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  • It seems that hardly a day goes by in which the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL,

  • doesn’t appear in a newspaper or on a TV news screen. And the news is always bad

  • -- hideous death and wanton destruction of a type rarely seen in modern history.

  • So, what is the Islamic State? Where did it come from? What does it want? And why?

  • Let’s try to answer these questions in turn.

  • First, ISIS is the illegitimate child of Saddam Hussein’s regime and al Qaeda.

  • Saddam’s former military and intelligence officers hold many of ISIS’s most senior positions

  • and have overseen the group’s rise to prominence. In 2002 and early 2003, some al Qaeda members

  • relocated from Afghanistan to Iraq, where they prepared to fight the Americans,

  • who toppled Saddam Hussein’s regime in March 2003. These jihadists became known as al Qaeda

  • in Iraq when their leader Abu Musab al Zarqawi swore his allegiance to Osama bin Laden in 2004.

  • Zarqawi, a murderous psychopath, was finally killed by US and Iraqi forces in June 2006.

  • Following his death, al Qaeda in Iraq was rebranded as the Islamic State of Iraq.

  • In 2010 a new leader took control of the group -- Abu Bakr al Baghdadi. Taking advantage

  • of the power vacuum left by the complete US withdrawal from Iraq in 2011 and the Syrian

  • Civil War that began that same year, Baghdadi and his lieutenants greatly expanded the size

  • and scope of the organization. At first, Baghdadi was loyal to al Qaeda’s senior leadership.

  • But in 2013 he defied orders from his superiors and declared that his group was now the Islamic

  • State of Iraq and Syria or Levant, known by its acronyms ISIS and ISIL. It’s worth noting

  • that ISIS continues to market Osama bin Laden’s endorsement of them to this day.

  • What does ISIS want and why? ISIS is attempting to resurrect an empire similar to those that

  • arose in Islam’s early history. These empires were referred to ascaliphates

  • and led by a “Caliph,” the Muslimschief ruler, also known as theEmir of the Faithful.”

  • This is, in fact, how Baghdadi’s followers now refer to him.

  • ISIS relies on a rich Islamic mythology, with citations from Islamic texts, to justify its

  • actions and portray itself as the true heirs of Mohammed. Their propaganda videos use Islam’s

  • early history to frame their actions as part of an ongoing conflict with theCrusaders.”

  • ISIS’s leaders want their followers to believe they are fighting as part of this same religious war.

  • When ISIS’s Libyan branch executed 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians in 2015,

  • ISIS advertised the slayings in a video titled, “A Message Signed With Blood to the Nation

  • of the Cross” – “the Nation of the Cross,” of course, meaning Christians.

  • That's why on Libya’s Mediterranean shores, the lead executioner of the Egyptian Coptic Christians

  • pointed his knife in the direction of Italy and promised to conquer Rome,

  • the symbolic seat of Christendom.

  • Despite seeking to spark an inter-faith war, however, most of ISIS’s victims are Muslims,

  • especially Shiite Muslims for whom ISIS, which is Sunni Muslim, harbors a special animosity.

  • ISIS claims that any Muslim who does not swear bayah (an oath of allegiance) to Baghdadi

  • is aninfidelor anapostate.” Even ISIS’s rival jihadists in al Qaeda

  • are considered apostates, because they refuse to genuflect to Baghdadi.

  • In November 2014, Baghdadi announced that hiscaliphatehad expanded into several

  • areas outside of Iraq and Syria. Baghdadi’s people set upprovinceseverywhere from

  • West and North Africa to the Arabian Peninsula to South Asia. ISIS argues that Muslims owe

  • theseprovincestheir loyalty. Most of theseprovincescontrol little territory,

  • but they have become prolific killers. Just over one year after Baghdadi’s announcement,

  • the Islamic State’s “provinceshad already engaged in hundreds of terrorist attacks.

  • On Oct. 31, 2015, for example, the Islamic State’s “provincein Sinai brought

  • down a Russian airliner, killing all 224 people on board.

  • In sum, ISIS is attempting to become a permanent totalitarian state, inspired by thecaliphates

  • of Islam’s first decades. From this base, they will spread their ideology to the rest

  • of the world. Anyone who stands in the way is marked for death. But ISIS’s “caliphate

  • claim rests on its ability to control territory. This is both its strength and Achilles heel.

  • Should it lose significant ground in Iraq and Syria, its caliphate claim will become

  • tenuous, severely damaging its legitimacy in the eyes of many Muslims.

  • How this might happen is a key question for the United States, Europe, Asia and many in

  • the Arab World. But this much we know: It will take much more than air strikes.

  • I’m Tom Joscelyn of The Foundation for the Defense of Democracies for Prager University.

It seems that hardly a day goes by in which the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL,

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What ISIS Wants

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    むなかた じゅん posted on 2017/01/09
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