Shubhagata Choudhury, reporting for the Council for Halting the Annihilation Of States (CHAOS), tries to analyse the rise and rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and its origin story.
Ideas shape our world. The physical manifestation of our ideas can change our world, provided they can change it for the better.
The act of terrorism is just not a physical act. It is an idea which is disseminated through careful selection of manipulated ideals. Terrorism exists because humanity is divided. Terrorism exists because we value gospel principles over love.
The Islamic State (IS) is not a terrorist outfit but an idea which transcended the minds of a large Muslim population. Although we argue it is the new Al- Qaeda, nothing could be further from the truth. The IS had humble origins in 1999 but gained a momentum in 2003, after the United States of America (USA) invaded the Republic of Iraq. Although conspiracy theorists claim that the IS is the creation of the USA, it is not exactly a well-proved thesis. A large number of analysts do believe that the ISIS was the USA’s tactic of ‘divide and conquer’ policy to counter Iran’s massively growing influence in the region. It was also a way to keep the oil-rich Middle-east under their thumb rule.
However, like every chemistry experiment in high school, it backfired.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the current leader of the IS, is from a tribe of Quraysh. Fascinatingly, the Prophet Muhammad is of the same tribe. Naturally, the transition becomes easy. Abu acts a caliphate and wields power to subjugate an army. He has fanatics and psychopaths who worship him. Few possess such apotheosis. The IS not only uses Abu’s lineage as a tool to exercise all Islamic laws but also as an excuse to expand their territory aggressively in the Middle-east.The IS plans on implementing Islamic laws as the only form of governance and judgement for all Muslims and they will stop at nothing to achieve this. The IS also unifies Muslims against the Western countries and their Islamophobia. All of this combined is exactly what has made the IS so famous.
It will take a massive network and coalition among different governments to defeat a group like the IS, and in a world of turm-‘oil’ that seems to be a problem.
The IS divides Muslims too. They view Shia Muslims as apostates, who should be wiped from the face of this Earth. They endorse in Salafism, which is basically a jihadist branch of Sunnism. The IS aims to operate and govern based on the Koran and does not shy away from resorting to the Koran’s archaic methods of justice, including stoning and crucifixion. It has earned a name for its Machiavellian methods of embracing Al-Qaeda. Their predecessor has been rather direct and blunt in their operations.
The IS is extremely strategic and its operatives borderline on perfection.
Every outfit needs funds to expand and it is surprising that the IS, with its large operations and high ambitions, do not have a scarcity. It is proficient in organised crime. It has annexed large areas and has taken Central Bank reserves in Mosul. It has some of the best weapons on it. Again, the recurring argument of the USA funding the IS comes up. The USA is known to fund the IS in terms of arms. In particular, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has a history with aligning itself with terrorist outfits. Ex-National Security Director, General William Odom said that “by any measure, USA has long used terrorism.” Even during the 1970s, the USA is believed to have used the Muslim Brotherhood in the Arab Republic of Egypt. This was during the Cold War and the USA did not want Marxist ideologies to spread amongst the Arab population.
The methods to counter the IS are where strategists differ on their opinions. While some say that aggressive approach is the only way to counter an outfit with such a huge stock of arms, others feel that the strength of the IS is not in its arms but in its operations and strategy. Tactical unit in a landlocked Middle-east, who know the terrain in and out, is not an easy group to handle. They have thousands at their disposal as hostages and the cash influx does not seem to stop anytime soon. Since their strength is in their organisational skill, they cannot function without a figurehead. Taking out their men at the top will make them dangerous, volatile and aggressive. The tempest of rage will stop after a while when the group realises that it has turned impotent. Although there is a risk of creating smaller groups, few or maybe none will be as effective and structured as the IS. It will take a massive network and coalition among different governments to defeat a group like the IS, and in a world of turm-‘oil’ that seems to be a problem.
The IS has violated every human rights law. Sex slaves, murder, beheading, torture, they have done it all. There seems to nothing stopping them. If not now, when? If not ever, then never. The IS can be stopped. It needs to be stopped. They are aiming for a world devoid of human rights and a world full of hate. Some countries are doing it better, and we definitely do not want a group with zero moral doing that. The war on terrorism may have been an exaggerated hoax but it should not be anymore. Terror is fighting and democracy is losing. It is time to make the IS just a page in our children’s book of ‘Enemies of Humanity: Loser Guide 101’.