just worth throwing everything else away for and because that was one of the requirements of that that web of ideas, whereas, if you're into meditation, nor into philology than their paths out of it
with jihadism. There is really only one direction it could go and once ices came about it was like cap. This is the moment we ve been waiting for and, of course, as soon as he possibly could. He was going to take his family off to Syria and become pretty darn close to getting them all killed. In fact, privileges could be him. So what was it like to spend time with Musa churn Tonia, You can remind our listeners who he was. He wrote about him in your belligerent Atlantic. Article as well, but he's this australian? She hottest voice. He was more than me people, your profile, your your gateway into the mind of the trouble, however, what what was alike hanging out with him. It was lots of fun. Muso, was not answering queries from journalists when I first reached out to him- and I think that was because the query were sort of along the lines of hey. When are you
you attack next tell us about your your plans for world domination and the questions that I asked him: more like what you believe. How did you get to believe these things How do you respond to the people who disagree with you and I think he he found that he found that approach resist will he has styled himself as a muslim, intellectual, for the last five years or so he's been an Angela stun egyptian slash saudi television. I he's had a speaking engagements with major figures and in India in the Gulf and Egypt in Australia, and he was really eager to have someone sit down and drill him on these questions about what Islam actually requires he wanted me to ask him the hardest questions about the the.
Original language texts that eat that he was that he was he was. He was using to regroup people, so I It was several days at a time of intellectual combat which is so deeply set status, I thing when you're talking to someone who really believes in what he's talking about on the top pack of really believing what you're talking about. Let's unpack the the end times, prophecies alone that, because there too, two characters that play an inordinate, roll here at the at the end of the world. The first is the antichrist, and the second is Christ himself. I think many listeners will be surprised to know that Jesus plays a significant role in the end times. From the the point of view of the most who believe in Muslims O S talk about that the Anti Christ and Jesus it in through a muslim lens. Who is the TAT Christ in and where do we think he is at the moment. We think that the Anti Christ is cheap
and on an island, probably in the Red Sea. I he's a big guy. Has reddish skin one of his eyes can droopy its covered as if by the skin, of a grape end he's around right now, he's on earth and he's waiting for his his moment to come and he's been around for fur at least fourteen hundred years has make us it. What was interviewed at some point when Mohammed took the Arabian, So why didn't someone sharpen on that island and tell them the crisis that the gears of history were now turning. That's right. He he grinned did, I guess, an exclusive interview to a ship full of wayward sailors who were washed up on the island and then met a guy who was horrific, whose described as is being Harry, and you couldn't tell his face from his ass And that guy said oh, come on over here and meet this fellow, whose chained up and the guy and in on the island in chains was the anti Christ any he asked, so his mama arrived yet, and the sailors said.
Actually, ye ease in MECCA right now and the Anti Christ said. Oh good. Will. That means my time is nearly at hand which I don't, if you got it wrong or fourteen hundred years, just doesn't count for very much and in the grand scheme of Islam, but that the next step is. After there's a restoration of the caliphate which, according to ices, has already happened and big battles between Muslims and the Romans, which may have also have already happened at at daybreak, the Romans being I either Nato troops are Turks are depending on what your interpretation is. Then the anti Christ will will sort of appear and a series of of truly catastrophic. Weird apocalyptic events will take place once the Anti Christ freeze himself from his chains, They'll be drought across the planet. One third of the planet will go without rain one year, two thirds of the next. They will
be a severe lack of food and the anti crisis, among other powers will have the ability to conjure a kind of like false food and like throw it two adoring crowds and have them come to his aid and anyway, who opposes him we'll just get hacked to pieces cut down any Muslims who find him we'll be able to identify him because he'll have read. In an invisible ink that only one can read the word infidel across his forehead and even the Muslims, and children will be able to read that across his forehead, as he's traversing the earth throwing out stakes burgers from his wagon to adoring crowds and hacking to death believers the Muslims will eventually be I'd. Just a few laughter, though biggest five thousand
she left him they'll, be encircled by the forces of the Anti Christ in Jerusalem, and then it gets really interesting. So, as the Muslims are praying, their encircled waiting to die, jeez is who, as you say, a profit in Islam, revered in Islam. Second, only to the prophet Mohammed himself will descend to the city of Damascus not far from Jerusalem and then hightail it to Jerusalem, to the aid of the Muslims, who are praying there and once they recognize him, though, the caliph for the time will be a fig one. The Mackey will say: hey, add your Jesus. Aren't you, you should really lead us in prayer and Jesus will say not really it's it's that's you Judy. Why want you lead us in prayer? After prayers, though, Jesus will mean that he will not be willing take it anymore. He will go grab a spear call for the gates of the city to be opened.
And run into the armies of the Anti Christ, eventually catching the Anti Christ, as he fleet, and stabbing him in the back with the spear until the anti crisis not just didn't die. He dissolves, as if salt in water and Jesus will hold up the the bloody spear and say how we went and you this is important to point out not divine according to Islam. Theology I he's he's a man like You and I are, and yet he's been hanging around for now, two thousand plus years having ascended to Heaven. Wherever that is we'll have to get near. The grass Thyssen on the pot cast it tell us where one could ascend to and he sent from when the time is right. Is there any thought spared for how implausible it seems that someone who's now.
Divine could be available for them in times when they take thousands of used to roll around. Well he's he's not divine, but he was a profit. So the fact that he's been spared human death so far by bodily ascending tat, to Heaven at least put them in something other than a category of ordinary guy. When you back to earth. Interestingly enough that that bit, whereas I said he declines to lead the Muslims and prayers, the reason he does that, according to many into relations is it's his way of saying I am no longer a profit. The last to the profits was Mohammed, so I can't be a profit and if I were a profit of course, I would have let you in prayer, but instead I'm just a guy and we will leave. We will rule together that the the caliph an eye I'm a human being and I'll tell die as a human being once this is all finished. But in the meantime I've got this
magic power of clarifying the Anti Christ and making him della quests. Once I stabbed him. Still hung up on the the island in the Red Sea. There's the red sees not that big and their kin that many islands there. It seems like this. This anti Christ could be easily found, yet you even think so and One of the reasons I enjoyed talking to me says so much was he took this kind of objection seriously maybe not a seriously is, as I would have liked him too, but he would bring it up himself and say Look it's! It does seem weird that a fully charted navigated, Body of water might have a island large enough to conceal a guy, but you know maybe there's a rock on top of the whole that he's been living in what we know If already in the territory of having to believe things that are we see with their own eyes, because we're talking about Islam. We're talking about religion, so this might just be one
one more thing that you know it seems weird, but it's not the first weird thing we ve had to believe another thing like that, the armies of God and may God who will come and do a blight. Earth a second time after the Anti Christ and also the mortal death of of five of of Jesus. The God and may God or somewhere in Central Asia, concealed behind an iron wall, a huge iron wall and you find among apocalypse assists in Islam. There there's often this discuss Ok now we have Jim special intelligence and saddle imagery, where we could see if there was. Huge iron wall somewhere in Central Asia. We would have noticed it by now, so what the heck is going on, and often it comes down to this question of of faith where each say well
God has blinded us to lots of things before. Why not this too? What? Why should we expect that our scientific instruments will be able to do what God may very well not want us to be able to do is have faith functions as the ultimate get out of a pistol, illogical jail, free card. So what is the same eight of the islamic State now so you ve written this book here, though, what? What, when did your book come out in heart over there? came out at the beginning of this year, so even in Last few months there have been signs that the caliphate is shrinking, at least in terms physical territory in syrian Iraq. What what the state of the military assaults upon Abacha, Daddy's, actual territory. And how do you view the future of the state part? the islamic State and then and then no doubt we needed
about the export of this ideology through at the world into into what is, I think, aptly described by magic. Now as a global, jihadist insurgency, so I'll, say first what the physical reality is of isis- is control of territory in Iraq and Syria, and then there's this separate question of how they think of it. How they explain it, how they say that that, despite the loss of territory, there is still a concern. So They ve lost huge amounts of territory, especially in Iraq. They ve been rolled back from the high water mark, which is probably the end of or middle of twenty fifteen, to appoint where they ve lost well over fifty percent of their territory and their almost out of their largest city, which was Mosul. It's not looking good for them mean they are. They were able to continue to expand until they got to the farthest reaches of Sunni Arab Majority to
Tori, and then at that point they kind of hit a brick wall and because of fighting back and better organization them on their enemies. They just lost territory over and over and over again, and that's probably going to continue the city of Raqqa, which is been the de facto capital in some ways, of a basis is in Syria and its being encircled by Kurds, Syrians and others, and it's not gonna, be uneasy fight, but I think eventually we can pretty confidently say: Rocca is not going to be a city. That's controlled by ices anymore. Now onto the question, How ISIS thinks of this because it sounds pretty dire. The way I put it to them. First of all, they would say: ok things, don't look good, but
we are prepared and expecting for were expecting. Trials were expecting God to curse us with failures and defeat, and this is a good thing, because it's going to purify our ranks it's going to make the peace of the pie for those who are faithful and fighting for us that much larger when it eventually is, is is served to us. So they say that if Mosul is a tough operation, then great. If Russia is tough, than even better remember when the Anti Christ comes. There's only can be five thousand of us left, so This might seem bad right now, but they're gonna get even worse and that's all to the best. Paradoxically, so tactically, they ve got the. Following view that, when Mosul be even when the operation to take Mosul back began, they said this he's going to be our battle of the trench and in
that they were referring to it as an event in early islamic history call the battle of the trench, which is told in a chapter of the Qur'An called the the chapter of the parties, are the different groups that were fight against the profit when he was in the city of Messina, end way. The prophet fought back what was to dig trenches around the city, so the cavalry was useless in in trying to take back the city and what it forced his adversaries to do was to to Dig in for a long war and because with so many parties were making up for the group of his adversaries. They just didn't have enough political stability to win the fight and two to be there for the longer ray an isis thinks the same way. They say look. We ve got a bunch of sheer and Americans and french Kurds. We ve got Jordanians we ve got immoralities, we ve got Turks, the Aldo like us, but they also don't like each other. So if we do
in in Mosul, and they literally dug a bunch of trenches and muscle so that that the modern equivalent of the cap, we couldn't get in as as effectively as it would like thought we're gonna prolong this for such a long time that Iraqis and the Turks and the Americans in the french and so forth, won't be. Stand each other and they'll have to regroup and will effectively have one on this round. That's that's They are in Iraq right now. It is still trying to drag this out and make it painful enough that eventually they can declare a kind of of the victory and even if they lose territory, can melt away into the desert where they were before they took over the city of Mosul. So that they'll say worst case scenario will just have to reboot to twenty twelve. How did they view and how do you view the export of the eye his brand into both ISIS
directed end and ISIS inspired attacks in the developed world. They still have a lot of power to attack targets in the West and even to develop provinces overseas so who's, the chair, Antonia. We discuss before he's now in jail and its alleged that he was trying to get her on a boat and go to ices territory somewhere. And I believe that that somewhere was the Philippines, so they ve already said don't try to come to. Syria are enemies of made that hard enough, but there are other territories that we control, where you, the collective oversee His supporters of ISIS can be really useful, and so the city central Mindanao and Southern Philippines of morality would be an example It's a city that is for the time being still under the control of ISIS having been taken last week from from the central government of the Philippines and that's what they're trying to do
they're they're, trying to grab territory in places that have long standing issues of unsettlement by jihadist horses and, at the same time, encourage people to attack and Paris, London, Manchester United States. And they continue to be able to do that, that there there's there's no sign that their exhausting their manpower and they certainly are exert exhausting there. There weaponry since at this point it just consists of of rented trucks and knives in the aftermath of these kinds of attacks. I dont know what think about all the energy that is spent trying to decide whether this is a ISIS inspired attack or an ISIS masterminded attack. I understand why the latter would be of greater concern, or at least orderly least it would be something that would have to be followed, because you want to be able to roll up or whatever organization exists and
Dana visit there's a level of sophistication that comes with people having been trained overseas and all that, but some level, the the inspire higher the merely inspired attack and which often called a lone Wolf attack, though most of these wolves aren't all alone those or even scarier minute. Those prove that ideas are sufficient and these ideas spread. Really it in any the friction free environment of of human rights. Precision and end twitter feeds and the distinction between ISIS inspired and ISIS lead. I feel, like is an instance of knots. In the forest for the trees, because that the bigger issue is the phenomenon of of jihadism worldwide, and that is a an idea. A born phenomenon that, as you say it at some point, the book as you just alluded to now, the most fertile ground to plant this. These sets of ideas is in these
these destabilized places where, above all, people will have. It natural craving for security right, I'm sitting here, you Tommy me. I think at one point you say that that ISIS is put feelers out into the Congo to see, if that they might say up shop. There me go to places where you find this pure homsey and condition of total stateless disorder. And when the jihadist role into towns with the Taliban in Afghanistan we have now decades ago, when did you his role, and they say you know where you were gonna, give you order at a minimum, we're yours aviation in that proximate and then now let us tell you about all the other good things gonna, give you under the aegis of the one true faith yet so to speak. First to the directed versus inspired attacks. You alluded to this and I think this is the main reason the distinction is going to be important is that the directed attacks are just much worse than the inspired once
Unfortunately, at this point we have something that looks a bit like a data set for what actually causes an attack to to claim a lot of lives having ISIS actually directed seems to matter. Enormous amount you get something that looks like bought a clan which killed a huge number of people compared to London Bridge, which was problem. We we don't know for sure, but probably inspired and killed. Only and I use that word advisedly. Seven people remember there are three guys with knives the Van who decided to do this and had plenty of time to planet and they killed only seven people and in I am pretty sure, SAM you and I could figure out way to kill more than seven people in a more horrific way before I finish speaking this sentence so that the people who have
in fighting on ISIS his behalf in an inspired way, have been pathetic in what they have done and we would not want to see many more directed eggs. Execs at point. One thing grandma's, I would point out, is that we have the example of Orlando witches. They are the only real difference there being that it happened in the? U S where the perpetrator had ready access to firearms and there you have something much more like a Babylon level attack. Now we're Talkin forty nine people killed. By one person who and seem much more talented and his evil. Then then, the the London attackers- that's true, you know I in some of its magazines magazine articles recently, it has suggested ways to two to kill people, and I won't repeat them right now, but that their very MR, and they would be there much more horror
movie, like I much more diabolical than than what we ve seen so far. The very fact that that people haven't been able to operational eyes these these far worse ideas suggests to me that there, there still first of all, very foolish, tactically and kind of grasping at straws habit to know it's that they're, not people who were great at planning things, and thank goodness for that, because if they were, I think, even Omar Martine scenario would probably be more more common than that has been. Usually it's just someone gets a a knife in a back on a train, and it's bad for that guy. But it's it's it's good that it's not hundreds of people instead of just one. You mentioned this. This
you have instability and gay. I spoke to a central african intelligence chief who said that in his country there had been dozens of ISIS supporters and especially as Libya and Syria became hard to travel to they'd been looking elsewhere, and Congo was one place that they had actually sent people on behalf of ISIS to investigate as a possible province and the ability to try to investigate the violet the possibility of building a state there. I would just point out that this might be up up up point of agreement between you and me, and also those who urge us to look at the political background to the of the places where, where ices is operational, mean it's not irrelevant that that a place would have no government and that people would be willing to look too ISIS
yes, the sources of stability, but I think that the people who want to stop there and their analysis get wrong. Is that ISIS uses that opportunistic? We, they say. Ok, we will provide that stability in exchange. For that we will be able to tell you a properly live your lives and with the nature of God, is and the violence that your obliged on his behalf, to wreak upon your neighbors? So it's it's. It sometimes suggested that that we need to look only at the politics only the social background, or only in the EU s foreign policy, its not irrelevant what those forms that foreign policy is with US pot political decision, as are, but I think what people mistake is using religions and religion. Opportunistic me for those political ends when often its those political means being used for religious ends, and that, in fact, is, is how things have shaken out in the case of ISIS,
an important point, and it is important that we, we are not really ever attempt. To ignore that variable. In our analysis, I'd just raised it myself, but it's as you say, its relevant, except in cases where it's actually not relevant and I'm still the I'm still with John your in his basement right, you sitting in his rich colonel fathers, radiologists basement, lay in the video game of world domination and the fact that that's possible simply speaks to how important the ideas are here, the fact that you can leverage political instability into some future caliphate that that seems just transparently so and the fact that there are many places on earth where jihadis can plausibly pursue that price.
Whatever happens to the islamic state in in Syria, Iraq that's receive a topic of future concern. One question: I have for you those we why, when you wait- talk about how import, training, is here in a battle hardened experience in maximizing the deaths and therefore the risk to open societies! Why don't countries like the UK deny people enter back into the country once they ve gone off to fight with with ices. They seem to be doing. Opposite, they said they cease people's passports, so they can't go fight with ISIS why? Don't? They? Let them go fight and just never let them back into the country. Well, they dont really
the back into the country and if you make it back to the UK and you fought on bad vices than you, ve already committed a crime in your you're gonna go away for a long time. There has been a theory that I think Russia, and perhaps also France, have in effect pursued which is better. They go over there and never come back, and we will not will not really stop them from going and that that theory has not really worked out very well. We found that the people who do make it back are so dangerous that it was probably better that they had never gone in the first place, the training that they get over. There makes them extremely distributed awful killers than so. You don't you dont want to send em over there. So you you find that there is an report
the Wall Street Journal recently about teams of french commandos, who are in Iraq and Syria right now, with a deck of cards, style list of Frenchmen who were in Iraq, who they need to make sure, never come back, and that's really that thing that that's not well understood in and hard to stomach, free please from those of us in the west with which is there, is a war of annihilation being fought right now in Iraq and Syria against the people who we either, cited to let go over there or who made it over the there, despite our efforts and who might want to come back someday what we are doing, everything we can to make sure that those people all die and that, frankly, is understandable and it just these recent terrorist attacks again but these concerns very vividly in everyone's mind and then there's the half life to this response:
and we then kind of just go back to sleep and then wait for the next day attack. But what this does is put our commitment to free speech, also now on the table to be reconsidered, and- and I must say I am- I may basically ate a free speech- absolute to me. I consider myself someone who supports the person's freedom to espouse bad ideas even patently danger, ideas as long as it's only that just the community no ideas, I you know NEO season in country or people, HU. I would never want to give a platform to, I think, should be free to speak in an organised and but I'm wondering just seems like the detail, what's happening in the UK now were really are putting that to the tests of France's, as many of our lessons probably now and in the most recent attack
in London in one of these guys, who ran over people online and bridge with a van and then jumped out and started stabbing people he was featured in a channel for documentary that jihadist next door and We now know he was well on the radar of authorities for a very long time. He had actually physically attacked. I think a colleague of of much now ass it as someone said on twitter communities. Hey hottest are eluding capture by appearing in documentaries, on jihadism, with jihadist in the title right, This is all happening under the rubric of we have to tolerate these bad ideas, no matter how bad and we can't move preemptively to infringe The liberties of of anyone whose claiming to be a jihadist and its easy for me to imagine that my free speech absolutism is vulnerable to
terrorist attack that happens to close to home, or even just when I see that again reference in this, can afford documentary when I see what it's like in certain sections of London or not cities in the UK, where you have steel The I'd maniacs standing on a street corner Bull, horn, shrieking day after day but how their planning to kill and enslave their neighbors right, How long can free societies tolerate this behaviour when it get? It gets punctuated by attacks of the sort were seen in we see in the UK. In the last few weeks, some of the people who are involved in that London Bridge attack part of this group called Download you ruin, which is led by the now imprisons humdrum Chowdhury, who who's the Boa horn, guy and chief screaming on street corners worry years about how much too low
she loved ISIS. I think, when Theresa may talks about curtailing the access to social media of of ISIS supporters. Its understandable. It's also misguided. I I I think it's ridiculous- that it took as long as it did for twitter and others to kick on Jim Chowdhury and his followers other ices supporters off their platforms, but I gotta say I'm of american enough to think that that, in the end, these ideas to be out there? I want them if there is
If someone believes them, I want that person to be loud with that bull horn, rather than secretly hanging out with his friends and conspiring to do something I want that person to be as identifiable as possible, so so that we can react when it's starting to look like he's he's, putting his ideas and into action. Most of the people who are are in this this this this group in the UK, are, I think, known to authorities. It's not as not such a surprise that we find each of these attackers in Manchester or in in London, has let all of his neighbors know that he's a scary guy of they're always aware of that in advance, and it's it's really for the best they've been encouraged to be as loud as they have. It doesn't tax my belief in free speech, very much at all. What does it mean to act against them? Preemptively? You have to amend
John is requiring some level of surveillance that fans of civil liberties will find a source of discomfort How do you do when it becomes patently obvious that a person has nothing but the most tree? in us and dangerous intentions for your society We are listening to everything he says. What are you to do when it becomes on ignoring? I dont have a great answer for that. We could take the example of John Walker Lent, who my reading of of his correspondence is that he, when he is sprung free in a matter of less than two years. I guess he's is going to be an ice supporter. He's going to be a free man who is legally permitted to to have
his disgusting beliefs- and it won't be until he buys a knife in London that someone that that he has as done something obviously criminal. It is that ideal. Obviously not he I am not, of course, do anything like that. He might not even be an icy supporter, but the words that he spoke to me certainly suggest that he has more sympathy for the group than it then, and we should be comfortable with and he would be ethnic apparent. Dick dogmatic example, if he does have thus believes, is someone who the utmost vigilance would be reasonable by law enforcement. But I can't find myself advocating anything more than than what our current norms of civil liberties would allow and watching even someone with it as a Dane ideas as as I suspect, he has- and what do you think about the prospects of actually winning a war of ideas here with the muslim community, so that this
Problem of jihadism gets retired to decide. History, the way the problem of Europe in the burning of wood his or some analogous religious craziness just a distant memory in she added email, but I you, when you look at the efforts of someone like just now was to try to spire, a core respect; first, Keller, ISM and liberalism as the the antidote to jihadism, even even very of Islam that are just far too conservative, to be compatible with with our notion of human rights and political equality than tolerance for homeless
quality and all the rest, but how do you view those efforts? Circa? Twenty seventeen- I don't have a lot of confidence in the changing of of the mines of people who are supportive of ISIS. There are cases of people who get tired of being with ISIS, their people who decide that ISIS had the right ideas but the wrong implementation. There aren't how many examples of people who really believed in ISIS and no longer do so. Most of them go over there. They believe and then they died and that's the only thing that stops them from from their true belief. The good news, though, is that it's still a pretty small number of people. Forty thousand doesn't sound, very small and, of course, there's many more who haven't gone, but as a percentage. It is not, as than the number of Christians who believed that which burning was something that that should happen,
that was part of their faith was probably larger than the number of people who are muslim and believe that ISIS is on the right track now. Those numbers small as percentage, are large enough to concern me. Of course. I also think that that there is enough of a stylistic churn of, of ideas that ISIS being cool right now, People who are looking for a violent outlet to their to their theological musings it. It may not be cool in the passage of a generation or so I I I don't like the numbers as they stand, but I also don't have a lot of confidence in those numbers holding forth for the next generation that you make it worse. They might get better. It's some were not really in a position to two to decide those things unless were actually able to
two to annihilate enough people who who were receiving them food for the next generation. Well, I went to seize on that as a very qualified hopeful. Now, let's just both do our best. Insofar as we can offer anything here to make ISIS seem even less cool, then in fact does at the moment. Yet. Here's to that I'll say this after spending more than two years thinking about ISIS and to the exclusion of of most other things. I think it's less cool than ever. I also think it it's less scary than ever. You know that the more you learn about it, the more you find that that it is a small devoted, certainly religious, to religiously devoted core of people but its power to rule our lives and deformed our politics
has been greater than I would hope, but it shouldn't be something that that causes us did not go about our lives as as we wish, and I I wish people would have the same kind of the same kind of confidence about about that that I get from from all my explorations of the topic, I'm even willing to vacation on an island in the Red Sea. At this point, I am why Often there were on the winning side of this argument. In the end, our I felt by you ticket soon Some grand thank you for everything you doing, you're, you're, fantastic to read and talk to, and I encourage our listeners to get your book because it really is a fun region and this problem while it may go away. Ultimately, its use can be with us. I think for as long as we live Please keep up what you do and I know you. I know you want to move on to other topics, but dont completely forget about this and because you are one of the most reliable voices her. Thank you so much SAM. It's been.
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Transcript generated on 2020-03-23.