As ISIS is well aware, a contemporary war is not a war just won on the battlefield. These wars take place in part in the media, fought for the hearts and minds of impressionable cannon fodder from around the world.
And hearts and minds are suceptible to a Night of the Long Knives purge type action
Eight Dutch jihadists with the so-called Islamic State are said to have been executed in Syria last Thursday. They were supposed members of a group of 70 Dutch ISIS recruits imprisoned by the fanatics there on accusations of dissension, according to the anti-ISIS activist group Raqqa is Being Silently Slaughtered.
RBSS, which is based near the Syrian town of Ma’dan, the area of the reported killings, claims the arrests and subsequent executions are the result of infighting between the Dutch ISIS members and the local ISIS command, which is mostly made up of Iraqis.
According to the RBSS account, the trouble started when a member of an exclusively Dutch and Dutch-Moroccan ISIS battalion tried to leave and to convince his fellow jihadists from the Netherlands to go with him. The incident triggered an outbreak of internecine violence, according to Abu Mohammed of RBSS, quoted by the Dutch news site The Post Online.
RBSS says that the ISIS local leadership arrested two of the Dutch jihadists on charges of instigating dissent. One of the men subsequently died during interrogation, prompting a revenge killing by the Dutch group.
When Abu Labib, a representative of the local ISIS leader Abu Ahmed Al-Iraqi, was sent to negotiate with the Dutch jihadists, they killed him, forcing the high command to strike back.
The clash between the provincial leadership of ISIS and the Dutch muhajireen escalated further when the high command in Iraq decided to send troops to arrest the whole battalion in order to find out who killed Abu Labib.
Vehicles reportedly were sent to cordon off the area and a shoot-out ensued. Some were killed, others wounded and finally the Dutch jihadists were captured.
Last Thursday, Feb. 26, eight members of the group were executed, RBSS claims. The rest are still held captive in Raqqa and Ma’dan.
If the infighting is confirmed, it heralds a new stage in the development of the Islamic dictatorship’s state, a phase in which fighters form splinter groups and infighting could become a serious factor further destabilizing the ISIS “caliphate.”
No real confirmation of this hap hap happy tale - yet.
If immigrant fighters and local ISIS command are on good terms, the story will have no effect at all. But if there is something brewing, this could help tip the scale toward a major split.