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 mass-murder children for their cause?

Religion: The art of war!

You’ve all heard the argument presented that’s taken straight from the theist handbook that claims the alleged atheist atrocities fallacy. Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot,

”Atheism is responsible for more deaths in the last century than religion has ever been responsible for”

We have all heard that no real Christian would ever harm anyone. Well I’m going to provide proof that they have, many times. Every faith, despite claiming being peaceful, will always, without question, stand up and fight against anyone that threatens their religion.

World War II (1939 – 1945)

During the reign of the Third Reich, German Protestants, motivated by the racism that gained Hitler his popularity,and influenced by Christian anti-Semitism, redefined Jesus as an Aryan and declared Christianity at war with Judaism. This was the birth of Positive Christianity.

Whilst adhering to their Aryan Christian beliefs, the Nazi’s were heavily influenced by witchcraft and the occult to seek an advantage over the allied forces. During Hitler’s WW2 campaign, up to 70,000,000 people died in conflict, execution, starvation and freezing to death.

Rwandan genocide (1994)

In 1994 over a period of 100 days, an estimation of up to 1,000,000 Tutsi were brutally executed in the Rwandan genocide by the Hutu.

It was started because their president Juvenal Habyarimana was in a plane that was shot down the Hutu blamed Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF).

Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) was a small rebel group of Tutsis. Hulu extremists blamed RPF but Tutsis blames Hulu saying they shot the plane down as an excuse to act out the genocide.

The Tutsi were portrayed as anti-Christian and the Hulu claimed they were scared of them getting into power. Many experts believe the genocide had been planned for a long time, the Hulu were just waiting for the justification to carry it out.

Most people were butchered by machete. The Church were involved and priests were charged with murder. Sexual assault was off the scale as Tutsi women were raped before being executed. The UN had a presence in Rwanda but did absolutely nothing.

Catholic Inquisitions (circa: 12th century onwards)

The Inquisition was a collection of Catholic Institutions whose mission was to rid the world of heresy. It initially started in 12th century France, but moved across Europe. People accused of heresy were tortured and often executed as their punishment.

The inquisitions lasted over 600 years, and the resulting death count can obviously only be a rough estimation. The Spanish Inquisition is one of the most famous modern examples of religious intolerance.

”Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send [or bring] peace, but a sword.’’

Has been described as a call to arms for Christians by many experts and say that despite Christianity claiming to be peaceful, like every tradition it had a violent side.

The Crusades (1095 – 1492)

Which brings me to the Crusades which was sanctioned by the Latin church to attempt to rid parts of the world under Islamic ruling. Under the leadership of Pope Urban II, Christians in Europe sought to regain control of the Holy Land (Israel), which at that time was a territory under Muslim control. It was a time that was used to persecute pagans, to gain territories and political advantages. In a two hundred year period there were 7 major Crusades.

During the ‘people’s crusade’ thousands of Jews were murdered in the Rhineland massacre. The Crusades apparently appalled the members of the Orthodox religions die to their unrelenting brutality. Who knows how many were murdered?

Armenian genocide (1915 – 1917)

During WW1, which was incidentally started by a Serbian Orthodox Christian, Gavrilo Princip, who assassinated Franz Ferdinand, was the Armenian genocide by the ‘Young Turks’. Historians claim that it was ethnic cleansing of the Ottoman Empire resulting in an estimated 2,000,000 deaths.

The genocide was carried out during and after World War I and implemented in two phases—the wholesale killing of the able-bodied male population through massacre and subjection of army conscripts to forced labour, followed by the deportation of women, children, the elderly, and the infirm on death marches leading to the Syrian Desert. Driven forward by military escorts, the deportees were deprived of food and water and subjected to periodic robbery, rape, and massacre.” – Wikipedia

The Cromwellian conquest of Ireland (1649)

Oliver Cromwell was a devoutly religious man, and he used Joshua and the Battle of Jericho to justify genocide against Catholics during the war of the three kingdoms, involving Cromwell and his New Model Army. Upon his arrival at Ireland his first stop was the town of Drogheda. Cromwell asked for surrender, but upon refusal he executed every single royalist soldier there. Most other towns surrendered upon hearing this atrocity.

Except Wexford, and Cromwell’s troops murdered thousands of soldiers and townspeople and burned it to the ground. Allegedly he said he did it for the greater good, I’m sure the Irish would disagree.

The Thirty Years War (1618 – 1648)

Ferdinand II, was appointed the Holy Roman Emporer, and sought to place Europe under control of Roman Catholicism. Despite religious freedom being granted as part of the Peace of Augsburg, Ferdinand (being an extremely devout Catholic and renowned to be intolerant) disregarded the ‘whose realm, his religion’ tenet and Protestant Christians rebelled. This is said by historians to be one of the most savage and brutal wars in history with many dying from starvation and disease. The way initially started with religious conviction but over time it became about control of territories and resulted in the death of approximately 8,000,000 people.

French Wars of religion (1562 – 1598)

Once again these conflicts were between Catholics and Christians. Calvinism (a form of Protestantism) was on the rise in a country that was dominated by Catholicism. The disagreement was an extremely petty and infantile situation. Catholics believed that traditions would atone their sins, and Protestants believed that faith alone would save them. This led to the death of between 2,000,000 and 4,000,000 people over several wars.

Israeli–Palestinian conflict

This conflict had primarily been about land-ownership, but is heavily influenced by Zionism, in where the Israelites want complete control of the Holy Lands and want Jews from around the world to return. Most of the conflicts have been around the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Fighting has been conducted by regular armies, paramilitary groups, terror cells, and individuals. Casualties have not been restricted to the military, with a large number of fatalities in civilian population on both sides. ” – Wikipedia

The total number of deaths is estimated to have exceeded 30,000.

Pakistan and India

The British Raj relinquished controlled of the Indian Empire in 1947 in which is was separated into two states. The Union of India, and the Dominion of Pakistan. Due to the partition many millions of people were displaced and the battle between the predominantly Hindu population of India, and the predominantly Muslim population of India began. It’s estimated, despite some disagreements that up to 1,000,000 people lost their lives.

The Yugoslav wars (1991 – 2001)

The Yugoslav Wars were several conflicts that involved wars of independence and ethic conflicts between several areas of Christianity and Islam. The conflicts are considered the most barbaric since World War II and the most of war crimes was endless from genocide, ethnic cleansing, rape, and severe human rights violations. The conflicts saw the state of Yugoslavia disbanded.

The nation of Yugoslavia was created in the aftermath of World War I, and it was mostly composed of South Slavic Christians, though the nation also had a substantial Muslim minority. This nation lasted from 1918 to 1941, when it was invaded by the Axis powers during World War II, which provided support to the Ustaše (founded in 1929), which conducted a genocidal campaign against Serbs, Jews and Roma inside its territory and the Chetniks, who also conducted their own campaign of ethnic cleansing and genocide against ethnic Croats and Bosniaks, while also supporting the reinstatement of the Serbian royals.Wikipedia

There’s not just wars that been because of a clash of faiths, but there are many acts of terrorism. We all know about ISIS, Boko Harem, The Taliban and Al-Qaida, but there have also been examples of Christianity taking actions into their own hands in the act of terrorism.

The Gunpowder Plot (1605)

This act of terrorism could have been catastrophic to the English government if it hadn’t resulted in failure. The plan originated from a group of English Catholics who’d intention was to blow up the Houses of Parliament in an attempt to assassinate the Protestant king, James I. Although Guy Fawkes has become infamous at bonfire night in the U.K. he wasn’t alone, and despite him being caught red handed with dynamite, there were another 10 people involved.

The Ku Klux Klan

When the American Civil War ended a collection of Confederate soldiers created the Ku Klux Klan, and for 5 long years they targeted slaves in brutal ways including arson, rape, lynching, hanging, murder, whipping, hanging, tar and feathering and beatings.

In 1915 a new Georgia based version of the KKK was created. It was led by Protestant Christians who were disgusted by Catholicism, but didn’t leave their contempt there as they attacked Jews and any other ethnic minority they could. The Ku Klux Klan believed that Jesus was the very first Klansman and it was their job to uphold Christian values in America. Despite Christianity opposing the KKK, they insist that they are working in the name of the Lord.

Christian Identity

Christian Identity (also known as Identity Christianity) is a racist, anti-Semitic, and white supremacistinterpretation of Christianity which holds that only Germanic, Anglo-Saxon, Celtic, Nordic, Aryan people and those of kindred blood are the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and hence the descendants of the ancient Israelites” – Wikipedia

Timothy McVeigh, a Gulf War veteran was of no doubt heavily influenced by the Christian Identity movement and was perhaps the biggest motivation behind his attack on the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma on April 19th, 1995. The bomb was placed inside a truck and detonated at 09:02 and resulted in the deaths of 168 people, 19 of whom were children under the age of six. It injured over 680 people, partially destroyed the building and damaged over 300 more causing over $600,000,000 damage. It’s one of the deadliest domestic terror attacks in U.S history alongside the 9/11 attacks.

Throughout History many Christians have justified their actions by The rule according to a Higher Law.

The Higher Law