WATCH ABOVE: The Iraqi government dispatched on Monday military reinforcements towards Ramadi, aiming to retake control of the strategic city recently captured by the Islamic State group
Now is the perfect time to visit an emerging travel destination off the beaten path, before it becomes overrun with tourists.
Of course no great adventure comes without risk, so you may have to take the chance of being held captive, tortured, enslaved or murdered.
Yes, the Islamic State is waiting for you.
ISIS has masterfully created a propaganda machine to lure foreign recruits and supporters to the territory it has seized in Iraq and Syria. Now, a well-known British member of the militant group — notorious for beheadings, massacres and a slew of other heinous crimes — appears to be targeting travellers mulling a trip to the Caliphate or those looking to set up a new life in the Islamic State.
Nearly a year after ISIS surged in Iraq, claiming swaths of land and established its self-proclaimed Islamic State, the purported guidebook is an “alternative narrative of life under the Caliphate… free from many of the distortions pushed out by the mainstream media.”
A quick perusal of the guidebook gives you a glimpse of the “exquisite Mediterranean climate” comparable to a “plush holiday resort” — one where “men and women are appropriately covered up.”
The author extols the improvements to transportation under ISIS and how one can now travel freely between Iraq and Syria now that the “satanic boundary” has been bulldozed — although the guide makes no mention of the historic monuments, antiquities and religious sites it has also destroyed.
And like any travel guide, the food of the Islamic State — from shawarma to falafel to alcohol-free fruity cocktails — is given the utmost importance.
“The great thing about food in the Caliphate is its freshness. You can be sure that the vegetables you crunch down on basked gloriously in the sunshine before reaching your dinner plate. And what about the olive groves? Yes, there are plenty of them and the pickles and rich oils that spring from them beat anything from your local Tescos or Walmart.”
Researcher Charlie Winter, of the U.K.-based counter-extremism think tank Quilliam, told The Independent this isn’t official ISIS propaganda , something the author clarifies himself in the introduction to the e-book.
Winter called the guide “quite a juvenile piece of literature.
“Perhaps it is targeting a young teenage audience who will be attracted to some of the things mentioned in it, but it’s a very weak message,” he said. “Clearly he is trying to appeal to the masses and portray life there as a viable option but it’s very weak in terms of its propaganda value.”
ISIS has continued to grow and seize territory in the year since it seized Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul, in June 2014 — despite an international effort to stop its expansion and airstrikes carried out by a coalition of nations, including Canada.
The militant group seized the city of Ramadi last week, which is seen as a major defeat for the Iraqi government and the forces sent to protect it from the ISIS advance.
A report in the New York Times on Tuesday also indicated ISIS is not suffering financially despite its infrastructure being targeted by the airstrikes and battles with Iraqi, Kurdish and Syrian forces on the ground.
The United Nations believes some 25,000 people fled Ramadi in the wake of the attack, adding to the more than 2.5 million others who have escaped from ISIS-controlled territory in Iraq.
Citing analysis from the think tank RAND, the New York Times reported ISIS has an estimated $875 million in its coffers through a combination of extortion and taxation, money stolen from Iraqi banks, oil stolen and sold on the black market, and kidnappings and ransoms.