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The Islamic State's Theatre of the Grotesque

By Felix Imonti - posted Thursday, 2 April 2015

We are all invited to the theater of the grotesque. The Islamic State and Al-Qaeda wish to demonstrate to us what awaits us, if we do not believe in their world view.

The black and white flag of the Jihadists and the raised index finger are marks of the absolutism and the singularity of the Salafist movement. The expansion of the Islamic State from its spawning ground in Iraq is spreading the symbols farther abroad to the Gaza Strip, Egypt, Algeria, Libya, Tunisia, Nigeria, Uzbekistan, Philippines, Malaysia, and Bangladesh.

The IS announced in October 2014 that it would be adding Pakistan, Northern India, and Afghanistan to the caliphate. We should not be surprised when Spain is included in future planned conquests.


This is in keeping with the declaration made at the inception on July 4th, 2014 of the caliphate by Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi that the territory would extend from India to Southern Europe within five years. He was describing the restoration of the Abbasids Caliphate.

We Swear

Groups throughout the region are pledging their allegiance to Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi. Mullah Omar, the leader of the Afghan Taliban, has not sworn his allegiance and is finding his support dwindling as the former followers shift their loyalty.

What the Islamic State is offering Salafists is success. The IS is the first of the modern Salafist movements to seize and hold territory. The caliphate is not just a future dream; it is real and now. It has all of the trappings of a modern state with the various ministries to manage the daily functions; and it has all of the trappings of the ancient AbbasidsCaliphate that was the dominant force in the Middle East for five centuries until it fell in 1258.

The successor Ottoman Caliphate that continued until 1924 is treated by Baghdadi and believers of the Islamic State as the lost centuries. Baghdadi presents himself as the true successor of the Abbasids Caliphate and the Prophet. He dresses in the black cloak of the caliph. He is introducing the gold Dinar to symbolize the independence of the new regime. Raqqa in Northern Syria, where the current administrative center is located, was for a time the capital of the caliphate.

Old Glories


The lost centuries under Ottoman rule saw the prominence of Middle Eastern culture recede into a backwater. The region proved to be a barrier between the rising Europeans and the riches of Asia. The construction in the latter half of the nineteenth century of the Suez Canal was to make it easier for the Europeans to bypass the area on their way to more fruitful destinations.

Only the development of petroleum over the last hundred years has given the region any significance. In spite of its value, what has petro prosperity brought to the Middle East? The vast majority of the population has a quality of life far below their counterparts in Europe and much of Asia. The regimes are autocratic and corrupt. They depend for their survival upon the foreign owned petroleum corporations that market the black gold and upon foreign armies to assure their survival.

Baghdadi does not need to tell the millions of hopeless unemployed young men of the Middle East what they know already. They have suffered through centuries of oppression and humiliation at the hands of foreigners and Moslem pretenders.

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About the Author

Felix Imonti is a retired director of a private equity firm and currently lives in Canada. He has recently published the book Violent Justice, and regularly writes articles in the fields of economics and international politics.

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