Rio Hondo College Newspaper

El Paisano

Rio Hondo College Newspaper

El Paisano

Rio Hondo College Newspaper

El Paisano

ISIS threat continues

The Islamic state of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) also called the Islamic state of Iraq and the Levant has gained many headlines across the globe recently most notably for embracing such an extreme violent ideology and their obscene actions against religious minorities in efforts to create an Islamic state in the middle east.

ISIS was formed out of the Al-Qaeda affiliate in Iraq and led by Abu-Bakr al-Baghdadi a 43-year-old Jihadist from the Iraqi city of Samarra.

ISIS and Al-Qaeda separated in February 2014. Today, ISIS and Al-Qaeda compete for influence over Islamist extremist groups around the world.

Since pledging allegiance to al-Qaeda in 2004, ISIS goal has been remarkably consistent and that is to found a hardline Sunni Islamic state;  to establish a caliphate in Iraq. Even after ISIS split with al-Qaeda in February (partially because ISIS was too brutal even for al-Qaeda), ISIS goal has remained the same.

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One of the most important factors in ISIS’ recent revival is due to the conflict between Iraqi Shias and Iraqi Sunnis. ISIS fighters themselves are Sunnis, and the tension between the two groups is a powerful recruiting tool for ISIS.

The difference between the two largest Muslim groups originated with a controversy over who got to take power after the Prophet Muhammeds death, but Iraq’s sectarian problems are more about modern political power and injustices.

A majority of Iraqis are Shias, but Sunnis ran things when Saddam Hussein himself a Sunni ruled Iraq. Saddam spread a false belief, that is still surprisingly persistent today, and that is that Sunnis were the real majority in Iraq. Thus, Sunnis felt and still feel entitled to larger shares of political power than might perhaps be justified by their size.

Today the two groups don’t trust each other, and so far have competed in a zero-sum game for control over Iraqi political institutions.  As long as Shias control the government, and Sunnis don’t feel like they’re fairly represented, ISIS will have an audience for its radical Sunni message. That’s why ISIS is strong in the heavily Sunni northwest.

Recently this month the final 1500 families of Mosul’s Christian population were reportedly robbed at ISIS checkpoints and following after ISIS reportedly set fire to a  1600-year-old church, their message seems to be convert or die.

Today, ISIS holds a fair amount of territory in both Iraq and Syria, a mass roughly the size of Belgium. Their ambitions even stretch across the Middle East, and some have apparently even included territory in North Africa.

ISIS has shown to be incredibly ambitious, they seem to think ahead, and they’re quite serious about their expansionist Islamist ideology.

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