If there’s one event from the news that just about no one can ignore, it has to be the brutality of the terrorist organization ISIS as witnessed in the lands of Iraq and Syria. The middle east seems to be struck by an eternal curse with hellish happenings happening over Gaza first and then elsewhere in the region. The brutality displayed against both military and civilian enemies of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria or the ISIS have had many terrified by just hearing of the brutality displayed. The internet has been bombed with terrifying and shaking images of stonings, suicide bombings, beheadings as well as crucifixions. And what of the why? Yes, this unrest is meant to threaten to make the region go back to a pre-Arab uprising era.
While al-Qaeda and Taliban have long been terrorist organizations known to the western world, the ISIS has been renounced by al-Qaeda leader Ayman al – Zawahiri due to the excessively brutal tactics. The ISIS has declared itself as an independent body instead of getting infused in the aligned groups of terrorism. Here are certain facts you just have to know about ISIS and what they aim to achieve.
What’s in the name?
The group, in Arabic is originally named Al – Dawla Al – Islamiya fi al -Iraq wa al -Sham. To translate, the U.S. government believes that the territory that the Jihadist group is establishing as a Caliphate is known as a Levant in English. This is the region stretching from South Turkey through Syria to Egypt with the inclusion of Lebanon, Israel, Palestinian territories as well as Jordan and this they believe is referred to as “al- sham” in Arabic. However, Syrian experts believe that it translates more literally to Syria and Bilad al Sham refers to Levant. The group however has different acronyms ranging from Islamic State (IS) to Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL).
The Origin of ISIS
Though the group has gained popularity only in the more recent past, but the ISIS was founded much before by a protégé of Osama Bin Laden known as Abu Musab al- Zarqawi. The group was founded in 1999 and was then named Jamaat al- Tawhid wa-l- Jihad (JTWJ). The group, for a brief time from 2004-2006 was associated to Bin Laden’s al- Qaeda and the group became popular as Al-Qaeda in Iraq or AQI. After Zarqawi’s death in 2006, a leading follower Muharib- al- Jaburi established the Islamic State of Iraq and the newly appointed leader of ISI was Abu Omar al- Qurashi al- Baghdadi.
The Aims and Objectives
The main aim or purpose of the ISIS as known to the people is to create an Islamic state, also called a caliphate, across the areas of Iraq and Syria. ISIS has now its control an estimated area of about 30,000 square miles including the territories of Iraqi governorates of Baghdad, Al Anbar, Diyala, Kirkuk, Salah al- Din, Nineveh, and certain portions of Babil; Certain Syrian territories of Al Barakah, Al Kheir, Ar – Raqqah, Al Badiya, Halab, Idlib, Hama, Damascus and certain areas from the coastal region.
The question now is what exactly is a caliphate? A caliphate is an Islamic State with strict enforcement of the Sharia Law. The area is ruled by a supreme religious and political leader called a caliph which in the case of ISIS is Baghdadi. All the people under the caliphate’s jurisdiction have to abide by the Sharia law which is based on certain Islam central teachings of the Quran.
Who’s the boss?
The ISIS, as much as it is named as a terrorist organization is a much more larger scale of organized crime movement with disciplined military command. It is mostly a Sunni Islamist Movement and it is an extremist at that in every sense. It has functioned effectively for the last couple of years and has established strong feet for itself in the Middle Eastern Lands. It is currently led by Abu Kahr al-Baghdadi, who is popularly called Baghdadi. He has been guiding the criminal actions and other movements of ISIS ever since the death of Omar al- Baghdadi in 2010. Baghdadi is the self proclaimed caliph of the Muslims and also the ruler/ leader of the Islamic State. This was released in a statement online in the summer of 2014.
The composition: A state?
To call it a state might not be entirely correct but the ISIS is surely more than just a military force. It has formed proper hierarchical governmental structures throughout the territories where it has established its rule. Moreover, it has cabinets, governors as well as financial and legislative bodies. It also has a bureaucratic hierarchy like all other governments in the world which is run by a council and is responsible to formulate and enforce the laws of the caliphate.
The topmost position is that of Baghdadi as the caliph followed by his cabinet or his advisers. There are deputies appointed for each of Iraq and Syria with the deputy of Iraq being Abu Muslim al- Turkmani and that of Syria being Abu Ali al- Anbari. Each deputy has leadership over twelve governors who in turn run the lower councils which overlook the departments of finance, leadership, military, law. security, intelligence and media.
The reach and support
The ISIS has slowly but steadily gained support from staunch Islamic followers Worldwide. This has been possible mostly due to their active presence of social media. A majority of fighters from abroad are those from Chechnya but a number of them also belong to other European and American countries. There are also entire Islamic Organizations including Jabhat Al-Nusra and Jaish al-Muhajireen wa Ansar alongside Tehreek e Khilafat, Boko Haram and Islamic Movement of Usbekistan have pledged support to ISIS. ISIS alone has almost half a lakh militants which are employed with the best military equipment to carry out its operations.
The whereabouts of money
ISIS has massive funding making it the best funded terrorist organization in the world. By 2006 alone the group as AQI had an estimated worth of $70 million garnered by criminal activities. Oil smuggling happens to be their biggest fund gatherer and their Oil banks make them the richest terrorist organization in the world. Alonside, they have also been involved in massive bank robberies and called for heavy amounts of ransom. The estimated daily funds garnered by the organization ranges from $1 million to $4 millions.
The targets, the brutality
ISIS has been merciful on none and unlike terrorist organizations that target other religions, ISIS targets mostly Islamic states and also followers of Islam to submit to their absolute power. They are however persecuting and committing Genocide against Shia Muslims, Christians, Armenian Christians, Assyrians, Syriac to name a few. More than 10,000 people had died subject to brutality, beheading and stoning in the first half on 2014 alone. Also, the group is one of the first terrorist organizations to take pride by sharing their brutality on social media. They have been highly brutal with raping women and selling them as slaves through all their territories.
Such exhibition of terror and brutality is only a symbol of how the world might still live, but humanity sure is dying. The end of the world is not in death of life, but the death of humanity while humans still live.