Tunesia, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Morocco, Lebanon, Libya, Turkey, Egypt, Iraq provide most fighters. Biggest fifth columns are from and in France, Britain, Germany, Australia, and Belgium.
The rapid spread of Islamic State could only have occurred with a high degree of funding and support from without. Qatar and Saudi Arabia have most often been named, with money for terrorism either coming from super-rich individuals or the governments themselves. We know that both countries channelled large funds into Islamist groups in Syria in the early stages of the war there and that the two Gulf states have spent billions of dollars on promoting the militant interpretation of Islam known as Wahhabism as well as committing many human rights abuses in their own countries.
You don’t have to love Russia to acknowledge that we have a common interest with Russia in opposing ISIS, just as you don’t have to love Iran to acknowledge that we have a common interest with Iran in opposing ISIS. But in order to understand and support serious diplomacy you do have to see the Russians and Iranians as human beings like us, in both good ways and bad.
The shock produced by the multiple coordinated attacks in Paris on Friday—the scenes of indiscriminate bloodshed and terror on the streets, the outrage against Islamic extremism among the public, French President Francois Holland’s vow to be “merciless” in the fight against the “barbarians of the Islamic State”—is, unfortunately, precisely what ISIS intended. For the greater the hostility toward Muslims in Europe and the deeper the West becomes involved in military action in the Middle East, the closer ISIS comes to its goal of creating and managing chaos.
Phi Beta Iota: ISIS does NOT have a mind of its own. It’s mind consists of a mix of Saudi Arabian and Qatari funders and cheerleaders telling it what they want in return for generous funding; Iraqi Sunni officers disenfranchised by the US destruction of Iraq; and Israeli covert operations officers, some declared, others not, guiding it toward the Israeli end of Balkanizing the Middle East. The Turks are confused and the CIA is doing its usual ham-fisted mess-about.
More and more people can be heard daring to say: French media are totally Zionized. The Israeli influence on the media is probably stronger in France than anywhere on earth – perhaps even than in Israel, where there is a critical newspaper, Haaretz, which says things no French newspaper would dare to say.
Another shift in the underlying global diplomatic plates concerns Saudi Arabia. The twittersphere this weekend was full of references to Esquire’s Charles Pierce article on the “one way to defeat ISIS” which noted that practically all the funding for Islamic terrorism came from the Sunni gulf petrostates, especially Saudi Arabia. Hillary Clinton was quoted (from a 2009 Wikileaks document) as saying that Saudi Arabia was the “most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide.” In claiming this, she was repeating the consensus of Western intelligence estimates. Islam is as diverse as every global religion, and can be both the foundation of a culture of science and learning or ignorance and death. But the Wahabbi strain, developed in the 18th century in Saudi Arabia, tilts towards the latter. Most of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudis, most of the money funding ISIS is Saudi. Probably the West ought to draw some conclusions from those facts as it considers who are its potential allies, and who are its enemies.