"His administration's enlightened approach to Middle East policy reversed centuries of Western misunderstanding and repression," said Omar al Ahmadi, a community organizer with the Caliphate Community Corps, to a crowd of about five hundred people on the steps of the Caliphate Palace. "Only he had the bold vision needed to turn around what would otherwise be a foolish military campaign. Only he could have set ISIS on the right path".
The turning point, many said, was when the State Department said that the U.S. needed to address root causes of Arab Muslims joining the war on the side of ISIS, the predecessor of the New Caliphate.
In February 2015, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said on MSNBC that the U.S. cannot "kill our way out" of the war against ISIS.
"We cannot win this war by killing them," she said. "We cannot kill our way out of this war. We need, in the longer term, medium and longer term, to go after the root causes that lead people to join these groups, whether it’s lack of opportunity for jobs. We can work with countries around the world to help improve their governance. We can help them build their economies, so they can have job opportunities for these people."
Mahmood bin Jihadi, a 20-year-old student at the new Madrassa al Harb, agrees. "Marie Harf changed my life," he told reporters. "Just two years ago, I was ready to strap on a suicide vest. Marie Harf and President Obama saw what I really needed: A future. There is no future in suicide." His arms swept outward to show his classroom. "Now I have almost completed my degree in Explosive Engineering, and instead of strapping bombs to my chest, I'll be able to apply them to Nazirite houses over and over and over again. The Obama administration literally gave me my life back."
Similar stories abound. "President Obama gave us direction and inspiration," said Haji al Dormaat, one of the few women whom reporters were allowed to speak to. "His emphasis on women in the workforce surprised me, since we see so little of that in the Caliphate. But the natural affinity of women and children puts me in a perfect place to take care of Nazirite and Yezedi children." She pointed to a certificate on her wall, her excitement clear even through her burkha. "With a population management grant from the United Nations, our post-birth abortion facility is well-funded and highly efficient. As a woman, I feel empowered and productive in ways I never have before."
Muhammad al Ghamdi received a grant from Job Instruction for Healthcare Administrators and Doctors (JIHAD), a U.S.-funded medical training program. "Before, when I was a freedom fighter for ISIS, I only knew how to shoot and kill," he recalled. "Now I know how to keep people alive. It is so gratifying. I am doing Allah's work. For example, if a man is having high blood pressure as a result of interrogation, I can prevent him from having a heart attack. If he has broken bones or ruptured internal organs, I can prevent sepsis. I can send them back into the chamber with the full knowledge that they will survive the next interrogation session, and the next, and the next. Praised be to Allah, and to Muhammad his prophet (PBUH), because they know how much we value the lives of these men and the information they bring."
President Obama was golfing at Martha's Vineyard and couldn't be reached for comment.