Here’s How Islamic State Works To Realize Its Apocalyptic End-Times Vision

William McCant is a U.S. Middle East expert who wrote a book about Islamic State’s end-times vision titled The ISIS Apocalypse: The History, Strategy and Doomsday Vision of the Islamic State, to be published at the end of September.

McCant told the British news site Express this weekend that ISIS believes “all civilisations will crumble in an imminent apocalypse.” Islamic State has identified four locations for a future battle that will result in the demise of the entire world.

“Three of those sites exist in the Middle East, including two in Syria and one in Israel. But the fanatics have also pinpointed Italy’s capital, Rome, as the site of another great clash between their soldiers and the West,” according to McCant.

The key battle in the ISIS apocalypse will take place near the little town of Dabiq in northern Syria. This battle has a special meaning in the end of times vision of Sunni Islam as ISIS sees it.

ISIS seized Dabiq in August 2014 and has used the town as a symbol for its Jihad. The ISIS on-line magazine is named after the town, and Dabiq was used in several beheading videos that were posted by ISIS on social media. In one of these videos, ISIS executioner ‘Jihadi John’ can be seen with the severed head of U.S. citizen Abdul-Rachman Kassig at his feet, with Dabiq visible in the background.

Sunni Islamists believe Mohammed’s words, specifically “the last hour will not come until a Muslim army vanquishes the Romans at Dabiq or Al-A’maq on its way to conquer Constantinople (Istanbul today),” will become reality at the end of times.

Both Dabiq and Al-A’maq are located close to the Turkish border in the area where Turkey and the U.S. plan to carve out an ISIS-free buffer zone.

Another battle will take place in a town on the outskirts of the Syrian capital Damascus; and after that, the epic battle for Jerusalem will start. Islamic State forces are already in the Kuneitra province, 40 kilometers away from the Israeli border.

A map published by Jane’s Defense last week shows how Islamic State is working to encircle Damascus. The group already has a foothold in the Yarmouk refugee camp in the Damascus area; and today, ISIS entered the Qadam neighborhood of Damascus.

The fourth city that ISIS plans to conquer is Rome. Conquering the Italian capital is a prerequisite for the submission of the entire world to the rule of the caliphate. For this reason, Islamic State is trying to take over Libya and has already seized the Libyan coastal city of Sirte.

Libya will serve as ISIS’ beachhead for the battle against Rome and the West. The country is close to Italy, and there have already been reports about ISIS infiltration attempts in Italy via the swelling stream of illegal immigrants from Middle Eastern countries who use Libya as a springboard to reach Europe.

In Italy, Islamic State supporters have posted videos and photos of ISIS symbols in the streets of Rome on social media. The organization threatened to introduce Sharia law in Rome and to throw gay men from the Tower of Pisa. ISIS also threatened to assassinate Pope Francis, whom they call the “bearer of false truth.”

The Italian government took the threat seriously and talked about preventive action against Islamic State in Libya.

“The risk is imminent, we cannot wait any longer,” Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti told Italian newspaper Il Messaggero on February 17 this year. “Italy has national defense needs and cannot have a caliphate ruling a country so near us.”

Italy closed its embassy in Tripoli and threatened military action after Islamic State promised to flood Europe with 500,000 refugees.

Italy is taking part in the international coalition against Islamic State, but focuses more on Libya than on Iraq and Syria. Italy has also spearheaded the international effort to come to a unity government in Libya, but the preventive military action against ISIS in Libya didn’t materialize.

ISIS, however, has kept its word. More and more illegal Muslim immigrants are shipped to Europe daily.

330,000 illegal immigrants have reached European countries in the first eight months of 2015. They travel the smuggling routes in the Balkan countries and Eastern Europe, but the bulk of them try to reach European countries via the sea between Italy and Libya. Last year, 170,000 immigrants arrived in Italy by boat. Most of the refugees come from Syria, where half the population has been displaced by civil war.

This year alone, 2,636 immigrants perished while trying to reach European destinations. Only this weekend, 270 illegal immigrants died in two separate incidents. On Friday, police in Austria discovered 71 decomposing bodies of refugees in an abandoned freezer truck; and on Thursday, two vessels packed with 400 illegal immigrants capsized shortly after they departed from Zuwara in Libya. Only two hundred passengers survived.

All this is a product of the Islamic State’s manipulation in an attempt to actualize their belief in the apocalyptic Sunni end-times vision.

“In their propaganda, they see themselves waging a war against a crusader alliance, between the US and the UK and other countries of the West that is seeking to eradicate Islam,” Mr McCant told the Express.

They see this battle as culminating soon in the great clash between the Muslim army of the Islamic world and the Christian armies of the West. And this confrontation is going to take place along the eastern Mediterranean – so Jerusalem, Damascus and Aleppo – but they will also take the fight to Rome.

After that, the final battle for world domination will start when 80 nations confront the Muslim armies, ISIS believes. They see the growing anti-ISIS coalition, which now includes 60 countries, as a fulfillment of the Sunni end-times prophesy and are eager to draw more states into the war.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

New Kurdish Victory Over ISIS In Iraq, But Islamic State Advances In Syria

Kurdish fighters once again proved they are the only ones able to defeat Islamic State.

On Wednesday, Kurdish Peshmerga units in northern Iraq started a new offensive in the area south of the oil city of Kirkuk, Reuters reported. The Peshmerga units have managed to liberate ten villages in the area so far.

Reuters published video footage of the fighting and reported that the Kurdish offensive was supported by coalition airstrikes on Islamic State positions.

It is the first offensive against ISIS by the Peshmerga forces in months. During the summer, fighting in the area was limited to defensive moves and sporadic clashes between the two sides.

Two thousand Peshmerga fighters have taken part in the offensive that has left scores of ISIS terrorists dead and wounded 45 others. The Kurds have no plans to push Islamic State further southwards; their main objective is to safeguard the Kurdish autonomous area in Iraq.

The offensive began on 5 AM Wednesday morning after coalition airplanes bombed ISIS positions in the Kirkuk area and has been completed today, Kurdish media reported. The capture of the villages has taken away the ISIS threat against Kirkuk, Peshmerga commanders said.

The Kurdish News Agency Rudaw published a video that showed there is a huge difference in the treatment of captured POW’s between the Kurds and the Islamist militias in Syria and Iraq. An ISIS terrorist who was seriously wounded in the fighting can be seen kissing the hand of a Peshmerga officer who gives water to the injured man and assures him he will receive medical treatment in a hospital.

The new Kurdish victory over Islamic State was the only good news about the ongoing battle against the Jihadist organization today.

Elsewhere in Iraq, Islamic State killed two top Iraqi commanders and three Iraqi soldiers in a suicide attack near Ramadi, the major Iraqi city ISIS captured in May.

“Killed in the blast were Major General Abdulrahman Mehdi Abu Raghef, who was the deputy commander of the army’s Anbar Operation Command, and Brigadier Safeen Abdulmajeed, commander of the army’s 10th division,” NBC News reported. The suicide bomber drove a truck loaded with explosives into a group of Iraqi military personnel, killing five and wounding 10 others.

In Syria, Islamic State succeeded in conquering five villages in an area in the vicinity of the Turkish border. The ISIS advances took place in the area where Turkey and the United States plan to establish an Islamic State free buffer zone, where Turkey plans to relocate Syrian refugees.

Islamic State units also encircled the city of Marea, 20 kilometers from the Turkish border, and have stepped up their offensive against the Al-Nusra dominated Jaish al-Islam Islamist coalition in the northern Aleppo province. ISIS again used chemical weapons during the attack on Marea. “International medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres said on Tuesday it had treated a Syrian family from Marea who suffered symptoms of exposure to chemical agents,” Reuters reported.

The ISIS moves seem to be a reaction to the Turkish/American announcement about an imminent “comprehensive” air campaign to drive Islamic State out of the area adjacent to the Turkish border.

The joint Turkish-American offensive against Islamic State in northern Syria is expected to begin soon. A spokesman for the Turkish Foreign Ministry told foreign reporters today: “We expect joint operations, flights to start soon.”  He added that other countries are also interested in joining operations, but did not elaborate.

The joint airstrikes from the Turkish air base Incirlik will no doubt increase pressure on Islamic State in northern Syria; but experts say that in the absence of trained and well-equipped ground forces, no miracles can be expected.

“The key ingredient to degrading Daesh (ISIS) is establishing a large, well-trained, well-armed, resilient and preferably cohesive fighting force. This still appears to be a pipe-dream,” one of them told Bloomberg.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

Islamic State And Jaish al-Islam Close In On Damascus; Assad’s Regime In Danger

“Islamic State has Damascus in its crosshairs” wrote Times of Israel analyst Avi Issacharoff in an analysis that was published this weekend. Issacharoff paints a bleak picture of the future of the central government of President Bashir al-Assad, who faces the slow but steady advances of both the Islamic State and Jaish al-Islam (Army of Islam) toward the Syrian capital Damascus.

Jaish al-Islam already has strongholds in the two Damascus suburbs of Douma and Ghouta al-Sharqiyah, and Islamic State holds parts of the former Palestinian refugee camp, Yarmouk, that has been the scene of intensive fighting that caused most of the population to flee.

Assad has shown that he is willing to defend Damascus at any price. Just last week, his air force bombed a crowded marketplace in central Douma, killing and wounding hundreds of citizens. The Syrian dictator has also used chemical weapons against the population of the Jaish al-Islam strongholds in the Damascus area. In August 2013, Ghouta al-Sharqiyah was attacked with chemical weapons, an incident that almost triggered U.S. intervention in Syria and led to international action to strip Assad of his chemical weapons arsenal.

Despite these war crimes, Assad has not been able to stop the Islamic State and the Islamist coalition from closing in on the seat of his government.

The Islamic State has already advanced to Bir Qassab, 40 kilometers southeast of Damascus.

A map published on August 13, 2015 shows ISIS is moving to strangle the Syrian capital while at the same time trying to cut off the supply routes from Damascus to the coastal plain in Latakia and Tartous, which is home to Assad’s Alawite minority. The grey areas are under the control of the Islamic State, the green fields are controlled by the Nusra dominated Islamist coalition Jaish al-Islam, and the pink areas with the red dots are still under control of the regime. Assad has lost 18% percent of Syrian territory so far this year and is now in control of only five-sixths of the country.

Islamic State is also trying to set up camp at the Lebanese border.  As Western Journalism reported last week, Islamic State is “threatening Hezbollah’s rule in the Qalamoun Mountains in west Syria and reportedly is trying to seize border crossings on the Syria-Lebanon border. These border crossings are the last ones under regime control–all the other border crossings in Syria are controlled by rebels and Islamic State.”

Syrian civil war

The map shows why the Islamic State opened an offensive against Hezbollah’s rule in the border area. If the group succeeds in connecting the areas under its control in this part of Syria, Damascus will be cut off from the coastal plain and the port cities.

Issacharoff notes that Assad’s army appears to be exhausted and that “one major incident, such as the fall of a base or a strike against a leader of the regime or the army, could bring about the collapse of Bashar’s military system and the abandonment of the capital.”

This is precisely what seems to be happening right now. The Jaish al-Islam coalition is battling Assad’s forces at the Abu Al-Duhur military air base in northwestern Syria. The base has been the scene of intense fighting before; but this time, the opposition seems determined to seize control of the air base.

The intensification of the fighting and the looming collapse of Assad’s rule caused the parties to resort to even more brutal tactics. Last week, regime forces beheaded eight ISIS fighters during a battle in the area of the Kweris airbase. Assad’s air force uses large amounts of barrel bombs against not only the opposition but also against the civilian population. The attack on the central marketplace in Douma last week was only one in a long series of such attacks.

Islamic State sank to a new low when it used the outbreak of AIDS among its fighters to develop a new sort of suicide attack. AIDS-infected ISIS members who contracted the disease – as a result of the rape culture in Islamic State – are requested (or forced) to volunteer for suicide attacks that will kill two birds with one stone. The attacks will ensure the spread of the disease among the enemy and ensure that ISIS has enough suicide bombers.

ISIS reportedly also used chemical weapons against its opponents for the first time. Doctors at a hospital in Marea, a city 25 kilometers north of Aleppo (Syria’s second largest city), reported they had treated over 30 people who suffered from suppurating blisters after ISIS had shelled their neighborhood.

“On Friday, (a) US official confirmed that the Isil (ISIS) had used ‘a class-one chemical agent’ against Peshmerga forces in an attack earlier this month. Military sources had previously told American media that the substance was a mustard agent,” The Daily Telegraph reported.

Some observers fear that in the final stage of the battle for Syria, Jaish al-Islam and Islamic State will cut off the water supply to Damascus to ensure the surrender of Assad’s forces. This tactic has been used before, but only temporarily. In July, for example, Jabhat al-Nusra cut off the water supply to Damascus to force Assad’s army and Hezbollah to suspend a military operation against its forces in the area of Zabadani, close to the border with Lebanon.

Analysts of Jane’s Defence told the International Business Times that Assad is now facing defeat for the first time in the devastating civil war. “The bigger picture is that Assad is not going to last much longer,” they said.

Issacharoff doesn’t agree; he thinks the balance of power will not change anytime soon in Syria. But recent developments tend to prove the analysts of Jane’s right.

Assad’s fate, however, will be dependent on Iran and Hezbollah -his main allies- and on the coalition against Islamic State.

The latest news is that Turkey and the United States will soon launch a ‘comprehensive operation’ against Islamic State that must result in an ISIS free buffer zone in Syria. Washington and Ankara completed talks about the joint operation on Sunday.

However, a closer look at the plan reveals that the operation will be limited to the border area between Turkey and Syria and aims to prevent the establishment of an autonomous Kurdistan in Syria by the Kurdish PYD militia.

Last week, the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) announced that it had moved to establish autonomous zones in southeast Turkey. The move has further increased tensions in the Kurdish areas in Turkey and Syria and could lead to all out war between the Kurds and Turkey.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

Northern Israel Attacked By Missiles From Syria; IAF Hits Back

ANALYSIS: 

While Israel was anticipating renewed rocket fire from Gaza and deployed the Iron Dome anti-missile system in the southern cities of Ashdod and Beer Sheva today, four rockets were fired into Israel from Syria this afternoon.

Two rockets landed on the Golan Heights in Israel, and two missiles struck a kibbutz in the Emeq HaHula area in upper Galilee. No casualties or damage were reported, but brush fires broke out on the Golan Heights in the area where the rockets landed.

The IDF later said the rockets were fired into Israel from the northern Quneitra region, where regime forces and Hezbollah are in control.

A couple of hours after the first intentional rocket fire on Israel from Syria in one year, the IAF responded by striking targets in Syria. The IDF later issued a statement that said Islamic Jihad with Iranian backing was responsible for the rocket attack.

The attack could be related to the escalating crisis around Islamic Jihad operative Mohammed Alaan a Palestinian lawyer, who went on a hunger strike because Israel holds him in administrative detention.

Alaan had been involved in terrorist activities in the past and was suspected of planning new terrorist attacks when he was arrested. Two months ago, he went on a hunger strike to force Israel to release him. His medical situation deteriorated last week when he slipped into a coma in the Barzilai Medical Center in Ashqelon.

Today, Alaan ended his hunger strike after Israel decided to suspend his administrative detention due to the brain damage he suffered as a result of his coma.

On Wednesday, Islamic Jihad announced that it would no longer uphold the cease-fire in Gaza if Alaan would die as a result of his hunger strike. After Islamic Jihad had issued its threat, Israeli security officials started to prepare for the possibility of the eruption of a Third Intifada resulting in the deployment of the Iron Dome anti-missile shield in southern Israel.

Tensions in Israel have been on the rise after a significant increase in terrorist attacks by Palestinians in Judea and Samaria (West Bank) over the last two weeks. Palestinians carried out several knife attacks against Israeli security forces; and on Wednesday evening, an IDF soldier was moderately wounded when a Palestinian terrorist threw an improvised explosive device at a Border Police base close to the Gush Etzion Tunnel Road in the Jerusalem area.

Another explanation for the sudden missile attack on northern Israel from Syria could involve the situation in Syria–and more specifically recent moves by the Iranian al-Quds force in Syria.

Israeli experts have reported increased activity by the Iranians and Hezbollah in the Golan Heights area since the announcement of the nuclear deal in Vienna in July.

Iran has established a forward command on the Golan Heights, and Hezbollah by its own admission this week is activating terrorist cells in the border area. The Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Javad Zarif, announced in Beirut last week that the nuclear deal has provided a historic opportunity to resist the Zionist entity.

Zarif, no doubt, referred to the release of $150 billion in frozen assets that Iran will receive after ratification of the nuclear agreement. Pundits have pointed out that most of this money will be used to reinforce the so-called “resistance”–meaning Iranian proxies such as Hezbollah and Iran.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said this week: “Iran will use all means to support all those who fight Israel.”

It is possible that today’s attack is directly related to new setbacks the Iranian axis in Syria suffered at the hands of Islamic State and the Army of Conquest recently. Islamic State is threatening Hezbollah’s rule in the Qalamoun Mountains in west Syria and reportedly is trying to seize border crossings on the Syria-Lebanon border. These border crossings are the last ones under regime control–all the other border crossings in Syria are controlled by rebels and Islamic State.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces are losing more territory every week and are now only in control of 20 percent of Syrian territory. For example, this week, regime forces and Hezbollah lost territory south of Homs and were surrounded by Islamic State in Qusayr, where Iran is reportedly running a nuclear facility. Damascus is now isolated by this move and is cut off from the Alawite area in the coastal plain.

As a result of these moves, the Iranian corridor from Tehran to the Litani River in south Lebanon is now under direct threat.

This could be the reason Iran suddenly welcomed a UN peace plan for Syria today, and it could also be the reason for the rocket fire on Israel this afternoon.

By heating up the border with Israel, Hezbollah and Iran are showing that the Islamic Republic, and not Islamic State, is the only force that can lead the struggle against the Jewish state.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

BREAKING: Islamic State 2.5 Kilometers From Lebanese Border, Reportedly Planing Attack On Jordan

Today, Islamic State launched a new surprise attack in Syria that brought the Jihadist organization 2.5 kilometers from the Lebanese border, the news site Syria Direct reported.

The lightning attack was launched from the Qalamoun Mountains close to the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon. It is still unclear if Islamic State succeeded in seizing the border village of Jusiyah from Hezbollah. The fighting is still going on, and Hezbollah denies that ISIS is now in control of the border crossing in Jusiyah.

Earlier, Islamic State supporters had published a report on Twitter claiming the group had seized the border crossing.

Islamic State is close to controlling the city of Baiji in northern Iraq. Baiji is home to the largest oil refinery in Iraq and has been the scene of battles between ISIS and the Iraqi army and Shiite militias for months.

The Turkish news agency Anadolu reported that ISIS had tightened its grip on the area of Abu-Jra’a that links the city to the refinery. Islamic State used a number of car bombs in the attack on Abu-Jra’a.

Local militias battling Islamic State claimed that the Iraqi and coalition air force did not respond to requests to bomb ISIS’ convoys coming from Mosul. A militia commander said that the coalition did not do its job and could have easily prevented the arrival of ISIS convoys from Mosul in Baiji.

Other worrying news about Islamic State came from a Lebanese retired army officer who warned that ISIS was now preparing for an assault on Jordan. The officer, Fouad al-Suwaidi, a Druze with connections in Syria, told the Lebanese news site El-Nahsra that “Jordan will likely be the new target of ISIL this time.”

Iranian news agency Fars News reported:

Al-Suwaidi enumerated many reasons that would encourage the ISIL to attack Jordan.

He pointed to the large population of the Salafis in Jordan, and said the Arab country has a great potential for ISIL supporters.

Al-Suwaidi reiterated that the economic crisis, high unemployment rate and large gap between the poor and the rich make Jordan an ideal target for ISIL.

He, moreover, said intelligence sources have revealed that ISIL Leader Abu Bakr al-Baqdadi has ordered his forces to prepare for attacking Jordan.

Most of ISIL’s recruits come from Jordan because of the country’s large Salafi population.

The apprehension (of) over 600 extremist Salafis by Jordan and trial of over 150 of them shows the extent of ISIL’s influence in Jordan.

Jordan has long anticipated an attack by Islamic State and has begun fencing off the border with Syria and Iraq. Jordan also received help from Israel in securing its border with Syria and Iraq. Israeli media reported last month that the IAF had donated 10 Cobra helicopters to Jordan that would be used to patrol the border between the Hashemite Kingdom, Iraq and Syria.

Today, Islamic State supporters called upon Turks to stage an uprising against President Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey. An ISIS terrorist appeared in a video that was posted on social media and called Erdogan a traitor who will deliver Turkey to “the crusaders”, a reference to the United States. He said that Erdogan had not abided by the laws of God, and called for the conquest of Istanbul, Israel National News reported.

Turkey finally joined the fight against Islamic State last month after President Obama closed a deal with Erdogan that would allow the U.S. Air Force to use the Turkish air force base Incirlik for attacks on Islamic State in exchange for U.S. collaboration with a Turkish plan to establish an ISIS free zone along the border in the area where Kurdish YPG militias want to establish an autonomous entity.

At the same time, Islamic State is on the rise in Libya, where the group crushed a revolt against its rule in the important Mediterranean port city of Sirte. The official Libyan government last week asked the Arab League to intervene and bomb ISIS positions in Libyan cities from the air.

Today, the League convened and called for an urgent Arab strategy to militarily back the beleaguered Libyan government–but stopped short of promising air strikes against Islamic State.

“The Arab League affirms that given the difficult situation, there is an urgent need to quickly put an Arab strategy in place that includes assisting Libya militarily in confronting Daesh’s terrorism,” the Arab League said in a statement.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth