Apocalypse on hold: IS prophesy fails, as Dabiq falls

Apocalypse on hold: IS prophesy fails, as Dabiq falls
On Sunday, Dabiq fell to Syrian rebels and IS' hopes it might herald the apocalypse were obviously not met. But the event took Twitter by storm.
3 min read
15 Oct, 2016
Dabiq is not in the hands of the Free Syrian Army [AFP]
Syrian rebels' advanced into the town of Dabiq on Sunday in another uncomplicated victory over the Islamic State group.

Fears that the thousand-or-so jihadi fighters holed up in the Syrian town would fight to the death were quelled, as rebels simply marched into Dabiq unheeded.

The militants simply took to their heels and ran, leaving the Free Syrian Army to walk in without much of a battle.

As you probably know by now, the fall of Dabiq did not start the apocalypse.

IS fighters believed that the town would be the site of the end of times, based on a hadith where the Prophet Mohammed was said to have mentioned Dabiq by name as the site of the apocalypse. 

A final battle between Christian forces and true Muslims would take place, with the latter victorious and marching into Rome.

IS fighters fancied themselves as the true Muslims, and the Turkish-backed rebel forces as the infidels.

So strong was this story that IS' English-language magazine Dabiq was named after the town, while the "caliphate news agency" Amaqwas also named after the valley mentioned in the same Hadith. 

More sinisterly, the IS integrated Dabiq into its propaganda when Jihadi John - a British-Kuwait foreign fighter named Mohammed Amwazi - was believed to have beheaded one of his victims at the site.

Reactions to the fall of Dabiq from anti-regime activists have been joyous.

Some Syrian commentators also found the failure of IS' prophesy to materialise as a source of amusement. Others - including IS - have said it will still come true, just at a later date.

It has also been pointed out that Russia's cheerleaders have been notably quiet on Twitter following the rebel "terrorists" victory over the jihadis on their home turf.

You can follow Paul McLoughlin on Twitter @paullmcloughlin