SPEAKER

Posted by Robert Homann on May 10, 2017
Harvey Clark introduced our speaker.  Todd Kopcha is a special agent for the FBI from the PHX office.  He has been with the FBI for 20 years.  Todd heads the local Joint Terrorism Task Force.
He reminded us that the first ISIS-inspired terrorist attack in the U.S. took place in Phoenix.  He is going to speak today about the ideological stance of ISIS and how to differentiate among the various forms of Islam in the world.
 
There are 1.4 million Muslims in the world.  Seventy per cent are Sunnis and thirty per cent are Shiaas.  Of the Sunnis, 95% are Sufis who tend to be less violent in their views than the other 5% who are Salafis.  ISIS and El Qaeda are Salafist in orientation.  The Taliban and the Muslim Brotherhood are from the Sufi tradition.
 
The Salafis believe that the only true form of Islam is that which follows the practices of the earliest believers.  So they are very pious, believe states should be governed by Sharia law, wear beards, have certain clothing styles, etc.  Those who don't follow their conservative views are considered apostates. ISIS believes in imposing Salafist views and monotheism by force. Taweed means "One (God)" and when you see pictures of ISIS fighters, they are often holding up one finger to symbolize one God. They see terror is a legitimate weapon in achieving their goals.
 
In July of 2014, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi declared himself the caliph of a new caliphate which included large swaths of Iraq and Syria that were predominantly Sunni areas of these countries.  This is where the fighting is going on currently - e.g., Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria.
 
ISIS and other terrorist groups are very effective at using social media to spread their views and to recruit new adherents.  They use You Tube, instructional videos, blogs, on-line forums and on-line magazines. Al Queda publishes "Inspire".  ISIS published "Dabiq" which has now been retitled as "Rumiyah" since they lost control of Dabiq in Syria.  Todd passed around downloads of these magazines and they are truly shocking in their content. The most effective recruiter of Americans is Anwar al-Awlaki who, even though he was killed by a U.S. air strike, continues to have an impact via his writings and his videos.