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The Strangers


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A gust of wind whips sand across the cracked walls of the small village Mosque as the murmurs of a small crowd of men fill the air. As dawn breaks over the Iraqi desert, the group gradually begins to find their seat on the floor beside one another, turning attentively to the podium. An old wooden door creaks open beside the pulpit as a slender, bearded man appears. The men go silent.

"Peace be with you.

O believers, without jihad, there is no religion." He pauses, glancing across the floor, finally peering directly at the small tripod standing in the center of the space. "What is it that separates the corrupt from the righteous? What splits the East from the West? The Day from the Night? Indeed, all of this is accomplished by the hand of Allah. Therefore, we, for the loving sake of Allah must separate the evil from the good, the idolatry from the purity of our religion, the allies of Ar-Rahman (The Most Merciful) and the allies of the Shaytan. We discern this by the furqan (means of separation) with which Allah in His grace has granted us, whereby we are allegiant to the Haq (truth) and at enmity with falsehoods. And we engage this directly by means of jihad. O believers, without jihad there is no religion." 


Such sermons had become common place, particularly in the Sunni regions of Northern Iraq, and the local people had gradually begun to respond. But, now with the utilization of global communications, the message of jihad was being broadcast, albeit among a fringe, to a global audience. This was the dam-break for a flurry of radicalized internet and cellphone activity buzzing more and more by the day. The deathly silence that had once swept over the middle east in recent years is shattered by increasingly extremist, militant rhetoric. Perhaps, nothing else heralded this new era more than a simple link that rapidly inundated popular social media platforms, and the digital public square was a captive audience to a new, slickly produced video to the latest audio message by the man now being referred to as Sheik Iklas. 

 The video opened with the chant of an Islamic nasheed, as the image of a horseback rider appears to charge toward the viewers carrying a black banner.

"'Insha'Allah this is the generation of the Mahdi! Of the returning caliphate!"  Clips of live action Islamic medieval warriors, swords drawn, fades into the image of modern jihadis shouldering rockets and firing automatic rifles. "You will witness a series of End-Time Phenomena."  Cataclysmic images are shown destroying Western cities, with a montage of rocket explosions and masked men cheering "Allahu akbar!" The calamity of music and war sounds fades out as Sheik Iklas appears on screen and finishes his sermon, "The prophet Salalahu alaihi wasalam said, Islam began as something strange and will return to something strange as in the beginning, so glad tidings to the strangers!"


 At this, Sheik Iklas picks up a rifle and invites jihadis internationally to come to Iraq, and join the "Jama'at al-Ghurabaa wal-Jihad" or simply "Ghurabaa" (the Strangers). 





Edited by VIIMares
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