ISIS, the radical Islamist group that rampaged across the Middle East while Barack Obama was president, slaughtering Christians and other religious minorities, now is having problems with deserters who have abandoned its cause.
According to officials with the Middle East Media Research Institute, the Islamic organization is facing “enormous pressure from the global coalition,” and suffering “defeats on the battlefield” since President Trump took office.
The result perhaps was predictable. Its soldiers, once holding virtually unlimited power over the cities and communities they captured, are quitting.
“Some have returned to their families in Syria and Iraq. Others, from countries outside the Middle East, have either left for other countries in the region or returned home,” the report said.
ISIS has tried several courses of action.
“At first taking an aggressive stance on this phenomenon, ISIS made various approaches to those who have left and appealed to them to return. It released videos harshly criticizing them, describing them as deserters who abandoned the front at the height of the campaign, and warning them about the punishment that awaits them in the hereafter,” the report explained.
One video had a speaker expressing astonishment that members of ISIS could leave and go to “countries of unbelief.”
Another suggested they had “denied their religion.”
When several weeks of such attacks on its own apparently didn’t work, the group changed tactics.
Now a commentary in the official ISIS weekly Al-Naba’ says the deserters really aren’t apostates, “as long as it has not been proved that they have transgressed the principles of the faith.”
The manpower shortage has been such that, according to MEMRI, a recent video reveals women participating “in the fighting against the Kurds in Syria.”
Recent prominent ISIS comments have included a video from ISIS Al-Khair Province with a narrator who states, “Allah … knows that there are those who will abandon his religion,” but that “will not harm Allah in the slightest.”
He, the video explained, will raise up replacements for them.
The video has an ISIS fighter warning, “There are many reasons to retreat, although they all stem from diseases of the heart. Lust and doubt. It may be that many of those who retreated prefer the life in this world and love the pleasures and delights and hate death. Rather than mention the true reason for retreat, they fabricate excuses that they know in themselves are not legitimate religious excuses, so as to justify their retreat and their turning to the land of polytheism and abandoning the land of the Muslims.”
The narrator then condemns those who left ISIS territory.
“Today we see the convoys of those in retreat setting out again, as they abandon the Muslim community in fear of the polytheists [i.e. those retreating fear death at the hands of the infidels] and in pursuit of a life that does not gladden the righteous people. To the crimes of breaking the oath of allegiance and abandoning the battlefield many of them have added a journey to the lands of unbelief,” he says.
Another video, published from ISIS Al-Barakah Province two weeks later, is blunt that such deserters will go to hell.
“And whoever turns his back to them on such a day, unless swerving [as a strategy] for war or joining [another] company has certainly returned with anger [upon him] from Allah, and his refuge is hell – and wretched is the destination,” it quotes from the Quran.
Such acts of “abandonment” encourage “division, weakness and defeat,” it warns.
Those offending “can expect ‘the wrath of Allah and hell,'” MEMRI reports it said.
“Another ISIS approach to its members who are leaving is through a song produced by its Ajnad media division that composes nasheeds to accompany the organization’s videos. The song ‘You Were Free’ reproaches ISIS members who chose to leave for the lands of enemies and infidels, while apparently forgetting the flavor of honor and pride that they tasted under the ISIS regime. This song also emphasizes the great sin of abandoning the battlefield and the Islamic state,” MEMRI reported.
Its words include: “How can you agree to live in humiliation / As a refugee who makes do with leftovers and crumbs? “Wandering friendless in an infidel land / Drowning in the depths of the sea in your sins. In disgrace you become a slave / You abandoned the straight path and sold your purpose [that you fought for]”
An Al-Naba editorial explains, however, that while fleeing is “the most severe” sin that angers Allah, he “can forgive it, if he chooses.”
It explains, “Even if these days the devil has caused some of the believers to stumble and they abandoned their jihad, or reneged on their hijra [i.e. returned to their countries after fulfilling the obligation to move to the area of the Islamic State], or if they broke their promise and their oath of allegiance, while all these are undoubtedly severe sins, and we disavow them before Allah. But despite this, we remain loyal to those who have committed them as long as they are defined as believers and don’t cancel out the foundation of their religion for abusing the laws of Sharia [in their supremacy] which they acknowledged, or because they assisted our enemies the polytheists, or because they displayed their unbelief after behaving with secret hypocrisy.”