By Mark Ellis
As ISIS continues their takeover of northern Iraq and portions of Syria and the U.S. launches a tempered military response for strategic and humanitarian purposes, a spokesman for the radical group made a bold declaration – about an ultimate conquest of the White House.
In the last week, Vice News embedded a journalist with ISIS and traveled with their press officer, Abu Mosa, during their assault on the Syrian Army’s 17th division near Raqqa. A powerful and graphic video released from this excursion shows ISIS surrounding Syrian forces on four sides, defeating them, then mounting the heads of their fallen foes on the top of metal fence spikes.
Abu Mosa made a provocative statement following that victory: “I say to America that the Islamic Caliphate has been established. And we will not stop. Don’t be cowards and attack us with drones. Instead send your soldiers, the ones we humiliated in Iraq. We will humiliate them everywhere, God willing, and we will raise the flag of Allah in the White House.”
A Vice News journalist was also able to go inside a mosque and capture ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s bold pronouncement to the faithful, mostly on their knees bowing before him like a messianic figure.
“Indeed Allah, powerful and exalted in might and in combat with the enemies of Allah, he granted his followers success, and empowered them to fulfill their purpose. And if you desire what Allah has promised, then set out in jihad for his cause,” al-Baghdadi said.
The ISIS leader appeared to exert an almost hypnotic control over his followers. Indeed, the video captured
children as young as 11-years-old swearing allegiance to al Baghdadi and the cause of jihad.
Vice News appears to be the only news organization granted behind-the-scenes access to ISIS, which now wants to be known as The Islamic State (IS).
The radical group is determined to institute an Islamic State across the Middle East and throughout the world.
Born a Sunni, al-Baghdadi, is said to be a direct descendant of the prophet Muhammad. He earned a doctorate at Islamic University in Baghdad in Islamic studies and history, and was an Islamic preacher at the time of the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq.
After the invasion, he was drawn into al-Qaeda in Iraq. Later he became the “emir” of Rawa, a town near the Syrian border, where he presided over a sharia court, and gained a reputation for brutality, publicly executing anyone suspected of assisting U.S. forces.
Al-Baghdadi preached at several mosques and also led several smaller militant groups before being promoted to a seat on a council of the mujahedeen.
In 2005, he was captured by U.S. forces and spent the next four years as a prisoner at the Bucca Camp in southern Iraq, according to The Washington Post. Some believe the four years he was held at Camp Bucca inflamed his radicalization.
The US military began releasing 1,000 prisoners per month before it closed the facility in September, 2009. Some faced the Iraqi justice system, but the majority of those released – including al-Baghdadi – faced no further charges.
When al-Baghdadi was released by the U.S., he said, “I’ll see you in New York,” according to ABC News. That cryptic response and their new threat about the White House, shows the group’s fascination with the U.S. – and their ultimate designs to attack it.
“The true heir to Osama bin Laden may be ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi,” wrote The Washington Post’s David Ignatius. He is “more violent, more virulent, more anti-American,” a senior U.S. intelligence official told The Post.