tv Book Discussion on ISIS CSPAN March 28, 2015 8:00am-9:05am EDT
booktv, for 15 years only television network devoted nonfiction books and authors. c-span2 created by the cable-tv industry. .. >> government housing policies caused the 2008 t financial crisis. the threat isis poses to the united states, plus jeffrey sachs on achieving sustainable development goals andrew cochran on drone warfare, and a report on two decades of academic fraud at the university of north carolina.
for a complete television schedule visit booktv.org. booktv, 48 hours of nonfunction books and authors -- nonfiction books and authors. television for serious readers. >> you're watching booktv. finish next, abu dhabi-based journalist hassan hassan talking about the rise and leadership of isis in the middle east. [inaudible conversations] >> good afternoon. i run the middle east program at the wilson center.
we are very happy to have with us hassan hassan the author of -- co-author of "isis: inside the army of terror." he's based in abu dhabi, and i think he's here for a couple of days only, and we are very fortunate to host him as the first institution in washington. and his book appeared on the new york times bestseller list yesterday, it was number nine. i didn't check it this morning. and we decided -- and hassan is going to speak for 20 minutes and then we will open the floor to your questions. and we're very happy to have
with us jane harman the president and ceo of the wilson center, who is very much interested in isis has talked many times on isis. but today we will get firsthand report on what is going on on the ground and the history of the movement. please, you have the floor. >> thank you very much for the kind introductionment i'd -- introduction. i'd like to start or the talk would be sort of three historical snapshots that help understand isis and where it comes from. the first one is that in 1990s, the second one is the iraq war and then the arab spring. in the 1990s two very interesting trends happened in iraq after the first gulf war and sanctions against the saddam hussein regime. the first one saddam hussein
inaugurated this campaign in arabic which is the islamic faith campaign. what he did was to, basically, islamist baathism. he introduced a variety of measures to encourage people to go to hajj at the expense of the state. he allowed baathists to study religion, you know, to go to mosques and so on. the mix that happened, you know, the mix between baathism and salafism was, you know very relevant to what isis represents today in terms of ideology. you know, baathism, as you all know, is a fascist movement. it's a movement that relies on -- it has a hot to do, actually with isis ideology. it is a pan-arabist compared to
pan-islamist, isis is. it relies on this kind of national like militant nationalism that subjects everything and anyone to the overarching principle which is to achieve the ukety of all arabs. the unity of all arabs. and it's a very violent group. socially by definition is it's a violent group or ideology. you know if you look at the history of baathism in iraq and syria, saddam hussein did horrible things to shiitess and to kurds. he used chemical weapons on his people basically attacked civil civilians. you know quite well what the assad regime is doing today. but also his father did the same thing. so the track record of baathism is all violent from day one until today. now, when saddam hussein
islamized this ideology, we get a very dangerous mix. basically, got like maybe unintentionally because he, you know, after the first gulf war or around, during the war there was a shiite revolt in the south against his rule. so he started to feel a lot of pressure from within. so he used that campaign to kind of encourage, you know, kind of legitimize his regime. and, you know, what happened usually is that a lot of bath u.s.es leave -- baathists abandoned baathism and took on salafism because salafism is more, you know, invigorating, more like, it's more pure let's say, than baathism. although they have a lot of similarities. so saddam hussein towards the end of his regime started to have a problem with islamists and a lot of them went to
afghanistan or elsewhere and he had a lot of problems with kind of like the rise in salafist trend. now, you know that's the first thick that happened in the 1990s. the second thing that happened was because of the sanctions saddam hussein started this underground with financial network to kind of circumvent the sanks. the sanctions. so, you know he started to rely on you know on this kind of underground smuggling, different ways of making money and working with other countries, you know, beyond the iraqi, iraqi borders. and, you know that campaign or that kind of network that was created by saddam hussein is exactly the kind of network that isis uses today to circumvent
the airstrikes, to make sure that it can, you know, it can survive in the black market. and syria and iraq and beyond syria and iraq. so these are two important things that originate in the 1990s, and they're relevant to the period today. after the iraq war, a second snapshot, husband to have call snapshot. -- husband to have call snapshot. you know, after the iraq war caused sunnis to feel that they have lost power. so they are minority, arab sunnis are minority in iraq, and they suddenly felt that they no longer are in control. they felt that the americans were conspiring with the shias and with the kurds and even with iran to take over politics. there are indications that these were, there are basis basically, for these kind of
conspiratorial thinking. because, you know, the first elections that happened after the, you know the americans hand over power to the iraqis was dominated by shia and kurds. and sunnis boycotted the elections and lost control. so there was like, a kind of sense that they're losing power and you start of to have a movement dedicated to the restoration of sunni domination in iraq. now, that meant you have, like, a strange alliance between salafis and baathists not very strange, but it looks strange baathists and between local forces who might not be either that or the other. so we had, like, a lot of people we speak and research for this book with a lot of people who interviewed these people in the beginning. and a lot of them would say
we're not fighting because of saddam hussein. it's about us it's about sunni and so on. so it was sunni like, in the sense of local communities not in a sectarian sense, still not very sectarian in the strict, you know sense of the word. now, come to the stage, you know zarqawi. he's a jordanian jihadist. he had a long history of fighting or, like the jihadi kind of activities in jordan and beyond jordan. and in the 1980s he went to afghanistan to fight jihad to join the mujahideen in afghanistan. and what happened was, you know immediately there was a strange encounter between osama bin laden and zarqawi. there was clearly, like, differences between them in terms of what jihad means and
why we wage jihad. osama bin laden and, you know zarqawi's differences since then kind of shape and define the differences between al-qaeda and isis today. at the time osama bin laden or al-qaeda generally sees its mission -- the name indicates the name al-qaeda means -- [inaudible] so they think their name is to set an example for all muslims to join the movement. so they want to trigger they want to popularize jihad, we want to encourage all muslims to join, to join in jihad. zarqawi, on the other hand, he was more focused on shia. he thinks that, you know, the arch enemies of islam are shiite the enemy within. this is what we have -- this is why the ottoman empire fell,
because of, you know, the salafis, and before that old movements in islamic history and so on were always challenged by the shia. so he sees shia as, you know the existential threat that has always existed and that has to be dealt with. osama bin laden thinks that the enemy's the west, and al-qaeda focuses on the west, focuses on the muslim world only to kind of encourage people so it's more based on consent and more, you know, for example in syria. you find al-nusra which is affiliated to al-qaeda focused on winning hearts and minds. it has never, you know, until recently tried to impose itself on or its ideology on the people. so they provide services they do all this kind of stuff because they want to encourage people to like them. and even in the beginning they didn't want to announce that they're part of al-qaeda, because they didn't want to -- they didn't want the name to shape people's in the beginning they
wanted to say i that we are a syrian group. so zarqawi went to iraq after the iraq war and his debate and his vision about shia started to slowly shaven the discourse -- shape the discourse in iraqi. you know, iraqis, shia and sunnis have always lived together. they have the same family, shia and sunni. after the iraq war, you know, things started to change. and the moment zarqawi finds a huge opportunity in that, and you know, there was a lot of differences between al-qaeda and zarqawi at the time. and although he pledged allegiance to osama bin laden, there was some tension between the two until al-qaeda kind of started to publicly admonish zarqawi to stop attacking shia civilians and focus on the government and on americans. and then -- but then zarqawi had
his way later on slowly, you know? he destroyed or he helped bomb the afghani mosque which kind of triggered the iraq civil war. and, you know things started to become more sectarian. and now his vision combined with already you have a very dangerous mix between baathism and salafism, you have the triangle of, basically terror. and the triangle of, like very dangerous ingredients coming together emerging together to form this group that we have today, isis. that's why, you know, you have isis very violent, very fascist it's very sectarian, and it's very, you know, rigid and everything, you know? because that's the kind of that's the background. now, after the arab spring isis, you know, benefited from a lot
of factors to kind of grow into this state, it's called, you know? it was already a state, but, you know u after the arab sprung it found -- arab spring it found itself with a lot of opportunities; power vacuum collapse in the states, weak states and isis, you know, applied all it skills and all it kind of intelligence and security skills to, you know to kind of present itself and pose itself and become a reality, in fact, on the ground in both countries. now, a benefit, for example of, you know a benefit from a trend that, you know, isis a lot of people think they try to portray it as just a violent group, but it has a lot to do with trends in the region. so one of the trends i talked about, another trend is, you know our young people when they revolted against their government they revolted
against two elites, the political elite and the religious elite. and isis is actually about rebellion against political elite and the religious elite. so it's very anticlerical in that sense. it's against authority. there is an arabic word that usually people use to describe the attitudes of young people which is rejection of intellectual monopoly or intellectual mandate or intellectual control. so when anyone tries to message against isis the kind of messaging that we talk about all the time, political messaging religious messaging, isis is immune to these things. so when people talk about moderate discourse, you know, encouraging moderate discourse isis is immune to that by nature. so you might prevent people from going to isis before that but i always say once someone starts to buy into isis ideology it's
almost too late to reverse it you know? i spoke to someone in turkey who, you know, a journalist would call him a defector. so he was leaving isisment -- isis. he got a work permit to study -- not to study, to work in saudi arabia. he got not a job offer but like a work permit. and he was in turkey trying to kind of f his passport before he goes to saudi arabia. there i met him and i was expecting to be critical of isis right? but he was sitting there defending isis. he said i'm tired. this is not for me. i can't take it, it's too violent and all this kind of stuff, right? but he never, he never said anything bad about isis. and i'm convinced that when people join isis and leave and say they have abandoned the group, they're most likely either lying or they've never been with isis. so that's mostly, like, you
know,ly speaking or broadly -- generally spooking or broadly speaking. so, yeah that's one of the things that isis shares with the arab spring kind of not values but trends. and, you know, isis has benefitedded from -- been fitted from, you know a variety of things, you know i can talk about for days, but i'd prefer to hear more questions and then, you know from you, and then i can answer them. >> thank you. thank you very much. let me ask you the first question which is on everybody's mind. can isis be defeated? >> it's possible to defeat isis, but i see it, you know, in the region for at least another 15 years. isis might -- okay i think you can look at isis in two ways. isis as we know as we see it today as a group that operates as an army as an insurgency and as a terror group will exist
for, say, around a decade from now. it will be probably like a decade, five years to a decade. but as a group that exists and has some kind of one way of another exists in iraq, syria and beyond, i think it will continue to operate. i think it will override al-qaeda, it will become a global kind of inspiration for entry hadties and like a -- actually, you know one of fascinating things about isis project today is that people don't see that there is, there's an emerging a new jihadist cult that's been established. it hasn't been established yet, so isis like al-qaeda doesn't have idealogues, they have a legacy of jihad since afghanistan, you know, egypt syria, afghanistan and iraq until today. they don't have that kind of
legacy as al-qaeda does. but they are establishing that kind of ideology that has idealogues that have ideas, it has books, it has theories and so on. but it is emerging at that. so because of that i don't see isis disappearing anytime soon at least in that sense. as an army, as an insurgency i think, you know, if i am on the mustic, probably five -- optimistic, probably fife years. >> jane? >> thank you for that very interesting presentation. yesterday i had lunch with the indonesian ambassador to the u.s. who reminded me -- i guess i needed reminding -- that indonesia is the large muslim country in the world. it has 250 million people more or less, 87% of whom are muslim many of the senior members of the government including this ambassador are muslim, and it is a peaceful democracy. my question is, is this the only
example, or is this an important example of an alternative muslim idea? and could it somehow be the considered and used in a more effective way as a counter to isis? >> you know, isis thrives on weak states, you know, end news ya malaysia and -- indonesia malaysia and countries in southeast asia, they are -- they have, you know, they have a legacy of, you know, good governance. and whenever you find good governance isis cannot, you know gain ground because isis is about, it's a political project. political project. and that's essential. as much as it's a religious project. but the two come together. so you have political background which is basically you're
alienated, you're estranged by local politics and by your government politics, but also you have to have a religious background that believes in a very narrow world view about who is a muslim or what a muslim should be, for how a muslim should be. now, unless you have these two backgrounds, and that's why people confuse, people say isis is islamic. the fact of the matter is it's more nuanced than that. it's both. and let's see how these two backgrounds together e emerge and that's when, you know you mix the two and you produce an isis number. so, you know you might have people sympathizing with isis in indonesia, but they never join isis. i think, you know, for example, you know i think tunisia's a good example. tunisia has, you know, there are around 4,000 tunisian i have haddists fighting in iraq and syria, but they haven't announced a province for them in
tunisia. why? when they did the same thing in libya, although they don't have that many jihadists in libya. the reason is because libya, you know, there's no state there. it's collapsed n. tunisia the population is more condensed, but also the state is still present, still visible and it still offers hope for people. so, you know the gulf states for example, they don't have a threat with isis, they are not in indonesia and tunisia in terms of the tolerance and so on but, you know, isis does not present a threat there. so it's about states being, you know present but also good governance. there are, i mean -- >> yeah, so just to make the point, part of the answer is a way to defeat isil is to have a strong government even with a majority muslim population.
and places like indonesia tunisia and others are much less susceptible to their messages because of that. >> they are susceptible to message -- i mean, isis might have sympathy in damascus, for example, but damascus has, you know, is well held by the government in damascus. you know, isis operates in a different way sometimes an isis member -- and i found this, you know personally -- a lot of isis members don't say they are isis members so don't be, you know, if you don't have a lot of jihaddism, tunisia and indonesia, that does not mean they don't have a problem. >> right. >> they might have a problem. it depends on, you know how isis, you know fares in the future. i think isis, if isis continues to exist ask -- and kind of prove to be resilient, i think it will continue to grow. first, i think the first target
for it is jihadi sympathizers let's say in north africa and west africa k horn of africa, for example. there are a lot of jihadis who sympathize with al-qaeda. they have allegiance to al-qaeda, but they don't have you know they don't have -- they think they're still their interest is still with al-qaeda. and i think once isis establish itself not only as a resilient group, but as an ideology, established ideology with idealogues and everything and also as a financial model i think it might gain a lot of ground in the future in north africa and africa in this general but also in different parts of the world. i think the process of isis' growth is still on, you know it's still growing. i don't think isis has been defeated as you hear in the headlines. isis has been contained in some parts of iraq and syria.
they have been rolled back in areas where isis was on or had been on the offensive. so they were targeting kurds inside kurdish territory, and they were targeting shia inside shia territories. new they were rolled back to all sunnis -- now, they were rolled back to all sunni areas. its heartland tikrit, have not been threatened by any kind of internal or external challenges. and that won't happen. i don't think, you know, if you look at iraq or -- [inaudible] or even mosul, you don't really know what's going on there. and that's usually an indication when you have a blackout in an area that is an indication that isis is so entrenched in the area, it has eliminated any kind of rivalry or potential rivalry. any activist operating in these
areas is marked for death. any tribal sheikh who might potentially be a threat to isis they eliminate him. if there's an intellectual or there or technocrat living in isis areas and has not pledged allegiance to isis they've marked him as a threat, and they watch him very closely. and they're slowly and surely you know, they are making, you know, good use of their time in their heartland to build that project and make sure it's sustainable, to make sure isis is immune from like bottom-up, you know, rebellions in these areas. so, you know i think i see the situation as favoring isis so far. >> let me ask you one more question and then we'll open the floor, and we have a lot of questions from the overflow too. in your book you write that eye is sis is not -- that isis is
not only a terrorist organization, but a behalf what ya -- mafia and it deals in oil and on trafficking. how do they do that? the trafficking, is that because they take over, you know the armed depots that are in iraq and they sell them or -- >> yeah. it goes back -- >> the financing in context. >> yeah. it goes back to the question of, like the underground network that isis, you know, the saddam hussein regime established back in, you know, back in the 1990s. isis, you know gets its money through a variety of reason, again, a variety of ways. the two most important, the two most important sources of its income were oil and weapon
stockpiles. so when they conquer a new facility and seize it, they take a lot of weapons. you remember in june last year when they forced three american-trained american-equipped iraqi security forces to drop their arms and just run away in mosul and surrounding areas. they got billions worth of weapons, very advanced weapons, and that one operation helped them to go back to syria and conquer new areas. it's a good example because one town had been resistance to isis presence since the beginning. isis tried very hard to establish base for it like a social base in isis but out never, it was never successful. it actually it's interesting because the province was one of the rare ones that isis did not
actually have a social base. i'm talking about ian syria and the -- eastern syria and the northern. so you don't have locals pledging allegiance to isis. it was mostly, you know, individuals here and there and foreigners trying to kind of make a base for themselves. now isis struggled to gain ground there. it was defeated several times. it was the most powerful, and its branch was the most powerful across syria. but after the takeover of mosul isis basically went back and swept the area, and within weeks it took over the province and they kind of dismantled eastern syria. because of the american weapons isis got from mosul. they -- so that source of income
has been caught since the airstrikes. they no longer can expand in other areas and get the money. the oil also because i i think 80% at least of the the oil resources have been, you know, disrupted in isis areas. but isis still has -- in the book we have a chapter about, like finances. and isis has, you know has a very interesting system that is different from al-qaeda that can be, can sustain itself without foreign donations and without, you know help from outsiders. they can survive on local money. so they have, you know, they run -- they provide services but unlike islamists who provide services as way of social bribe they run the services, and they charge people for it, they act as a state. so, you know, for example when
syria or much of syria was controlled by the free syrian army for months, what the free syrian army used to do if it was, like really good, they would try to convince the population to either go to like individuals to go to work or to share oil if they are powerful family and they control oil, the free syrian army al-nusra and islamists in general, they wouldn't try to impose themselves in the communities, local communities. they will try to, you know, it's based on consent. now, when isis came, it was a completely different story. isis imposed its own, you know rules. it acted as a state. so, for example if someone gets money from the syrian government because he used to work as a municipality staff like a, you know worker, municipality worker isis forced that person to go to work to show up to work work like eight hours a
today for five days a week. if you want your salary, you have to work. if someone owns a bakery, for example, and isis comes and asks the person why are you closed, your back ily -- bakery, i don't have money. they say okay we supply you with flour but you open the bakery, and if you don't, we take it. we confiscate it for you. and what happens usually is the person says, okay give me the flour, give you share of the the revenue, and we operate the bakery. they will have an isis member outside the bakery making sure the line is straight like there's no one jumping the line and so on. so they kind of, part of their propaganda to act as a state they want to regulate it. the police, traffic police, for example, in the past syrian traffic police would receive a bribe from any driver, and there's always chaos there's no actually traffic rules. with isis, everyone has to respect the road.
and the road rules. if someone works in transportation when the free syrian army used to control, you know, the areas, so someone is traveling from an outpost to eastern syria or maybe to the borders of iraq, they would be stopped several times by the free syrian army or any, like gangs on the way, and they would ask can them for a bribe. ask them for a bribe. when isis came, they would act, again, as a state. so they would stop -- there's a checkpoint in eastern aleppo and they would document basically what the person is carrying, so like, stationery whatever. they write it down, they stamp it, and then the drivers can drive from aleppo to mosul, right? no one would stop him. and if you stop him, you can just give, like, the document, and that's it. so a lot of people start to like, you know this kind of a new, a new governing body in
their areas. at least they have rules and regulations, they have like, order, law and order. and another important thing is that people can live with brutality, you know? if you don't mess up with isis isis wouldn't mess up with you. that's how people see it in these areas. but if you mess with isis you're going to like pay dearly with it. so people say, you know what? i don't want to mess up with isis. and they compare that situation with the situation inside regime s' area. even if you support the regime you can be a target by like, random shelling or random bombing. that's regime targets whole neighborhoods. isis has never done it. so people see it -- i'm talking about the perception on the ground. people see that, you know, as a let's say tikrit. when isis entered tikrit it
entered it without shooting a bullet on the civilians because everyone just accepted isis. now, when the government forces want to enter tikrit, they destroyed whole village in order to expel isis. is so you can see the equation see how people think about isis. >> aaron david miller in the back had a question. >> fascinating presentation. graham wood argued in his atlantic piece, i think that defeating isis requires defeating the idea of the caliphate. that is to say, you demonstrate that there are natural limits to isis' expansion, and you try to accentuate the contradictions of governance. failure to provide services, accentuate conflicts between foreign fighters and locals. there's been a lot of media reporting that isis is weakening. i mean, do you have any way to evaluate and assess whether wood is right in his initial
analysis? and second, whether or not these internal contradiction cans are actually appearing, and are they significant? thanks. >> thank you. identity is very important to isis, and we have to always understand that every member of isis has to comply with sort of ideology that isis endorses. it's ideology that the top leaders believe in. it's the kind of theory, you know radicalism where, you know like members believe in the ex-communication of muslims and the very narrow definition of who a muslim is. so, you know, you can't say as you would to other islamists that you pray five times a day, five times a day or that you -- [inaudible] right in isis wouldn't accept that as evidence. they need to have of evidence that you're not a disbeliever, you know somehow. like they have very, like, different standards of, you
know labeling muslims as -- [inaudible] so the ideology is very important. every member has to comply with it. no member kills without a fatwa from the the clerics unless, of course, on the battlefield or they declare war against, you know people. they have to comply with fatwas, and these fatwas are, would be -- they're not random. they would be based on islamic references. so, you know, i think the idea -- this debate that we are hearing today or, like, we are hearing about today that isis has nothing to do with islam i think it's a western debate, not a middle eastern debate. i think in the muddle east there's a recognition that we have a problem as muslims and if you follow arabic newspapers so on there's -- it's flooded,
these web sites are flooded with articles written by islamic scholars who study religion and preach the religion all the time. they talk about the problems we are facing. when isis burns someone alive, they do it because someone in the history of islam did it, right? they, you know isis is a salafist movement essentially right? and salafism means going back to the early, you know, figures in islamic history and emulate them because they were closer to the revelation and therefore, they have better understanding of what islam is, right? so, you know, they have -- so they don't always rely on the quran, although they do -- [inaudible] they also rely on events and stories in islamic history and that's what i call kinetic sharia. they don't always rely on series. so when you want to address the ideas of isis, isis, again, is
immune to the messages because it considers all clerical establishment as illegitimate and also because they can cite examples. i'll give you an example to clarify this better. an early figure who was very respected at least within sunnis or by sunnis, he was the first commander in chief, and there was a battle in what's today iraq between the muslim army and the persian army at the time. and during the battle he -- the muslim army was, like, was kind of being defeated. the persian army was strong and powerful. so at some point the muslim army -- sorry, the commander promised god, there's a word for it make a pledge to god -- that if he defeated the persian army
he would create the blood -- a river out of their blood right? so eventually a very savvy commander, so he defeated the persian army like a day later, and he started slaughtering, you know, like the people who tried to flee. now, the problem, the truckee thing for -- tricky thing for him was he couldn't make a river out of the blood. so he started to think -- he found himself, basically, in a pickle. he needed to find a solution for this. so what he did is, basically go to the captives. so he -- there were thousands of prisoners, you know, caught by the muslim army. and he wanted to kill the captives. now, according to islamic teaching you cannot kill captives you cannot kill prisoners of war but he made a pledge to god -- and he's like a companion of the prophet -- so he made a fatwa that he could kill the captives.
so he started killing them but also there was the problem of, you know, it's not a river, he he can't make a river from blood. probably he didn't think it through. so at some point he kind of, you know released a dam nearby, and he created a river. eventually, he got what he wanted. now, you can as a muslim cleric if you want to address the ideas of isis and say why are you killing captives, this is not acceptable by islam isis can just cite that example. so we can debate, you know, all day long with isis but it happened in islamic history. so what they do is, basically defer anyone who argues with them who was very respected in islam by muslims or by sunnis -- >> by sunnis. >> by sunnis, exactly. he's respected by sunnis, so a sign gnu cleric would not dare
to -- sunni cleric would not dare to argue. so what they denied up doing is you know, i'm not going to talk about it. so that's the problem we we have. nobody is talking about these things. sometimes for sectarian reasons because he's criticized by the shia and respected by is the sunnis. so you find yourself in a very awkward situation. >> mac? just wait for the mic, please. it's coming. thank you. >> hello. yeah, i was interested in hearing more about the actual lineup and particularly baghdadi. we know very little about him actually. but, you know it's striking that you've had organizations. the latest one is boko haram in nigeria declaring allegiance to a supreme leader that we know little about, and they don't
know any more than we do. what happens to isis if he's killed f he disappears? is he replaceable? i just i'm curious to know what your train of thought is about the leadership and his significance. [inaudible conversations] >> shorter answers. >> shorter answers. [laughter] >> i think everybody within isis is dispensable. isis has established itself organization as a group that can get rid of anyone and everyone, and it kind of keeps that core that can, you know grow over time. they have learned from the lessons of the awakening councils and so on. so they can dis appear, they can be eliminated almost entirely. they can resurrect again. al-baghdadi is dispensable because he has, like, a shura council, he can be replaced if he is killed even if the whole sure are council is -- shura
council is killed, they can replace them. isis operates as a profoundly autonomous group. so the top leaders the top leaders are very loyal long jnd standing loyalists to isis. firm believers in the group. but the lower ranks there's kind of, like, it's insulated from the top leadership but there's always a link between the top leaders and the lower commands. but, you know, that's to insure there's no infiltration. and even if there's infiltration within the lower the lower ranks, they never have access to the higher mid-level or even higher ranks. so the organizationally everyone's dispensable, and isis can survive. if you demolish isis in mosul it has -- it doesn't affect isis in fallujah or in the whole of anbar. >> okay. two questions from the overflow. be you could briefly comment --
if you could briefly comment on financing that comes from the gulf states to isis and private funding. and also, you know, whether you see a theological realizing that would be able to cowper isis -- counter isis' core ideology. is there such a thing? >> i think isis benefits from a period of chaos in terms of finance, financial flows or finances going to syrians inside syria. up until the late 2012. now, isis was not -- still not existing, wasn't in existence since at the time there was still isi andal news rah in syria --al news rah in syria.
but a lot of money was going through saudi arabia, you know, kuwait and bahrain. they were not from the government, they were not meant to go to jihadis, they were meant to go to moderate groups. now, because of the lack of knowledge of who's who, sometimes the money goes to someone you trust and that person gives it to someone he you know, trusts and then it goes to groups like al-nusra and so on. so there's that loose network that exists, you know, in these parts of the world. but government, on a government level i think it's a myth that the gulf states support isis. they see it as a threat they see it more of a threat than the americans do or even iran does. they see it as a threat because there are at least two sections within gulf society that is vulnerable to isis the salafists -- like, the ones who believe in the idea of the caliphate and invigorating kind
of ideology of isis, but also you know islamists who adopt like isis -- who don't like isis like muslim sympathizers, they don't like isis, but they see it as a way, as a desperate way to kind of break status quo in the region. you know, i spoke to a lot of people who oppose isis don't like its violence, but they would say, you know just leave, let this group roam around, let them exist for a while, at least we will break this political stagnation that exists in the region. so there's, you know, isis thrives in this climate. the theology i think the problem is really not theology it's about credibility usually, and it's about legitimacy. the problem with most of, you know most of the like clerical establishment in the our wrap world and muslim world is either aligned to the authoritarian regimes they can't escape it, or because, you
know they've lost credibility because they for a variety of other reasons. to go back to the arab spring thing, i think the trend that we saw was the collapse of the religious elite at the time. a lot of young people didn't like the fact that there are religious clerics legitimizing the authoritarian government. and the collapse of the clerical establishment -- sorry -- was a chance for everyone to kind of look for a more reformed islam islam that is more tolerant, more progressive and so on. right? but the group that sees this, isis. enlightened muslims did not seize the opportunity. there was a collapse in weakened authority of clerics. there was more privatization of religious discourse. but isis took over, and thaw basically capitalizeed on --
capitalized on this thing. >> yes. and wait for the mic. here. >> hamid -- [inaudible] can you explain what exactly attracts young muslims even from western commitments to join isis? >> in the book again, we found six different categories or factors why people join isis. these factors range from -- [inaudible] because they like governance and could be because of social rivalry. in syria, for example when the revolution started, there were certain families in eastern syria let's say who joined the uprising from the beginning. they kind of owned this kind of you know, value or ideal that they are pro-revolution.
so they start to build like this status. rival families found isis very convenient to kind of reverse that a situation. but two other factors i think three other factors. one is a political project. a lot of people don't agree with isis, you know, religious discourse, but they agree with its political project. and they lift towards isis because they find it a very viable political force that can change a situation restore sunni domination in this part of the world. and the other ones like i told you, the longstanding radicals they drift towards group because they believe in the ideology they believe in the exact, you know, in the ideology of isis and all its details. and the other one is young zealots, and i think this is the most dangerous and most
important category. young people as young as 13 and even younger, drift towards isis because they find the ideology very invigorating again very electrifying. they listen to these clerics on ground telling them about what isis is and how you can be part of this kind of project that will restore the glory of islam, and people don't
>> it's a, you know, a complicated question. you know isis, you know, like i told you, isis argues through religious references. it usesreligious references to justify anything it does. and it masker like, a rich -- it has, like, a rich source of literature it can derive its acts from or legit mite it acts -- legitimize its acts. the interesting thing that isis deliberately, even if it finds legitimization of its acts in clear islamic, you know, text you know, they can easily refer to saudi, you know saudi penal code, and they can justify a lot of things. but they don't do that. what they do usually is they dig deeper and they found very obscure teachings in islamic
history, events in history. people who did things -- >> [inaudible] >> husband to have call events. because isis considers the early islamic figures as sources of authority. they are authority of islam, and there's a mainstream current in islam that believe that the ancestors, the early -- the three generations of the first three generations of islam are a source of authority. they can't just rely on the quran, you have to rely on the interpretation of how these generations interpreted islam, right? so in a way you can argue against salafism, and that's one of the advantages of isis. they don't make you argue with them, they make you argue with salafism in general. so you get lost by it. you know, you need to deal with the centuries, you know, like
centuries' worth of literature and sayings and fatwas. and be as long as you start -- and as long as you start becoming distracted by that you're good. that doesn't mean you don't deal with these problems. i think there's not enough attention to these kind of problems that like i said the historical precedent. but also religious, you know, precedents set by the prof pets -- prophets and by the first call lives who -- call lefts who, you know, the prophets recommended as sources of legislation for sunnis at least and so on. so they rely on these to justify their acts. so it's -- i understand what you saying. you know, they rely on these events. they don't, you know they don't make quran their priority because be you rely on the quran, you don't have a lot of
problems. you have less problems because, you know you still have crucifixion, you have cutting the hands of thieves in the quran, right? but you don't have beheading, and you don't have, you know other, like, burning people alive and all this kind of savagery or savage acts. so they justify enslaving women. it's not really, it's not an invention by isis, enslaving women, you know, was islamic for a long time. during times of war they would conquer an area, and when isis enslaved the yazidi women the way they did it basically, in islam you can only take taxes and offer three choices. to christians and jews only, they consider the people of the book. so when you conquer an area, you can give these people three choices; either convert, pay taxes or be killed. for yazidis they're not part of the people of the book. they are considered devil
worshipers by isis. and so they considered them as legitimate targets to enslave their women kill their males and, you know, expel the rest outside their areas. so it's like, basically, ethnic cleansing or sectarian cleansing or religious cleansing. so they justified it, they can find justification for these things. if you talk to isis member and say why did you do that, they would say immediately, they would refer you to religion and talk to to you for hours about how this is justified. >> okay. these two questions together, please. and then -- >> on the subject of ethnic cleansing, the graham wood article that professor miller talked about earlier mentions the possibility of genocide if isis takes over parts with significant, like shia populations. what do you think the likelihood that isis could kind of create
whole-scale slaughter of people that they declare to be otherwise not in compliance with what they see as proper worship? >> i agree with you when you say that it's impossible to counteract isis and they're immune to moderate muslim discourse, but i come from france where you have a lot of young people joining isis even families of young parents with their children. how can one prevent this from happening, i mean, prior to them being sensible to the discourse? and how do you suggest -- >> i think we leave it at that, okay? >> yeah. ..
in the book, involved in pro democracy. applications are useful in countries, the government cannot find the application. to turn the smart phone into a walkie-talkie, from isis, to listen to them from your home and internet and social media. we found this to be -- don't listen to people who are crazy or miss litter deviant. we just once -- what they say, a
few months later, borders of iraq. difficult to do it, on a personal note. how can you prevent, how can you make sure this person won't join groups like that. >> one last question, does isis -- is a threat for central asia. >> anywhere, i am not sure i am an expert on central asia but i know a lot of central asian powers say they come from different countries.
in terms of symbolism for isis to have this horrifying historically used to be controlled by muslims, used to be a center for a lot of movement in some history. it appears to lot of people and isis cannot live with them. >> thank you very much. our time is up. [applause] >> hassan plus these for you. [inaudible conversations]