To highlight the economic incentives behind ISIS, I borrowed Pepe Escobar's term and nicknamed that country Pipelineistan.
Even though ISIS popped up out of nowhere with $4 billion in its pockets, amazing production and post-production studios, software development units and an extraordinary social networking presence, people were reluctant to see them for what they were. Instead, they preferred "them Muslims, the beheading barbarians" discourse.
As I am not a moralist, I have no issue with such dubious generalizations other than the fact that they are no help to me in my quest to understand what ISIS is and what they are doing.
To me, their collaboration with Georgian and Turkish intelligence services to smuggle Jihadis, like Tarkan Batirashvili to Iraq and Syria is more telling.
Or the help they get from Turkish Intelligence Agency (MIT) to allow ISIS fighters crisscrossing the border between Turkey and Syria.
Or the arms and ammunition trucks destined for ISIS and actually driven by (MIT) officers.
Or the ISIS munitions manufactured by MKE, a Turkish company owned by the state.
Or the training camp set up in Jordan by American officers to train fighters who eventually ended up as ISIS foot soldiers.
Or the recent documents leaked by the Turkish army about MIT shipping arms to ISIS and al Qaeda, which were made public by a Dutch Parliamentarian.
Last month, I stumbled upon the story of a remarkable Kurdish woman in Northern Iraq who has been trying to liberate and re-integrate missing women taken by ISIS.
Her name is Tavga Omer Rashid. She is Kurdistan Regional Government's (KRG) Human Rights Commissioner and a Member of Parliament.
When she found out that ISIS was selling missing women in slave markets, she came up with idea to buy as many women as she could.
So far she "bought"- to use the unfortunate Nicolas Kristof terminology- 500 out of 2,800 officially missing women (some estimates put the actual number in the 4,000-5,000 range).
She also tried to find local men (mostly from Yazidi tribes) to accept them as brides. She set up workshops to explain their ordeal and their victim status. And she tried to find workarounds for the abortion issue for unwanted pregnancies.
Interestingly, she tried to contact ISIS through humanitarian agencies and nobody could help. Then someone explained to her that every regional and global intelligence agency was active inside ISIS. So she asked for their help. They obliged and that is how she got access to these women.
The other piece was the revelation of the identity of Jihadi John as Mohammed Emwazi. Besides informing us that he was a Kuwait-born idiot with anger issues, the reports included this tantalizing bit.
It's believed both Britain and the US have informers inside the Islamic State "capital" of Raqqa. Yet this seems to have been little help in stopping the actions of Mohammed Emwazi, or bringing him to justice.ISIS is certainly a monster but focusing on the horrific nature of its action will not help us understand what they are doing. Actually, what they really want is for you to be mesmerized by their savagery. That is the whole point of those production facilities and professionally shot and edited video clips. And that is why they come up with more and more horrific executions.
If you want to understand what ISIS is doing, ignore Jihadi John and focus on Pipelineistan.
Or as Deep Throat said "follow the money."