Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant

I’ve previously covered religious terrorism, albeit on briefly in Religion: The Art of War , but I have been watching documentaries of late, and one last night briefly touched upon Jihād and I decided to focus on that, and especially ISIL (ISIS).

Jihād has several meanings but it generally means ‘struggle’ in Arabic, and it means the struggle to promote all that is right and prevent all that is wrong. There are generally two main terms for Jihād in Islam.

Jihādal-Nafs: The Spiritual struggle against sin (greater Jihād)

Jihād al-sayf: The struggle against enemies of Islam (lesser Jihād)

Scholars claim that the Qur’an doesn’t sanction the use of violence despite many westerners suggesting that Jihād means ‘Holy War’. So why do some followers of Islam think it’s justifiable to commit acts of terror against their own people and non-Muslims despite the meaning of Islam being ‘Submission to the will of God’, which originated from the same root as salaam meaning ‘peace’ and the term As-salāmu ʿalaykum is often used as a greeting meaning ‘Peace be upon you’.

The key motivation behind Islamic terrorist cells is their desire for each country to be a caliphate, which means ruled over by Sharia Law, and governed by a Caliph who’s a religious cleric who is acknowledged as a successor of the Prophet Muhammad , who’s desire is to bring back the Ummah (Islamic community), which is to be defended against apostates, heretics and infidels.

Islamic terrorist cells believe in Martyrdom, which in modern use is ‘one who dies for his faith’ and this is a great privilege to be allowed to become a symbol for the struggle. Martyr actually means ‘witness’ and is derived from Ancient Greek, but in modern terms it’s classed as courage and commitment to the cause and they are known as Shahid.

What could possibly be the motivation for taking your own life and others? To be a Martyr is essentially taking one for the team, and is prepared to suffer death, and sacrifice for the sake of the greater good. The Qur’an doesn’t justify martyrdom, but the Hadith references Martyrdom many times.

“Being killed in the cause of Allah is martyrdom”

“The martyr is the one who gives himself, expectant of reward from Allah”

“The first of the people whose case will be decided on the Day of Judgment will be a man who died as a martyr”

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL – Dawlah al-Islāmiyyah fī al-ʿIrāq wa al-Shām), or more commonly known as Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is a militant Islamic terrorist cell, who follows the fundamental and radicalised Salafi movement of Sunni Islam, who follow jihadist-Salafism that’s focusing on the pure Islamic era of Muhammed. Its leader is Abū Bakr al-Baghdadi and it’s ruled as their ‘Caliph’. His nickname is ‘The Ghost’, and was formally the leader of the Iraqi section of Al-Qaeda, and in 2013 he created ISIL and became their ‘Caliph Ibrahim’

Abū Bakr al-Baghdadi

One of the strongest weapons ISIL have is visual propaganda, which is usually in the form of video showing the treatment of hostages, prisoners and violators of Islamic law. The videos often show executions in the form of shootings, and over recent years beheadings, although the authenticity of many of them has been questioned. ISIL is also responsible for much cultural, and ethnic cleansing in Iraq and Syria where they destroyed Shīʿite and Christian places of worship, brutally executed worshippers, and destroyed many areas of ancient ruins that have been there for thousands of years.

ISIL gained many affiliates from existing insurgent groups and terror cells in Africa, like Boko Harem and the Taliban, in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and many hidden cells operate around the world carrying out many terrorist attacks in the name of Islamic State.

One of the worst of recent years was the bombing of Manchester Arena in England, May 2017. After the conclusion of an Ariana Grande-Butera concert, people started to leave the Arena, and a lone terrorist walked into the Arena with a homemade IED (improvised explosive device) containing nuts and bolts, and detonated in amongst the crowd. 23 people were killed, and half were children, and a further 139 were wounded. The bomber was Salman Ramadan Abedi, who was a 22 year old radicalised British Muslim.

ISIL still operates but on a significantly smaller scale than in previous years due to the military of Iraq and Syria, and allied forces pushing them out of cities, or destroying training facilities, and camps.

“Officials told the inspector general’s office that ISIS continues to function as an insurgency in both Iraq and Syria partly because forces there “remain unable to sustain long-term operations against ISIS militants.” ISIS is also “likely reestablishing financial networks in both countries,” according to officials at the Office of the DoD Deputy Assistant Secretary for Counternarcotics and Global Threats. Beyond that, military officials warned, ISIS “maintains an extensive worldwide social media effort to recruit fighters.” – PBS

It doesn’t look like they’re going anywhere soon, but what does this mean for humanity when terrorist networks are indiscriminate about targets. What chance do governments have chasing ghosts, who have no morals, or scruples, and are prepared to massmurder children for their cause?

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