The confident Baghdadi of July 2014 is surely no longer the same in December 2015.




ISIS, ISIL, IS,  Daesh, Danish, Islam.


An investigative analysis: Insights into the “Islamic State” group leader speach.


Bullet points:

– Does Baghdadi intend to fight in person in Iraq and Syria?

– Is ISIS army suffering from financial difficulties (jaish al-‘Usrah similar to the “army of hardship” in Tabuk) and begging for financial support?

– Is Baghdadi losing his grip on his men?


Elijah J. Magnier (@ejmalrai) –


The leader of the self proclaimed “Islamic State” (ISIS) Abu Baker al-Baghdadi, is, in his last speech, calling implicitly for help by referring to Quranic[1], and historical references. He, like many of his fellow students, acquired his knowledge of Islamic History and the Quran from Baghdad’ university. So, what lies behind Baghdadi’s referencing of Islamic historical events “the Battle of Tabuq” as described in the Surat al- Taw’ba[2]?

Firstly, it must be understood that Baghdadi believes he is speaking in the name of the Muslim “Ummah”, the nation. This means he believes he is acting for Prophet Mohammed or in the waiting of Imam Mahdi, to run Muslims’ affairs and to manage Jihad “fi sabil-Allah” (in the name of God).

Secondly, to understand what Baghdadi is implying, it is important to have further understanding of the history of Islam, in this case, the battle of Tabuq:

On the Muslim month of Rajab, in the 9th year Hijra (Migration / AD630), there was a gathering of forces led by Heraclius, the Byzantine Emperor outside al-Madinah to attack Muslims led by prophet Mohammed. It was a period of famine and scarcity. Most fighters, Mujahedeen, had no money to buy weapons, although Mohammed had called for Jihad and a general mobilisation under the given threat. The Prophet faced indiscipline in the city, as some where for Jihad and others against. Those who hesitated and asked Mohammed to change his mind were called Munafiqeen or hypocrites.

Yet, the prophet gathered an army regardless, as generous donations were given to equip it. It was called the army of ‘Usrah (army of hardship). The might of the Muslim Army led by Mohammed intimidated the Byzantine army superior in number. The battle finally didn’t take place as Heraclius withdrew.

The campaign for the battle of Tabuq is used as a key for comparison for ISIS’ objectives. Indeed, as the preparation for the battle of Tabuq began before the conquest of Makkah (Saudi Arabia), in his last voice message[3] in December 2015, Baghdadi invited his followers to conquer Saudi Arabia. Baghdadi duplicates P. Mohammed goals by speaking of creating Dar-ul-Islam in the entire Arabia, extending the influence of Islam to adjoining countries, crushing the Mischiefs hypocrites, asking donors to finance his campaign and preparing the Muslims for Jihad to conquest the non-Muslim world[4]. To keep in mind that the battle of Tabuq never took place while  ISIS is bombed daily and defeated in many cities. Yet, the group leader Baghdadi said in his speech “you don’t dare to come and fight us”, trying to compare what happen (or didn’t happen) in the battle of Tabuq.

To what extend does the comparison hold? Will Baghdadi personally lead his men in the battle of Iraq and Syria? Clearly, the comparison is been used to ask rich Muslims to donate, a campaign launched by ISIS since a month[5]. Scarcity is at bay, as Russia and the U.S hit thousands of oil convoys. The distribution of Zakat[6], as shown on social media, is becoming necessary for many of the poor living under ISIS. Like in Tabuk, fighters in ISIS are asked to participate and buy their military equipment. A way for ISIS to convince rich donators is to show the intent to fight Israel. In his speech, Baghdadi suddenly remembers Palestine and  referred to “Jews” eight times. He also said “we didn’t forget you, Palestine”. Yet, ISIS fighters are on the Israeli borders since four years now, the group “Liwa’ Shuhada’ al Yarmouk” (although denied link to ISIS), has not fired one bullet. Baghdadi is clearly confused and overwhelmed. ISIS claimed its responsibility for few blind rockets. Insignificant…

Is the lack of consistency in Baghdadi strategy causing indiscipline among his leaders? There is a clear confusion between his speech[7] and the ground. Baghdadi said the last battle would be in Dabiq[8] and al-Ghouta (Damascus). Yet, in reality, thousands of ISIS fighters are leaving south of Damascus to Raqqa following a deal with the government of Syria that has granted them clear passage. This is a sign of general weakness and is not a demonstration of the formidable might Mohammed gathered to intimidate Heraclius.

In the Quran, there is a distinction between explicit historical event and conducts that Muslims are supposed to “ hold on to, until the end of time”. The battle of Tabuq, as described in the surat al Tawba, belongs to historical facts. Yet, Baghdadi, as a keen duplicator, presents the battle as a conduct one needs to hold on to until the end of time, offering unwitting insight into the terrorist group. The confident Baghdadi of July 2014 is surely no longer the same in December 2015.



[1] ISIS leader started his message with versus 52 of Quran Surat al-Tawba (9).




[5] Last explicit call from ISIS Aqnaf Beit al-Maqdes asking for donation from rich Muslims to equip ISIS to fight the Jews.


[7] ISIS leader said he is prepared for al-Ghouta (Damascus) and Dabiq (10km from the Turkish borders north of Syria and close to Raqqa) for the last battle.

[8] Dabiq according to the prophecy:


Read also:

A fine line between journalistic analysis and the “Islamic State” group’ propaganda

Comments are closed.