ISIS’s Armageddon Prophecy Is Coming True, But Not How It Wants

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Russ Read Pentagon/Foreign Policy Reporter
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The first shots were exchanged in the small Syrian town of Dabiq, the main stage for what the Islamic State believes will be the final battle that will bring about the end of days.

Turkish forces fired artillery rounds at ISIS soldiers holed up in the village itself last week, killing one fighter, according to ISIS’s Amaq news agency.

ISIS prophecy states that Dabiq, a relatively insignificant town in northwest Syria, will host a decisive battle between the forces of Christianity and Islam. The prophecy is derived from a passage in the Hadith, the traditions of the prophet Muhammad.

“The last hour will not come until the Romans would land at al-Amaq or in Dabiq. An army consisting of the best [soldiers] of the people of the earth at that time will come from Medina to counteract them,” said Muhammad, according to the Hadith.

The “Romans” in the prophecy refer to Christianity, while the army from Medina refers to the forces of Islam.

Dabiq, and the prophecy surrounding it, is integral to ISIS ideology. The group fought fiercely to take the city during its rise in 2014, despite it holding little to no military value.

ISIS’s English language magazine is named after the town, while its Amaq news agency is named in honor of the other area mentioned in the prophecy. ISIS propaganda referred to President Barack Obama as the “dog of Rome” in October 2015 out of belief that he is taking orders from Pope Francis, therefore fulfilling a tenet of the prophecy.

Another prophecy tied to Dabiq states that Rome will have 80 allies. Currently, the nations participating in the U.S.-led Operation Inherent Resolve against ISIS numbers 65, just 15 short of the prophecy. The task force’s motto is “One Mission, Many Nations.” ISIS followers have previously celebrated each time another country joins the coalition, as they believe it is one step closer to judgment day.

“Oh ye Romans, oh you Germans, you English, her French, her Dutch, you Italians, you Americans who gathered ye to fight Islam. Come!” said an ISIS propaganda video in 2014. “We are waiting for you. For more than 1400 years, we are waiting for you. And the promise of Allah is true.”

Coincidentally, U.S. special forces are reportedly accompanying Turkish troops as they push back ISIS in Syria. While ISIS followers may take that as a sign the prophecy is coming true, it is fairly clear based on ISIS’s recent defeats that the terrorist group has little to no hope of coming out the victors in Dabiq. U.S.-backed forces retaking Dabiq would undoubtedly serve as a blow to the terrorist group’s narrative.

“The inevitable defeat of the Islamic State at Dabiq, should it ever confront “Rome,” would … argue against the prophecy’s applicability,” wrote Will McCants, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who studies Middle East policy, in a piece for the institution’s blog. “But in the apocalyptic imagination, inconvenient facts rarely impede the glorious march to the end of the world.”

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