Free Term Paper On Islamic State of Iraq and Syria

Terrorism is one of the biggest Global threats. Terrorists are born out of communal discord, financial instability, oppressive governments etc. The Jehadi Terrorists are communal terrorists who fight for their own interpretation of Islam. The ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is a Sunni extremist group, formerly known by the name of Al-Qaeda, renowned for its terrorist activities all over the globe.

The ISIS practices and propagates Jihad, a form or religious war against other religious and cultural states and uses extreme interpretations of the Qur’an as their propaganda. The ISIS’s extremist activities has been criticized and labeled as terrorism the world over. However, their political influence and presence provides them a platform to propagate their Jihad and poses a threat to non-Islamic institution. The following paper is a discussion of how ISIS is a global threat and why is it difficult to take action against them at a global level.
Originally named as Jama’at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad in 1999, the group gained significance after entering the Syrian War and achieved political credibility through governments at Ar-Raqqah, Idlib, Deir ez-Zor and Aleppo following the United States attack on Iraq in 1999. It was more popularly known as al-Qaeda before its defeat in the hands of the allied troops. It is in fact a disavowed off-shoot of the al-Qaeda itself. Some conspiracy theorists also put responsibility on the United States for its creation. However, the US gave a strong response in which it clarified as to having no links with the ISIS or the al-Qaeda. Its true formation came with the disavowing decree put forward by the al-Qaeda itself as protest to the ISIS’s disobedience to al-Qaeda’s direct orders of reducing civilian casualties in the attack on Syria. The ISIS group numbers at the maximum of fifty thousand fighters, who are replenished in small numbers by local militia on the borders of Syria and Iraq. Coupled with this was the resentment brewing amongst the Sunni Muslims under the Iraq Democratic Government which, according to the Sunni masses misrepresented the Sunni population and favored the Shia Muslims of Iraq (Parker and Ireland).

The ISIS or ISIL indulge in extremist activities like suicide bombing, hijacks, prisoner executions, robbery etc. The current leader of this fanatic group is Abu-Bakr al-Baghdadi. He is known for forming militant groups in Salaheddin and Diyala provinces, north of Iraq’s capital before joining ISIS’ predecessor, al-Qaeda, in Iraq. Al-Baghdadi, according to US records was detained for four years in Camp Bucca, a prison run by the United States in the Southern province of Iraq. He was released from captivity in the year 2009 (Beauchamp).
The group follows the ideology of the 13th century Islam known as the Wahabism culture and rejects innovations and development in the Islamic religion. The group directly rejects other caliphate and aims at creating and extending its own caliphate. Their first and foremost driving point for resurgence is the Shia-Sunni Muslim conflict in the middle-eastern region which has lead to a lot of bloodshed in the past. Their pro-Sunni demeanor gives them a permanent support from the Sunnis who feel misrepresented in the Iraqi Government post the civil wars after the fall of the Sunni leader Saddam Hussein.

ISIS’s activities have always aimed at the infringement to human rights as well as towards peace. All of their operations, from funding till execution are aimed to harm a particular target. Their recent advancements outside Syria have become a cause for major concern worldwide. Hence, the ISIS is a reason for global concern. They are widely accepted as a terrorist group in their former name al-Qaeda, and have increasingly become a terror militia group (Lewis). However, they are in a direct conflict with al-Qaeda themselves, who disapprove of their extremist and cruel ways of war-mongering, sadistic victim torture and robbing.

ISIS has a very strong system of propagation for their agendas and propagandas. Their media presence is more aggressive than al-Qaeda’s, both on air as well as online. They produce promotional media like pamphlets, DVDs, online videos and other web based content to spread their propaganda. They also employ social media to launch campaigns. They regularly issue videos announcing fatwas or covering beheadings of prisoners. There media content is always contemptuous and insightful, and at times highly inappropriate for viewing for a large part of the media. The major source of income for the ISIS comes from export of oil, taxation, online sale of looted or captured artifacts and other illegal means like black marketing, kidnapping, extortion, robbery etc. A small funding is also received through donations from outside of Iraq.

One of ISIS’s main agenda is the removal of Islamic groups and states that do not follow their version of the Islamic interpretation. They term such states as non-believers. The second agenda of the ISIS is the removal or conversion of non-believers into a new caliphate under the ISIS. The ISIS proclaimed their own caliphate to be the most supreme and the only caliphate for all of the Muslims all over the world. They proclaim other caliphates as null and void with the arrival of their troops to the boundaries of these caliphates. ISIS forces the people it captures to adopt Sunni Islam and Sharia law or face torture, mutilation and death. They also direct violence against Shia Muslims, Yazidis, Assyrians, Christians and people of other religions living in the middle-eastern Sunni regions (Withnall).

ISIS completely rejects political divisions put in place by Western countries at the end of World War I through the Sykes–Picot Agreement and in this manner completely disregards foreign borders (Khatib). Their (the ISIS’s) motives have always been a cause for concern as the ISIS use bloodshed and terror to drive their ideas to the people (Welby). They have been involved in bombing at several religious places as well as causing terrorist attacks in other continents. They destroy any form of Islamic religious artifact which directly links to any other religion (Lewis). Their arsenal consists of sophisticated weapons as well as tens of thousands of fighters. The weaponry they use is mostly captured from states they invade, including a nuclear weapon system they captured from the Mosul University, giving them the capacity of nuclear warfare (Khatib).

Although the ISIS has outgrown itself as a terrorist group from the times of al-Qaeda, and has increased its strength to militia status, the ISIS still works in ways to cause terror in its victims (Parker and Ireland). It truly outgrew with the political instability in the Syrian province. This single point of achievement gave the ISIS access to heavy weaponry Mass murder, rape, torture, public crucifixion, beheadings (both public and through live media) are some of the ways the ISIS propagates terror amongst people,

One reason for ISIS to gain such amounts of foot hold on the border lines of Syria and Iraq is the political instability these countries face (Lewis). Although the Syrian and Iraqi armies are huge in number, the ISIS has faced little or no resistance from the government armed forces as yet (Lewis). The reason is that the Iraqi forces were unwilling to fight for their government during that period of time. Sectarianism due to Shia-Sunni conflicts in the armies was one of the biggest reasons for the armies to fail to contain the ISIS insurgence.
The ISIS has been criticized greatly for more than just its terrorist activities. After ISIS made the declaration of creation of the so-called Independent “Islamic State,” he began using the name Al-Khalifah Ibrahim, and now goes by that name with his followers (Withnall). The biggest point of criticism came as al-Baghdadi declared himself as the leader of the self-proclaimed caliphate of all the Muslims all over the world, drawing ire and objection from the al-Qaeda members as well as other caliphates around the world. There are many other instances of criticism against the ISIS activities and most of them call for extreme measures to curb the ISIS. Due to its extremist ways the ISIS has been condemned by other Islamic countries as a deviant Islamic group, wrongly interpreting and propagating Islam to the world (Withnall). They also criticize the use of the word Islam in their propaganda and name. Apart from criticism for using the word “Islamic” in its propaganda and name, it has received criticism from Amnesty International and United Nations as a war mongering group that abuses human rights and persecutes on the basis of religion, creed and color.

A direct conflict with ISIS may prove increasingly difficult if other Islamic extremist group get motivated to join the ISIS (Welby). There are several reasons it is difficult to control and root out the ISIS. The first reason is the support from some Sunni Islamic states. With continued support from Iran, Iraq and other Gulf countries, ISIS always has funding and hiding grounds at all times with a large area to operate from (Parker and Ireland).

The second reason is their sheer numbers, and the area they have under their control is civilian in nature. A direct conflict may lead to a full-fledged war, disregarding peace treaties and mandates. However, the ISIS is weaker than the Iraq and Syrian governments and therefore has not been able to topple them down (Beauchamp). But it is only a matter of time before ISIS begins to make preparations for the same.

The third reason is the army’s inability to get over sectarian issues and fight back. However, the Sunni based ISIS groups may face a tough fight from armies in the Shia majority areas (Khatib). A friendly Shia Government like the state of Iran may be helpful in fighting ISIS insurgents down but such help could only motivate Sunni Muslims to join the ISIS ranks (Beauchamp).

A direct conflict with ISIS may prove increasingly difficult if other Islamic extremist group get motivated to join the ISIS (Welby). There are several reasons it is difficult to control and root out the ISIS. The first reason is the support from some Sunni Islamic states. With continued support from Iran, Iraq and other Gulf countries, ISIS always has funding and hiding grounds at all times with a large area to operate from (Parker and Ireland).

The second reason is their sheer numbers, and the area they have under their control is civilian in nature. A direct conflict may lead to a full-fledged war, disregarding peace treaties and mandates. However, the ISIS is weaker than the Iraq and Syrian governments and therefore has not been able to topple them down (Beauchamp). But it is only a matter of time before ISIS begins to make preparations for the same.

The third reason is the army’s inability to get over sectarian issues and fight back. However, the Sunni based ISIS groups may face a tough fight from armies in the Shia majority areas (Khatib). A friendly Shia Government like the state of Iran may be helpful in fighting ISIS insurgents down but such help could only motivate Sunni Muslims to join the ISIS ranks (Beauchamp).

The ISIS is still in its initial stages and can be curbed through strengthening borders around the occupied areas, allowing refugees to percolate out. This will bring the too fold benefit of containment as well as leaving the ISIS no room for retreat. A two pronged action plan originating both from Syria and Iraq can weed out the ISIS insurgency and reduce any chances of the fighters to fall back from the line of fire. However, risk lies in a full blown attack as it may cause countries to embark on wars and lead to huge casualties at a global level. What needs to be done is to negotiate terms that may remove favor from the part of ISIS from the helping Syrian and Iraq states. Ways must be found out to detect, curb and destroy people who initiate such activities. At a religious level, the ISIS must be conveyed the fact that their version of religious interpretation is wrong.

In conclusion, it is evident that ISIS is a global threat that needs to be stopped at all costs if humanity has to be saved from the brunt of misinterpreted religious fanaticism and pointless bloodshed. The ISIS is not more than a militia confederation that has yet to see strong opposition from world powers. A strong message needs to be sent out to the ISIS to stop its terrorist activities in the Sunni regions of the middle-east. It must be understood that religion do not make men, but men make their own religion. Hence, to be controlled at the behest of religious brotherhood will only lead to communal animosity and therefore prolong the conflict that may have arisen out of petty issues.

Works cited

Beauchamp, Z. 17 Things about ISIS and Iraq you need to know. Vox.com. 9 Oct. 2014. Web. 23 Nov. 2014. Available at < http://www.vox.com/cards/things-about-isis-you-need-to-know/iran-intervenes-iraq>
Khatib, L.”What the Takeover of Mosul Means for ISIS”. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. 12 June, 2014. Web. 18 June 2014. Available at < http://carnegieendowment.org/2014/06/12/what-takeover-of-mosul-means-for-isis/hdng>
Lewis, J. “The Terrorist Army Marching on Baghdad”. The Wall Street Journal. 12 June 2014. Web. 23 Nov. 2014.
Parker, N.; Ireland, L.”Iraqi PM Maliki says Saudi, Qatar openly funding violence in Anbar”. Reuters.9 Mar. 2014. Web. 23 Nov. 2014.
Welby, P. What is the ISIS? Tony Blair Faith Foundation. 21, Jul. 2014. Web. 24, Nov. 2014 Available at < http://tonyblairfaithfoundation.org/religion-geopolitics/commentaries/backgrounder/what-isis?gclid=CL3IoZvrksICFYonjgodELEAzg >
Withnall, A. “Iraq crisis: Isis changes name and declares its territories a new Islamic state with ‘restoration of caliphate’ in Middle East”. The Independent. 29 June 2014 Web. 24 Nov. 2014. Available at < http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/isis-declares-new-islamic-state-in-middle-east-with-abu-bakr-albaghdadi-as-emir-removing-iraq-and-syria-from-its-name-9571374.html>

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