ISIS: Who Are They, What Do They Want, And Why? (Redux)

This is a repeat of a post from November, 2015. Worth reading again (or for the first time).

islamic-stateIn the aftermath of the violence and terrible loss of life in Paris, celebrities and politicians try to explain why it happened and what we can do (if anything) about it.

We must start treating every human being with dignity and respect, and this the only thing that will change the world… Only love will change the world, but it’s very hard to love unconditionally, and it’s very hard to love that which we do not understand or that which is different than we are, but we have to or this will go on and on forever.  Madonna

Can I just take this opportunity to remind you all that Mr Mohammed at your local shop wasn’t involved in last nights attacks on Paris. Neither was Mrs Azeer from Lloyds Bank or her family. Kamal from down the road has never been to Paris, and his brother Abdul, the taxi driver, was watching the news in horror along with everyone else.
The people behind last night’s attacks weren’t Muslims, they were extremists using religion as vindication for their cowardice.
Please, I urge each and everyone of you, do not lay blame at the doors of the innocent just because of what they believe. They are no more to blame for Paris than you are. We are one world and one family. Treat each other as such, because what happened last night should bring us closer together, not make us lash out against our neighbours for a perceived religion affiliation  Leigh Matthews, bar manager (on Twitter)

ISIS is making a tremendous amount of money because they have certain oil camps, certain areas of oil that they took away.   They have some in Syria, some in Iraq. I would bomb the s— out of ’em. I would just bomb those suckers. That’s right. I’d blow up the pipes. … I’d blow up every single inch. There would be nothing left. And you know what, you’ll get Exxon to come in there and in two months, you ever see these guys, how good they are, the great oil companies? They’ll rebuild that sucker, brand new — it’ll be beautiful.  Donald Trump

What is true, from the start our goal has been first to contain and we have contained them. They have not gained ground in Iraq and in Syria. They’ll come in. They’ll leave. But you don’t see this systemic march by ISIL across the terrain. What we have not yet been able to do is to completely decapitate their command and control structures. We’ve made some progress in trying to reduce the flow of foreign fighters.  Barack Obama

With the possible exception of Madonna, each of these people are saying things that are at least partly true. Confused and not knowing what to think, I went in search of information about those Muslims who see us as their enemies.  There seems to be much confusion in the world about what ISIS is doing, who they are, and how (if they are) different from the rest of the Islamic world.  There are many Jihadi organizations, and ISIS is only one of them.

The first big Islamic enemy of the West in modern times was Al-Qaeda (The Base). With cells spread all around the world, their primary location appears to be in Pakistan, although location is not particularly important to the organization.  World domination and expulsion of non-Muslims from Muslim countries are their goals. Usama bin Laden said in 1998 that it was the duty of all Muslims to kill US citizens-civilian or military-and their allies everywhere.  Although many of their leaders were killed, in recent years they have launched attacks in Middle Eastern countries like Yemen, Libya, and West Africa, and they have worked to establish a presence on the Indian sub-continent.

ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) has eclipsed Al-Qaeda, and has established a caliphate in Iraq, led by a caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Al-Baghdadi spoke publicly only once –

on July 5 of last year, he stepped into the pulpit of the Great Mosque of al-Nuri in Mosul, to deliver a Ramadan sermon as the first caliph in generations—upgrading his resolution from grainy to high-definition, and his position from hunted guerrilla to commander of all Muslims. The inflow of jihadists that followed, from around the world, was unprecedented in its pace and volume, and is continuing.  Graeme Wood, Atlantic, March 2015

ISIS is primarily a fundamentalist religious organization.  They follow the teachings of the Prophet and of the Koran, which includes the implementation of such methods as decapitation, crucifixion, rape and enslavement.  The religion they preach is a derivative of Islam, very much based upon the words and actions of the Prophet Mohammed.

Virtually every major decision and law promulgated by the Islamic State adheres to what it calls, in its press and pronouncements, and on its billboards, license plates, stationery, and coins, “the Prophetic methodology,” which means following the prophecy and example of Muhammad, in punctilious detail. Muslims can reject the Islamic State; nearly all do. But pretending that it isn’t actually a religious, millenarian group, with theology that must be understood to be combatted, has already led the United States to underestimate it and back foolish schemes to counter it. We’ll need to get acquainted with the Islamic State’s intellectual genealogy if we are to react in a way that will not strengthen it, but instead help it self-immolate in its own excessive zeal.  Graeme Wood, Atlantic

Under takfiri doctrine, ISIS vows to conquer non-Muslims, but they intend, as well, to murder many Muslims (such as the Shiites, but not limited to them) who they see as apostate, because they do things that have no basis in the Koran.  ISIS intends to purify the world by murdering millions of people, and enslaving many more millions.  They see this as their duty.  Therefore, executions occur every day in the areas that ISIS controls.  If they succeed in murdering all of the Shiites, that would mean 200 million people.  They don’t stop at Shiites, of course, and apostate practices are broadly defined by ISIS. They believe the End Of Days is coming soon, and believe that they are God’s instrument to reach that goal.

These facts about ISIS mean that loving them and treating them with respect will have little or no effect, because they don’t want to kill us because we are mean or unkind.  They want to kill us because of who we are and what we believe, and most Muslims are just as much (if not more) at risk.

Centuries have passed since the wars of religion ceased in Europe, and since men stopped dying in large numbers because of arcane theological disputes. Hence, perhaps, the incredulity and denial with which Westerners have greeted news of the theology and practices of the Islamic State. Many refuse to believe that this group is as devout as it claims to be, or as backward-looking or apocalyptic as its actions and statements suggest


Without acknowledgment of these factors, no explanation of the rise of the Islamic State could be complete. But focusing on them to the exclusion of ideology reflects another kind of Western bias: that if religious ideology doesn’t matter much in Washington or Berlin, surely it must be equally irrelevant in Raqqa or Mosul. When a masked executioner says Allahu akbar while beheading an apostate, sometimes he’s doing so for religious reasons. Graeme Wood

Most Muslims in western countries are embarrassed by fundamentalist Islam and try to distance themselves from groups like ISIS by saying that they are “un-Islamic”, but they ignore that those fundamentalists are only following the teachings in the Koran, and its historical requirements.  Muslims in the West have been westernized and are very much taking a politically correct stance. They want to absolve Islam of its violent roots, insisting that Islam is a religion of peace.  They are living in a fantasy land.  This is not helping!

The truth is that every soldier of ISIS, from the top to the bottom, is schooled in the teachings of the Koran, and can quote them “chapter and verse”.  ISIS is very much a religious reformation in the Muslim world, and new recruits are drawn to them and encouraged to join by recruiters throughout the world and, most significantly, on the Internet.  ISIS is the fundamentalist’s fundamentalist; they are a throwback to a medieval Islamic tradition.

Since the founding of the caliphate, ISIS has launched offensive war, because expansion of the caliphate is a duty. They believe terrorism must be used to hasten victory by chastening and frightening their enemies.  They will not make peace with western countries; permanent peace is forbidden by the Koran. Waging war is an obligation. Negotiation and accommodation are acts of apostasy.

Military victory by the West over ISIS, and taking away their territory in Iraq and Syria is a course of action that could be effective, because ISIS will cease to have a caliphate if they lose the land they occupy.

There are also big risks to this course of action.  For one, ISIS wants to draw the United States (in particular) into the fight. They believe a fight against the “crusaders” will end in their victory and the End of Days.  If the West does decide on military action, they can’t do a half-hearted job about it.  Complete victory and holding the territory is essential.  It can’t be a war where we drop bombs, declare victory, and leave.

I understand why the French dropped bombs on ISIS, but it can’t stop there if military action is going to be used.  It won’t stop them.  Containment isn’t working, and can’t work.  This is a very bad problem that can’t easily be solved.

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10 Responses to ISIS: Who Are They, What Do They Want, And Why? (Redux)

  1. Col.(R) Ken says:

    All you need to know is this; read the reports of what happened on the second floor before these people shot and kill all of the concert goers on the first floor.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Wooly Phlox says:

    Thanks for posting this, Stella.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. jeans2nd says:

    Excellent, well-stated thoughts, Stella, thank you.

    There are no easy answers, but it seems to me Gen. Flynn had a good start. Gen Flynn said something to the effect of isolate them, then bomb them. I would take it one step further. After bombing, bring in your hackers and crackers (speaking IT/code/communications here) and demoralize/educate the remnants, while ignoring the weeping bleeding hearts whispering in your ear. Not easy, but doable, with the right minds aligned with the goals. And keep their goats, of course.

    Liked by 5 people

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