3 Jul 2014

The Caliph and His Psychiatrist, Exclusive Transcript

In an unrivalled scoop we have managed to obtain a transcript of a conversation between Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and his psychiatrist that reveals a hidden and complex side of the jihadi leader who recently declared himself Caliph. The leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria who now goes by the name of Caliph Ibrahim reveals his anxieties about the establishment of the caliphate and the toll the pressure is taking on him. For security reasons our sources shall remain unnamed.

Psychiatrist: Come in, come in.

Caliph Ibrahim: I’ve been having the dream again.

Psychiatrist: Let’s start from the beginning; has anything changed in your life recently?

Caliph Ibrahim: Has anything changed in my life? Are you kidding me? We have announced the caliphate!

Psychiatrist: The what? The caliphate? Are you serious?

Caliph Ibrahim: Do I look like someone who jokes? Don’t you follow the news?

Psychiatrist: I’ve been very busy, people are very anxious these days.

Caliph Ibrahim: Still, this was our big moment and you missed it.

Psychiatrist: I’m sorry, I will be sure to keep up. So you just went on TV and said we’re re-establishing the caliphate?

Caliph Ibrahim: No, no. I released an audio recording. I’m not ready to face the media yet.

Psychiatrist: Are you worried about the way you look?

Caliph Ibrahim: What’s wrong with the way I look? What are you hinting at?

Psychiatrist: Nothing, don’t get paranoid. But I would have thought when someone announces the caliphate they would do it in a grander fashion.

Caliph Ibrahim: You don’t understand these things, why don’t you stick to what you know?

Psychiatrist: Ok don’t get touchy. How did you feel after the announcement? Satisfied? Did you work on that plan of personal aims that we have been talking about?

Caliph Ibrahim: At first I felt proud, but then people started to make fun. To be honest it’s not going that great. I’m not so sure any more. Did I rush into this?

Psychiatrist: I’ll be honest with you, I don’t think there’s ever a right moment to declare the caliphate. Who’s the caliph?

Caliph Ibrahim: I am!

Psychiatrist: Wow. And you still drive that old Toyota?

Caliph Ibrahim: It’s a disguise.

Psychiatrist: So you made an audio recording and said ‘I am the caliph’? No celebrations or anything like that? No public speech?

Caliph Ibrahim: There you go again, why are you undermining me?

Psychiatrist: I’m not undermining you; it just seems a bit understated. What else did you do?

Caliph Ibrahim: I changed my name, I’m now Caliph Ibrahim.

Psychiatrist: What, you got a new name like the Pope?

Caliph Ibrahim: Curse that infidel. In fact we’re taking over Rome next, I’ll show them.

Psychiatrist: Rome? How are you going to get there? Actually, it doesn’t matter, all roads go there. Haha.

Caliph Ibrahim: That’s a good one.

Psychiatrist: I know, my friends always tell me I have to try stand-up comedy. So do you have a palace, do you have a court, what’s the arrangement now?

Caliph Ibrahim: No, I’m still in hiding. To be honest, I’m not quite sure what to do next. It’s not like there’s a manual for how to establish the caliphate.

Psychiatrist: Have you tried looking on Google? They have information on everything.

Caliph Ibrahim: I am wondering if I rushed into this.

Psychiatrist: Take it step by step, remember the exercises that we did. Break problems into smaller pieces that you can manage.

Caliph Ibrahim: I keep wondering if I should get a turban. One of those big ones in mauve or pistachio, with a silver clip. Would I look ridiculous in that?

Psychiatrist: It doesn’t matter what other people think, you have to be convinced. Do you feel a turban would accurately reflect your self-image?

Caliph Ibrahim: I need something; I can’t just walk around in jeans and a shirt. Maybe a black robe?

Psychiatrist: A robe might send a signal that you’re trying to mask yourself, body language is important.

Caliph Ibrahim: This is so complicated, what did I get into? Did I do the right thing?

Psychiatrist: Only you can answer that. I mean announcing the re-establishment of the caliphate isn’t what the average person would do, but we are all different. You have to follow your dreams.

Caliph Ibrahim: I am surrounded by idiots, that’s the problem. Sure they can kill kuffar but ask them to write a press statement or fix the boiler and they get all confused.

Psychiatrist: Tell me about the dream.

Caliph Ibrahim: Ok but don’t laugh. So I am in this beard-growing competition with other famous jihadis.

Psychiatrist: Is this something you guys do?

Caliph Ibrahim: No! This is just in the dream. So on the day of the competition they all show up with luxurious beards and mine is pathetic, it’s patchy and unambitious. They all start laughing at me and I run away from the hall. They’re showing it on big screens and laughing, it was so embarrassing. What do you think it means?

Psychiatrist: The classic Freudian interpretation is that you are struggling with feelings of inadequacy. The beard could represent anything. It could be a symbol of your fear of competition with them.

Caliph Ibrahim: They must have put a spell on me to get those dreams. It’s all that fool Adnani’s fault, he pushed me into this and now everybody is laughing at me. We’re not ready for a caliphate, I shouldn’t have listened.

Psychiatrist: It’s not going great, huh?

Caliph Ibrahim: You haven’t even heard about the caliphate! What do you think? It’s a feeling of anti-climax to be honest.

Psychiatrist: I’m afraid our time is up. I will see you next week; remember to do your exercises. And maybe don't get a turban just yet.

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Karl reMarks is a blog about Middle East politics and culture with a healthy dose of satire.

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