If you’ve been tuning in to world news, you’re pretty much aware of the organization called the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham or ISIS. Members of ISIS are responsible for much of the appalling events in the Middle East, specifically in Iraq and Syria. The most well-known of these acts include the recent beheadings of foreign journalists. In the face of near universal disapproval, both from outside and within the Middle East, their numbers continue to increase, partly from within developed countries such as France and the UK.
But exactly how much do we know about this extremist movement?
I did a bit of research on the group. It appears that its formation may be have been obscure and only gained infamy as of late. Here are some facts on ISIS which you need to know.
The formation of ISIS can be traced back to the Second Gulf War in 2003. It was affiliated with al-Qaida in Iraq, led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, formerly known as Abu Du’a. He aided the militant group Jamaat Jaysh Ahl al-Sunnah wa-l-Jamaah or JJASJ and served as the head of the sharia committee.
Initially known as ISI or Islamic State of Iraq, the “S” was added as a reaction to the political unrest in Syria, which the group believed could take advantage of.
In 2011, Abu Bakr allegedly sent operatives to Syria to establish a chapter there, where the efforts are succeeding as the country continues to be overrun.
Following much political instability in the Middle East, especially the aforementioned Second Gulf War in 2003 and the unrest in Syria last year, ISIS sought to take advantage of the situation to establish a caliphate which stretches throughout Iraq and Syria. This caliphate was declared on June 29, 2014. Upon establishment, Abu Bakr renamed himself Amir al-Mu’minin Caliph Ibrahim, his alias as caliph.
ISIS has been rapidly expanding in Iraq and Syria, grabbing hold of major trade routes and structures. Additionally, it has also controlled various towns and cities such as Raqqa in Syria and Mosul in Iraq, although its members haven’t controlled major cities yet such as Damascus and Baghdad.
Upon seizing territories, ISIS imposes brutal sanctions such as punishments by public execution, amputation, and decapitation. Crucifixions have also been happening.
The population of ISIS’s military force numbers about 20,000 at minimum. At the moment, ISIS continues to recruit fighters for its cause to establish a caliphate throughout Syria and Iraq, going as far as Southeast Asia to bring in more troops. Although the Iraqi army is stronger than ISIS, the latter is well-trained and deploys highly effective fighters.
ISIS is guilty of the following:
- The execution of American journalists James Foley aand Steven Sotloff
- The beheading of British journalist David Cawthorne Haines
- The execution of a Kurdish fighter
- The mass genocide of the Yazidi population in Iraq
- The tortuting and killing of Christians in both Iraq and Syria
- The massacre of 1,000 Turkmen, including 100 children
- The bombing of unfit places of worship—including mosques
ISIS is a menacing evil capable of spreading like wildfire. Currently, the U.S. is conducting airstrikes on supposed ISIS territories. Nobody knows to what end these airstrikes will attain. At the moment, we can only hope that this hazard will end soon before things go out of hand and that the violence will end soon.
Who Is ISIS? 4 Important Facts About the Ruthless Terror Group in Iraq, Michael Gryboski, The Christian Post
How ISIS Works, The New York Times
3 numbers that explain why ISIS will be so hard to destroy, Zack Beauchamp, Vox
U.S. State Department releases gruesome video of ISIS atrocities, Simon Tomlinson, Mail Online
The ISIS Atrocities We Can’t Forget, William Saletan, Slate.com