|Posted on November 1, 2014 at 10:00 AM|
Written by Jonny Garwood
The full scale of the conflict in Iraq and Syria was only revealed in the past few weeks when Islamic State militants beheaded two US journalists, James Foley and Steven Sotloff, as well as the British aid worker David Haines. Gruesome videos were posted on various social media websites such as YouTube and Twitter showing the killings. Members of the public have condemned the organisation, including several Imams and family members of the hostages, such as Bethany, the daughter of beheaded David Haines, who stated in late September that the organisation ‘should be eradicated’. Furthermore, IS has also released two videos featuring captured UK journalist John Cantlie, appearing to be reading from a script, who questions the UK’s motives for not paying the hefty ransoms demanded by the group in order to release detained UK hostages ‘as other European governments have done for their own’, stating that the UK has ‘abandoned him’ and other British hostages. The two videos have been compared to a parody ‘chat show’ and both have been labelled as propaganda by governmental figures. But what is this organisation, and what are the motives behind their grisly tactics?
The group, which now calls itself the Islamic State (IS), often referred to as Isis (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) or Isil (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant), has a goal of restoring Islamic traditions in both Iraq and Syria, and declaring a ‘caliphate’ – a single state ruled by one leader. The group rose to prominence in April 2013 from the remains of Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) which was destroyed during the US-led invasion of Iraq. The group consists of many jihadist fighters, stemming from the local area and abroad, including places such as the UK, France and Germany. Moreover, the extremist organisation is the wealthiest terrorist organisation in the world, gaining wealth from the oil fields it controls, and is thought to have around 31,000 fighters in total. Much of its wealth has been used to carry out kidnappings, assassinations and executions, which have included the shooting, crucifixion and beheading of captives. It is known to have executed Muslims, Christians and Yazidis, including many Kurdish fighters who have opposed the evil and horrific nature of the group. As declared by governmental figures, including the UK and US, ultimately defeating IS will be no easy task.
Many question the reasons behind the murder of innocents. IS has been known for its hatred of the United States and its involvement in the conflict in Iraq and Syria. The group stated that it would ‘capture Baghdad within days’ after its capture of Mosul in June, which sparked fear into many after declaring its identity to the world. However, just 48 hours after US air strikes in June and July halted the plague’s way to the Iraqi capital, IS beheaded James Foley on camera, forcing the captive to describe the US as his ‘real killers’. The group later beheaded fellow US journalist Steven Sotloff, and within two weeks executed British aid worker David Haines, describing his death as a response to the 40 country coalition formed by David Cameron, consisting of many in the Middle East. Furthermore, the group released a slickly made Hollywood-style trailer in response to Obama’s statement that ground troops would not be deployed, which features grisly images of wounded soldiers and masked executioners standing over kneeling captives, and ending the video with the message ‘the fighting has only just begun’. Furthermore, attempts have been made to identify the masked executioner appearing in the beheading videos. The man, with only his eyes visible, stands over the captives, in which he appears to cut at each victims’ necks with each kneeling below him, hands tied behind their backs, dressed in orange overalls. The man is known to the press as ‘Jihadi John’ and is believed to be of British origin due to his accent. Is this due to the outbreak of the 2003 Iraq War, which left the economy of both the US and Iraq in a dire state? The truth is, no. Although this group must be destroyed if Iraq is to recover and the IS plague is to be contained.
But why does IS choose to execute their hostages in the most horrific and gruesome ways? In context, ISIS is a group aimed at Islamic fundamentalists. One verse in the Quran states that ‘those loyal must strike off the heads of non-believers’. Like the Bible, some verses in the Quran may not take a direct meaning, or may be misinterpreted. This may also explain recent murders ‘in the name of Islam’, such as that of the recent Oklahoma ‘beheading’ by an Islamic extremist and the appalling murder of soldier Lee Rigby in Woolwich, in which his killers struck him with a vehicle before attempting to decapitate their victim. Furthermore, being Islamic fundamentalists, IS and other Islamic extremists, such as those mentioned, will take the Quran word-for-word, meaning every verse will be taken literally to the closest meaning.
Many governments have joined the US in the fight against IS, mainly through the use of air strikes in the region, targeting logistical outposts and many striking the Syrian city of Raqqa, the first city to fall under the control of Islamist extremists. If you were to ask me of my own opinion, I believe that everything must be done to defeat the organisation, with the group publicly stating that their next move, if they were to take full control of Iraq and Syria, would be to advance into the Levant and take over areas such as Spain. In addition, demonstrations and terror attacks have been planned and failed so far, with the biggest being those of Australian origin in the organisation planning to ‘randomly select a member of the public, beheading them and draping the person in the Islamic State flag’. IS has been thought to have planned atrocities in the UK and other coalition nations, such as the US. As David Cameron stated, halting the fight against ISIL would mean having a caliphate on the Mediterranean shores with no other intention but to kill us and our people. There is no choice but to resist such terror through any and all means possible.