ISIS & the Middle East Explained
ISIS, although weakened recently, continues to wreak havoc in the Middle East and throughout the world. Here’s what you should know:
- ISIS: Islamic Jihadist group in Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestine
- Can trace it routes back to Al-Qaeda, who were responsible for the terrorist attacks of 9/11/01
- Despite Bin Laden’s death, his aspirations to fold a Global Muslin State lived on through his followers
- Abu Umar al-Baghdadi an Iraqi citizen, radicalized by Azzam’s writings and angry at the West for what he considers crimes against Islam, created the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) in 2006 and announced its plans to sponsor acts of terrorism in pursuit of reestablishing a true Caliphate
- ISIS presented itself in a much more religious way by incorporating the ideas of jihad established by Assam into all Islamic teaching in order to unify and radicalize all of those associated with the Muslim faith
- Using the internet and different messaging platforms to recruit with much success Muslim jihadists from around the world to their cause, including over 400 known (possibly up to 1,400 total) American citizens
- Success can also be attributed, in part, due to a growing hate for the United States found in youth and young adults in the Middle East due to drone strikes and US military presence
- Made very clear their view of punishment (public beheading and executions)
- At one point had over $300,000,000 in oil and other assets all at its disposal
It commits, promotes, and sponsors acts of jihadi terrorism around the world under the name of reestablishing the Islamic caliphate or Global Islamic State.
This Global Islamic State would be located in the Levant (land that includes Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and the territory of Palestine) with Mecca as its capital.
It would serve as home to all of those in the Islamic faith and would be ruled by the Islamic Caliphate.
ISIS has been a continued sponsor of western terrorism in both Europe and the United States as it considers these places to be threats to its mission and enemies of Islam.
In order to understand the goals and actions of ISIS, it is essential to understand their background.
ISIS can trace it routes back to the terrorist group Al-Qaeda, an Islamic terrorist group known for their attacks on the United States on 9/11/01.
Osama bin Laden founded Al-Qaeda based on the teaching of Islamic theologian Abdullah Azzam.
Azzam established the necessity of jihad and the importance of reestablishing the Caliphate in Levant.
Bin Laden latched onto these ideas and, using his resources from selling oil, began to fund and run several terrorist organizations including Al Qaeda.
After the 9/11 attack Al Qaeda was all but doomed, the United States spent trillions of dollars in resources to capture and often kill members of jihadi terrorist organizations, including Bin Laden himself, which led the fall of Al Qaeda.
Despite Bin Laden’s death, his aspirations to fold a Global Muslin State lived on through his followers.
This idea, coupled with Abdullah Azzam’s writings on Jihad, and the jihadi experience that many radicalized youth received just by living in the Middle East during this time all paved the way for the creation of ISIS.
Abu Umar al-Baghdadi an Iraqi citizen, radicalized by Azzam’s writings and angry at the West, for what he considers crimes against Islam, created the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) in 2006 and announced its plans to sponsor acts of terrorism in pursuit of reestablishing a true Caliphate.
Al-Baghdadi also pronounced himself Caliph, the leader of all Muslims and highest role in the Caliphate.
ISIS grew until 2014 when Al-Baghdadi announced that it was being reestablished as ISIS but was to be called the Islamic State.
Unlike Al-Qaeda and previous terrorist organizations, which often made announcements from caves, dressed in camo, and slinging weapons around their shoulders, ISIS presented itself in much more of a religious way making announcements at Mosques and wearing the attire appropriate for their location.
Their emphasis is to incorporate the ideas of jihad established by Assam into all Islamic teaching in order to unify and radicalize all of those associated with the Muslim faith.
Since we now have some background on how they began, it is important to grasp what ISIS’s mission is and what that means for those living in the Middle East and around the world.
ISIS main goal is to unify the Islamic Caliphate and take the Levant, the land that the Quran has deemed is to be inhabited exclusively by Muslims.
In pursuit of this goal, ISIS has been slowly capturing land in the Middle East as well as sponsoring and coordinating terrorist attacks in other parts of the world in order to demonstrate its power and get revenge of the “evil West.”
ISIS has also been using its acts of terrorism to gain publicity and attract new, younger members to join their cause.
Al Qaeda attempted to do this back in the late 90’s, however their success was limited by travel restrictions and a lack of the interconnectivity which ISIS enjoys due to the internet.
ISIS is using the internet and different messaging platforms in large success to recruit Muslim jihadists from around the world to their cause.
Their success can also be attributed, in part, due to a growing hate for the United States found in youth and young adults in the Middle East due to drone strikes and US military presence.
These upset individuals more easily become radicalized due and are often used to attract their friends and acquaintances to the cause.
One thing ISIS has made very clear is their view on punishment. ISIS has released numerous videos and photos of individuals being beheaded, stoned, and even burned alive as punishment for their crimes against Allah.
They have also released several official documents outlining their punishments for crimes against the Quran and Allah (and presumably the punishments that will exist in their Caliphate).
These include: Blasphemy against Allah, the Prophet Mohamed, or Islam: Death, adultery: Stoning until death if the adulterer was married and 100 lashes and exile if he or she were unmarried, homosexuality: Death for the person committing the act, as well as for the one receiving it.
The United Nations and other global groups have deemed these actions overbearing and inhumane.
Finally, what are ISIS’ plans and how great a threat do their actions pose to the rest of the world?
ISIS has had great success recruiting through social media such as Twitter and has continued to grow their numbers, even recruiting over 400 known American citizens and possibly up to 1,400.
These continued numbers result in greater power for the Islamic State and a greater opportunity for terrorist attacks, planned and orchestrated by citizens within the country being attacked.
This should seriously alarm those in western countries; their continued existence demands an increase in national security to help resolve these threats.
It is scary to note that the 9/11 attack led by Al-Qaeda cost around $500,000 to fund and ISIS had at one point over $300,000,000 in oil and other assets all at its disposal.
Their continued existence poses a threat not only to the Middle East and Levant but also to individuals around the globe.
Fortunately, their regional influence in terms of land controlled is dwindling.
But, as we have seen recently, their influence is still very much evident around the world, even in the United States.
By David Kirk