A Counterjihad Security Architecture for America

Chairman’s Note – Our thanks to Clare Lopez as the senior editor and members of the Legacy National Security Advisory group for all the research and time to develop this important and critical document. Counterjihad security architecture and strategies are more necessary now than ever before.

Paul E. Vallely; Chairman – Stand Up America US

Editor’s Note – This article was updated to include headings for sections of the document on 2.26.16 at 11:0015 AM Pacific.

Legacy National Security Advisory Group

For far too long, United States foreign policy, especially in the critical region of the Middle East and North Africa, has been pursued with apparent scant attention, much less priority, given to core, compelling U.S. national security objectives in the fight to defeat the Global Jihad Movement. This paper, therefore, offers a blueprint for a counterjihad security architecture for America that identifies those objectives and outlines the measures necessary to provide for the common defense of our Constitution, Republic, and society in this existential struggle of our time.

The U.S. has limited national security objectives in the MENA region, but they are important and must be precisely defined. The following are those objectives:

  1. We must defend U.S. diplomatic, intelligence, and military assets, facilities, and equipment, and ensure the security of our personnel serving abroad.
  2. We must keep open the naval, maritime, and commercial sea-lanes and defend the free passage of oil and other commercial goods.
  3. We must prevent control of the Strait of Hormuz, Bab al-Mandab, Red Sea, and Suez Canal by jihadist or other forces hostile to the U.S., the West in general, and our partners and allies.
  4. We must defend and support our regional allies, primary among which are Egypt, the Jewish State of Israel, Jordan, and the Kurdish people.

Seek Balance of Power

It is in U.S. national security interests to seek regional stability, including a balance of power between local Shi’ite and Sunni Islamic forces, however rough or imperfect that balance may be. We must avoid actions that would further destabilize the region, unless compelled in defense of other core U.S. national security objectives. We should refrain from involvement in historical, intra-Islamic sectarian struggles, again, unless compelled in defense of other core U.S. national security objectives. We must accept the reality that Sunni-Shi’ite relations are and will remain messy. We must understand that fashionable policies like ‘exporting democracy,’ ‘COIN (Counterinsurgency)-winning hearts and minds’ and ‘nation building’ are futile among societies in thrall to Islamic Law (shariah). Sometimes accepting local strongman rule that supports U.S. and Western interests, even though not democratic, is the lesser of two evils when the alternative would be either chaos or an Islamic jihad-and-shariah takeover.

Rebuild the Military

We must rebuild the U.S. military ASAP. This includes re-establishing the presence of the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean Sea and the Second Fleet in the Atlantic Ocean. Sequestration has decimated the readiness of the U.S. military to respond effectively to key national security requirements, set back modernization of our forces, and hollowed out our overall military capabilities. This must be reversed on an accelerated basis.  Given the known penetration of the U.S. military by operatives and sympathizers of the Muslim Brotherhood, we must carefully vet all Muslim chaplains in the U.S. military for jihadist sympathies and/or Muslim Brotherhood connections.

Defeat the Global Jihad MovementLEGACY

We must acknowledge the enemy threat doctrine of Islamic Law (shariah) is pursued as a matter of doctrine and faith by the Global Islamic Movement including devout Muslims across the world. The White House must formulate, publish, and implement a new National Security Strategy that defines Islamic Law (shariah) as an enemy threat doctrine. It must be a priority objective of this new National Security Strategy to deter and defeat Islamic jihad globally. To do this, it will be necessary that U.S. national security leadership understand that the shariah threat is advanced by way of jihad, which may be kinetic or non-kinetic (head, heart, hands, including funding).

The U.S. Intelligence Community, with new leadership at the White House, National Security Council, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Director of Central Intelligence, and other key positions, must acknowledge, identify, and remove the jihadist penetration of and influence operations against the U.S. government, especially at top levels of national security. Such a revised National Security Strategy will include consideration of nation states, sub-national jihad groups, individual jihadis, transnational jihadist organizations like the Islamic State/Caliphate, Muslim Brotherhood and Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), associated criminal, gang, and narcotrafficking groups in its overall threat matrix because they all work together, if only on an ad hoc, opportunistic basis.

Guided by such understanding of the Global Jihad Movement (GJM) threat and a new National Security Strategy designed to counter and defeat it, the next task of the U.S. President and his national security team will be to name, define, prioritize, confront, and defeat threats to U.S. national security objectives from U.S. adversaries in the MENA and Central Asian regions, their sponsors, and proxies. Iran is far and away the most critical, dangerous U.S. adversary in the region.

Its Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) programs, especially nuclear and Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) programs and Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) delivery systems, pose an existential threat to the U.S. mainland as well as to regional allies like Israel. The expansionist, revolutionary geo-strategic objectives of the Tehran regime derive from the Islamic canon and are expressed in both the Iranian constitution and military doctrine (details of which are now in U.S. possession). The Shi’ite Twelver eschatology of the top Iranian leadership, both clerical and military, actively seeks Armageddon to hasten return of 12th Imam and launch the Islamic End Times.

Iran’s preferred tactic for expansion, power projection, and terror operations relies on proxy forces: Al-Qa’eda, HAMAS, Hizballah, Iraqi Shi’ite terror militias, the Islamic State (IS) and the Taliban. We must develop plans for regime change in Iran to end the mullahs’ pursuit of deliverable nuclear weapons, an EMP-kill-shot capability, support for terrorism, revolutionary expansionism, and appalling human rights abuses against their own people.

iran.smallAt the same time, we must understand the Sunni Islamic State, its objectives, and what it represents for the region, vulnerable target areas across the globe, and for individual Muslims worldwide.

It must be acknowledged that the Islamic State embodies the hopes and dreams of hundreds of millions among the Muslim ummah that had been without a Caliphate since 1924, for the first time since the early days of Islam.

Thus, we must acknowledge that the identifiable, self-declared ambitions of the forces of jihad focus on establishment of that global Caliphate (Islamic governance) under Islamic Law (shariah).

Islamic State & Middle East Implosion

Since its lightening expansion during 2014, the Islamic State generally has been contained in geographic terms in its core area of operations in the former states of Iraq and Syria, both of which have been dominated by Iranian satrap regimes essentially since President George W. Bush removed the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq in 2003 and dismantled his Sunni-majority army. It is not in the best interests of U.S. national security to intervene in this intra-Islamic Shi’ite-Sunni fight in any way that tips the advantage to either set of Islamic jihadis, whether Shi’ite or Sunni, but all of whom are dedicated enemies of the U.S., Israel, and the West.

The former states of Iraq and Syria were artificial constructs to begin with, drawn on maps by colonial powers in the 20th century. That they now are splintering along pre-colonial ethnic, sectarian, and tribal lines is likely unavoidable but not a process that threatens core, compelling U.S. national security interests in the region or calls for U.S. involvement to oppose.  On the other hand, jihadist groups and individuals outside of this Middle Eastern region that have been pledging bayat (allegiance) to IS and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and that generally pre-date the formation of IS, should be targeted by Western powers on a case-by-case basis where their elimination would not simply accrue to the benefit of other jihadist groups or states. Islamic State as well as other jihadist affiliates in Libya and elsewhere must be countered and defeated; the U.S. should provide broad-spectrum assistance against IS forces as requested by local allies and partners and/or as in the best interests of the U.S., to eradicate such presence in their territories. This assistance may include diplomatic, financial, intelligence, military, and political measures.

Hijra to the West

Many jihadist pro-shariah groups and individuals already have made the hijra (migration) to the West and live among us with the intent of ‘destroying [our] miserable house from within’ (as stated in the Muslim Brotherhood’s 1991 report, ‘The Explanatory Memorandum’). Physical annihilation of the Islamic State’s Middle East Caliphate is a necessary ultimate objective that will set back the Global Jihad Movement but not destroy it, principally because the GJM already has a presence worldwide and because the ideology of jihad derives directly from the Qur’an, hadiths, Sirat, and shariah of the Islamic canon.

Intra-Islamic Rivalries

Fellow jihadist organization and sometime Islamic State rival Al-Qa’eda is not dead: it is vibrant and currently engaged in savage rivalry with the IS and others over dominance of the Global Jihad Movement. AQ regional affiliates have multiplied since 9/11 and today include: Al-Qa’eda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Al-Qa’eda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Jabhat al-Nusra, and the Taliban, among numerous other jihadist groups. The AQ-IS rivalry is likely to impel each to seek to out-do the other with terror operations targeting the U.S., the West, Israel, and other allies.

U.S. national security leadership, military officers and personnel, and local law enforcement officers must read and study the AQ Timeline for Conquest of the West (as published in August 2005 by Der Spiegel). We are now in Phase Six of Seven (2016-2020 is the time of ‘total confrontation’). This timeline should be made required reading at all service academies, Staff/Command and War Colleges and throughout the Pentagon. The U.S. must re-establish all training curriculum materials and instructors previously purged under Muslim Brotherhood influence that accurately teach the threat from Islamic jihad and shariah.

Whither Turkey?

The Turkish regime under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan harbors neo-Ottoman jihadist aspirations and under current leadership cannot be considered a viable NATO or Western ally unless its behavior significantly turns toward supporting U.S. and NATO objectives. Rather, Turkey is a destabilizing force in the Middle East, especially because of its apparently fixed resolve to oust the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad. Further, this jihadist Turkish leadership views Israel as a Jewish enemy and Iran and Saudi Arabia both as Islamic rivals for regional domination.

Turkey has supported IS since its inception because it views the group as a capable proxy force against Bashar al-Assad. Turkey also supports other jihadist militias including Ahrar al-Sham. Ankara’s permission for IS and other jihadis to use Turkey as a gateway to Syrian battlefields, establish terror training camps on its territory, and find safehaven there, eventually will threaten Turkey itself. Turkey’s enduring enmity towards the Kurds, both within Turkey and elsewhere, ensures ongoing, destabilizing efforts by Ankara to attack, counter, and degrade the Kurds’ equally determined nationalist aspirations. Pro-West, anti-jihadist Kurds are a natural ally for the U.S. and should be recognized and aided as such.

US President Barack Obama and Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Washington. Photo: REUTERS
US President Barack Obama and Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Washington. Photo: REUTERS

About Russia

Russia is not a Middle East regional power but seeks to project power and influence there. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s KGB-controlled Kremlin is not a U.S. partner: it is an adversary whose expansionist ambitions and longtime collaboration with Islamic terror groups and regimes like Iran’s must be countered firmly.

Putin’s Middle East objectives center on sea access to the southeastern littoral of the Mediterranean Sea, oil interests, and foreign military sales, to include elements of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons programs and other large scale weaponry and armaments. Despite protestations of seeking to forestall chaotic destabilization, Moscow’s Middle East regional objectives and behavior run counter to U.S. national security interests.

These include Russian support for Iran’s nuclear, other WMD, and ballistic missile programs; its determination to ensure that Bashar al-Assad or other Moscow-friendly regime will retain power in Damascus; its historical intelligence and military ties to Middle Eastern terrorist groups, including Hizballah, PFLP, PLO, Iranian Khomeinists and their successors, as well as the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qa’eda; the supply of advanced military hardware and associated capabilities to forces inimical to U.S. national security interests in the region; the destabilizing, catastrophic human rights effects of savage bombing in civilian areas and against U.S.-backed Syrian rebel groups like the Syrian Free Army; and displacement of historical U.S. influence with regional governments (e.g., Egypt).

Saudi Arabia: Font of Jihad Ideology

Saudi Arabia is a font of global jihad ideology. Despite the necessity of working with the Saudis to counter other, more dangerous regional threats like Iran and IS, Riyadh royals must be recognized for the civilizational adversary that they are, who have backed, exported, and funded jihad worldwide for decades.

A principal reason why the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has not fielded a serious military force to counter IS is that Saudi regime depends for legitimacy on its Wahhabi clerical establishment which finds more in common with IS’ pure practice of Islam than with dissolute Saudi princes. That Saudi Arabia at some point may face attack from Iran and/or IS, or that its eastern oil fields region may come under Iranian and/or IS frontal and/or subversive pressure adds complexity to defense of U.S. interests in the region, but should not blind us to the essential jihadist nature of the Saudi leadership.

The Iran Threat

America needs a new U.S. National Security Strategy to defeat the Global Jihad Movement. To accomplish this, we must first name the jihadist Iranian regime the number one most immediately critical threat to U.S. national security in the Middle East region and perhaps in the world. We must develop plans to destroy Iran’s key nuclear infrastructure, including key military and civilian facilities, e.g., power grids, IRGC, IRGC-Qods Force, Bassij, and Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) command centers, etc. We must end official collaboration with and/or support for the Iranian regime, its puppet regimes in Baghdad, Beirut, and Damascus, and/or any of its proxies, including Hizballah, Iraqi Shi’ite militias, and the Taliban. We must declare formal U.S. government commitment to regime change in Tehran, support for the free expression of the will of the Iranian people, and our willingness to work with Iranian opposition groups, especially the Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MeK) and its political umbrella group, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).

iran+nuclear+dealWe must abrogate the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and declare Iran’s nuclear weapons program illicit and in violation of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and multiple UN Security Council (UNSC) Resolutions. We must declare Iran’s illicit nuclear weapons program a valid target for possible military and/or other offensive action unless any and all suspect sites are immediately opened to IAEA inspections that include U.S. nationals on the teams.

We must declare Iran’s ballistic missile program in violation of UNSC Resolutions and subject to possible military and/or other offensive action until/unless verifiably dismantled.

We must demand full accounting for Iran’s past nuclear weapons program work and should withhold funding for the IAEA until it reverses its capitulation to Tehran regime on the so-called Possible Military Dimensions (PMDs) of the Iranian nuclear weapons program. We must demand immediate and unconditional release of all U.S. hostages held by the Iranians and/or any of their terror proxies.

Secure the Grid

It is absolutely critical that we secure the U.S. civilian electric grid ASAP. Its continued vulnerability to EMP attack by Iran, North Korea, or other adversary, to cyber-attack, physical terrorist attack, or to periodic massive solar flares called Coronal Mass Ejections is unconscionable when the technical capability exists to harden the grid and the actual financial cost is so affordable, relative to the threat that life as we know it in America could end. Both the Critical Infrastructure Protection Act (CIPA) and the SHIELD Act must be passed out of Congress and signed by the President without any further delay.

Support Israel

The U.S. should announce a return to full, vocal official diplomatic commitment to the survival of the Jewish State of Israel within secure borders and end all funding for the Palestinian Authority and the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWRA). We must renew and upgrade the U.S. defense relationship with Israel and accelerate approval for sales of the Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP) and other bunker-busting munitions to Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). The U.S. should provide the IDF with enhanced air refueling capability and consider other, enhanced collaboration on and funding for the Iron Dome, Arrow, David’s Sling, Magic Wand, and other missile defense systems as well as other defensive measures.

The Department of State should open bilateral discussions on countering Iran’s existential threat to Israel, including the possibility of Israel ‘taking its bomb out of the basement’ and announcing commitment to the principle of anticipatory self-defense under international law. And symbolically, but most important of all, the U.S. should move its official Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which is the eternal, undivided capital of the Jewish State of Israel. Our very visible and strong relationship with Israel must be seen as unequivocal in the eyes of the international community.

Kurdish National Aspirations

The U.S. should declare official support for the national aspirations of the Kurdish people, whether in autonomous zones or something more formal (to be the subject of discussions). We should upgrade immediately U.S. military and weapons assistance to the Kurdish Peshmerga that are fighting forces of the Damascus regime as well as IS. We should expand the U.S. economic commitment to Kurdish-controlled areas for development & infrastructure projects.

FILE - This undated file image posted on a militant website on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014 shows fighters from the al-Qaida linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) marching in Raqqa, Syria. The past year, ISIL _ has taken over swaths of territory in Syria, particularly in the east. It has increasingly clashed with other factions, particularly an umbrella group called the Islamic Front and with Jabhat al-Nusra, or the Nusra Front, the group that Ayman al-Zawahri declared last year to be al-QaidaÌs true representative in Syria. That fighting has accelerated the past month. (AP Photo/militant website, File)
FILE – This undated file image posted on a militant website on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014 shows fighters from the al-Qaida linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) marching in Raqqa, Syria.

In terms of a broader U.S. regional strategy, we should announce a ‘non-intervention’ policy for the intra-Islamic Shi’ite-Sunni struggle. This should not, however, necessarily obviate continued U.S. air strikes, or the targeted deployment of Special Operations forces against IS in the Caliphate area of operations on a limited basis.

We should arm, back, fund, and train U.S. regional allies, including Egypt, Israel, Jordan, the Kurds, and other minority groups including Christians and Yazidis.

We should consider expansion of the U.S. military commitment to counter IS in other areas outside of its Middle East core area of operations such as in North and West Africa; Egypt/Sinai Peninsula, and elsewhere. It is most important that we ensure U.S. actions do not tip the balance in favor of either Shi’ite or Sunni jihadist enemies.

A Hostile Foreign Powers List

Domestically, the President should seek Congressional legislation to designate a new listing for Hostile Foreign Powers, to which all jihadist entities, whether kinetic or subversive, national, sub-national or transnational, would be named. The new listing would be the basis to purge all U.S. federal, state, and local bureaucracies of pro-shariah jihadist influences, especially the Muslim Brotherhood, its front organizations, and associated individuals. We must re-establish an official U.S. government-wide training curriculum to instruct on Islamic doctrine, law, scriptures and their role as inspirational sources for Islamic terrorism.

The Department of Justice must begin prosecution of the 200-plus unindicted co-conspirators in the 2008 Holy Land Foundation HAMAS terror funding trial. The President must instruct the FBI to investigate and the Department of Justice to prosecute sedition and material support for terrorism aggressively. If found guilty of subversion and / or sedition of the United States of America, mosques and the associated imams or mullahs that preach sedition and jihad must be closed, and their religious leaders, if indicted, will be prosecuted and, if necessary deported or imprisoned.

Immigration & Refugee Resettlement

It is critical that the U.S. develop comprehensive immigration and refugee resettlement policy reform. We should prioritize funding for refugees already in safe camps in the Middle East to remain near their former homes so as to improve the likelihood they will go home whenever the situation permits. The President and State Governors should seek Congressional legislation that requires involvement by state and local jurisdictions in every step of the immigration and refugee resettlement process.

The Departments of Homeland Security, Justice, and State must begin to apply discriminatory vetting to exclude those who favor or harbor jihadist ideology or are unlikely to assimilate well into US society. Federal agencies should selectively favor immigration, refugee processing, and visas for Middle East Christians, Yazidis, and others persecuted for their religious beliefs.

Finally, candidates for public office, Congressional representatives, defense and national security officials, and all who accept the responsibilities incumbent on those who take the oath of office to ‘protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic’ should see the Secure Freedom Strategy, published by the Center for Security Policy in 2015, for a whole-of-government, whole-of-society approach to defeating the Global Jihad Movement: http://www.centerforsecuritypolicy.org/the-secure-freedom-strategy/


VIDEO on Illegal Immigration "America: No Documents Needed"

Editor’s Note – Stand Up America US is proud to be a sponsor of this Burt Keefer production at AmericaWorking.org. In this era of high drama regarding illegal immigration and the President’s attempts at circumventing Congress on the issue.

It is high time to look at the real picture of the impact that illegal immigration has had and will continue to have on America.

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Please donate to AmericaWorking.org and support Burt Keefer

The facts are hidden by phony numbers emanating from Washington, D.C. that no one seems to challenge and have stayed the same for years when we know the number is growing constantly. Burt has really captured the scope of the issues and we recommend that you share this far and wide.

Did you ever wonder why politicians keep telling us there about 11-15 million illegal immigrants in the United States? This number has been used for over 20 years, how can that be, and what is the economic impact to real citizens of America?

In this video, Keefer points out the glaring discrepancies and the dramatic cost of this broken system that no one seemed to really want to fix for so many years, especially in the past seven. When you consider how many “anchor babies” are already here, one’s head spins.

Special credit goes to Elliot Meiser for his motion graphics contribution to this project released today. We would also like to thank our co-sponsors at Patriotic Warriors, Wild Bill For America, and Tea Party Community for their invaluable help and support for this project.

Productions like these take a lot of time and effort to produce and it is funded solely through donations by patriots like yourselves. Please consider making a donation to the groups above and especially to AmericaWorking.org. Please also consider a donation to Stand Up America US by clicking here.

“America: No Documents Needed”


Adm. Lyons – Can you tell whose side Obama is on?

Editor’s Note – When it comes to National Security we really should be listening to those that are experienced military advisors, not political advisors pretending to be National Security advisors.

Obama’s distorted strategy

The president soothes anti-Western grievances at great cost

Washington Times

While France remains in a state of shock over the ISIS terrorist attacks in Paris, they are also most likely confused and disappointed over President Obama’s declaration that there will be no fundamental change to his current policy and strategy to “now contain and defeat ISIS.”

President Barack Obama speaks at the G-20 meeting in Turkey.
President Barack Obama speaks at the G-20 meeting in Turkey November 12th.

During his Nov. 12 remarks in Antalya, Turkey, Mr. Obama appeared to be petulant and arrogant when responding to legitimate reporter’s questions, perhaps a “crack” in the carefully constructed veneer that has concealed his true character and now has been exposed.

However, on Nov. 17, The New York Times editorial board quickly came to the rescue by declaring that Mr. Obama “hit the right tone” in his remarks.

But his remarks should leave no doubt that he has a far-reaching strategy. That strategy is embedded in his declaration to fundamentally transform America. Actually, the way we are restricting our operations in the Middle East today has its roots in America’s transformation.

Those who say the administration is incompetent — are wrong. With the complicity of our congressional leadership and the mainstream media, the administration has executed their strategy brilliantly.

In order to understand Mr. Obama’s strategy, you first have to understand the threat that has been deliberately distorted. When President Erdogan of Turkey was prime minister, he said it best — Islam is Islam. There are no modifiers, such as violent extremism.
Democracy is the train we ride to achieve our ultimate objective, Mr. Erdogan implied, which is world domination. It must be understood that Islam is a political movement masquerading as a religion. The Islamic movement will seize power as soon as it is able.

No matter how many times “progressives” try to rationalize or accommodate perceived Muslim grievances, the fact remains that Islam has been involved in a struggle for world domination for over 1,400 years.

• James A. Lyons, a U.S. Navy retired admiral, was commander-in-chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and senior U.S. military representative to the United Nations.
James A. Lyons, a U.S. Navy retired admiral, was commander-in-chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and senior U.S. military representative to the United Nations. He is now a member of the Legacy National Security Advisory Group with MG Vallely

What the world witnessed in Paris, and certainly here in America on Sept. 11, 2001, was a continuing clash of civilizations between Islam and the Judeo-Christian values of the West.

As the noted historian Samuel P. Huntington implied, Islam is fundamentally incompatible with Western values and cultures.

There can be no peace or co-existence between Islam and non-Islamic societies or their political institutions. Clearly, there must be a reformation of Islam.

Once the Islamic threat has been exposed and understood, then any thinking American should be able to grasp Mr. Obama’s strategy. It is anti-American; anti-Western; but pro-Islamic; pro-Iranian; and pro-Muslim Brotherhood.

This raises the question: Why would an American president with his country’s Judeo-Christian heritage, who professes to be a Christian, embrace Islam? Or for that matter, why would an American president embrace Iran, the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, which has been at war with the United States for over 35 years? They have caused the loss of thousands of American civilians and military lives.

Also, why would an American president embrace the Muslim Brotherhood, whose creed is to destroy America from within by our own miserable hands, and replace our Constitution with seventh century Shariah law? They have been able to penetrate all our national security and intelligence agencies. Consequently, they have had a major impact on our foreign and domestic policies as well as the way our military is restricted on fighting our wars.

It is not possible to list all of President Obama’s executive orders and policies that have imposed undue restraints on our military forces and first responders, but illustrative of those are the following:

  • The unilateral disarmament of our military forces. This makes no sense when we are being challenged throughout the world.
  • Compounding the unilateral disarmament issue is the social engineering that has been forced on our military to satisfy an ill-advised domestic agenda. It has adversely impacted the military’s moral fiber, unit cohesiveness, integrity and most importantly the “will to win.”
  • The purging of all our military training manuals that links Islam with terrorism. Our forces are being denied key information that properly defines the threat.
  • Emasculation of our military capabilities by imposing highly restricted Rules of Engagement. It makes our military look ineffective.
  • Curtailment of Christianity and its symbols in our military, e.g., restricting the display of the Bible.
  • Making our military forces in the Middle East either ignore or submit to the atrocities authorized by Shariah law, tribal customs and traditions, e.g. wife beating, stoning, sodomizing young boys.
  • Unfettered immigration with open borders, plus seeding Muslim immigrants throughout the country.
  • Shifting sides in the Global War on Terror by supporting al Qaeda and Muslim Brotherhood militias, and facilitating the removal of all vestiges of secular rulers who were in fact our allies in the war on terror.

When President Obama gave his June 4, 2009 speech at Cairo University, co-hosted by Al-Azhar University, the center of Sunni doctrine for over 1,000 years, he stated, “I consider it part of my responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear,” that said it all.

Again, when he spoke at the U.N. on Sept. 25, 2012, after the Benghazi tragedy and stated that “the future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam” — case closed. Andy McCarthy, author and National Review columnist, made a compelling case for Mr. Obama’s impeachment in his book, “Faithless Execution.”

Clearly, the president has exposed where he stands when the issue is Islam versus our Judeo-Christian heritage. Certainly, the case is there to be made for his removal from office for his illegal, unconstitutional and treasonous acts.

James A. Lyons, a U.S. Navy retired admiral, was commander-in-chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and senior U.S. military representative to the United Nations.

Weak USA Emboldens China – S. China Sea World Court Case

Editor’s Note – Recently, Stand Up America US Far East/Asia Advisor, Col. John Paul Spickelmier sent us the following article while in Binh Duong Province, Viet Nam that thoroughly describes the curious claims that China is making in its pursuit to expand in the South China Sea.

This very scholarly and well documented article shows how important this subject is for the people of Viet Nam and the Philippines, the major neighbors with claims over the same sets of islands in the South China Sea.

Of course, anyone who views a map of the region can readily see how preposterous China’s claims are (‘U-Shaped Line’), but it will take international judges to sort through the entire history of the region. SUA has reported many times on the subject since 2009, but in 2011 we started to see the hard charge China was making to secure the island chains in question.

In recent years, it became clear that China saw how weak the Obama administration really was all along and is taking advantage at break neck speed and the countries most affected are fighting back. America stands to lose much if China is to be allowed to continue along with our allies, including Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan.

We encourage you to read the fascinating history because China is establishing itself in locations to which no sane person would ever believe they have a rightful claim. Japan is also paying close attention to this most important set of sea lanes that can affect world commerce as well.

We embedded two important maps for you to examine, especially over the resources in the area. China’s aggression cannot be permitted.

The importance of evidence: Fact, fiction and the South China Sea

By Bill Hayton – Thanh Nien News

In just a few weeks, international judges will begin to consider the legality of China’s ‘U-shaped line’ claim in the South China Sea. The venue will be the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague and the Court’s first step – during deliberations in July – will be to consider whether it should even consider the case. China’s best hope is that the judges will rule themselves out of order because if they don’t, and the Philippines’ case proceeds, it’s highly likely that China will suffer a major embarrassment.

The Philippines wants the Court to rule that, under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), China can only claim sovereignty and the rights to resources in the sea within certain distances of land territory. If the court agrees, it will have the effect of shrinking the vast ‘U-shaped line’ to a few circles no more than 24 nautical miles (about 50km) in diameter.


China is not formally participating in the case but it has submitted its arguments indirectly, particularly through a ‘Position Paper’ it published last December. The Paper argued that the Court shouldn’t hear the Philippines’ case until another court had made a ruling on all the competing territorial claims to the different islands, rocks and reefs. This is the issue that the judges will have to consider first.
China’s strategy in the ‘lawfare’ over the South China Sea is to deploy historical arguments in order to outflank arguments based on UNCLOS. China increasingly seems to regard [UNCLOS] not as a neutral means of resolving disputes but as a partisan weapon wielded by other states in order to deny China its natural rights.

But there is a major problem for China in using these historical arguments. There’s hardly any evidence for them.

This isn’t the impression the casual reader would get from reading most of the journalistic articles or think-tank reports written about the South China Sea disputes in recent years. That’s because almost all of these articles and reports rely for their historical background on a very small number of papers and books. Worryingly, a detailed examination of those works suggests they use unreliable bases from which to write reliable histories.

This is a significant obstacle to resolving the disputes because China’s misreading of the historical evidence is the single largest destabilizing factor in the current round of tension. After decades of mis-education, the Chinese population and leadership seem convinced that China is the rightful owner of every feature in the Sea – and possibly of all the water in between. This view is simply not supported by the evidence from the 20th century.

Who controls the past, controls the future

The problem for the region is that this mis-education is not limited to China. Unreliable evidence is clouding the international discourse on the South China Sea disputes. It is skewing assessments of the dispute at high levels of government – both in Southeast Asia and in the United States. I will use three recent publications illustrate my point: two 2014 ‘Commentary’ papers for the Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore written by a Chinese academic Li Dexia and a Singaporean Tan Keng Tat , a 2015 presentation by the former US Deputy-Ambassador to China, Charles Freeman at Brown University and a 2014 paper for the US-based Center for Naval Analyses.


What is striking about these recent works – and they are just exemplars of a much wider literature – is their reliance on historical accounts published many years ago: a small number of papers published in the 1970s, notably one by Hungdah Chiu and Choon‐Ho Park; Marwyn Samuels’ 1982 book, Contest for the South China Sea; Greg Austin’s 1998 book China’s Ocean Frontier and two papers by Jianming Shen published in 1997 and 2002 .

These writings have come to form the ‘conventional wisdom’ about the disputes. Google Scholar calculates that Chiu and Park’s paper is cited by 73 others, and Samuels’ book by 143. Works that quote these authors include one by Brian Murphy from 1994 and those by Jianming Shen from 1997 and 2002 – which are, in turn, quoted by 34 and 35 others respectively and by Chi-kin Lo, whose 1989 book is cited by 111 other works. Lo explicitly relies on Samuels for most of his historical explanation, indeed praises him for his “meticulous handling of historical data” (p.16). Admiral (ret) Michael McDevitt, who wrote the forward to the CNA paper, noted that Contest for the South China, “holds up very well some 40 years later”.

These works were the first attempts to explain the history of the disputes to English-speaking audiences. They share some common features:

  • They were written by specialists in international law or political science rather than by maritime historians of the region.
  • They generally lacked references to primary source material
  • They tended to rely on Chinese media sources that contained no references to original evidence or on works that refer to these sources
  • They tended to quote newspaper articles from many years later as proof of fact
  • They generally lacked historical contextualizing information
  • They were written by authors with strong links to China

The early works on the disputes

English-language writing on the South China Sea disputes emerged in the immediate aftermath of the ‘Battle of the Paracels’ in January 1974, when PRC forces evicted Republic of Vietnam (‘South Vietnam’) forces from the western half of the islands.

The first analyses were journalistic, including one by Cheng Huan, then a Chinese-Malaysian law student in London now a senior legal figure in Hong Kong, in the following month’s edition of the Far Eastern Economic Review.11  In it, he opined that, “China’s historical claim [to the Paracels] is so well documented and for so many years back into the very ancient past, that it would be well nigh impossible for any other country to make a meaningful counter claim.” This judgement by a fresh-faced student was approvingly quoted in Chi-Kin Lo’s 1989 book ‘China’s Policy Towards Territorial Disputes’.12

The first academic works appeared the following year. They included a paper by Tao Cheng for the Texas International Law Journal13  and another by Hungdah Chiu and Choon‐Ho Park for Ocean Development & International Law.14 The following year, the Institute for Asian Studies in Hamburg published a monograph by the German academic, Dieter Heinzig, entitled ‘‪Disputed islands in the South China Sea’.15 ‬‬‬‬‬‬‬ These were pioneering papers but their content – and therefore their analysis – was far from neutral.‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Undated photo of ships of the China's People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) in 2012
Undated photo of ships of the China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) in 2012

Cheng’s paper relied primarily upon Chinese sources with additional information from American news media. The main Chinese sources were commercial magazines from the 1930s notably editions of the Shanghai-based Wai Jiao Ping Lun [Wai Chiao Ping Lun] (Foreign Affairs Review) from 1933 and 1934 and Xin Ya Xiya yue kan [Hsin-ya-hsi-ya yueh kan] (New Asia Monthly) from 1935. These were supplemented by material from the Hong Kong-based news magazine Ming Pao Monthly from 1973 and 1974. Other newspapers quoted included Kuo Wen Chou Pao (National News Weekly), published in Shanghai between 1924 and 1937,Renmin Ribao [Jen Ming Jih Pao](People’s Daily) and the New York Times. Cheng didn’t reference any French, Vietnamese or Philippine sources with the exception of a 1933 article from La Geographie that had been translated and reprinted in Wai Jiao Ping Lun.

The paper by Hungdah Chiu and Choon‐Ho Park relied upon similar sources. In crucial sections it quotes evidence based upon articles published in 1933 in Wai Jiao Ping Lun16  and Wai Jiao Yue Bao [Wai-chiao yüeh-pao] (Diplomacy monthly),17 and Fan-chih yüeh-k’an [Geography monthly] from 193418  as well as Kuo-wen Chou Pao [National news weekly] from 1933 and the Chinese government’s own Wai-chiao-pu kung-pao, [Gazette of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs].19  It supplements this information with material gathered from a 1948 Shanghai publication by Cheng Tzu-yüeh, Nan-hai chu-tao ti-li chih-lūeh (General records on the geography of southern islands)20  and Republic of China government statements from 195621 and 197422.

Chiu and Park do use some Vietnamese references, notably eight press releases or fact sheets provided by the Embassy of the Republic of Vietnam in Washington. They also refer to some, “unpublished material in the possession of the authors”. However, the vast majority of their sources are from the Chinese media.

Writing a year later, Dieter Heinzig relied, in particular, on editions of two Hong Kong-based publications Ch’i-shih nien-tai (Seventies Monthly) and Ming Pao Monthly23  published in March and May 1974 respectively.

What is significant is that all these foundational papers used as their basic references Chinese media articles that were published at times when discussion about the South China Sea was highly politicised. 1933 was the year that France formally annexed features in the Spratly Islands – provoking widespread anger in China, 1956 was when a Philippine businessman, Tomas Cloma, claimed most of the Spratlys for his own independent country of ‘Freedomland’ – provoking counterclaims by the RoC, PRC and Republic of Vietnam; and 1974 was the year of the Paracels battle.


Newspaper articles published during these three periods cannot be assumed to be neutral and dispassionate sources of factual evidence. Rather, they should be expected to be partisan advocates of particular national viewpoints. This is not to say they are automatically incorrect but it would be prudent to verify their claims with primary sources. This is not something that the authors did.

The pattern set by Cheng, Chiu and Park and Heinzig was then repeated in Marwyn Samuels’ book Contest for the South China Sea.24  Samuels himself acknowledges the Chinese bias of his sources in the book’s Introduction, when he states “this is not a study primarily either in Vietnamese or Philippine maritime history, ocean policy or interests in the South China Sea. Rather, even as the various claims and counterclaims are treated at length, the ultimate concern here is with the changing character of Chinese ocean policy.” Compounding the issues, Samuels acknowledges that his Asian research was primarily in Taiwanese archives. However, crucial records relating to the RoC’s actions in the South China Sea in the early 20th Century were only declassified in 2008/9, long after his work was published.25

US: Kerry to leave Beijing in 'no doubt' over South China Sea expansion
US: Kerry to leave Beijing in ‘no doubt’ over South China Sea expansion – hardly stopping anything.

There was another burst of history-writing in the late 1990s. The former US State Department Geographer turned oil-sector consultant Daniel Dzurek wrote a paper for the International Boundaries Research Unit of the University of Durham in 1996 and a book by an Australian analyst Greg Austin was published in 1998. Austin’s historical sections reference Samuels’ book, the paper by Chiu and Park, a document published by the Chinese Foreign Ministry in January 1980 entitled ‘China’s indisputable sovereignty over the Xisha and Nansha islands’26  and an article by Lin Jinzhi in the People’s Daily.27  Dzurek’s are similar.

The next major contributor to the narrative was a Chinese-American law professor, Jianming Shen based at St. John’s University School of Law in New York. In 1997 he published a key article in the Hastings International and Comparative Law Review. Like the Texas International Law Journal, the Review is a student-edited publication. It hardly needs saying that an editorial board comprised of law students may not be the best body to oversee works of Asian maritime history. Shen followed this article with a second in a more prestigious journal, the Chinese Journal of International Law – although in many sections it simply referenced the first article.

It seems more than ironic that material produced by the State Oceanic Administration and the Chinese legal establishment has … become part of the Pentagon’s understanding of the history of the South China Sea.

Shen’s two articles have been particularly influential – the 2014 CNA paper references them at least 170 times, for example. However, an examination of their sources shows them to be just as suspect as their predecessors. The historical sections that provide the evidence for his 1997 paper rely in large part on two sources. One is a book edited by Duanmu Zheng entitled Guoji Fa (International Law) published by Peking University Press in 1989 (referenced at least 18 times).28  The following year Duanmu became the PRC’s second-highest ranking legal official – Vice President of the PRC’s Supreme People’s Court – and was later one of the drafters of the Hong Kong Basic Law.29  In other words, he was a senior Chinese state official.

Shen’s other main historical source is a collection of papers from a Symposium On The South China Sea Islands organised by the Institute for Marine Development Strategy, part of the Chinese State Oceanic Administration, in 1992 (referenced at least 11 times). It seems more than ironic that material produced by the State Oceanic Administration and the Chinese legal establishment has subsequently been processed through the writings of Professor Shen and then the Center for Naval Analyses and now become part of the Pentagon’s understanding of the history of the South China Sea.

Major shipping lanes in the South China Seas
Major shipping lanes in the South China Seas

None of the writers mentioned so far were specialists in the maritime history of the South China Sea. Instead they were political scientists (Cheng and Samuels), lawyers (Chiu and Park and Shen) or international relations specialists (Heinzig and Austin). As a rule their works don’t examine the integrity of the texts that they quote, nor do they discuss the contexts in which they were produced. In particular Cheng and Chiu and Park incorporate anachronistic categories – such as ‘country’ to describe pre-modern relations between political entities around the South China Sea – for periods when political relations were quite different from those that exist today.

It’s also worth noting that Cheng, Chiu and Shen were Chinese-born. Cheng and Shen both graduated with LLBs from Peking University. Chiu graduated from National Taiwan University. While this does not, of course, automatically make them biased, it is reasonable to assume they were more familiar with Chinese documents and the Chinese point of view. Both Samuels and Heinzig were scholars of China.

Flawed evidence

It is hardly surprising that the first English-language writings on the disputes, written as they were by Chinese authors and based upon Chinese sources, come down on the Chinese side of the argument. Cheng’s judgement (p277) was that, “it is probably safe to say that the Chinese position in the South China Sea islands dispute is a “superior claim”. Chiu and Park (p.20) concluded that “China has a stronger claim to the sovereignty of the Paracels and the Spratlies [sic] than does Vietnam”. Shen’s point of view is obvious from the titles of his papers: ‘International Law Rules and Historical Evidence Supporting China’s Title to the South China Sea Islands’ and ‘China’s Sovereignty over the South China Sea Islands’.

These verdicts are still influential today: they were quoted in Li and Tan’s 2014 papers, for example. Yet a closer examination of the evidence upon which they are based suggests they are deeply flawed. Those magazine articles from 1933, 1956 and 1974 should not be regarded as neutral evidence but as partisan readings of a contested history.

There isn’t space here to cover all the claims the writers make about events before the 19th Century. In summary, the accounts by Cheng, Chiu and Park, Samuels and Shen all share the common assumption: that China has always been the dominant naval, trading and fishing power in the South China Sea. Cheng, for example puts it like this, “It has been an important part of the sea route from Europe to the Orient since the 16th century, a haven for fishermen from the Hainan Island, and the gateway for Chinese merchants from south China to Southeast Asia since earlier times” (p.266).


More empirically-based histories of the Sea suggest the situation was much more complex. Works by the historians Leonard Blussé, Derek Heng, Pierre-Yves Manguin, Roderich Ptak, Angela Schottenhammer, Li Tana, Nicholas Tarling and Geoff Wade have revealed a much more heterogeneous usage of the sea in the pre-modern period. Chinese vessels and merchants played almost no role in seaborne trade till the 10th century and even after that were never dominant but shared the sea with Malays, Indians, Arabs and Europeans. Research by François-Xavier Bonnet30, Ulises Granados31  and Stein Tonnesson32  show how similar patterns persisted into the 20th century.

Accounts from the early 20th century demonstrate that the Chinese state had great trouble even controlling its own coast, and was completely unable to project authority to islands hundreds of miles offshore. For example, two articles in The Times of London from January 1908 describe the inability of the Chinese authorities to control ‘piracy’ in the West River – inland from Canton/Guangzhou.33  A 1909 article by the Australian newspaper, The Examinertells us that foreigners (“two Germans, one Japanese, and several Malays”) had begun mining operations on Hainan Island without the authorities finding out until much later.34

What these contemporary accounts reveal is a South China Sea that until the mid 20th century was essentially ungoverned, except for the occasional interventions of foreign powers against piracy. It was only in 1909, following the scandal surrounding the occupation of Pratas Island by a Japanese guano entrepreneur Nishizawa Yoshiji, that the Chinese authorities became interested in the offshore islands.35

Protests against German surveys

Samuels (p52), however, argues that an implicit Chinese claim to the Spratly Islands might be dated to 1883 when – according to his account – the Qing government officially protested against a German state-sponsored expedition to the Spratly Islands. The assertion is sourced to the May 1974 edition of the Hong Kong-based magazine Ming Pao Monthly without other corroborating evidence. Chiu and Park (in footnote 47) ascribe it to an article published 50 years after the alleged events in question in the September 1933 edition of Wai Jiao Yue Bao (Wai-chiao yüeh-pao) [Diplomacy monthly],36  Heinzig quotes the same edition of Ming Pao that Samuels relies on to state that the 1883 German expedition actually withdrew following the Chinese protest.

This claim seems highly unlikely because the German surveyors mapped theParacel Islands (not the Spratlys) between 1881 and 1883, finished their work and subsequently published a chart. A French edition was published in 1885.37
The 1887 Sino-Tonkin convention
Samuels argues that the 1887 Sino-Tonkin convention negotiated by the French government, nominally on behalf of Tonkin, amounted to an international agreement allocating the islands to China (p52). Article 3 of the Convention does indeed allocate islands east of the Paris meridian 105°43’ to China. But Samuels and the other authors failed to notice that the Convention applied to Tonkin – the northernmost area of what is now Vietnam and therefore can only relate to islands in the Gulf of Tonkin. The Paracels and Spratlys lie much further south in what were then the realms of Annam and Cochinchina, not covered by the Convention.

The mystery of the 1902 voyage

There also appears to be some confusion about the date of the first visit by Chinese officials to the Paracel Islands. Samuels (p.53), on the strength of the 1974 Ming Pao Monthly article, puts it in 1902 with a return visit in 1908. Austin and Dzurek follow Samuels in this. Li and Tan (2014) also assert the 1902 claim, along with one of a separate expedition in 1907. Cheng dates it to 1907, based on several 1933 references38  as do Chiu and Park who make reference to a 1933 edition of Kuo-wen chou-pao.39  However, in contrast to these accounts, written 26 and 72 years after the events they supposedly describe, a survey of contemporaneous newspapers makes it quite clear that the voyage took place in 1909.

There is good reason for the confusion about the 1902 expedition. In June 1937 the chief of Chinese Administrative Region Number 9, Huang Qiang, was sent on a secret mission to the Paracels – partly to check if there was Japanese activity in the islands.
But he had another role too – which a secret annex to his report makes clear. An excerpt of the annex was published in Chinese in 1987 by the Committee of Place Names of Guangdong Province.40  His boat was loaded with 30 stone markers – some dated 1902, others 1912 and others 1921. On North Island, they buried two markers from 1902 and four from 1912; on Lincoln Island, the team buried one marker from 1902, one from 1912 and one from 1921 and on Woody Island, two markers from 1921. Finally, on Rocky Island, they deposited a single marker, dated 1912.

The markers were forgotten until 1974 when, after the battle of the Paracels, they were found and the ‘discovery’ was trumpeted in Hong Kong newspapers – such as Ming Pao Monthly. The non-existent 1902 expedition then entered the history books. Only now has it been debunked by the Manila-based French geographer Francois-Xavier Bonnet.41

The island names

In his 1997 paper Shen claims the RoC Government “reviewed the names of the islands in the South China Sea” in 1932. In fact that government committee simply translated or transliterated the existing British or international names. As a result several of the Chinese names continue to honour the British surveyors that first mapped the features. In the Paracels, Líng yang Jiao – Antelope Reef – is named after a British survey vessel, the Antelope. Jīn yín Dǎo – Money Island – is not named after notes and coins – but after William Taylor Money, the Superintendent of the Bombay Marine – the navy of the East India Company.

1933 diplomatic protest?

One argument that is key to China’s claim to the Spratlys is the oft-repeated assertion that the Republic of China made a formal protest to the Government of France following the latter’s formal annexation of several features in the Spratly Islands on 26 July 1933. It’s certainly true that the annexation provoked consternation in government and nationalist anger among the public. But was a formal protest ever lodged?
Tao Cheng, in his 1975 paper, references an article in Xin Ya Xi Ya Yue Kan [Hsin-ya-hsi-ya yueh kan] (New Asia Monthly), from two years later, 1935.42  Chiu and Park state in a footnote that, “there is proof that China also protested”. They reference an article in Wai-chiao yüeh-pao [Diplomacy monthly] by Cho Min43, and a 1948 book by Cheng Tzu-yüeh Nan-hai chu-tao ti-li chih-lūeh [General records on the geography of southern islands].44

However, they concede that, “The date of the Chinese note was not reported in Cheng’s book, nor is it mentioned in the ‘Memorandum on Four Large Archipelagoes of the Republic of China in South Sea,’ issued by the ROC Ministry of Foreign Affairs in February 1974. See Lien-ho-pao [United daily news], overseas edition, February 25, 1974, p. 3.”

This claim appears in Ambassador Freeman’s presentation and in the CNA paper – which quoted Shen. In his 1997 paper Shen quotes two sources: Cheng and Chiu and Park – but as we have just seen – they do not provide any references for their claim. In his 2002 paper, Shen references papers from the State Oceanic Administration’s symposium.45  These papers are not available outside China but there is good evidence that all of these works are simply wrong.

The RoC decided that it had no claim in the Spratly Islands in 1933.

Francois-Xavier Bonnet has found American records showing that immediately after the French announcement the Chinese government had to ask its consul in Manila, Mr Kuan-ling Kwong to ask the American colonial authorities there for a map showing their location. Only then was the government in Nanjing able to understand that these islands were not in the Paracels and then decide not to issue any formal protest.46

According to Bonnet, the reason is evident from minutes of a meeting of the Republic of China’s Military Council on 1 September 1933, “All our professional geographers say that Triton Island [in the Paracels] is the southernmost island of our territory.”47  The RoC decided that it had no claim in the Spratly Islands at that point and therefore had nothing to protest against.

Research by Chris Chung, a Canadian PhD student, has found that by 1946, RoC files were referring to China’s formal protest in 1933 as if it were fact. This then became the Chinese justification to ‘reclaim’ the islands from Japan after the Second World War.48

In summary, what seems to have happened is that over the 13 years after the French annexation a different understanding of what had happened in 1933 took hold in RoC governing circles. My hypothesis is that Chinese officials confused a real 1932 protest to the French about activity in the Paracels with a non-existent 1933 protest about the Spratlys.

1930s surveys

In his 2002 paper, Shen claims the RoC, “organized three rounds of large-scale survey and renaming activities respectively in 1932, 1935 and 1947” (p.107) but there was no surveying work done in the Spratly Islands, just copying from international maps. This seems to be why the RoC mistranslated the name of the James Shoal – initially calling it Zengmu Tan. Zeng-mu is simply the transliteration of James. Tan means sandbank, when in fact the shoal is underwater. By this simple mis-translation a piece of seabed became an island and to this day is regarded as China’s southernmost territory – even though it doesn’t exist! The names were revised by the RoC in 1947 (at which point Zengmu Tan becameZengmu Ansha – reef) and the again by the PRC in 1983.49

The Cairo Declaration

The Cairo Declaration does not indicate that these [South China Sea islands] would be returned to China.

Shen (2002 p139) and Xi and Tan (2014) follow the PRC foreign ministry in arguing that, under the 1943 Cairo Declaration, the wartime allies awarded the South China Sea islands to China. The CAN paper discusses this claim and explicitly rejects it on the grounds that,
“The Cairo Declaration, as reinforced by the Potsdam Proclamation, only provides that China would recover Manchuria, Formosa [Taiwan], and the Pescadores [Penghu Islands] after the war. The next sentence simply provides that Japan would be expelled from “other territories” which it had taken by violence, but it does not indicate that these “other territories” would be returned to China. Although not specifically stated, the only logical conclusion is that these “other territories” included the Spratly and Paracel Islands, which were seized by violence from France, not China.” (p97)

Freeman (2015), however, argues that, because the Japanese authorities incorporated the Paracels and Spratlys into their province of Taiwan, the Cairo Declaration returns them, along with the rest of ‘Taiwan Province’ to China. But the Declaration doesn’t mention the word ‘Taiwan’, it talks about Formosa and the Pescadores. The logical conclusion is that the allies only agreed that these particular islands should be returned to China.

The surrender of the Japanese garrisons in the Paracels and Spratlys

The CNA paper and Ambassador Freeman’s presentation both carry claims that Chinese forces received the surrender of the Japanese garrisons in the Paracels and Spratlys at the end of the Second World War. Freeman has argued that the US Navy actually transported Chinese forces to the islands for this purpose. In personal communication with the author he has not been able to provide any corroborating evidence for the assertion.

Based upon evidence from US and Australian military archives, the claim seems very unlikely to be true. During the war Japan had military bases on Woody and Pattle islands in the Paracels and Itu Aba in the Spratlys. Woody Island was shelled by the submarine USS Pargo on 6 February 194550  and on 8 March American aircraft bombed both it and Pattle Island.51  When another submarine, the USS Cabrilla, visited Woody Island on 2 July, the French tricolour was flying, but this time with a white flag above it.52

Itu Aba was napalmed by US planes on 1 May 1945. Six months later, the US Navy sent a reconnaissance mission to Itu Aba, It landed on 20 November 1945 and found the island unoccupied – the Japanese had fled.

It wasn’t until more than a year later – December 1946 that a Chinese landing party – using second-hand American warships just transferred to the RoC Navy – was able to reach the island. (The French had arrived two months before and reclaimed the island but that’s rarely mentioned in Chinese sources.) The Chinese name for Itu Aba is Taiping Dao, named after the warship that carried the landing party. The Taiping was previously the USS Decker. The irony is that if the US had not supplied those warships China would have no claim in the Spratly Islands today!

The Chinese state’s interest in [islands in the South China Sea] only dates from the 20th century.


A review of the verifiable evidence tells a different history about the islands in the South China Sea than that found in the most of the commonly used reference texts. The Chinese state’s interest in them only dates from the 20th century. There’s no evidence yet put forward for any Chinese state official visiting the Paracel Islands before 6 June 1909. It was only in 1933 that national attention was turned to the Spratly Islands – and at that time the Republic of China decided not to press a claim to them. Attention was revived immediately after the Second World War, based on misunderstandings about what happened in 1933 and for the first time ever, a Chinese official landed in the Spratly Islands on 12 December 1946.

In 1933, 1956, 1974 and again today histories of the islands were written and rewritten. During each crisis advocates of the Chinese position published new versions of history that often recycled earlier mistakes and sometimes added in more of their own. By the time these accounts leapt the language barrier into English in the mid-1970s their shaky foundations appeared solid to those exploring the history for the first time. They were printed in western academic journals and ‘became fact’. But a review of their sources reveals their inherent weakness.

It is no longer good enough for advocates of the Chinese claim to base their arguments on such baseless evidence. It is time that a concerted effort was made to re-examine the primary sources for many of the assertions put forward by these writers and reassess their accuracy. The resolution of the disputes depends on it – both in the courtrooms of The Hague and in the waters of the South China Sea.

This article was originally published by Asia Sentinel at http://www.asiasentinel.com/politics/fact-fiction-south-china-sea/. Reposted with permission.

Former BBC correspondent Bill Hayton is the author of ‘The South China Sea: the struggle for power in Asia,’ called “the first book to make clear sense of the South Sea disputes.”

1. Li Dexia and Tan Keng Tat, South China Sea Disputes: China Has Evidence of Historical Claims. RSIS Commentary 165 dated 15 August 2014 Available at http://www.rsis.edu.sg/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/CO14165.pdf. See also Li Dexia, Xisha (Paracel) Islands: Why China’s Sovereignty is ‘Indisputable’. RSIS Commentary 116 dated 20 June 2014. Available at http://www.rsis.edu.sg/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/CO14116.pdf

2. Charles Freeman, Diplomacy on the rocks. Remarks at a Seminar of the Watson Institute for International Studies, Brown University 10 April 2015. http://chasfreeman.net/diplomacy-on-the-rocks-china-and-other-claimants-in-the-south-china-sea/

3. Pete Pedrozo, China versus Vietnam: An Analysis of the Competing Claims in the South China Sea, Center for Naval Analyses, August 2014. Available at http://www.cna.org/sites/default/files/research/IOP-2014-U-008433.pdf

4. Hungdah Chiu & Choon‐Ho Park (1975): Legal status of the Paracel and Spratly Islands, Ocean Development & International Law, 3:1, 1-28

5. Marwyn S. Samuels, Contest for the South China Sea, Methuen New York, 1982.

6. Greg Austin, China’s Ocean Frontier: International Law, Military Force, and National Development. ‪Allen & Unwin, 1998‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

7. Jianming Shen, International Law Rules and Historical Evidence Supporting China’s Title to the South China Sea Islands, 21 Hastings International and Comparative Law Review. 1‐75 (1997‐1998)

8. Jianming Shen, China’s Sovereignty over the South China Sea Islands: A Historical Perspective, CHINESE JIL (2002), pp. 94‐157

9. Brian K. Murphy, Dangerous Ground: the Spratly Islandss and International Law, Ocean and Coastal L.J. (1994), pp. 187-212

10. Chi-kin Lo, China’s Policy Towards Territorial Disputess: The Case of the South China Sea Islands. Routledge 1989

11. Cheng Huan, A matter of legality. Far Eastern Economic Review. February 1974

12. Chi-Kin Lo, China’s Policy Towards Territorial Disputes. Routledge, London. 1989

13. Tao Cheng, Dispute over the South China Sea Islands, Texas International Law Journal 265 (1975)

14. Chiu & Park (1975) ibid

15. Dieter Heinzig. ‘‪Disputed islands in the South China Sea: ‪Paracels, Spratlys, Pratas, Macclesfield Bank‬’ Institut für Asienkunde (Hamburg). 1976‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

16. Wai-chiao p’ing-lun [The foreign affairs review], Shanghai, vol. 2, no. 10 (October 1933), pp. 64-65

17. Wai-chiao yüeh-pao [Diplomacy monthly], vol 3, no. 3 (Peiping [Peking], September 15, 1933), p. 78

18. Fan-chih yüeh-k’an [Geography monthly], vol. 7, no. 4 (Nanking, April 1, 1934), p. 2.

19. Wai-chiao-pu kung-pao, [Gazette of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs] vol 6, no. 3 (July-September 1933), p. 208

20. Cheng Tzu-yüeh, Nan-hai chu-tao ti-li chih-lūeh [General records on the geography of southern islands] (Shanghai: Shang-wu ying-shu-kuan, 1948).

21. Statement made by the ROC Foreign Ministry on June 10, 1956, summarized in “Vietnamese Claim of Sovereignty Refuted,” Free China Weekly, June 26, 1956, p. 3;Chung-yang jih-pao, June 11, 1956, p. 6; Shao Hsun-cheng, “Chinese Islands in the South China Sea,” People’s China, no. 13 (Peking, 1956)
 Foreign Languages Press

22. Lien-ho-pao [United daily news], overseas edition, February 25, 1974, p. 3; “Memorandum on Four Large Archipelagoes,” ROC Ministry of Foreign Affairs (February 1974).

13. Ming Pao (yüeh-k’an) No. 101 May 1974

24. Marwyn S. Samuels, Contest for the South China Sea’, Methuen, New York. 1982

25. Chris P.C. Chung, “Since Time Immemorial”:
 China’s Historical Claim in the South China Sea. MA Thesis, University of Calgary, September 2013. p8

26. PRC Ministry of Foreign Affairs, China’s indisputable sovereignty over the Xisha and Nansha islands, Beijing Review Vol. 23 No.7 1980 pp15-24

27. Lin Jinzhi, Renmin Ribao (People’s Daily) 7 April 1980. FBIS-PRC-80-085 30 April 1980 p.E6

28. Duanmu Zheng ed. Guoji Fa (International Law) Peking University Press, Beijing 1989

29. Interestingly Duanmu was not a member of the Communist Party, but of the China Democratic League. Colin Mackerras, The New Cambridge Handbook of Contemporary China. ‪Cambridge University Press, 2001 ‬p85.‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

30. Bonnet, Geopolitics of Scarborough Shoal. Discussion Paper #14. IRASEC (Research Institute on Contemporary Southeast Asia), Bangkok. November 2012

31. Ulises Granados, As China Meets the Southern Sea Frontier: Ocean Identity in the Making, 1902-1937. Pacific Affairs Vol. 78, No. 3 (Fall, 2005), pp. 443-461

32. See, in particular, Stein Tonnesson, The South China Sea in the Age of European Decline. Modern Asian Studies. Vol 40, Issue 01. February 2006, pp 1-57 and An International History of the Dispute in the South China Sea, East Asia Institute Working Paper No. 71 (2001)

33. The Times “Chinese foreign relations” Jan 18, 1908; pg. 5; The Times “The recent piracy in Canton waters”. Jan 25, 1908; pg. 5;

34. The Examiner (Launceston, Tasmania) “China and her islands-keeping an eye on foreign nations” Saturday 12 June 1909 p 8

35. See Granados (2005) above

36. This was disclosed by the Kuangtung Provincial government in 1933. See Cho Min, “The Triangular Relationship Among China, France and Japan and the Question of Nine Islands in South Sea,” Wai-chiao yüeh-pao [Diplomacy monthly], Vol 3, no. 3 (Peiping [Peking], September 15, 1933); p. 82, note 4.

37. Hydrographic Office, The Admiralty, The China Sea Directory, Vol. 2, London, 1889, p.103. Quoted in Bonnet 2012. See also David Hancox and Victor Prescott, A Geographical Description of the Spratly Islands and an Account of Hydrographic Surveys Amongst Those Islands, Maritime Briefing Vol1 No6, International Boundaries Research Unit, University of Durham 1995 p36

38. Cheng references: Saix, Iles Paracels, La Geographie (Nov.-Dec. 1933), reprinted in 3 Wai Chiao Ping Lun (Foreign Affairs Review), No. 5 (Hu Huan-Yung Chinese transl. May 1934), at 65-72;, at 67; Hu, Fa-jen Mou-tuo Hsi-Sha Ch’ün-tao [The French Plot to Snatch the Paracel Islands], 3 Wai Chiao Ping Lun (Foreign Affairs Review), No. 4 (April 1934), at 92.

39. “On Li Chun’s Patrol of the Sea” Kuo-wen chou-pao [National news weekly], vol. 10, no. 33 (August 21, 1933), p. 6.

40. Committee of Place Names of the Guangdong Province [Guangdong sheng di ming wei yuan hui], Compilation of references of the names of all the South Sea islands [Nan Hai zhu dao di ming zi liao hui bian], Guangdong Map Publishing Company [Guangdong sheng di tu chu ban she], 1987, p.289

41. Paper presented by Francois-Xavier Bonnet at the Southeast Asia Sea conference, Ateneo Law Center, Makati, Manila. March 27 2015. (Reported here: http://opinion.inquirer.net/84307/a-chinese-strategy-manipulating-the-record)

42. Lu, Hsi-sha Ch’iin-tao Chih-yao [A Brief Note on the Paracel Islands], 9 Hsin Ya Hsi Ya Yueh Kan No. 6 (June 1935), at 50-54.

43. Cho Min, “The Triangular Relationship Among China, France and Japan and the Question of Nine Islands in South Sea,” Wai-chiao yüeh-pao [Diplomacy monthly], vol 3, no. 3 (Peiping [Peking], September 15, 1933), p. 78;

44. Cheng Tzu-yüeh, Nan-hai chu-tao ti-li chih-lūeh [General records on the geography of southern islands] (Shanghai: Shang-wu ying-shu-kuan, 1948), p.80

45. Jianming Shen, International Law Rules and Historical Evidence Supporting China’s Title to the South China Sea Islands, 21 Hastings International and Comparative Law Review. 1‐75 (1997) footnote 160.

46. François-Xavier Bonnet, Geopolitics of Scarborough Shoal, IRASEC Discussion Papers #14, Bangkok November 2012.

47. Wai Jiao bu nan hai zhu dao dang an hui bian [Compilation by the Department of Foreign Affairs of all the records concerning the islands in the South Sea], Vol. 1, Taipeh, 1995, p. 47-49.
Quoted in François-Xavier Bonnet, Geopolitics of Scarborough Shoal. Discussion Paper #14. IRASEC (Research Institute on Contemporary Southeast Asia), Bangkok. November 2012

48. See Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Nansha Qundao [南沙群島, or the “Spratly Archipelago”],” The Historical Archives of the Department of Modern History in the Academia Sinica [Zhongyang Yanjiuyuan Jindaishi Yanjiusuo Dang’an Guancang 中央研究院近代史研究所檔案館藏], file series 019.3/0012, file 031. This ROC official telegram is dated August 24, 1946. AND Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Nansha Qundao [南沙群島, or the “Spratly Archipelago”],” The Historical Archives of the Department of Modern History in the Academia Sinica [Zhongyang Yanjiuyuan Jindaishi Yanjiusuo Dang’an Guancang 中央研究院近代史研究所檔案館藏], file series 019.3/0012, file 145-146. This ROC official telegram is also dated to 1946. The month is unclear.

49. Chen Keqin, Zhong guo nan hai zhu dao (China’s south sea islands) Hainan International Press and Publication Center, Haikou 1996

50. A.B. Feuer, Australian Commandos: Their Secret War Against the Japanese in World War II (Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, 2006), Chapter 6.

51. US Navy Patrol Bombing Squadron 117 (VPB–117), Aircraft Action Report No. 92, available at .

52. US Navy, USS Cabrilla Report of 8th War Patrol, available at http://www.fold3.com/ image/#300365402

Theology of Rape -ISIS and Minority Populations

Editor’s Note – The plight of the Yazidi and other minorities at the hands of the Islamic State was captured well by the New York Times and also Dr. Mordecai Kedar in his opinion piece published in Arutz Sheva called “How to Ensure the Future of Iraq’s Minority Groups“.

He begins his discourse with some history:

The entire world is appalled at the tragedy that has befallen the Yazidis of northern Iraq. An ethnic group whose culture spans thousands of years and who survived a problematic history, is facing extermination at the hands of Islamic State, which has been murdering the men and selling the women, girls and children in the slave market. (Read the entire article here.)

Dr. Kedar continues;Kedar

Can anything be done to save the Yazidis? This question is just as applicable to all the other persecuted Christian groups in Iraq, such as the Chaldeans, Assyrians, Nestorians and Arameans, whose lot is the same as that of the Yazidis, except that many of them have managed to escape from Iraq.

In addition, there are other non-Islamic groups in Iraq who are suffering Islamic persecution, such as the Saba’is, Mande’is, Zoroastrians, Bahais, all of them considered heretic and pagan idol worshippers whose fate is to be identical to that of the Yazidis and Christians.

It is worth noting that except for the Bahais, all these ethnic groups and religions are more ancient than Islam and have been in Iraq – as the Jews were – for hundreds and thousands of years, way before Iraq was conquered by Islam in the 7th century C.E.

After more explanation on the reasons Iraq cannot be fixed in its current state, he offers a possible solution;

I would like to suggest a possible solution – and in my opinion, the only solution – for the persecuted ethnic groups in Iraq, one that may bring the suffering of all non-Muslim minorities in Iraq to an end. The solution is to establish a political entity in an area of northern Iraq, to which all the minorities can move, there to be protected by an international force.

Please read on for all the details regarding appalling state of affairs for these people here:

ISIS Enshrines a Theology of Rape

By Rukmini Callimachi – The New York Times

QADIYA, Iraq — In the moments before he raped the 12-year-old girl, the Islamic State fighter took the time to explain that what he was about to do was not a sin. Because the preteen girl practiced a religion other than Islam, the Quran not only gave him the right to rape her — it condoned and encouraged it, he insisted.

He bound her hands and gagged her. Then he knelt beside the bed and prostrated himself in prayer before getting on top of her.

When it was over, he knelt to pray again, bookending the rape with acts of religious devotion.


“I kept telling him it hurts — please stop,” said the girl, whose body is so small an adult could circle her waist with two hands. “He told me that according to Islam he is allowed to rape an unbeliever. He said that by raping me, he is drawing closer to God,” she said in an interview alongside her family in a refugee camp here, to which she escaped after 11 months of captivity.

The trade in Yazidi women and girls has created a persistent infrastructure, with a network of warehouses where the victims are held, viewing rooms where they are inspected and marketed, and a dedicated fleet of buses used to transport them.

A total of 5,270 Yazidis were abducted last year, and at least 3,144 are still being held, according to community leaders.

To handle them, the Islamic State has developed a detailed bureaucracy of sex slavery, including sales contracts notarized by the ISIS-run Islamic courts. And the practice has become an established recruiting tool to lure men from deeply conservative Muslim societies, where casual sex is taboo and dating is forbidden.

A growing body of internal policy memos and theological discussions has established guidelines for slavery, including a lengthy how-to manual issued by the Islamic State Research and Fatwa Department just last month. Repeatedly, the ISIS leadership has emphasized a narrow and selective reading of the Quran and other religious rulings to not only justify violence, but also to elevate and celebrate each sexual assault as spiritually beneficial, even virtuous.

“Every time that he came to rape me, he would pray,” said F, a 15-year-old girl who was captured on the shoulder of Mount Sinjar one year ago and was sold to an Iraqi fighter in his 20s. Like some others interviewed by The New York Times, she wanted to be identified only by her first initial because of the shame associated with rape.

“He kept telling me this is ibadah,” she said, using a term from Islamic scripture meaning worship.

“He said that raping me is his prayer to God. I said to him, ‘What you’re doing to me is wrong, and it will not bring you closer to God.’ And he said, ‘No, it’s allowed. It’s halal,’ ” said the teenager, who escaped in April with the help of smugglers after being enslaved for nearly nine months.

Calculated Conquest

The Islamic State’s formal introduction of systematic sexual slavery dates to Aug. 3, 2014, when its fighters invaded the villages on the southern flank of Mount Sinjar, a craggy massif of dun-colored rock in northern Iraq.

Its valleys and ravines are home to the Yazidis, a tiny religious minority who represent less than 1.5 percent of Iraq’s estimated population of 34 million.

Sunset over Dohuk, in the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq. Islamic State militants have conquered large areas of Iraq, and the systematic rape of women and girls from the Yazidi religious minority has become deeply enmeshed in the group's organization and theology. Credit Mauricio Lima for The New York Times
Sunset over Dohuk, in the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq. Islamic State militants have conquered large areas of Iraq, and the systematic rape of women and girls from the Yazidi religious minority has become deeply enmeshed in the group’s organization and theology. Credit Mauricio Lima for The New York Times

The offensive on the mountain came just two months after the fall of Mosul, the second-largest city in Iraq. At first, it appeared that the subsequent advance on the mountain was just another attempt to extend the territory controlled by Islamic State fighters.

Almost immediately, there were signs that their aim this time was different.

Survivors say that men and women were separated within the first hour of their capture. Adolescent boys were told to lift up their shirts, and if they had armpit hair, they were directed to join their older brothers and fathers. In village after village, the men and older boys were driven or marched to nearby fields, where they were forced to lie down in the dirt and sprayed with automatic fire.

The women, girls and children, however, were hauled off in open-bed trucks.

“The offensive on the mountain was as much a sexual conquest as it was for territorial gain,” said Matthew Barber, a University of Chicago expert on the Yazidi minority. He was in Dohuk, near Mount Sinjar, when the onslaught began last summer and helped create a foundation that provides psychological support for the escapees, who number more than 2,000, according to community activists.

Fifteen-year-old F says her family of nine was trying to escape, speeding up mountain switchbacks, when their aging Opel overheated. She, her mother, and her sisters — 14, 7, and 4 years old — were helplessly standing by their stalled car when a convoy of heavily armed Islamic State fighters encircled them.

“Right away, the fighters separated the men from the women,” she said. She, her mother and sisters were first taken in trucks to the nearest town on Mount Sinjar. “There, they separated me from my mom. The young, unmarried girls were forced to get into buses.”

The buses were white, with a painted stripe next to the word “Hajj,” suggesting that the Islamic State had commandeered Iraqi government buses used to transport pilgrims for the annual pilgrimage to Mecca. So many Yazidi women and girls were loaded inside F’s bus that they were forced to sit on each other’s laps, she said.

Once the bus headed out, they noticed that the windows were blocked with curtains, an accouterment that appeared to have been added because the fighters planned to transport large numbers of women who were not covered in burqas or head scarves.

F’s account, including the physical description of the bus, the placement of the curtains and the manner in which the women were transported, is echoed by a dozen other female victims interviewed for this article. They described a similar set of circumstances even though they were kidnapped on different days and in locations miles apart.

F says she was driven to the Iraqi city of Mosul some six hours away, where they herded them into the Galaxy Wedding Hall. Other groups of women and girls were taken to a palace from the Saddam Hussein era, the Badoosh prison compound and the Directory of Youth building in Mosul, recent escapees said. And in addition to Mosul, women were herded into elementary schools and municipal buildings in the Iraqi towns of Tal Afar, Solah, Ba’aj and Sinjar City.

They would be held in confinement, some for days, some for months. Then, inevitably, they were loaded into the same fleet of buses again before being sent in smaller groups to Syria or to other locations inside Iraq, where they were bought and sold for sex.

“It was 100 percent preplanned,” said Khider Domle, a Yazidi community activist who maintains a detailed database of the victims. “I spoke by telephone to the first family who arrived at the Directory of Youth in Mosul, and the hall was already prepared for them. They had mattresses, plates and utensils, food and water for hundreds of people.”

Detailed reports by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International reach the same conclusion about the organized nature of the sex trade.

In each location, survivors say Islamic State fighters first conducted a census of their female captives.

Inside the voluminous Galaxy banquet hall, F sat on the marble floor, squeezed between other adolescent girls. In all she estimates there were over 1,300 Yazidi girls sitting, crouching, splayed out and leaning against the walls of the ballroom, a number that is confirmed by several other women held in the same location.

They each described how three Islamic State fighters walked in, holding a register. They told the girls to stand. Each one was instructed to state her first, middle and last name, her age, her hometown, whether she was married, and if she had children.

For two months, F was held inside the Galaxy hall. Then one day, they came and began removing young women. Those who refused were dragged out by their hair, she said.

In the parking lot the same fleet of Hajj buses was waiting to take them to their next destination, said F. Along with 24 other girls and young women, the 15-year-old was driven to an army base in Iraq. It was there in the parking lot that she heard the word “sabayafor the first time.

“They laughed and jeered at us, saying ‘You are our sabaya.’ I didn’t know what that word meant,” she said. Later on, the local Islamic State leader explained it meant slave.

“He told us that Taus Malik” — one of seven angels to whom the Yazidis pray — “is not God. He said that Taus Malik is the devil and that because you worship the devil, you belong to us. We can sell you and use you as we see fit.”

The Islamic State’s sex trade appears to be based solely on enslaving women and girls from the Yazidi minority. As yet, there has been no widespread campaign aimed at enslaving women from other religious minorities, said Samer Muscati, the author of the recent Human Rights Watch report. That assertion was echoed by community leaders, government officials and other human rights workers.

Mr. Barber, of the University of Chicago, said that the focus on Yazidis was likely because they are seen as polytheists, with an oral tradition rather than a written scripture. In the Islamic State’s eyes that puts them on the fringe of despised unbelievers, even more than Christians and Jews, who are considered to have some limited protections under the Quran as “People of the Book.”

Aishan Ali Saleh, 40, at a refugee camp on the outskirts of Dohuk. She had lived in Kojo, one of the southernmost villages on Mount Sinjar, which was overrun by Islamic State fighters. Credit Mauricio Lima for The New York Times
Aishan Ali Saleh, 40, at a refugee camp on the outskirts of Dohuk. She had lived in Kojo, one of the southernmost villages on Mount Sinjar, which was overrun by Islamic State fighters. Credit Mauricio Lima for The New York Times

In Kojo, one of the southernmost villages on Mount Sinjar and among the farthest away from escape, residents decided to stay, believing they would be treated as the Christians of Mosulhad months earlier. On Aug. 15, 2014, the Islamic State ordered the residents to report to a school in the center of town.

When she got there, 40-year-old Aishan Ali Saleh found a community elder negotiating with the Islamic State, asking if they could be allowed to hand over their money and gold in return for safe passage.

The fighters initially agreed and laid out a blanket, where Ms. Saleh placed her heart-shaped pendant and her gold rings, while the men left crumpled bills.

Instead of letting them go, the fighters began shoving the men outside, bound for death.

Sometime later, a fleet of cars arrived and the women, girls and children were driven away.

The Market

Months later, the Islamic State made clear in their online magazine that their campaign of enslaving Yazidi women and girls had been extensively preplanned.

“Prior to the taking of Sinjar, Shariah students in the Islamic State were tasked to research the Yazidis,” said the English-language article, headlined “The Revival of Slavery Before the Hour,” which appeared in the October issue of Dabiq.

The article made clear that for the Yazidis, there was no chance to pay a tax known as jizya to be set free, “unlike the Jews and Christians.”

“After capture, the Yazidi women and children were then divided according to the Shariah amongst the fighters of the Islamic State who participated in the Sinjar operations, after one fifth of the slaves were transferred to the Islamic State’s authority to be divided” as spoils, the article said.


In much the same way as specific Bible passages were used centuries later to support the slave trade in the United States, the Islamic State cites specific verses or stories in the Quran or else in the Sunna, the traditions based on the sayings and deeds of the Prophet Muhammad, to justify their human trafficking, experts say.

Scholars of Islamic theology disagree, however, on the proper interpretation of these verses, and on the divisive question of whether Islam actually sanctions slavery.

A woman, who said she was raped by Islamic State militants, in a refugee camp in the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq. Credit Mauricio Lima for The New York Times
A woman, who said she was raped by Islamic State militants, in a refugee camp in the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq. Credit Mauricio Lima for The New York Times

Many argue that slavery figures in Islamic scripture in much the same way that it figures in the Bible — as a reflection of the period in antiquity in which the religion was born.

“In the milieu in which the Quran arose, there was a widespread practice of men having sexual relationships with unfree women,” said Kecia Ali, an associate professor of religion at Boston University and the author of a book on slavery in early Islam. “It wasn’t a particular religious institution. It was just how people did things.”

Cole Bunzel, a scholar of Islamic theology at Princeton University, disagrees, pointing to the numerous references to the phrase “Those your right hand possesses” in the Quran, which for centuries has been interpreted to mean female slaves. He also points to the corpus of Islamic jurisprudence, which continues into the modern era and which he says includes detailed rules for the treatment of slaves.

“There is a great deal of scripture that sanctions slavery,” said Mr. Bunzel, the author of a research paper published by the Brookings Institution on the ideology of the Islamic State. “You can argue that it is no longer relevant and has fallen into abeyance. ISIS would argue that these institutions need to be revived, because that is what the Prophet and his companions did.”

The youngest, prettiest women and girls were bought in the first weeks after their capture. Others — especially older, married women — described how they were transported from location to location, spending months in the equivalent of human holding pens, until a prospective buyer bid on them.

Their captors appeared to have a system in place, replete with its own methodology of inventorying the women, as well as their own lexicon. Women and girls were referred to as “Sabaya,” followed by their name. Some were bought by wholesalers, who photographed and gave them numbers, to advertise them to potential buyers.

Osman Hassan Ali, a Yazidi businessman who has successfully smuggled out numerous Yazidi women, said he posed as a buyer in order to be sent the photographs. He shared a dozen images, each one showing a Yazidi woman sitting in a bare room on a couch, facing the camera with a blank, unsmiling expression. On the edge of the photograph is written in Arabic, “Sabaya No. 1,” “Sabaya No. 2,” and so on.

Buildings where the women were collected and held sometimes included a viewing room.

“When they put us in the building, they said we had arrived at the ‘Sabaya Market,’” said one 19-year-old victim, whose first initial is I. “I understood we were now in a slave market.”

She estimated there were at least 500 other unmarried women and girls in the multistory building, with the youngest among them being 11. When the buyers arrived, the girls were taken one by one into a separate room.

“The emirs sat against the wall and called us by name. We had to sit in a chair facing them. You had to look at them, and before you went in, they took away our scarves and anything we could have used to cover ourselves,” she said.

“When it was my turn, they made me stand four times. They made me turn around.”

The captives were also forced to answer intimate questions, including reporting the exact date of their last menstrual cycle. They realized that the fighters were trying to determine whether they were pregnant, in keeping with a Shariah rule stating that a man cannot have intercourse with his slave if she is pregnant.

Property of ISIS

The use of sex slavery by the Islamic State initially surprised even the group’s most ardent supporters, many of whom sparred with journalists online after the first reports of systematic rape.

The Islamic State’s leadership has repeatedly sought to justify the practice to its internal audience.

A woman from the village of Tojo washing dishes in a  refugee camp in Kurdistan. She was held by the Islamic State from last August until June and says she was sexually abused. Credit Mauricio Lima for The New York Times
A woman from the village of Tojo washing dishes in a refugee camp in Kurdistan. She was held by the Islamic State from last August until June and says she was sexually abused. Credit Mauricio Lima for The New York Times

After the initial article in Dabiq in October, the issue came up in the publication again this year, in an editorial in May that expressed the writer’s hurt and dismay at the fact that some of the group’s own sympathizers had questioned the institution of slavery.

“What really alarmed me was that some of the Islamic State’s supporters started denying the matter as if the soldiers of the Khilafah had committed a mistake or evil,” the author wrote. “I write this while the letters drip of pride,’’ he said. “We have indeed raided and captured the kafirahwomen and drove them like sheep by the edge of the sword.” Kafirah refers to infidels.

In a pamphlet published online in December, the Research and Fatwa Department of the Islamic State detailed best practices, including explaining that slaves belong to the estate of the fighter who bought them and therefore can be willed to another man and disposed of just like any other property after his death.

Recent escapees describe an intricate bureaucracy surrounding their captivity, with their status as a slave registered in a contract. When their owner would sell them to another buyer, a new contract would be drafted, like transferring a property deed. At the same time, slaves can also be set free, and fighters are promised a heavenly reward for doing so.

Though rare, this has created one avenue of escape for victims.

A 25-year-old victim who escaped last month, identified by her first initial, A, described how one day her Libyan master handed her a laminated piece of paper. He explained that he had finished his training as a suicide bomber and was planning to blow himself up, and was therefore setting her free.

Labeled a “Certificate of Emancipation,” the document was signed by the judge of the western province of the Islamic State. The Yazidi woman presented it at security checkpoints as she left Syria to return to Iraq, where she rejoined her family in July.

The Islamic State recently made it clear that sex with Christian and Jewish women captured in battle is also permissible, according to a new 34-page manual issued this summer by the terror group’s Research and Fatwa Department.

Just about the only prohibition is having sex with a pregnant slave, and the manual describes how an owner must wait for a female captive to have her menstruating cycle, in order to “make sure there is nothing in her womb,” before having intercourse with her. Of the 21 women and girls interviewed for this article, among the only ones who had not been raped were the women who were already pregnant at the moment of their capture, as well as those who were past menopause.

A 25-year-old Yazidi woman showed a “Certificate of Emancipation” given to her by a Libyan who had enslaved her. He explained that he had finished his training as a suicide bomber and was planning to blow himself up, and was therefore setting her free. CreditMauricio Lima for The New York Times
A 25-year-old Yazidi woman showed a “Certificate of Emancipation” given to her by a Libyan who had enslaved her. He explained that he had finished his training as a suicide bomber and was planning to blow himself up, and was therefore setting her free. CreditMauricio Lima for The New York Times

Beyond that, there appears to be no bounds to what is sexually permissible. Child rape is explicitly condoned: “It is permissible to have intercourse with the female slave who hasn’t reached puberty, if she is fit for intercourse,” according to a translation by the Middle East Media Research Institute of a pamphlet published on Twitter last December.

One 34-year-old Yazidi woman, who was bought and repeatedly raped by a Saudi fighter in the Syrian city of Shadadi, described how she fared better than the second slave in the household — a 12-year-old girl who was raped for days on end despite heavy bleeding.

“He destroyed her body. She was badly infected. The fighter kept coming and asking me, ‘Why does she smell so bad?’ And I said, she has an infection on the inside, you need to take care of her,” the woman said.

Unmoved, he ignored the girl’s agony, continuing the ritual of praying before and after raping the child.

“I said to him, ‘She’s just a little girl,’ ” the older woman recalled. “And he answered: ‘No. She’s not a little girl. She’s a slave. And she knows exactly how to have sex.’ ’’

“And having sex with her pleases God,” he said.

Correction: August 13, 2015
An earlier version of this article misstated the location of Matthew Barber when the invasion of Mount Sinjar began in August 2014. He was in Dohuk, near Mount Sinjar, not on the mountain itself.