As ISIS grows, so does its pool of enemies. It has formed enemies with the West, with Europe, and with many countries in the Middle East. It has formed enemies with Christians, Kurds, Shia, and other Sunnis. ISIS is even at war with Al Qaeda. The big question that comes up here is why? Why is it that ISIS is continuing to form so many enemies? Why does ISIS continue to probe enemy action all over, especially in the West?
In just the past few months, we have seen countless videos containing brutal murders, be-headings, crucifixions, shootings, rape and enslavement of women, etc. of ISIS enemies. What also seems disturbing is that these videos are published and promoted by ISIS. As Peter Bergen of CNN described in his document ‘Why does ISIS keep making enemies?’: “…The Nazis… went to great lengths to hide their crimes against humanity. Instead, ISIS posts its many crimes on social media for global distribution with seemingly no thoughts for the consequences.” So, why does ISIS not bother with trying to hide the fact that they are causing such heinous crimes throughout the world? It is common knowledge that their actions are mostly religiously driven. What lacks is an understanding of what their actual religious beliefs are, and further studies of their ideals could help bring about possible solutions.
A possible answer behind their religious motivation can be found in the recent seventh issue of the ‘Dabiq’, an online magazine used by ISIS to recruit new members. Below are two pictures from the magazine. The first is of the seventh issue, which was released within the past week. The second is a picture of the kind of propaganda that is used in these magazines to recruit individuals to join ISIS. As you can see, ISIS utilizes vivid colors, pictures, and slogans to recruit new members to join their ranks.
The seventh issue describes the ideology of ISIS as one of an “apocalyptic cult”, where we are all nearing the end of the world (we can see this linkage to Sufi Islam), and ISIS is awaiting its coming. It describes that there will be a final battle between Islam and “Rome” (mainly the West, Christians), and it will take place in Dabiq, Syria (the magazine name itself describes the importance of this ideology for ISIS). The ideology is clear that one is either with ISIS or against them. So, anyone who stands in the way of ISIS is wrong and should suffer accordingly. However, for the prophecy to come true, the West would have to come to Dabiq. A masked British man from several ISIS videos, known as ‘Jihadi John’ had this to say after the murder of Peter Kassig, an American aid worker, “We bury the first crusader in Dabiq, eagerly waiting for the rest of your armies to arrive.” So, at this point, it seems that ISIS is probing at the West and just waiting for the “Hour” to approach.
So, the bottom line is, what can be done using this information? How do we combat this kind of ideology? Do we give-in to their apocalyptic views and attack where it is needed, or do we stay as far away as possible? How do we avoid feeding the situation, and is there a way not to? It seems that if we sit still and let things play out, ISIS will continue to probe the West, in order to fulfill their prophecy. If this is truly what they believe, they will not stop with the terrible crimes until they get what they want, which is a final battle. I think, that by all means, we should try to do all we can to not let this situation escalate to this final point. If anything, the best the West can do would be to strengthen governments within the Middle East, as we already are trying to do, to wipe out the enemy so that we can have as little direct involvement as possible. However, if it does escalate to that point, the West would have to do something about it. They would have to get involved by force. ISIS is known to not be a very rational group, and only listens to violence. So, it seems that this may be the only way to combat this situation. But again, would this just be adding fuel to flame?
As more issues of the Dabiq are released, we hopefully will get more insight into the minds of the leaders of ISIS. Ultimately, this may be the best way to combat them—analyzing their thoughts and strategically planning from that. It will be very interesting to see what other information they will release to the general public, and if that information could be used to make sense of those acting in accord with an irrational ideology.
Resources and More Information: