The world as we know is characterised by varied social good and evils. Now as we are witnessing more and more advancements and development as the time progresses, so do the social evils. One such cruelty that millions of people around the world have become victims to is terrorism. Terrorism, in simple terms, means the use of violence and other illegal means to harm citizens with a political aim to fulfil. However, what do terrorists really want? In other words, what is it exactly that they seek to achieve? Let’s try to decipher this with the example of one of the biggest and most dangerous terrorist organizations in the world- ISIS.
ISIS, which is an acronym for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, is also known as ISIL (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant), IS (the Islamic State) or Daesh, a name which is so hated by the organization that it leads people to have their tongues cut in public if they utter this word. This organization was birthed in 2014 when Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, originally a member of Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda, parted ways from that network to form a separate organization of militants. The group, then known as just ISI, changed hands in the leadership various times; first when Zarqawi was killed due to a U.S. airstrike in 2006 and Abu Ayyub al-Masri stepped in and second, when Masri died in another US-Iraqi operation, leading the infamous Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to step forward.
ISI became ISIS when during the Civil War of Syria, ISI expanded into the Syrian region after fighting against the country’s troops. ISIS is marked by brutality and cruelty of varying degrees- public executions, rapes, slavery, crucifixion, to name a few. They deem “un-Islamic” behaviour, such as indulging in smoking, drugs or even music, to be worthy of a punishment as barbarous as beheading. Some of its activities are rejected by even a group as dangerous as al Qaeda.
Since its inception, ISIS has been responsible for enslaving and murdering hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians. It has claimed responsibility for some of the deadliest tragedies the world has witnessed so far- 2015 Paris Attacks, 2016 Pulse Nightclub Shooting, 2017 Manchester Attack, along with merciless killing of millions of middle eastern communities and assaults on historical sites. The whole record of ISIS is splattered with plain brutality.
So, what is it that ISIS seeks to achieve? In other words, what is the final goal that the group wants to reach by violence of such magnitude? For that, it’s essential to understand the composition of the group. ISIS is a group of Sunni militants, all having an aim of having a Sunni Islamist regime all over the world. They seek to implement the Sharia law, which is a religious code based on Islamic practices. ISIS calls themselves a caliphate. Thousands of people from Muslim countries and even Europe have joined hands by being members of ISIS. What motivates them to take this step?
ISIS indulge in a lot of propaganda. By spreading false propaganda and twisted politics, mostly through the Internet, the group often targets those who have been outcasted from their community. Some civilians mistake the practices of the group as allegiance to traditional Islam and believe that they would be loyal to their faith by joining ISIS. Others swear allegiance to ISIS out of no choice- they believe that in order to get food and shelter, they have to forcibly become a member of ISIS.
The group is also believed to be the richest terrorist organization in the world, assisted with funding from different sources. According to some estimates, the group was worth $2 billion dollars in 2014. Besides kidnapping ransoms, the group uses income from donations, looting, extortion and stolen artifacts to fund its heinous activities. Therefore, it’s no wonder why some people are driven to join ISIS.
The activities of Islam have sparked an era of islamophobia worldwide. Millions of Muslims have had to bear the brunt of the terror imparted by such groups, which they believe is a strong contradiction to the teachings of Quran, the Holy book of which ISIS often cherry-picks quotes from to justify its violence. They have universally condemned the actions of the group, calling it “un-Islamic”. ISIS mistakes jihad (mentioned in the Quran) as eradicating all non-Muslims or even Muslims who condemn the group. Jihad actually just means a defensive action to be taken only when Muslims are directly attacked. It’s a wonder why a group of people can misconstrue the meanings of holy words to fit their agenda and become a threat to so many people worldwide.
While many people opine that ISIS is a largely religious organization, it’s hard to ignore that in essence, it’s actually a political organization. ISIS’ role in Syria involves overthrowing Assad forces, assisting the Free Syrian Army and capturing Western journalists to send a message to the United States. Many Syrian refugees are lured to join the group, thus fulfilling its own agenda. Many countries have formed an alliance with the US to fight back ISIS and unarguably, the group’s territorial influence has dwindled over the years. However, with the age of social media and the Internet, nothing concrete can be said for sure since the group is notorious for spreading rumours and propaganda through digital means.
This extremist interpretation of Islam teachings has led to the loss of life of many people, especially Muslims. From persecution of Yazidis and Christians, forced conversions, slavery, forced mutilation and outright torture, so many communities have become victims of the group. The members of ISIS are promised with paradise if they adhere to the principles of the group. Now the question is if bringing hell to the Earth for innocent civilians is the only way around that.