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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

ISIS has threatening words for Christian Jerusalem | TheHill


ISIS has threatening words for Christian Jerusalem

Since Friday, June 27, leaflets have appeared in and around Arab East Jerusalem, signed by the Islamic State. On July 3, Israeli television Channel One reported on a leaflet that read:

The Armed Forces of the Decisive Swords will purify the Islamic neighborhoods of Christians so that on Eid al[-]Fitr, these neighborhoods will be completely clean. We will start in the neighborhood of Beit Hanina and move on to Shuafat and then all the neighborhoods of the Old City of Jerusalem and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. We say to the Christian unbelievers, you must leave immediately so that you will not be slaughtered like lambs with the dawning of Eid al[-]Fitr.

The pamphlets were signed "The Islamic State, Emirate of Jerusalem."

Eid al-Fitr is the last day of holy month of Ramadan, the joyous breaking of the Muslim fast. On the Gregorian calendar, Eid begins at sunset on Thursday, July 16.

It is no secret that the Islamic State, or ISIS (the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) has had its eye on Jerusalem, the third holiest city in the Islamic faith after Mecca and Medina. ISIS often legitimizes its atrocities and attracts followers by promising to "liberate" Jerusalem. For example, the Islamic State in the Sinai, responsible for the bloody attacks on July 1 that killed dozens of Egyptians, released a propaganda video of a captured Egyptian soldier, later executed, saying: "They want to liberate Jerusalem, and soldiers like me are preventing them. I am a soldier that prevents them from liberating Jerusalem because we [Egypt] support Israel."

The leaflets in Jerusalem similarly accused Christians of serving as agents of Israel and the West, spreading evil by encouraging Muslims to become more secular. The leaflets also charged that the Christians have violated the Pact of Umar, made over 1,000 years ago after Muslims conquered the Holy Land. The pact forbade Christians from displaying crosses on churches, chanting prayers in a loud voice when a Muslim is present, proselytizing, erecting new monasteries or repairing churches when they fall into ruin.

The Islamic State in Gaza has also recently accused Hamas of being too lenient in enforcing Islamic law. In fact, the Islamic State in Gaza is so irate that it has now sworn to overthrow Hamas.

But, just to be clear, the Islamic State cells that plan to attack Jerusalem's Christians are coming not from Gaza or the Sinai. No. The cells are coming from the West Bank. The route specified by the leaflet proceeds from north to south, not south to north. To reach Beit Hanina, the cells would need to pass first through the Qalandia checkpoint. They would then proceed south to Shuafat, pass another checkpoint, and from there go on to the Old City of Jerusalem where they would eventually run into the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

I know. It's confusing.

Indeed, these days, when you talk about the Islamic State, you must be very specific about geography. Do you mean the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria? No? So, the one in Libya? In Pakistan? In Uzbekistan? Yemen? Nigeria? Algeria? Tunisia? Saudi Arabia?

Where did these all come from? And, how exactly did the Islamic State proliferate so rapidly — in a single year — despite the almost daily U.S.-led airstrikes?

Well, apart from top-notch social media advisers and a dedicated film crew that can stomach the unfathomable, the Islamic State has a whole lot of money. It's rich. It can fund and arm terrorist cells around the world, and that makes it very popular.

The Islamic State of the Sinai, for example, used to be a piddling little terrorist group called Ansar Bait al-Maqdis. But in 2014, Ansar Bait al-Maqdis swore allegiance to the Islamic State and received generous military and financial compensation. Since then, it has blossomed. Just last week, the terrorist group not only launched a large-scale attack on Egyptian forces, but it also managed to fire three missiles into Israel.

Scholars searching for reasons to explain the swift rise of terrorism in recent decades have carefully examined the role of poverty. But there is no credible correlation between poverty and terrorism. Instead, it would behoove us all to look at the role of wealth.

Iran has long dedicated a significant portion of its oil wealth to fund terrorism. And now that the Islamic State is funding terrorist groups with the riches it has acquired from grabbing up oil refineries, collecting kidnap ransoms, engaging in slave trade and the sale of antiquities, the Middle East has been properly destabilized.

So, if we want to prevent the Islamic State from slaughtering Christians in East Jerusalem and other unbelievers and heretics around the world, what we do need to do, at this point, is to stop the revenue flow into areas controlled by the Islamic State. And what we don't need to do is stream vast amounts of wealth into Iran. Unfortunately, this is exactly what the Obama administration, together with the other P5+1 (the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, plus Germany) leaders, will do when they lift sanctions on Iran. And this should bring disaster on the entire region.

Because, you see, while the Islamic State currently has its heart set on Jerusalem, Iran is eyeing Mecca and Medina.

Friedman is an American-Israeli writer and editor in the fields of political science, history and information technology.

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