The ISIS Solution: How Unconventional Thinking and Special Operations Can Eliminate Radical Islam

The ISIS Solution: How Unconventional Thinking and Special Operations Can Eliminate Radical Islam

NOOK Book(eBook)

$3.99
Available on Compatible NOOK Devices and the free NOOK Apps.
Want a NOOK ? Explore Now

Overview

The ISIS Solution: How Unconventional Thinking and Special Operations Can Eliminate Radical Islam by Jack Murphy, Brandon Webb, Peter Nealen

The President recently announced that we don't have a strategy for dealing with ISIS.

"It's too soon to say what steps the United States will take against ISIS. I don't want to put the cart before the horse," Obama told reporters during a White House news briefing. "We don't have a strategy yet.""-President Obama

If we have been at war with terror for over a decade and still don't have solid strategies for dealing with radical terrorism, then what have we really been doing the last thirteen years? It's a good question to ask yourself, and at least the President was telling the truth when he said we don't have a strategy for ISIS.

As ISIS grows in strength with each successful battle, they will also set up the infrastructure of something resembling a functional state. They will become a self-funded organization making millions of dollars from oil revenue. Left unchecked, it is hard to say how powerful they could become. The dream of a pan-Islamic caliphate is most certainly beyond their reach, however, they could carve out a very large swath of the Middle East for their empire. If ISIS were to capture the first and second most holy sites of the Islamic faith, Mecca and Medina, the entire Middle East may very well implode.

The ISIS Solution takes a look at the current geopolitical situation, organizational structure of ISIS, and provides new thinking and strategies for dealing with the Islamic State in the Middle East. Its authors and contributors have over fifty years of combined experience in the intelligence, analyst and Special Operations communities. Leadership and a new philosophical conversation of action is needed to eliminate violent terrorism. This book starts the conversation.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781466885400
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 11/18/2014
Series: SOFREP
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 32
Sales rank: 1,108,529
File size: 5 MB

About the Author

BRANDON WEBB is a former U.S. Navy SEAL; his last assignment with the SEALs was Course Manager for the elite SEAL Sniper Course, where he trained some of the most accomplished snipers of the twenty-first century. Webb has received numerous distinguished service awards, including the Presidential Unit Citation and the Navy Commendation Medal with a "V" for "Valor."

PETER NEALEN stepped on the yellow footprints at MCRD San Diego in 2003. A year and a half later, he began training to be a Reconnaissance Marine. After graduating the Basic Reconnaissance Course, he deployed twice to Iraq as a Recon Marine with Bravo Co, 1st Recon Bn, before moving on to what was to become the reconstituted Force Recon Company, I MEF. By the time he finished his active service, he had qualified as a Combatant Diver, Navy/Marine Corps Parachutist, Marine Scout/Sniper, Scout/Sniper Team Leader, and Combat Tracker. He is now a Tactical Tracking Instructor, a freelance writer and contributor for SOFREP.com, and the author of the thrillers Task Force Desperate and Hunting in the Shadows.

JACK MURPHY is an eight-year Army Special Operations veteran who served as a sniper and team leader in 3rd Ranger Battalion and as a senior weapons sergeant on a military free fall team in 5th Special Forces Group. Murphy is the author of Reflexive Fire, Target Deck, and the PROMIS series. As an author and managing editor for SOFREP.com, he has written numerous nonfiction articles about weapons, tactics, special operations, terrorism, and counter-terrorism. He has appeared in documentaries, on national television, and on syndicated radio as it relates to military current affairs.

SOFREP.com is the #1 site on the Internet for news and information as it relates to the Special Operations and Intelligence community. In a very short time, SOFREP has become a legitimate source of alternative non partisan news media. The editors of SOFREP are from the US military Special Operations and Intelligence communities, and most have over a decade of operational experience that sets them apart from typical journalists.


JACK MURPHY is an eight-year Army Special Operations veteran who served as a sniper and team leader in 3rd Ranger Battalion and as a senior weapons sergeant on a military free fall team in 5th Special Forces Group.

Growing up in New York, Jack enlisted in the U.S. Army at age nineteen. Completing Infantry Basic Training, Airborne School, and the Ranger Indoctrination Program, he was assigned to 3rd Ranger Battalion. As a Ranger, he served as an anti-tank gunner, sniper, and team leader, and he graduated from Ranger School and Sniper School.



After several deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq, he attended the Special Forces Assessment and Selection course and was selected as a special forces weapons sergeant. Over a year was spent training in the Special Forces Qualification Course, including further weapons training, SERE School, language training, and more.



Assigned as the senior weapons sergeant on a military free fall team in 5th Special Forces Group, Murphy was again sent to numerous schools and training courses before being deployed to Iraq. Acting as the senior trainer and adviser to an Iraqi SWAT team, his Special Forces team conducted Direct Action and other missions across northern Iraq.



After leaving the military in 2010, he is now working towards a degree in political science at Columbia University. 



Murphy is the author of Reflexive Fire, Target Deck, and the PROMIS series. As an author and managing editor for SOFREP.com, he has written numerous nonfiction articles about weapons, tactics, special operations, terrorism, and counter-terrorism. He has appeared in documentaries, on national television, and on syndicated radio as it relates to military current affairs. 


BRANDON WEBB is a former U.S. Navy SEAL; his last assignment with the SEALs was Course Manager for the elite SEAL Sniper Course, where he was instrumental in developing new curricula that trained some of the most accomplished snipers of the twenty-first century. Webb has received numerous distinguished service awards, including the Presidential Unit Citation and the Navy Commendation Medal with a “V” for “Valor,” for his platoon’s deployment to Afghanistan following the September 11 attacks. He is editor for Military.com’s blog Kit Up, SOFREP’s Editor in Chief, and a frequent national media commentator on snipers and related Special Operations Forces military issues.
PETER NEALEN stepped on the yellow footprints at MCRD San Diego in 2003. A year and a half later, he began training to be a Reconnaissance Marine. After graduating the Basic Reconnaissance Course, he deployed twice to Iraq as a Recon Marine with Bravo Co, 1st Recon Bn, before moving on to what was to become the reconstituted Force Recon Company, I MEF. By the time he finished his active service, he had qualified as a Combatant Diver, Navy/Marine Corps Parachutist, Marine Scout/Sniper, Scout/Sniper Team Leader, and Combat Tracker. He is now a Tactical Tracking Instructor, a freelance writer and contributor for SOFREP.com, and the author of the thrillers Task Force Desperate and Hunting in the Shadows.

Read an Excerpt

The ISIS Solution

How Unconventional Thinking and Special Operations Can Eliminate Radical Islam


By Brandon Webb, Jack Murphy, Peter Nealen

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2014 SOFREP, Inc.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4668-8540-0



CHAPTER 1

The Establishment of the Islamic State (IS or ISIS)


Strategy is the overall plan of action to achieve a measurable goal. It is the series of actions on a theater-wide scale that contribute to victory or defeat. While ISIS has released several documents and videos giving some ideas of its strategy, even more can be determined by examining their targets, their actions in multiple spectrums of warfare, politics, and information, and their history.

ISIS has stated its goals in several places, including the recent propaganda video Flames of War. At the beginning of Flames, the narrator states that ISIS is "a mission that would herald the return to the khilafah [caliphate] and revive the creed of tawheed [monotheism/Islam]. It was the establishment of the Islamic State nourished by the blood of the truthful mujahideen to unite the ummah [referring to the entire Islamic religion] on one calling, one banner, one leader."

The goal of pretty much every violent Islamist group has been the establishment of an Islamic State. This was a stated goal of AQI before it became ISIS, and before it declared itself actually to have achieved the goal of creating such a state in 2014, when it changed its name again to simply the Islamic State, and declared Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to be "Caliph Ibrahim," a direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad. (Although the man behind the kunyah [alias] of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is believed to have been born in Samarra, not Baghdad.)

From 2003 to 2012, AQI/ISI was unable to go head-to-head with the conventional Coalition forces in Iraq. As a result, their strategy was limited by their logistics and available combat power. They attacked Coalition forces with mostly indirect fires and improvised explosive devices, while simultaneously attacking infrastructure, conducting terror operations to dissuade the populace from supporting the Coalition-backed Iraqi government and to demonstrate the inadequacy of both that government and the Coalition forces to keep them safe, and attacking the Iraqi Security Forces and government officials in order to break down the government's resistance by way of terror and assassination.

Improvised explosive devices (a fancy term for what had been called "bombs" for decades of terrorist attacks up until 2003 Iraq) began appearing, targeting American and British vehicles, shortly after the collapse of Saddam's Iraqi Army. Initially constructed primarily from the leftover military munitions that Saddam's people had cached all over the country, they were effective terror weapons that had a similar effect on Coalition forces as the booby traps employed by the Vietcong in Vietnam in the 1960s and early '70s. In fact, some of them were set up identically; a report from 1967 described a landing zone near Da Nang that the Viet Cong had sown with 155mm artillery shells to be detonated by command wire. Most of the early IEDs were more 155mm artillery shells set off on command by simple electrical detonators, triggered by an insurgent watching from nearby.

The IEDs, coupled with mortar and rocket attacks, all of which could be placed and triggered easily, followed by the emplacers and triggermen getting away quickly and unencumbered, were designed to wear down the occupying forces. Without the combat power to defeat an adversary in a stand-up fight, the militant turns to bleeding him slowly. It is a death by a thousand cuts, with each cut being a dead or maimed soldier or Marine.

The steady attrition, regardless of how high the actual body count was served a moral and political purpose beyond simply killing kufars (infidels). The insurgents believed—and history has generally shown them to be right—that the steady diet of funerals and missing limbs would turn the distant American populace against the war. While Islamist propaganda tends to paint the Western reluctance to continue in the face of such casualties as softness and cowardice, their leadership likely didn't care, as long as it worked to drive Coalition forces out of the country.

Not all IEDs were necessarily aimed at Coalition forces. Markets, government buildings, and Shi'a mosques were all considered valid targets to the AQI bombers. In fact, AQI began such a focused campaign of violence aimed at Iraqi Shi'a that the organization was rebuked by Osama bin Laden himself, who remonstrated that the Shi'a were still brother Muslims. While it is likely that this was largely due to an apparent alliance of convenience with Iran (most of the components for explosively formed penetrators that were used in IEDs in Iraq increasingly around 2006–2007 came from Iran, and Zarqawi had actually worked out of Tehran for a time), the hatred between radical Sunni and Shi'a has not abated much since the initial split.

In fact, in early 2004, an Al Qaeda operative by the name of Hassan Ghul was captured on the Iraq-Iran border, bearing a letter from Zarqawi to Al Qaeda's leadership in Afghanistan, proposing the instigation of a Sunni-Shi'a civil war to forestall elections in Iraq. It is apparent that the organization has maintained that antipathy to the Shi'a; even after the immediate goal of creating enough instability to frustrate the Coalition powers, their determination to fight the Shi'a has only hardened, to the point that certain Salafist clerics in 2013 declared that the Shi'a are worse than infidels. How this fits in with the group's overall strategy will become clear later.

Infrastructure was another major target during the occupation, with oil pipelines being hit repeatedly during late 2004. This had the dual purpose of hampering the fuel-intensive operations of the Coalition as well as contributing to the insecurity of the country and its income. The attacks spiked again in late 2005.

But it wasn't just the oil infrastructure that was targeted. Water plants were sabotaged, and the electrical grid—already fragile, as anyone who patrolled through the Iraqi countryside at the time could attest—came under attack on multiple occasions, often coinciding with elections. Again, all these attacks increasingly disrupted everyday life, demoralized those of the populace that still cooperated with the Coalition and the Iraqi government, and further undermined the government. If the Iraqi Security Forces couldn't secure vital infrastructure, why back them?

Finally, there were the attacks on the government and Iraqi Security Forces directly, usually through ambush, IEDs, and assassinations. Violence tended to increase near elections, with judges, politicians, and police chiefs being special targets, but constant low-level attacks on any ISF continued regardless. In late 2005, a company of Iraqi Army soldiers, having left their weapons in their armory, headed home on leave in a bus. The bus was ambushed and all the soldiers killed. Just like the rest of the terror and harassment attacks, this had a purpose beyond just killing people for wearing the IA uniform; it served as a warning to anyone who would work for the Coalition or the Iraqi government.

It would be disingenuous to attribute all of the Iraqi insurgency to AQI. At the time, there were a great many splinter organizations laying bombs and running ambushes. How much interplay there was among all the various insurgent groups is hard to say, and many of them still fought among themselves, especially between the Sunni and Shi'a groups. However, while Coalition forces remained in Iraq, the various groups still had a common cause: expel the Westerners from Iraq. This was the primary focus for AQI as well as the Shi'a Sadrist militias and the various other Islamist organizations on both sides of the sectarian divide.

Following the rise of the Sawha militias in Anbar province, AQI's activity dwindled. Its attempt at governing in the Sunni Triangle backfired, as the tribal leaders rapidly became disillusioned with their heavy-handedness and turned against them. (The beginning of the "Awakening" actually had even more to do with disrespect shown toward the same tribal leaders by the Salafists than just with their restrictive laws. Even though the tribes might not mind strict sharia—in fact, some might welcome it, especially when faced with the increasingly obvious corruption and sectarian/tribal favoritism coming from Baghdad—the blatant disrespect shown by the murder of Sheikh Abu Jassim and the subsequent refusal to allow his burial was the breaking point.) The killing of Zarqawi by a U.S. air strike in 2006 also caused the group to restructure, and the Islamic State in Iraq was born. However, while the tactics were changing, and the pressure from the Iraqi government, Coalition forces, and the Sawha militias was driving the group farther underground, the strategy remained the same. It is possible that some of the reduction in violence was due to a perception that U.S. departure was imminent; there had been a great deal of political rhetoric in the United States for years about an "exit strategy," and presidential candidates were already debating staying or pulling out. Although it comes from Afghanistan, the saying, "The Americans have the watches, but we have the time," applies. All the insurgent really has to do is outwait the occupier.

Whatever the perception in the United States, or in Baghdad, for that matter, just judging by ISIS propaganda, the 2012 withdrawal of all U.S. military forces from Iraq was seen as a validation of the "wait them out" strategy. In fact, during the VICE News embed with ISIS in Raqqa, Syria, the ISIS media officer says, "Don't be cowards and attack us with drones. Instead send your soldiers, the ones we humiliated in Iraq." Despite the fact that the insurgents didn't win most (if any) firefights, the fact that they were still there and still fighting while Coalition forces were gone meant, to them, that they'd won. Now that the infidels were gone, it was time to move to the next stage in the strategy.

At first, very little changed. It becomes apparent just how much damage was done to AQI by the Coalition forces, the Awakening, and the Iraqi Army when you consider that it took over a year for much more movement to occur after U.S. forces left. The bombings continued, as did the assassinations. Slowly, steadily, the campaign ramped back up.

At first it was the same sort of low-level terror campaign that it had always been. Suicide bombers and small groups of gunmen predominated, hitting schools and police stations. It began to intensify, however, in April 2013.

During the same week as the Boston bombing, in the lead-up to a new round of elections, ISI struck hard, killing almost three hundred people in a week. Thirteen candidates for the elections were killed; the top judge in Fallujah, Maarouf al Khubaisi, was assassinated in a market; and one of the Sawha leaders, Sheikh Majid Saad, was shot to death in his own garden. That week in 2013 was, if anything, the primary sign that the Iraqi Security Forces was not up to the challenge of dealing with ISI. The violence continued to escalate, and the Iraqi Army and Iraqi police were unable to stop it. It was a confidence booster for ISI and a validation of the strategy of eroding the effectiveness of the Iraqi Security Forces through terror as well as convincing the populace that the government could not protect them.

It is apparent that during this period, ISI, while continuing the terror campaign against the ISF and the population that sided with the government, had turned toward increasing its numbers and building up its strength. Beginning in July 2012, the group's emir, then going by the kunyah Abu Du'a, announced the Destroying the Walls campaign, aimed at breaking as many jihadists out of Iraqi prisons as possible, while continuing the terror aimed at the general populace and security forces. In his audiotaped statement, Abu Du'a said, "We give you glad tidings of the commencement of a new phase from the phases of our struggle, which we begin with a plan that we have dubbed, 'Destroying the Gates.' We remind you of your top priority, which is to release the Muslim prisoners everywhere, and making the pursuit, chase, and killing of their butchers from amongst the judges, detectives, and guard to be on top of the list."

The campaign, like most guerrilla warfare, didn't focus only on jailbreaks, though they were a central part of it. The first attacks occurred only two days after Abu Du'a's message and hit more than twenty cities, killing over one hundred fifteen people. The first major jailbreak occurred in September, in Tikrit. The Tasfirat prison was attacked and more than one hundred prisoners freed. In July 2013, simultaneous attacks were launched on Taji and Abu Ghraib prisons, freeing another five hundred from Abu Ghraib, including several high-value targets. As recently as September 2014, more prison attacks took place, including an abortive attempt to storm the Camp Justice prison in Kadhimiya in northern Baghdad.

Attempting to free by force other terrorists has long been a common practice of terrorist and guerrilla organizations. If the op works, it is a good way to build up numerical strength, by both getting experienced, hardened terrorists back and recruiting some of the criminal element that might be inclined to side with the group. The Qala-i-Jangi uprising in 2001 in Afghanistan likely sprang from a similar plan. Many of the hostage situations during the 1970s, '80s, and '90s were aimed at forcing the release of prisoners.

While continuing to escalate the level of violence in Iraq, ISI was aiding in the formation of a new Al Qaeda affiliate to join the growing civil war in Syria. Islamists were already beginning to co-opt the Syrian opposition, including such organizations as Jund al-Sham and Ahrar al-Sham ("al-Sham" is Arabic for "the Levant"), but so far Al Qaeda had had a minimal influence there. Jabhat al-Nusra (the al-Nusra Front) would change that.

However, shortly after al-Nusra's first successes in Syria, in April 2013, Abu Du'a, now using the name Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, announced that since ISI had been instrumental in standing up to al-Nusra, they were now merging as the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham. Al-Nusra's emir vehemently denied the claim and petitioned Ayman al-Zawahiri to intervene and determine that al-Nusra was in fact an independent Al Qaeda affiliate. However, ISIS had already taken advantage of the chaos in Syria to establish itself there. The bitter feud among al-Nusra, the rest of the jihadist organizations in Syria, and ISIS has continued, although ISIS has increasingly solidified its position. Now, along with the seizure of Fallujah in January 2014, ISIS had shifted from primarily attacking the coherency of the government and civilian support for said government to actually gaining territory. The resistance phase was over. Now the conquest phase began.

Before delving into the expansion of ISIS's territory in Syria and especially Iraq in 2014, it is worth looking at its strategies for holding ground in Syria. It learned a great deal from its mistakes in Iraq during the American occupation. Al Qaeda in Iraq became known for its brutality in dealing with the local populace, to the point of being admonished by core Al Qaeda to tone things down.

Information operations and propaganda have been integral to the jihadist movement from the beginning, and in fact are integral to any guerrilla effort. Mao (though theft of parts, probably mostly for resale rather than insurgency, though the effect is the same, had just as much to do with the damage to water systems) Zedong's axiom that "the guerrilla must move among the people as a fish swims in the sea" means that the people have to have a reason to support the guerrillas, whether through fear, ideology, or ethnic or sectarian loyalty. In recent years, ISIS has shown that it can manipulate all three factors.

With the establishment of ISIS havens in Aleppo, Raqqa, and Deir al-Zour in Syria in 2013, ISIS began a "hearts and minds" campaign in the course of its governance. The primary venue appears to have been the dawa forums, where ISIS preachers met with townspeople in their havens and extolled the benefits of sharia, the bravery of the mujahideen, and the necessity of jihad. They also pandered to children, providing sweets and presents at festivals, as well as teaching them Quranic passages and inculcating them with the evils of the Alawite regime in Syria.

They also began distributing aid, stamped with their black flag, to refugees and protestors. The branding (and the aid, for that matter) could be construed as having been learned from another jihadist Syrian opposition group, Ahrar al-Sham. Ahrar were some of the first Syrian rebels to publicize their aid to displaced people suffering from the civil war.

By socializing the people in their areas of control to sharia and its governance, it appeared that ISIS was determined to avoid the problems, at least in Syria, that had plagued it in Anbar. However, depending on where ISIS faced resistance, it still is not at all reluctant to apply terror as a means of control.

Another facet of the information operations campaign has always been propaganda. Much of this is easily visible in any communiqué issued by ISIS leadership. The majority-Shi'a government of Iraq under Nouri al-Maliki is regularly referred to as the Safavids, referencing the Persian Shi'a Muslim Empire that lasted from 1501 to 1722.

Emphasizing the split between Sunni and Shi'a has been a constant in the group's propaganda since its inception, along with referencing earlier Muslim history. Although Yusuf al Qaradawi is affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood rather than ISIS, his declaration in June 2013 that Shi'a are "worse infidels than Christians or Jews" aligned perfectly with ISIS rhetoric.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from The ISIS Solution by Brandon Webb, Jack Murphy, Peter Nealen. Copyright © 2014 SOFREP, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Contents

Title Page,
Copyright Notice,
Epigraph,
Introduction,
Chapter 1. The Establishment of the Islamic State (IS or ISIS),
Chapter 2. A Forensic Look at the ISIS Organizational Structure,
Chapter 3. Unconventional Solutions Past and Present,
Chapter 4. Large-Scale Military Action Against ISIS,
Chapter 5. Our Conclusion,
Chapter 6. Bonus: What You and Your Friends Can Do to Combat ISIS,
Appendix: The Military-Industrial Complex and State of U.S. Special Operations,
Notes,
SOFREP e-books from St. Martin's Press,
About the Authors,
Copyright,

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

The ISIS Solution: How Unconventional Thinking and Special Operations Can Eliminate Radical Islam 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fantastic book written by people who have knowledge in the field. Definitly some good ideas to deal with ISIS.