The Islamic State Of Iraq And Al Sham

1471 Words Feb 8th, 2016 6 Pages
Joshua Bacon
Ed Rowe
American Security Overview
26 January 2016

The Islamic State, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), follows a distinct variety of Islam whose beliefs about the path to the Day of Judgment define its strategy, and can help the West know its enemy and predict its behavior. Its rise to power is less like the triumph of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt (a group whose leaders the Islamic State considers apostates) than like the realization of a dystopian alternate reality. The White House has consistently said that it aims to destroy the Islamic State. For more than a year, limited U.S. airstrikes have poked at the terrorist group to little avail. ISIS still controls half of Syria and nearly a third of Iraq and has recently undertaken dramatic attacks against major targets outside the geographic area it controls, including Hezbollah in Beirut, Russia in Egypt, and the French deep in their capital city.

We have misunderstood the nature of the Islamic State in at least two ways. First, we tend to see jihadism as monolithic, and to apply the logic of al‑Qaeda to an organization that has decisively eclipsed it. Bin Laden viewed his terrorism as a prologue to a caliphate he did not expect to see in his lifetime. His organization was flexible, operating as a geographically diffuse network of autonomous cells. The Islamic State, by contrast, requires territory to remain legitimate, and a top-down structure to rule it. We are misled in a…
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