Islamic State of Iraq and Syria

Formed from the ashes of Al Qaeda, an Islamic militant group, known as ‘ISIS’ or the “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria”, has risen to power in several Middle Eastern nations. They have been successful so far in their goal of making a state based on Sharia Law. They have staged numerous attacks and have used social media to release propaganda inciting fear in people all over the world. Their extreme actions have profoundly impacted the lives of those in ISIS controlled areas and surrounding areas. Some nations around the world have showed their support to the fight against ISIS and have sent troops and supplies. Other countries are still debating whether or not to take action against ISIS.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, more commonly known as ISIS is an Islamic jihadist group that have recently gained notoriety. ISIS was formed from former members of the terrorist group, Al Qaeda, who claimed responsibility for the 9/11 attacks. They started in 2004, and became known by the name ‘ISIS’ in 2013. They have only been gaining recognition recently because of the fact that they are winning. They are led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The majority of ISIS members are Sunni muslims, who are the largest branch of Muslim and have been involved in sectarian violence against Shi’a Muslims, who have a different ideology and have previously held power in Iraq and Syria. They were one of many rebel groups who took and are still taking part in uprisings against the government. ISIS used the confusion created from the Iraqi and Syrian civil wars to their advantage and managed to gain control as a result of all of the chaos.

ISIS have stated that their aim is to create a state, or country, that is governed and lives under Sharia Law, which is a harsh law based on the teachings in the Qu’ran and other Islamic scriptures. The Sharia Law dictates and controls all aspects of Muslim life, such as marriage, clothing, customs, daily life and diet. The punishments for disobeying these rules range from getting fines, torture by lashes, amputation or stoning, to executions, which include crucifixion, decapitation or death by firing squad. Life for women under this law is tremendously difficult, and they are treated as inferior. Although the laws for women are meant to protect them and they are to emphasise their ‘sacred existence’, the laws just restrict their rights, for example, one law states that all women need to be accompanied by a ‘mahram’, a male guardian, at all times. It is ISIS’ belief that women need to be kept hidden, both by their clothing, and by not leaving the house unless absolutely necessary. They also have the power to force girls to marry ISIS members. If ISIS succeeds in creating a country based on Sharia Law, it would mean the end of freedom for many, and a harsh and unfair life.

ISIS’ main weapon is fear and intimidation, and they have roused fear in people globally, by making the most of social media to publicize and display propaganda, showing the brutal torture and executions of many hostages, several of whom were international journalists, who refused to convert to Islam and refused to submit to their rules. This propaganda also entices Muslims from other countries to join them, as ISIS believe that it is their duty as Muslims to renounce their citizenship of other nations and emigrate to ISIS. The majority of people recruited from Western countries are male teens. They are most likely attracted to the excitement of fighting and being in control, as many people were in wars such as WWI and WWII. Many are seeking something meaningful to do in their life, and consider this fight their ‘Jihad’, which means “struggle” in Arabic and is considered the unofficial sixth pillar of Islam. They are also attracted by the idea of Muslims having more power and they agree with ISIS’ ideology.

Many lives have been ruined due to ISIS’ actions and it will be difficult solving the issues ISIS have caused. A large number of Iraqi and Syrian’s have fled and there are believed to be around eleven million refugees, five million of them are under 5 years old. These people have been displaced from their homes and now live in refugee camps in abysmal, unhygienic conditions. The situation had been described as a very grave humanitarian crisis. There are still an estimated eight million people living in ISIS territory, who have very restricted freedom under Sharia Law and have to be careful about every single step they take. They are constantly in danger of being attacked by ISIS troops for disobeying the law and in danger of airstrikes which try to target ISIS bases. This issue will not disappear quickly, even if ISIS is overthrown, the war ravaged state of the country and refugees will remain a long term effect.

ISIS have caused a lot of anguish and turmoil, and have become one of the most successful and feared groups in the world, with even Al-Qaeda stating that ISIS’ radical take on terrorism is more than extreme. Their enforcement of Sharia Law and need of land have left thousands of people in danger, without homes and without any freedom. Countries around the world have provided aid to refugees and to the troops fighting against ISIS but it is just not enough. The issue of ISIS seems like one that will not likely be solved soon, unless drastic measures are taken.

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