Islamic State's messianic apocalypse is postponed – The Economist

THE fate of a small rural town in northern Syria might seem inconsequential when faced with a multinational assault on the group’s main stronghold, Mosul. But few places were more central to the image of Islamic State (IS). The jihadists lauded Dabiq as the locus, as cited in an obscure Hadith, or saying of the Prophet Muhammad, of the battle of the end of days; in their vision it would host an apocalyptic showdown between the self-styled caliphate’s faithful and Western crusaders. It named its glossy English-language e-zine after the town, and beheaded its victims, like Peter Kassig, an American aid worker, in its foothills. As the day of reckoning approached, observers reported that IS had fortified Dabiq with 1,200 fighters.

In the end, IS went with barely a whimper (see map). The jihadists folded before the advance of Turkish-backed rivals after just a day’s battle. IS’s caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, had foretold of the capitulation in a dream, explained apologists. IS’s propagandists even pre-empted the fall with the launch of a new English title, Rumiya, deferring the end-of-days battle until IS reaches Rome.

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