Whatever else it is, ISIS is the perfect manifestation of the Postmodern condition of contemporary warfare—sometimes referred to as Fourth Generation Warfare.
Involved in what seems like an extremely "asymmetrical conflict," they have nevertheless developed a sophisticated system of fighting and proselytising that has allowed them to carve out an enclave based on the alienated Sunni Arab populations of the former Baathist states of Iraq and Syria.
Perhaps the most Postmodern thing about ISIS is the element of larping or cosplay that seems to pervade the movement—an arcane insistence on roles taken from a fictional book (The Koran), combined with a tech savvy approach that riffs on the alienation, detachment, and cultural divisions created by Western Liberalism. Another Postmodern aspect is the doubt surrounding its true identity and motivations, giving it something of the nature of a holographic simulacra.
Much of this is evident in their rather well-produced English magazine DABIQ. The latest issue (dated 1436 in the Islamic calendar) seems to address allegations that the movement is little more than a CIA or Mossad front by running an interview with a captured Mossad spy referred to here as "Murtadd" (apostate), who, of course, in the Post-modernist nature of things might just be a stooge for higher up Mossad plants. But make your own mind up.
DĀBIQ: What’s your name?
MURTADD: My name is Muhammad Sa’īd Ismā’īl Musallam.
DĀBIQ: Tell us about yourself.
MURTADD: I’m from Jerusalem. I’m 19 years old, and used to work as a firefighter.
DĀBIQ: How were you recruited to be a spy?
MURTADD: We had a Jewish neighbor who worked as a police officer. He came one day and asked me to work with Israeli intelligence. I told him that I’d think about it, and then went and asked my father and brother what they thought. They both encouraged me to do it and told me that it was a very good job. They told me that there was a lot of money in it, and that you could advance to higher positions. I knew at that point that they themselves were working as spies.
DĀBIQ: What are their names?
MURTADD: My father’s name is Sa’īd Ismā’īl Musallam. My brother’s name is Ismā’īl Sa’īd Ismā’īl Musallam.
DĀBIQ: What happened when you decided to take the job?
MURTADD: I met a guy named Eli. This Eli is an intelligence official and is responsible for the checkpoints in the West Bank. He came to our home and met with my father. My father advised me in front of him and was telling me about the job, and Eli talked to me about the benefits and compensation and about the job itself.
DĀBIQ: How much were you paid?
MURTADD: In general, the pay would be proportional to the assignment and its level of importance, and the minimum would be 5,000 Shekels. The bigger the assignment and the more valuable the information, the more they would pay me and the more bonuses I would receive.
DĀBIQ: Did you receive training?
MURTADD: Yes, they sent me to a training camp in East Jerusalem – 'Anatawt Training Camp. That’s where I began my training. I went through a training course on self-control and on how to survive an interrogation. I also did a training course on information extraction – how to get information out of people. They also gave me weapons training. I attended the training camp for one month and completed my training.
DĀBIQ: Were you paid during training?
DĀBIQ: Were there other Palestinians being trained with you?
MURTADD: There were nine of us being trained, but all of them were Jews; I was the only Arab.
DĀBIQ: What happened when you completed your training?
MURTADD: After I completed my training, I began working as a spy in the people’s midst. I was specifically tasked with turning in weapons dealers, anyone who was wanted, anyone looking to infiltrate Jewish territory, and to report to the intelligence any operation planned to be executed in Jerusalem.
DĀBIQ: How did you eventually wind up spying on the Islamic State?
MURTADD: I came home one day and a guy named Miro was there. This Miro is an officer in the Israeli Mossad. My father and brother were both present. Miro had a folder in his hand and was reading from it. He suddenly started thanking me and expressing gratitude for the work I was doing and the help I was providing. He told me to continue on this path so that I could eventually work with them. My father and my brother also began thanking me and telling me that I would get better and better, and kept encouraging me further. Then he left. The next time he came, he said they wanted me to work with them and come and meet with them. I agreed. He said he would call us. He called me afterwards and said to come and see him at the office. I went to the office and met him. I sat down and he began asking me questions. He asked me how many languages I knew, what kinds of jobs I used to do in my country, and if I would be able to take care of myself if they planted me in the midst of some people whom I didn’t know, and asked me how I would handle myself in such a situation. Then he said that they wanted me to carry out a big mission. They wanted to send me to Syria. I asked him what I would be doing in Syria. He said they wanted to send me to the Islamic State and have me send back information about them.
DĀBIQ: How much did they offer to pay you for this assignment?
MURTADD: They offered a monthly salary. They would also give me a house, and would take care of any issues I had and any documents I needed, as well as my living needs when I returned.
DĀBIQ: What kind of information did they want you to send them about the Islamic State?
MURTADD: Firstly, they wanted me to tell them the places where their weapons and missiles were being stored. Secondly, the locations of their bases, and thirdly, the names of any Palestinians who made hijrah [flight] to the Islamic State from Palestine. They also made it clear that I shouldn’t start working or contacting them until I’d completed the training camp and shar’ī [sharia] seminar, and had been assigned to a detachment and begun to be trusted. They also said that I should contact them once I’d completed the training camp and let them know so that they could send me what I needed.
DĀBIQ: How did you come to the Islamic State?
MURTADD: We got everything in order and I left for Turkey as instructed to do so by the Mossad. I had the number for a smuggler. I talked to the smuggler and told him where I was. He showed me the way, and I entered Syria and was in the territory of the Islamic State.
DĀBIQ: How was your cover blown?
MURTADD: Not long after I had arrived I began acting in a manner that wasn’t typical of a muhājir [foreign fighter] despite the training I had received from the Mossad. I also failed to follow some orders that my amīr had given me, and then became worried that as a result he had become suspicious of me. I was afraid I would be punished for not listening and obeying as was required of me and possibly be monitored thereafter. So I went and called my father and told him what had happened, and he told me to come back, but it was too late, as I was being watched. The mujāhidīn [jihad fighters] put me in prison and moved me from one prison to another. During the interrogations, I confessed that I was a spy working as an agent for the Israeli Mossad, and confessed to the things that I had done in my country.
DĀBIQ: Do you have a message for other spies sent by the kuffār?
MURTADD: Yes, I say to all those who want to spy on the Islamic State, don’t think that you’re so smart and that you can deceive the Islamic State. You won’t succeed at all. In the end, they’ll capture you and implement the hadd on you. Stay away from this path. Stay away from helping the Jews and the murtaddīn [apostates]. Follow the right path.
DĀBIQ: Do you have anything you’d like to say to your father and your brother?
MURTADD: I say to my father and my brother who got me entangled in this mess, you brought me into this, you tempted me with money and with the dunyā [worldly life], and put me in the position that I’m in now. Repent to Allah (‘azza wa jall). Repent to Allah (‘azza wa jall). You got me into this.