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ISIS is a terrorist group that has gained notoriety as one of the most diligent and well-organized jihadist organizations in Syria. This group's plan and lust for blood to start a world conflict between the West and Islam pose the biggest threat, making it more problematic for global security than Al-Qaeda. This is intended to support their assertion that they are the Caliphate. (Rasheed, 2015, p. 2). They use guerilla combat, terrorism, and insurgency strategies. The use of religion as a motivator and an indoctrination tool is a crucial component of the group's regulatory strategy. Ideally, this is a terrorist group that is likely to carry out an attack on the United States.
ISIS believes that it is playing the critical role in an imminent apocalypse. Moreover, the group’s ultimate aim is to establish a unified territory for the Muslim community so as to conduct its extreme beliefs. Therefore, the primary purpose is to wage holy warfare or jihad so as to create an Islamic state known as a caliphate in a general sense; caliphate is a traditional type of governance by the Muslim whereby the leader is perceived to be the religious as well as the political successor to the prophet Muhammad. Furthermore, the motivation of the group comes from its aim to create a constant, self-sustaining, large, stable, and regional presence. The group is shaped by Islamic extremism, which interprets Islamic law or sharia, as the foundation of the universal religious-political system. The caliph, under this system, exercises total political and religious authority over the lives of his subjects. Therefore, the caliph trumps human rights as well as democracy within a sharia or an Islamic state (Marsico, 2016, p. 8). In support of these principles, the group time and again uses violence such as Foleys as a way to the greater end. Other forms of public execution are as well common in the organization (Marsico, 2016, p. 9).
ISIS is being led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdad who has been careful to disclose little about his whereabouts as well as himself. Meanwhile, the group has managed to attract a steady stream of international recruits as their personnel. These women as well as men come from Europe, Canada, and the United States and beyond. Furthermore, these individuals represent a vast array of professional and personal backgrounds (Marsico, 2016, p. 10). Also, ISIS being more than just a terrorist group is fully fledged and boasts of some more than thirty-five thousand battle-hardened jihadists. Besides, the organization roughly controls thirty-five thousand square miles of territory the vast swaths of smack dab, Iraq, and Syria in the Middle East (Stakelbeck, 2015, p. 12).Additionally, ISIS took the formula employed by al Qaeda, added heavy weaponry and tens of thousands foot soldiers. As such, it has succeeded where the Brotherhood and al-Qaeda had failed.
ISIS has violently imposed an Islamic state across a large area of Syria and Iraq, which are considered the heartland of the ancient caliphates. The primary long-term objective of the group is to impose the Islamic sharia law on all humanity and expand its current mini-empire to the four corners of the globe. Furthermore, there would likely be few people to dhimmi given the track record of the group’s major accomplishment of wholesale massacres in the areas that it has conquered so far (Stakelbeck, 2015, p. 15). The extent of the control of ISIS as of 2015 was estimated to be hundreds of square miles. This stretched from the coastline of Syria to Baghdad, the capital of Iraq along the Mediterranean Sea (Marsico, 2016, p. 10).The organization has been widely successful in controlling, maintaining, and taking cities in both western Iraq and northern Syria, including Mosul, Fallujah, and Raqqa. These are the operating bases for ISIS. It is feared that, as time passes, nearby nations experiencing political unrest such as Libya and Yemen will as well fall within the grip of ISIS. These terrorist groups use the drones for surveillance to present them with situational awareness and give them valuable information to plan precisely the resources they require for carrying out an attack (Custers, 2016, p. 159).
ISIS is largely financed by Saudi Arabia and the Gulf state Qatar by private donations. The group is considered to be the richest terrorist organization in history whereby in 2015 it had assets worth $2billion. Additionally, these funds come from capturing the aid intended for the distressed Iraqi and Syrian people, extortion rackets, as well as abducting people and collecting ransom. Furthermore, the group gets its funds from pillaging and imposing taxes on the citizens of the towns they have captured. This terrorist group also holds control over natural gas and oil fields where it is estimated that in various instances they generated up to $2million per day from the black market oil sales. The Islamic State also makes millions of dollars per year in revenue from illegal immigration. For the individual affiliated with ISIS in Libya as well as other countries in Africa, it is a lucrative business to smuggle migrants from Africa to Europe and the Middle East (Jewish Virtual Library, 2016, para 3).
The group is also known for its efficient and extensive use of propaganda. It created an emblem that has a clear symbolic meaning in the Muslim world, and it employs a description of the Muslim Black Standard flag. The organization uses the encrypted instant messaging service Telegram to disseminate updates, videos, and images. Moreover, it also distributes its messages through social media, particularly Twitter. The organization uses Dabiq magazine, which is an online magazine to explain concepts such as the Caliphate and to differentiate itself from other jihadi groups by publicizing its vision and strategy (Khader, 2016, p. 35). They are known for releasing photographs as well as videos of execution of prisoners, whether submerged until drowned, caged prisoners being burnt alive, shootings, and beheadings. Some of the radicalized individuals spend more time shut up in their rooms sending messages through social networking channels and talking on Skype (Crooke, 2014, p. 39).
Three possible attack scenarios could occur in the US. First, there are ISIS supporters in the United States who exist in every state. Based on available data, there are thousand rather than hundreds of ISIS supporters in the country. These people have been radicalized and have become sympathizers and supporters of the group. Besides, for many years, the US has been importing thousands of refugees per year whereby the majority of them are from countries dominated by Muslims such Iraq and Somalia. These countries have active jihadist movements. As such, ISIS is actively persuading them to conduct one-man jihads in the US.
The second scenario involves the use of returnees, who are US citizens who have come to the country after traveling overseas to fight alongside ISIS. The organization can use this group to carry out attacks because it is believed that after coming back it is hard for them to abandon jihad and transition peacefully back into civilian life, especially after conducting attacks such as slicing heads in Syria. Additionally, the battlefields in Syria and Iraq have provided these fighters with access to explosive and weapons training, and combat experience, as well as terrorist networks that may be planning attacks, which target the US.
The third scenario is whereby the group would smuggle a biological or chemical agent across the porous southern border of the US. Afterward, they can use this in a terror attack on a city in the country. This is a possible scenario because the US national borders are uninhabited, remote, and the Border Patrol agents patrol less frequently. The country is increasingly vulnerable to ISIS attack due to these security gaps. Therefore, ISIS is a significant threat to the United States for the reason that it outdoes Al-Qaeda. Besides, in recent memory, its reign of terror has unmatched the atrocities of Pol Pot, Mao, Stalin, and Hitler (Spencer, 2015, p. 2).
Despite the internal conflict with various jihadists groups that are like-minded, ISIS has been largely successful in controlling swaths of land in Syria as well as Iraq. It appears that while various Islamic terror groups such as Jemaah and al-Qaeda in the Southeast Asia have sought to come up with advances in their respective theater of operation, the support base of ISIS is unprecedented. This is with an estimated active fighters ranging between 20,000 and 31,500 ventured by the Central Intelligence Agency. The group causes a significant threat to the United States because it is considered to be the most brutal in regards to their way of beheading, pillage, raping, and crucifying people across Syria and Iraq. Besides, they also post such actions on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites (Stakelbeck, 2015, p. 15).
Crooke, A. (2014). The ISIS “Management of Savagery” in Iraq.Huffington Post, June, 30.
Custers, B. (Ed.). (2016). The Future of Drone Use: Opportunities and Threats From Ethical and Legal Perspectives (Vol. 27). Springer.
Jewish Virtual Library, (2016).ISIS Background. Retrieved on April 16, 2017 from http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/isis-background
Khader, M. (Ed.).(2016). Combating Violent Extremism and Radicalization in the Digital Era. IGI Global.
Marsico, K. (2016). Isis. ABDO.
Rasheed, A. (2015). ISIS: Race to Armageddon. Vij Books India Pvt Ltd.
Spencer, R. (2015). The Complete Infidel's Guide to ISIS. Regnery Publishing.
Stakelbeck, E. (2015). ISIS Exposed: Beheadings, Slavery, and the Hellish Reality of Radical Islam. Regnery Publishing.
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