As we attempt to tell the complex origin and evolution of ISIS, or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, it would be nothing short of a prologue to humanity’s powerlessness to the culmination of bigoted political and religious ideologies. In the backdrop of the myriad, ruthless, and barbaric massacres they have committed, ISIS today stands for the most dreaded yet powerful hegemony of the jihadist movement in the Middle East and beyond. By the end of 2014, ISIS renamed itself as IS or the ‘œIslamic State’ with Abu Bakhr al-Baghdadi as its newest caliph.
Who Forms ISIS?
An abridged definition of ISIS would hold the group to be one comprised of Sunni Muslim Extremists who adopt merciless methods to establish their dominance. With a monomaniacal ideology to establish the Sunni Islamic State governed by the medieval Sharia Law, they are more than a bunch of fervid psychopaths as would be construed by an average mind. The group that has morphed into various names and shapes in the last two decades makes headlines today for being the richest jihadist group in the world with assets roughly worth up to $2 billion. With a trenchant military power, they have brutally subordinated most parts of Western Iraq and Eastern Syria.
The Seeds of the ISIS Apocalypse
Shortly after the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, the political landscape of the then-in-power Sunni minority led by Saddam Hussain changed to the Shia majority, gaining prominence which in turn suppressed the Sunnis. Not much time later, this paved the way for the Sunni rebel uprising. Terrorist groups like the Al-Qaeda trickled into Iraq to find their allegiance with the Sunnis who, much like them, considered the Shia Muslim population to be heretics. They soon united with the local forces of the Sunni population who were resentful of the Shiites’ dominant government and former Sunni military cadres and started fighting the U.S. troops in the now conspicuously segregated Iraqi State. AQI (Al-Qaeda) suffered a blow when leader Abu Masab al-Zarqawi was killed in a U.S. airstrike in June of 2006. The American assistance to reduce violence was, however, withdrawn in 2011 when sectarian rife prevailed over National Politics, and the then-elected governing coalition put its eye on recrimination rather than reconciliation. After the Al-Qaeda withdrew allegiance from the operation, owing to the nonadherence of extremely gruesome methods, the troops became concentrated from largely foreign to Iraqi, and their new leader Abu Bakhr al-Baghdadi was chosen. The former Sunnis who were once associated with the government now joined back with IS owing to its long-standing resentment against the government that failed to protect their needs, making IS an extremely professional and mighty militant group. The group soon began fighting against government forces in Syria, where an uprising against President Bashar al-Assad was already surging. The group eventually rebranded itself as the ‘œIS’ or ‘œIslamic State,’ reflecting the glorious ambitions of their caliph to form a completely sovereign Muslim state subject to the caliph’s regime. In time, IS captured surface-to-air missiles, anti-tank weapons, anti-aircraft guns, and Grad multiple rocket launchers from the Iraqi army and Syrian rebels, to name a few, among the other sophisticated warfare machinery.
All and any who do not convert to their held sect of Sunni either have an option of extending monitory benefits and living as their subordinates or inviting the wrath of death. Their expertise apart from warfare also extends to social media, which they adeptly use to spread propaganda and recruit new fighters’”especially those from foreign countries. In a nutshell, the story of IS is one of thirst for blood, one that has rejected peaceful negotiation as part of its constitution, and one that holds the idiosyncratic idea of wiping away the very population it yearns to gain authority over.