The Genealogy of ISIS via aljumhuriya

This article was written in arabic in alJumhuriya by the Syrian thinker Yassin al-Haj Saleh. In arabic the title is

Even though the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS, or Da’esh) emerged in Syria in 2013, its structure can be traced back to three historical layers across three geographies and influences, the earliest one being rooted in Afghanistan, followed by Iraq, and most recently, Syria.

These layers should be interpreted in accordance with George Balandier’s Political Anthropology, whereby the more recent events, practices and conditions do not substitute prior ones, but rather create new, additional layers. In his History of Religious Ideas, Mircea Eliade states that among the elements which comprise religious social phenomena, the earliest ones are the deepest in its formation. Thus, the more recent among said elements is that which is to be observed, and with which the phenomenon interacts in its concurrent environment.

The Afghani Layer

From its formative experience in Afghanistan, Da’esh learned an early method of globalised networking. Arab and Islamic “jihad” in Afghanistan during the 1980s is the earliest example of such globalisation, before the concept became ubiquitous in the 1990s. At the time, Afghanistan was under Soviet occupation, and in the final year of Jimmy Carter’s presidency, the CIA, advised by Carter’s national security advisor, Zbigniew Brzenzinski, had sponsored the establishment of an Islamist resistance movement (Islamic movement in resistance to the soviets).

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