by Hanna Houck
Many of us hear about ISIS and the injustices that they are responsible for in the news every day, but do we do not fully understand what they are and how their actions are affecting us?
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) is a branch of an all-too familiar terror group: al Qaeda in Iraq. While allied with Sunni militias, U.S troops “defeated” al Qaeda in a 2006 surge. Broken, but not completely shattered, the group reformed. ISIS had prisoners released from a jail controlled by the Iraqi government and built up their member base.
ISIS formally broke away from al Qaeda in February of 2014. “Over the years, there have been many signs that the relationship between al Qaeda Central (AQC) and the group’s strongest, must unruly franchise (ISIS) was strained,” (vox.com) said Barack Mendelsohn, a political scientist at Haverford College.
ISIS’ main goal since it initially started off as al Qaeda is to establish a caliphate. A caliphate is an Islamic state led by a supreme religious and political leader known as a caliph. “They want complete failure of the government in Iraq,” said General Ray Odinerno. (vox.com) Experts say that ISIS has no chance of accomplishing these things in the foreseeable future because it’s not strong enough to topple the Iraqi or Syrian governments.
ISIS is sustained by the conflict between Iraqi Sunnis and Shias. Sunni Islam is the largest branch of Islam and is the most popular religion in Northern Africa and the Middle East. Shia Islam is the second largest denomination of Islam. The difference between the two groups began with the controversy over who got to take power after the prophet Muhammad’s death.
The Shias are currently running the government in Iraq. As long as the Shias control the government, the Sunnis don’t feel like they are properly represented. As long as the Sunnis feel like they’re not being represented they become an audience for ISIS’s radical message.
ISIS’s powerful influence in the Middle East is being felt 6,169 miles away here in the U.S. A video surfaced on Tuesday September 9th of American journalist Steven Sotloff being beheaded by a masked ISIS figure. This beheading was a “message to America” in response to the airstrikes in Iraq. ISIS said that Sotloff was “paying the price” for the U.S. Sotloff wasn’t the first or the last American to be brutally murdered by ISIS. Over 1700 Americans have died in ISIS related events.
President Obama has recently teamed up with Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom. They have vowed that together they will crush ISIS. “’We will work with the United Kingdom and a broad coalition of nations from the region and around the world to bring the perpetrators of this outrageous act to justice, and to degrade and destroy this threat to the people of our countries, the region and the world.” Obama released this statement in a press conference last week.(dailymail.co.uk)