Dabiq Falls

In apocalyptic Christian prophecy, Armageddon is the place where a major battle will take place during the end times. It’s not clear where – if anywhere – Armageddon actually is, although many traditions link it with the old Canaanite city of Megiddo. Hundreds of scholars have spent a lot of time poring over ancient manuscripts looking for clues that will identify the location beyond a doubt. Their Islamic counterparts have it a lot easier, though. Their religion has an equivalent of Armageddon, but its location is precisely known. It’s the small town of Dabiq, in northern Syria.

Old muslim documents, mainly the haditha – the sayings and actions of Mohammed, written by people who supposedly knew him – tell their own end times story, and Dabiq plays a major role. It’s one of two locations suggested for a huge battle between the “Romans” and a Muslim army from Medina. Most modern Islamic scholars say Romans means Christians, but at the time these stories were written it would have literally meant Romans – the forces of the Byzantines, the Eastern Roman Empire. The prophecy tells a complicated tale of near-defeat of the Muslims, followed by the destruction of the Roman army and the Muslim takeover of Constantinople, the Byzantine capital. Finally the end times will begin, with Jesus returning to defeat the anti-Christ. Yes, it sounds quite familiar.

Like most so-called prophecies, there are problems with this. The hadith about Dabiq was written by Abu Hurayrah, a Yemeni who became one of Mohammed’s soldiers. When he wrote about a battle against the Romans was he really discussing an epic event 1,400 years in the future between a US-led coalition and a rag-tag collection of jihadi fanatics? Or did he maybe mean the actual Roman armies that threatened to crush the original caliphate in a series of wars that lasted until Constantinople actually fell in 1453? I know what my money’s on.

dabiqOf course I’m a bit of an amateur historian, and I’m also relatively sane. The same cannot be said of ISIS. They’re convinced that this is an actual prophecy that heralds the dawn of the global caliphate islamists have always dreamed of. They believe that, after a series of reversals that see two-thirds of the Muslim armies wiped out, the remnants will totally destroy their enemies at Dabiq. The town, and the mythology surrounding it, is so important to them that they named their online recruiting magazine after it.

So it’s rather awkward for them that, when NATO-backed Syrian militias advanced on Dabiq last Saturday, the jihadis could only scrape together a few hundred gunmen to defend it – and, when the attack went in, the heroes of the caliphate ran away rather than make a stand. Dabiq has fallen. It’s now controlled by the Hamza Brigade, which admittedly isn’t much of an improvement, but the symbolism is important: The battle of Dabiq has been fought, and the “Romans” remain undestroyed.

In military terms it doesn’t matter much that ISIS have lost Dabiq. It’s barely more than a large village, doesn’t control access to anything and has no economic importance. But the group has built its appeal on fulfilling old prophecies, and now it’s paying the price for that. When the things you predict keep not coming true, support will start to fade. Only the most gullible and stupid now believe ISIS will defeat the “Romans”. When Mosul falls too, even they might start to get the message.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Fergus Mason

Fergus Mason grew up in the west of Scotland. After attending university he spent 14 years in the British Army and served in Bosnia, Northern Ireland, Kosovo and Iraq. Afterwards, he went to Afghanistan as a contractor, where he worked in Kabul, Mazar-e-Sharif and Camp Leatherneck. He now writes on a variety of topics including current affairs and military matters.
Fergus Mason

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