The Islamic State relies on religious precedence to absolve responsibility for the individual and group. As such, they’re finding authority to run from the battle.

Nearly everything that the Islamic State does, in their view, has some kind of canonical precedent. They wish to create their own currency, based on the Quranic meaning of currency, with shaving of gold, so their money has real values and meaning. When they offer up hostages – they base the price asked on the amount listed as acceptable in their texts. They make whatever updates based on the today’s values.

They’re living out a mandate, in their world. One with religious backing and authority. It’s how they’re able to recruit from such authority. Moreover, it probably has a large part to do with their increasing numbers. But, they’ve also done an incredible job at utilizing social media and or modern phenomenons.

They’ve redefined what the “center of gravity” might be in a military operation, something the Pentagon may look at changing or just abolishing as a whole. The theory that you must topple the center of gravity to defeat an enemy; it does seem a bit archaic, as though there’s a castle to breach. But, we can see our security interests furthered in alternative methods. Just plenty can become wealth using alternative investment vehicles. In fact, many believe that’s how terrorism is funded. Because it’s oblique and outside of the box it’s gone unnoticed and tracked on a large scale.

In an interesting and relevant article featured in Foreign Policy Magazine entitled “Allah wants ISIS to retreat.” “The caliphate’ propagandists are digging through the Quran to prove that getting beaten back in Mosul doesn’t stray from the pre-ordained plan,” Cole Bunzel writes. Because the Islamic State uses religious precedence and Quranic excerpts to substantiate what they’ve done. Like a legal body that they follow – to ignore all others. The exploitation of a belief system and its texts is the bedrock of their ability to operate outside the norms of the global society. Under anyone’s estimate ISIS is extremely extreme.

How are they wrap their heads around their recent losses? How will they deal with their eventual loss in Mosul? Their propagandists and scholars have concluded they’re being tested by God. A kind of “trial” (ibtila). The endorsement of the higher power is like a roller coaster and it never stays all the way up. When your reach the zenith, you’re bound to return to Earth. They no doubt tell themselves it’s an exercise in humility, designed to keep them inline and remind them of the struggle.

Indeed, with a trial at hand, the hardships will be embraced. ISIL will remain as confident and extreme as ever. Faith is what will keep them engaged – and fueled for the fight. Which will, by the way, rage on for some time. ISIL is already reportedly using human shields, rounding up civilians in Mosul. This is a serious humanitarian crisis and how exactly this will play out is unknown. But, no doubt, the Iraqi Special Operations Forces, a gold standard of Foreign Internal Defense (FID) and testament to both 3rd and 5th Special Forces Group will play the most pivotal role. They’ll relive battles experienced at the peak of the Iraq war and emerge victorious. But they’ll be forced to discriminate civilian from combatant and no doubt ISIL will test them. It’s going to be a confusing and destructive battle. But, ISIL already knows they’ll lose and retreat. They’ll say it’s all part of God’s plan. They aren’t leaving the global scene because of Mosul. Maybe the contrary, they might create as many distractions as they can, globally, to pad their hardships in Mosul.

Featured image courtesy of Foreign Policy Magazine.