What makes ISIS far more dangerous than Al Qaeda is that while the latter chose to stay behind shadows and works through existing financial and communication systems and at the most relying on the Taliban for territorial space, ISIS already occupies a region roughly size of Austria. Unlike Taliban ruled Afghanistan which has been traditionally poor, areas captured by ISIS includes oil resources which it is able to sell in the black market using the numerous smuggling routes. Besides, its capture of cities like Mosul gave it opportunity to capture enormous amount of money deposited in the banks there. High rates of tax on citizens and ransom money received in return of hostages have been keeping it financially sound and since it deals in cash, checking the inflow of money seems pretty difficult from outside. Money and recruits skilled in modern technology has been instrumental in driving online propaganda and recruitment campaign over social media. While spreading it's tentacles into poor regions like Libya and Afghanistan where it faces direct contest from Al Qaeda and its affiliates like the Taliban, it is known to use money to poach jihadis from rival camps to its own. According to a recent news report, ISIS is offering fighters in Afghanistan almost 10 times more than the Taliban does. It has also been alleged that ISIS was able to win allegiance of smaller jihadist groups and even larger ones like Boko Haram with monetary incentives and supplies of arms and ammunition and not exactly on ideological grounds. With the combination of ideological indoctrination and monetary bribery, it seems to have developed a strong base in Libya so as to suggest it's foreign recruits to go to Libya instead of Syria as it is becoming difficult for them to enter Syria or Iraq. But the most alarming instruction ISIS has issued to its wannabe recruits is to stay in their countries and and carry out terror attacks. This seem almost validated by the preliminary findings in Paris terror attacks which suggest that most of the operatives were French and Belgian citizens.
Clearly, this should send alarm bells ringing, especially since the terrorist group has already made clear that it wants to clear the gray zone (Muslims against it). Takfiri Jihadist groups like ISIS believe that Muslims that do not follow their ideology are apostates and need to be eliminated first. In fact, the barbarism of the group was first revealed to us when the footage of brutal torture and mass execution of Shia, dissenting Sunnis and also Al Qaeda jihadis were released. By using French citizens for the terror attacks it has deliberately provoked the French government, society and European society as well to take a hard stand against their own Muslim population as well as the freshly arrived Syrian refugees. One of the main objectives of any terror attack is to create distrust, suspicion and loosen social cohesion. In this case, since the ISIS already considers the refugees apostates, it doesn't really care if each and every one of them is executed, on the other hand if there is reprisal forcing the refugees back to Syria or prevent them from fleeing, they would have no choice but to become workers for the terror groups. How then can such a diabolic group be stopped? The battle has to be fought on two fronts, a ideological one by mainstream Muslims and through bombs and bullets by a global military alliance.
Right after the Paris attacks a "terrorism has no religion" hashtag had began to trend on Twitter. It is true, terrorism has no religion but the fact is terrorists do. One would simply be living in denial to say that these terrorists are not motivated by religious ideology. However, it is also a fact that this particular ideology propagated by ISIS is rejected by more than 99% of Muslims globally. Mainstream media seems to have latched on to Wahhabism as the root of this ideology which is not entirely false Wahhabism is a regressive ideology but the ideology of ISIS is an much extreme form of it, so much do that even other Salafi Jihadist groups like Al Qaeda reject it and label it un-Islamic. Besides, ISIS seems to be more of a motley collection of foreign fighters who now depend on militancy for survival, local Sunnis uprooted from their homes in the civil war with no alternative employment opportunity available, ex-Baathist officers and soldiers, led by a group of extremely motivated takfiri jihadists, many of whom have arrived from abroad. Interestingly, Al Qaeda's war against ISIS stems from the belief amongst the leaders of the former that ISIS is a collection of criminal elements and power hungry leaders with little knowledge of the Salafist Jihadist ideology it seeks to represent. As a matter of fact while mainstream Muslims vehemently reject the extremist interpretation of Islam by Al Qaeda's, the latter's charge against ISIS on ideological bankruptcy offers new perspective on this barbaric terrorist organization. It is indeed a fact that ISIS with its horde of young militants has a very few Islamic scholars espousing its doctrine unlike other jihadi outfits like Al Qaeda or even Taliban. Further, the charge that a large number of ex-Baathist fighters who had been nothing to do with Islamist movement and spent most of their lives adhering to a secular and nationalistic ideology does hold true. For instance, lies, torture and execution of emissaries, genocide against minority communities like Yazidis, sexual exploitation of female captives, corpse mutilation and many more similarly unspeakable acts are more in line with what the Iraqi intelligence led by Baathist leaders were notorious for. Even extremist Salafi scholars have condemned ISIS extremism as un-Islamic.
Most commentators on Islamist movement seem to be of the opinion that the ISIS runs more on fear factor, money and spoils of war while very few members appear to have in depth knowledge of Islam. As a matter of fact, most ISIS members we see on TV seem young people revelling in murder and mutilation of corpses, not well-read scholars expounding merits of jihad. So how is it then that they are able to indoctrinate young people and lure them into these orgies of violence? While I am yet to come across any such material, what I can guess is that with well-qualified recruits amongst its ranks, ISIS is able to target potential recruits and repackage and market their ideology that appeals to them the most. Many of the European recruits seem to be recent converts or Muslims with petty crime antecedents, the common thread being the identity crisis in European society and little knowledge of Islamic theology. ISIS bribes them with the promise of accommodating them in a true Islamic society and give role to play in the impending apocalypse. This is where global Muslim community, especially it's scholars need to come in and counter ISIS propaganda to stop more gullible youths falling prey to its false ideology. That ISIS acts least in accordance to even extremist interpretation of Islam is evident from the fact that it mostly presents scriptural arguments tailored to justify it's barbaric acts after having committed them rather than presenting a more coherent argument in the beginning and then proceeding to act on it. Another example is its use of a single "prophecy" to convince it's supporters that we are living in end times and apocalypse is imminent in the very near future. Traditional scholars do not interpret "prophecies" in general in such a simplistic manner but rather through a very rigorous method. Yet it seems, the apocalyptic narrative is helping radicalization of youths in different parts of the world.
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