DAESH: Documenting a Modern Heresy, Interview with Belkıs Kılıçkaya

DAESH: Documenting a Modern Heresy, Interview with Belkıs Kılıçkaya
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The New Turkey interviewed Belkıs Kılıçkaya, a distinguished Turkish journalist, about DAESH, on which she made a three-part documentary for a TV channel in Turkey.

The New Turkey interviewed Belkıs Kılıçkaya, a distinguished Turkish journalist, about DAESH, on which she made a three-part documentary for a TV channel in Turkey. Since its initial broadcast, the documentary was repeatedly shown on TV and has reached thousands of people via internet. Kılıçkaya’s critical perspective, multi-dimensional approach, use of different source material, and in-depth analyses clarify and illuminate many points about DAESH and the ambivalent international politics against this terror group that have so far remained in the dark.

I would like to begin with asking when and how this work began.

Habertürk asked me to make a documentary on foreign fighters in August 2015. While studying foreign fighters’ portraits, I found myself focusing on Afghanistan: from the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, to the Taliban and to the US invasion in the aftermath of 9/11. The invasions of both Afghanistan and Iraq are recent history, but we forget them quickly. I can tell that the bad experience of invasions continues to shape these countries and the region today.

At the beginning, I remember that I was depressed while researching the daily lives of people during the invasions. I was struck by a visual. It was a holiday. I was watching a French-made documentary, showing Afghan people living in denlike houses and villages. Like a hole in the wall … The interview was about the US soldiers’ Taliban hunting methods. A man in his fifties was telling his story. He said that the US troops came at night. His father was elderly and wasn’t able wake up right away. When his father barely got up and started to ask a question, the soldiers fired at him. The man, with tears in his eyes, said that his son, who was 12 to 13 years old, yelled at the soldiers, saying “you’ll pay for what you’ve done,” and they shot him too. Then the soldiers left, saying “sorry,” this was the wrong house. After watching this, I stood silent for a long time, not being able to utter a word.

How did you feel?

Numbness … I was still for some time, as if paralyzed. And this was just one of several examples of cruelty during the years of invasion.

After my research on Afghanistan, I started working on the portraits of foreign fighters originating from Europe. These are also depressing, reflecting their sorrowful lives. Take the Kouachi brothers, for instance; they didn’t have a father. Their mother was a prostitute, who committed suicide while bearing her sixth child. The brothers, who were only children then, came to their home and saw their hanged mother. It’s not a surprise that they joined DAESH later.

Joining DAESH grants them a comfortable, safe environment. They feel they’ve become somebody from being just nothing. Even their dead bodies would become precious; they were told that they would become martyrs. While nobody acknowledged their presence before, by joining DAESH, they became like brothers to people from numerous countries. I observed this while watching an interview, which was conducted by the French with hidden cameras. A boy was passionately saying “I have brothers from countries all across the world, can you believe it?” These portraits sadden you; this gets worse when you start researching Iraq.

You believe that these people are joining DAESH due to individual or social sufferings?

Yes, sure. There are individual and social traumas at play. Invasions have severely disrupted the traditional and social fabrics of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria, where different segments of society have clashed with each other. Such organizations are nurtured by chaos and instability. Additionally, violence has a market in today’s world and it’s possible that there are also nihilist tendencies in some of those who joined DAESH, as Olivier Roy has argued. And finally prisons … We know from the PKK example that this terror organization emerged from Diyarbakır Prison. The politicians of the movement, academic studies, even Abdullah Öcalan himself have stated this. What else could emerge from prisons in Afghanistan where hundreds and thousands of people were imprisoned? Or from Abu Ghraib Prison and others in Iraq? Speaking from a sociological viewpoint, DAESH is not a surprise.

What kind of sources did you use while making the documentary?

I read many books. For instance, I read books on the Salafi-Wahhabi movements, along with the books by the founders of Al-Qaeda. I watched numerous documentaries, mostly French. I have also watched some US-made documentaries, as well. Slowly, I began to reach some conclusions and my further research, particularly my interviews conducted with various academicians and people who conducted field research, have all confirmed my foresight.

What did you foresee?

Looking at the patterns, academic works on the subject and the information gathered from the field, they were all leading to the same conclusion. I had foreseen that there would be DAESH attacks not only in the Middle East but also in Europe. I had forecast more precisely that there would be terror attacks in France, where I lived for 17 years. People coming from French colonies, jobless for three generations, and bearing neither Muslim nor French identity had formed a potential human resource for DAESH. Some had already revolted in 2004 by burning cars in the streets. It was no surprise that the largest participation in DAESH in Europe was from France.

A similar coincidence happened when I was meeting with academics from Turkey, Europe, and the US. For instance, what Prof. Burhanettin Duran said about the US invasion of Afghanistan was unknowingly confirmed by Alberto Munoz, who was one of the high-ranking administrators of the CIA during the invasion. Similarly, an Australian security expert’s observations in Iraq and Syria during the invasion coincided with Cole Bunzel’s findings, who is an academic at Princeton working on DAESH. Listening to all of them, I understood that none of these events were unexpected. On the other hand, Michael Nagata of US Special Operations said to the New York Times in 2014, “We do not understand the movement, and until we do, we are not going to defeat it”. This can only be an irony! Shane Bell, a former Australian soldier and a senior security consultant for Iraq, Syria, and Libya, notes that “people from military-origin, like me, and intelligence agencies were aware of DAESH for a long time. Recently, a picture [was] released showing that a US commander posing for the camera with a black DAESH flag in his hand. This picture belongs to 2008 and if you look at the souvenirs that soldiers brought along having served there in this period of time, you can undoubtedly find traces of DAESH.” Although Turkish media, along with the whole world, was surprised when DAESH first emerged in 2014, the emergence of DAESH was hardly a surprise for people working in the field.

Could you say briefly who or what caused the emergence of DAESH? Was it international interventions or regional dynamics? What does your documentary tell us about this?

Invasions, dictatorial regimes, and finally terror regimes… Firstly, there is the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. When the Soviets left the country 10 years later, it had become a completely different Afghanistan. It is a country where 20 different dialects are spoken; a country with a population of 30 million, consisting of diverse ethnic groups. Although the Soviets have left the country, the communistic ideology remains, as many bureaucrats and civil servants were raised by the Soviets. During the Soviet invasion, new sectarian dynamics entered Afghanistan that had not existed before. For instance, with the support of the US, Pakistani jihadists entered the fray. Similarly, a Salafi-Wahhabi understanding of Islam also started to appear in Afghanistan, where the Sunni-Sufi understanding of Islam had actually been predominant throughout history. Suddenly, there was a new movement, which forbid music, girls’ education, or even flying a kite. And the Taliban emerged.

The social fabric of the region started to unravel and it became unpredictable. Then, the US invasion ensued after 9/11. Something really surprised me about this invasion. As you know, the Afghan Northern Alliance supported the international forces against the Taliban. There was a tradition between the clans of Afghanistan; the Northern Alliance, being victorious, demanded that the Taliban, the defeated side in the war, should submit, and the Taliban agreed. However, Donald Rumsfeld disagreed with the decision. As a result, prisons were built and more than 100,000 people were imprisoned. Moreover, many people were sent to the notorious “black sites”, secret prisons run by CIA and constructed generally outside of the US territory, and these are places, where human rights do not matter.

So, now we can expect that some of these inmates were probably tortured to become radicals.

Of course; people imprisoned during the Iraqi invasion turned from typical insurgents into militants with a clear agenda when they got out. The first pictures of the ruling cadre of DAESH released to the world media were all taken in the Iraqi prisons. The conditions there apparently paved the way for radicalization.

But the invasion of Afghanistan is not the whole story. After Afghanistan, Iraq was invaded. Before the Iraqi invasion, there was the Iran-Iraq War between 1980-88 that caused the deaths of almost a million people. We had Saddam Hussein, who was backed by the West. We also had the Iranian Revolution in 1979, with serious regional effects when Humeyni tried to spread it. We are basically talking about a turbulent region. Moreover, as Iraq invaded Kuwait, there was a 13-year-long embargo on Iraq by the international community, which left the country in a shambles. To top all of this, Iraq was invaded after 9/11 and it became a failed state with no authority! Prisoners who committed either felonies or petty offences were all released. Looking at the dispositions of the groups in Iraq, you can see Sunnis and Shiites who were in favor of the invasion and who were against it. Some of these groups had enmity against each other. While some elements formed an alliance between themselves in the first year, they became enemies in the second and allies once again in the third year. There were many different organizations emerging during these turbulent times.

The war in Iraq also had a psychological component. The US forces were playing Metallica on the streets of Fallujah. A whole administration was overthrown, from its fire department to basic state institutions. It became a country without any authority after the 13-year-long embargo; a country that suffered too much violence as a consequence of Saddam and the Iran-Iraq War. On the other hand, the country had the potential for wealth, as it has bountiful oil and mineral reserves. It could have become as wealthy as France, but the country is continuously ravaged by invasion.

You said that it was a transformation from dictatorial regimes to terror regimes: a title that you gave to the second part of your documentary.

DAESH emerged in Iraq and flourished in Syria. If you notice, these two countries were ruled by the Ba’ath regimes, which were actually the remnants of the Soviet ideology, while also having components of the Nazi Stasi. Moreover, both of the regimes represented the minorities in their respective countries: one represented the Nusayri minority, while the other the Sunni. It is not simply that DAESH emerged due to existing catastrophic conditions, but I want to underline that DAESH means Ba’ath. It’s not coincidental that, among all of the organizations in the region, only DAESH emerged and established a state. They got their know-how from Saddam’s men. Looking at the important figures of DAESH reveals this. Izzat al-Douri, for instance, was the right-hand man of Saddam. Abu Bakr Naji’s notes were published by Der Spiegel. Examining his networks within prisons led to the same conclusion. Olivier Roy defined it perfectly: “Secular men with mustaches grew Islamic beard[s] within a couple of months.” They also transferred their military skills to DAESH.

You’re speaking about DAESH’s organizational structure now …

After he was killed, Abu Bakr Naji’s notes were published by Der Spiegel. In those notes, it said that they were forming religious schools named Da’wah and were selecting the most talented participants. Then, they cooperated with these people from whom they received intelligence about the people in their villages or towns. They learned who had a weakness for what, who was wealthy, who would resist etc. By this method, they were able to establish a small but effective intelligence network. Abu Bakr Naji was known to be responsible for the air force and intelligence during Saddam’s reign. All of the names were somehow related to Saddam.

Do you believe that each and every member of DAESH was related to Saddam’s regime?

No, there are still many questions about the nature of this issue. Zarqawi, for instance, is still a mystery for me, even after all of the reading. You know everything about him, but you cannot make any sense of him. Cole Bunzel studied his portrait very well and read all of his works. I should state that I’m commenting on existing works. He is from Jordan and he was an alcoholic and a drug addict. Zarqawi met with Maqdisi, his Salafi teacher, in a prison; however, their relations turned sour. It is said that he is charismatic and is able to mesmerize people.

Zarqawi left the prison with a seemingly inimical attitude towards the countries in the Middle East and the Shiites. Let’s assume that he met with Salafist imams and started to hate Shiites to the extent that he came to believe that every Shiite has to be annihilated. He doesn’t even care about the invasion forces. Moreover, the American academics who examined the notes of Zarqawi state that he isn’t inimical to Jewish people.

That’s peculiar. How can we explain it?

Depending on the information provided by our interviewees and on the news appearing in the world media, Zarqawi first went to Afghanistan to meet Osama bin Laden; however, they had a disagreement. Later, someone acted as an intermediary between them and, ultimately, bin Laden funded him. Anyway, Zarqawi was wounded during the US siege of Herat and left Afghanistan. Do you know where he went? Tehran! We know that Zarqawi saw Shiites as his enemies during that time. So, how was he able to go to Tehran and conduct his business there? This is an important question. We asked this to Cole Bunzel and he said “this is a very hypocritical behavior; he didn’t attack Shiites during his stay. Moreover, the Shiite administration offered him support and he accepted it.”

Let’s stay there for a minute. A man who is inimical towards Shiites goes to Tehran, conducts certain businesses, and receives support from Iran. What does this mean?

I leave this to our readers. I’m just providing the information.

When I talked to the people of the region, they were telling me that the probability of DAESH being an instrument of Iran was high.

We know that Iran wouldn’t miss any chances. Petraeus says that Qasem Soleimani, an Iranian senior military officer, is “a wonderful spy and he established a contact with the Iraqi al-Qaeda.” The interesting thing is that Iraqi al-Qaeda is against Shiites.  According to German intelligence reports, Zarqawi started to travel frequently to Syria from Jordan. Syria isn’t an ordinary country in which to travel. It is hardly believable that someone like Zarqawi would travel to Syria frequently without any knowledge of the Assad regime. Then, in 2005, Zarqawi’s men were captured in Iraq. One of the captured men was from Syrian Intelligence, while the other was a colonel in the Syrian Army. I watched the record of this news broadcast on Iraqi TV at that time.

Let’s assume that Al-Assad was afraid of a US invasion and sent his men to infiltrate the insurgents. However, Zarqawi worked together with these men and, if the news was accurate, Iraqi Al-Qaeda started to attack Shiite mosques. It’s not improbable that they coordinated and carried out these attacks together. We also know that they appeared anti-Shiite, but they killed thousands of Sunnis too.

According to the writings of Zarqawi found by the US military, the chief purpose of Zarqawi was to sparkle a civil war with sectarian conflicts at its core. For this reason, Zarqawi called the people to protest the elections. As a result, the Sunni population protested the elections; the Shiites gained more power, while this clever act by Zarqawi pushed the Sunnis out of politics and led them to become increasingly marginalized.

At the same period of time, a book named The Management of Savagery was published. Its author was Abu Bakr Naji. The book employs a complex academic discourse. A year after its publication, it was translated by a think-tank in the US. For instance, the book interestingly distinguishes between Jihad and Islam and suggests employing violence and savagery to manage perceptions. It states “One who previously engaged in jihad knows that it is naught but violence, crudeness, terrorism, frightening (others), and massacring—I am talking about jihad and fighting, not about Islam and one should not confuse them. (Moreover, he knows) that he cannot continue to fight and move from one stage to another unless the beginning stage contains a stage of massacring the enemy and making him homeless (or ‘frightened’).”*

The claim for a state appeared first with Zarqawi and it was before DEASH, right?

Yes, Zarqawi first established the Mujahideen Shura Council. Then, they found two men, one from Baghdad (Abu Omar al-Baghdadi) and one from Egypt (Abu Hamza). They established a so-called state and announced it on the internet. But none cared about the claim. After Zarqawi was killed, Omar al-Baghdadi became the leader. The actual ruler of the organization was Abu Hamza; however, al-Baghdadi was preferred as he was a local man. The US put a $5-million bounty on these two men. Two years later, this amount decreased to $100,000, as they had suspicions about these two men’s existence. After they were killed, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi became the new leader. We did not hear his name between the years 2006 and 2011. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi began to emerge as a powerful figure when Maliki took the government in Iraq, the Sunnis came under pressure, and the Sahwa forces comprised of Sunni fighters were destroyed by Petreaus. Some of these fighters joined the Iraqi al-Qaeda later.

You have said that there were many documentaries on this subject; how does your documentary compare with those?

I’m a journalist who loves to deal with the human element. I prefer to examine subjects with a sociological perspective. This is also true for the DAESH documentary. There are very good books and documentaries on Afghanistan, the invasion of Iraq, and DAESH. But there are also documentaries that can turn their viewers into Islamophobics. Unfortunately, the second is widespread in Europe and the US, portraying Muslims as a savage horde targeting Western civilization; however, this is not the case. DAESH is actually targeting us rather than the rest of the world. Look at, for instance, the number of people they killed in the Middle East and the cultural heritage they destroyed. Olivier Roy rightly defines the Salafi-Wahhabi movement as “Holy Ignorance” in one of his books. In my view, DAESH is an attempt to de-Islamize Islam, targeting not only Muslims but also Islamic civilization as a whole.

Do you think that modernism and DAESH are in contradiction with each other?

I think DAESH is a very modern organization, as they effectively employ every privilege granted by modern life. Their propaganda videos don’t only consist of violence. For instance, a journalist at the BBC examined their tweets posted during a three months period. The visuals are exceptionally well done. The foreign fighters originating from Europe are especially good at this. The saying of Andy Warhol, “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes,” applies to DAESH as well. DAESH militants become famous with their YouTube videos on the internet.

How about DAESH’s periodicals?

If you examine their periodicals, you can see that they’re all well prepared. They refer to events from the historical and sociological memory of their respective countries. For instance, their first periodical in Turkey referred to the Sykes-Picot Agreement. The British and French made a secret agreement and divided the territories among themselves. We understand that the Ottoman Caliphate was no more, right? The peculiar part is that DAESH regards neither the Ottomans nor Turkish as Muslims. That’s why they talk about conquering Istanbul, and it is no coincidence that on the cover page you see the picture of the Maiden’s Tower, not the Sultanahmet (Blue) Mosque.

So, DAESH’s media tools follow certain tactics for winning people over.

Let me tell you something more interesting. As I was exposed too much to their materials, I wasn’t able to distinguish interesting or peculiar parts of their publications. So, I gave one of their periodicals to my brother, so that he could examine it. He said, “They’re [DAESH] calling people to not vote.” I knew that they were doing this, but I thought it was only in Europe. If the Muslims in Europe don’t vote, they will become marginalized, as was the case in Iraq. Think of people in Turkey who identify themselves as Muslim not casting their vote; the people who they want to exclude from the system will become excluded, marginalized, and will form a human resource for DAESH-like organizations to be recruited.

And the image of the sword … You examine it in your documentary as well. DAESH is not killing people with the sword. But they use weapons of modern technology that were left behind by the Americans and captured by DAESH in Iraq.

These are pornographic visuals. They terrify people, while becoming a center of attraction. On the other hand, I know from France that mainstream Islamophobic periodicals sometimes used the image of the sword. Can you imagine, there was a weekly periodical published in France that had such a cover, named “Prophet of the Sword”? DAESH serves this perception and markets this image deliberately.

Interestingly, ten months after the formation of their so-called state, one of al-Baghdadi’s statements was revealed. He said “Islam is a religion of war, not peace.” This wasn’t said by Trump, Sarkozy, or any Islamophobic academics, but by al-Baghdadi himself. They first categorize the world as Muslims and non-Muslims. Then, they distinguish Muslims on the basis of their pledge of allegiance to them and they excommunicate whoever does not obey them. This excommunicative behavior is such that, if two people were left, one would excommunicate the other.

Then, what purpose does excommunication serve? Which strategy is it a part of? A rational person would expect the organization to negotiate more in order to recruit more people, especially if they are claiming to found a state. Am I wrong?

Palestine is a fundamental issue for Muslims all over the world, right? You can even find a Palestine motive, being a symbol of resistance, in very secular and leftist movements. In theory, you expect DAESH to have such a motive too. But DAESH attacked the Yarmouk Camp where Palestinians were residing. Why? I think there are some peculiarities waiting to be answered. We should try to understand DAESH by following not what they are saying but what they are doing. 

There are Eurofighters in DAESH as well. What do their profiles tell us?

There is an identity crisis in Europe. Looking at the lives of those who joined DAESH, you will see intriguing facts. For instance, Salim Benghalem, one of the ten most wanted DAESH militants in the US. He has a criminal record for being a gang member, being connected with the mafia, drug dealing, and thievery. His lawyer is Léon-Lef Forster, who caught my attention when I was a journalist in France, for also being the lawyer of Alaattin Çakıcı. Forster is an expert in gang lawsuits. He said that he was very surprised when he heard about Benghalem joining DAESH. “Putting religion aside, I haven’t even seen this man being either a part of a civilization or the enemy of it,” he said. Benghalem became a DAESH member in a very short period of time.

Another example was a family in which the mother was Algerian and the father a Charlie Hebdo subscriber. The family defined itself as laical believers. Their child was against any religion. The child had two names: Yunes and Sebastian. He sometimes used one and then the other. It can be seen that he was in an identity crisis. Then, his parents joined DAESH. Interestingly, they wrote and sent a letter to their son. The mother said “don’t think that we affected the decision of each other, we made this decision by ourselves.” This indicates a hybrid form of culture. They stressed the equality between men and women. In the statements of such people, there are many indicators of a hybrid culture. For instance, some of them talk about “the right to behead people.” They say “I haven’t beheaded anyone until now, but I can. This is how I employ my freedom of expression.” Another one says, “You carry the flag of gay pride. It is my preference to carry the DAESH flag.” These kinds of rhetoric on freedoms and rights don’t appear in the profiles of fighters originating from the Middle East.

For instance, there is a family in France that produces flags. The woman there made an interesting statement. She said that she made a white DAESH flag as “many pacifists come and prefer the white DAESH flag.” This was an interesting detail.

In another instance, there was a man named Abdelhamid Abaaoud who was a Belgian of Moroccan descent. It was one of the first profiles I examined while studying DAESH. There was a visual of him, which was one of the most striking. He had attached a number of corpses to a rope and said “I used to ski, but now I’m jihading.” Then, he laughed and started to drag the corpses with the rope. It was one of the most terrifying visuals I have ever seen. A French TV station conducted an interview with this man and broadcast the footage. Abaaoud was somewhat popular in DAESH. If I had ever seen him, I would’ve been able to identify him easily. However, this terrorist entered and left France numerous times, as if there was no screening. Moreover, this man was one of the important figures of the Bataclan attack. Previously, he had prepared an attack on the opera house in Toulouse; however, it was prevented at the last minute. Abaaoud was one of the most important profiles in DAESH.

In addition, there are religious converts, all of whom don’t have any political background. They don’t have any connections with political movements, including extreme ones, in their own countries. There are very interesting portraits among these converts. There was one whose mother was an agnostic and father socialist. Then, the parents got divorced and the father married a Portuguese woman, who was a devoted Catholic. The mother raised both her child and the man’s together. However, both of the children joined DAESH. For example, Denis Cuspert’s mother was German, while his father was from Ghana. His father left the family and Cuspert was subjected to violence by his American step-father. Cuspert is an important recruiter in DAESH.

How much time does it take the new converts to join DAESH?

They join DAESH after almost a year of sharing the news of their conversion to Islam to their close friends and relatives. In his book, Robert Leiken has an important point. He says, “It’s 80 times easier for a German to become a jihadist than a Muslim.” Because, converts have no basic information about Islam at the beginning. There are elements of modernism, violence, and an identity crisis that contribute to this fact. This is also known by Al-Qaeda. In their guides on propaganda, it’s said, “stay away from the ones who know the religion well, focus on people who don’t know much about it.”

There are striking similarities between DAESH’s interpretation of Islam and evangelist’s interpretation of Christianity. I interviewed Esra Özyürek, who is an academic in the UK. Özyürek studied the Salafi mosques in Germany and published a book named Being German, Becoming Muslim. I told her an anecdote I had heard from a peshmerga who fought in Northern Iraq against DAESH. A DAESH militant and the said peshmerga somehow came side by side; the peshmerga asked the militant why he was fighting. The militant said, “Because, I’m going to have lunch together with the prophet.” After listening to this anecdote, Özyürek said that it was interesting and added, “Evangelists talk about having tea with God.”

Does this mean that DAESH is also using expressions borrowed from Christianity in its propaganda mechanisms?

No, they are not borrowing these expressions directly from Christianity. Such similarities demonstrate resembling reflections of modernism both in new Christian currents and DAESH-like organizations. It is also seen in the letters of the European Muslims who join DAESH: “If you become a Muslim, we’ll see each other [in] heaven.” They’re sure that they’ll all become martyrs. And there is also the Salafi-Wahhabi understanding, which is a modern interpretation of Islam representing not really returning to the authentic version of religion. It disregards fourteen centuries of memory of Islamic culture and civilization, severing all ties with tradition and local culture. Not all Salafis have jihadist or excommunicative attitudes, of course. But the Salafi-Wahhabi tradition turns against the Islamic culture. As you know, Salafis always have an issue with tombs. DAESH shouts “Allah-u Akbar” while destroying the tombs with explosives.

Is DAESH still a closed book?

Yes and no. In certain aspects, it’s a deciphered organization. There is a French expert on terrorism named Jean-Charles Brisard, who worked at the anti-terror department. In one of his statements, he said that the 24 banks captured by DAESH are still open for international transactions.

What does it mean if the banks are open to international transactions?

I don’t know. Banks in Greece were closed down in just a day. Then, it means that the international system allows them to stay open for transaction. When we asked this to Munoz, he said, “It is easy to close down the banks. If they are still open, someone wanted to keep them open.” He clearly wasn’t surprised.

It seems as if the international system doesn’t want to finish off DAESH quickly.

According to the 2015 report of the Louvre Museum, which was conveyed to the Élysée Palace, DAESH is smuggling artifacts. So, it is not dynamiting all historical artifacts.

Or, take the oil sales of DAESH.

We knew that the Western oil companies in the region were selling oil during the Iraqi embargo. These companies never asked the source when they found cheap oil. This was also stressed by the European Parliament. There also was a hearing in 2015 in the US. The Chief of General Staff and the Secretary of Defense were present. A senator was asking how the DAESH tankers travelled almost without any resistance. They replied that the drivers were civilians. When the senator emphasized that those drivers were working for DAESH, they said that they didn’t have any man in the field. The senator asked again, “where are these drivers? Have they retired after carrying all the oil and started to plow the fields somewhere?” The Chief of General Staff replied by saying, “I don’t understand your question.” It was just like a comedy show.

Would you like to add anything?

In Europe, one of the most brutal events in world history, the Holocaust happened. This was conducted by an organized large group, which was the product of the transitivity between the state and the people. WWII swept millions of lives away. In summary, 50 million people died and, since then, we haven’t seen a war of this scope. However, we know that in the region we’re living, WWI and WWII still continue.

Belkıs Kılıçkaya, I thank you for your time and we’re grateful that you allowed me to conduct such an extensive interview with you.

*https://azelin.files.wordpress.com/2010/08/abu-bakr-naji-the-management-of-savagery-the-most-critical-stage-through-which-the-umma-will-pass.pdf The Management of Savagery: The Most Critical Stage Through Which the Umma Will Pass, translated by William McCants, Institute for Strategic Studies, Harvard University, May 2006.

Kılıçkaya worked as a journalist for Cumhuriyet and Milliyet newspapers. In 1992, she moved to Paris and studied international relations. During her stay, Kılıçkaya worked as a free-lance journalist for foreign media outlets, and then as a correspondent of NTV for 8 years and of Sabah for 3 years. Kılıçkaya turned back to Turkey in 2009 and started working for Habertürk. There, she prepared and presented a TV program: Doğru Açı. In 2016, Kılıçkaya made a three part documentary on DAESH for Habertürk.