Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)

ISIS, a self-proclaimed Islamic state, is a wealthy terrorist group that defies the reputation of the Fertile Crescent. What was once the “cradle of civilization,” (Fulford) is now a hotspot of ISIS terrorist activity. ISIS has begun to make headlines in the news for the continued violence that they continue to spread throughout the Middle East. Through the combination of: barbarism, military skill, strong religious beliefs, and the twisted use of social media, ISIS has become one of the most notorious terrorist groups in the world, and the actions of this group of outlaws have prompted reactions from various world leaders. If ISIS is not combatted, they could become powerful enough to wreak havoc amongst the entirety of the Middle East.

According to the New York Times, President Barack Obama considers ISIS, “A once-obscure group of Sunni militants that has now upended the Middle East and overshadowed Al Qaeda” (Cooper). After breaking away from al-Qaeda, Isis, or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, became a self-proclaimed Islamic state with the ultimate goal of restoring the caliphate. ISIS believes that if they instate Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as caliph, they will have found the proper successor to Muhammad. If ISIS succeeds, Al-Baghdadi’s job will be to compel people to follow “Allah’s Law”, and if they refuse they will be murdered. This goal will effectively ensure that there are no more Shiites remaining in the Middle East. Currently, ISIS has captured territory occupied my more than eight million people. These territories take up a majority of Iraq and Syria, and if ISIS continues to spread their forces, “its rise will be the most significant revision of Middle East geography since national borders were set after the First World War” (Fulford).

ISIS differs from other terrorist groups because of their wealth, their use of social media, and the overall organization of the group. ISIS has the title of being the wealthiest terrorist group in the world. Instead of relying on outside sources for income, they find their own ways to make money. Some of these methods involve: the sale of gas and oil from the lands they have captured, robbing banks, holding people for ransom, and taxing farmers under the threat of death. Next, ISIS has begun using social media to scare countries out of attacking them. The most well-known use of social media by ISIS was the uploading of videos showing the brutal executions of two American journalists, James Foley, and Steven Joel Sotloff. The terrorists used this as a way to punish the United States for their transgression towards ISIS. Today, we are still under the threat of more American executions if the United States continues to authorize air strikes on ISIS occupied land. Finally, the proper organization of ISIS allows for drastic expansion of the group. As The National Post states, ISIS is ” The first terrorist group with its own land and its own growing treasury” (Fulford). These two vital aspects will allow for rapid development of ISIS and because ISIS is so unique, a strategy has yet to be decided on (Fulford).

Because nobody knows how to properly fight a terrorist group of this caliber, ISIS is much deadlier than any other terrorist group. Originally, President Obama planned to follow his foreign policy, and stay out of foreign affairs, but recently he has been left with no choice because due to the pressure of the American people, as well as the active aggression towards the United States by ISIS. The president confirmed that he would take appropriate action by saying: “I just want the American people to understand the nature of the threat and how we’re going to deal with it and to have confidence that we’ll be able to deal with it” (Caldwell McLaughlin). The current situation has been deemed as the defying crisis of President Obama’s presidency by the American people (Fulford). His main objective is to go on the offense without putting U.S. troops on the ground. President Obama’s first step was to begin gathering intelligence, and carrying out airstrikes. The main goals of the airstrikes are to protect American personnel, and Iraqi infrastructure such as the Mosul Dam, and major cities like Irbil. If Iraqi infrastructure were to fall apart, the world could have no choice, but to start an all-out war to contain ISIS. Obama’s next step is to carry out his three part plan that involves military, diplomatic, and economic components. Some critics have now begun to praise Obama for his recent efforts. Senator Dianne Feinstein was quoted as saying, “I want to congratulate the President. He is now on offense” (Caldwell McLaughlin). Unfortunately, if Obama was able to get other countries to send in troops, there would be a large loss of life. Another downside to going on the offensive would be the large price tag that came with such actions. All of these possible consequences are worth it because if the president were to allow the situation in ISIS to grow out of hand, they could continue to wreak havoc on the Middle East. (Caldwell McLaughlin)

ISIS will stop at nothing to continue to spread the religious views of the Sunnis, and instate their leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, as the next caliph. In the end, ISIS looks to have any Shiite converted, or killed so that the Sunnis can be the only remaining branch of the Islamic religion. Unfortunately, ISIS has been able to successfully use their resources to their advantage, and become the largest, most powerful terrorist organization in the world. The United States are now faced with the task of working in conjunction with other nations to combat the constant threat of ISIS. If the United States is not successful in combatting this military group, ISIS could decimate the entire Shiite population, making Sunni the only major branch of the Islamic religion.


Caldwell, Leigh Ann, and Eliott McLaughlin. “Obama: U.S. to ‘start going on some offense’ in ISIS fight.” CNN [Atlanta] 7 Sept. 2014: Web. 7 Sept. 2014.

Fulford, Robert. “Robert Fulford: Meet ISIS, the most dangerous terrorist group in the world.” The National Post [Toronto] 6 Sept. 2014: Web. 7 Sept. 2014.

Johnson, Alex. “‘Deviant and Pathological’: What Do ISIS Extremists Really Want?.” NBC News [New York] 2 Sept. 2014: Web. 7 Sept. 2014.

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