Terrorism is not an incipient phenomenon; it is something that we have been consistently hearing about in news flashes or reading in a newspaper. 26/11, 9/11, London metro blast, Karachi bombing are some of horrifying incidents that have imbibed in our memories. Though a great extent of time has passed, but there is no sign of termination of these terrorist attacks. But, what has altered in this due course of time is their methodology and strategy. The world is witnessing the emergence of a terrorist group, which has come out of the veil of the hidden identity and the strategy of unexpected attacks. This terrorist group is none other than the ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Levant).The last “s” of “Isis” emanates from the Arabic word “al-Sham”, refers to a region stretching from southern Turkey through Syria to Egypt (also including Lebanon, Israel, the Palestinian territories and Jordan).
The group, led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, aims to create a Sunni Muslim state consisting of Iraq, Syria and other Middle Eastern countries. Its larger goal is to revival the golden age of Caliphate and establishment of the same in the world, with Baghdadi being the new Caliph. It achieved its first milestone in the journey of establishment of Caliphate by capturing Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city and then acquiring the area from Eastern edge of Aleppo to Falluja in Western Iraq. Beside the vast range of captured area, it possesses a prodigious range of members as well. The members of ISIS are not limited to the people of Iraq and Syria, but have attracted the extremists from the Far East and Europe as well.
It was originally an Al-Qaeda group in Iraq, known as Islamic State of Iraq (ISI). It gained momentum with the Syrian civil unrest. Initially their involvement in Syria was indirect as Jabhat Al-Nusra was working in Syria under the leadership of Abu Mohd. Al- Joulani, himself an ISI member. Jabhat Al-Nusra was getting plenary support and funding from ISI. Later, Baghdadi seeks direct influence in Syria with the expansion of ISI’s operation in Syria. It led to clash between the two groups. Both Jabhat Al-Nusra and Al-Qaeda declared it as an extremist group, in fact Zarwini, head of Al-Qaeda, called on ISIS to leave Syria and return to Iraq. ISIS refuted this order.
With the moribund phase of Al- Qaeda, ISIS rose to power, becoming the most powerful and resourceful terrorist group. This power allows it overlook the command of the head of Al-Qaeda. But, what is the source of this power? One of the most important and apparent reason for their quick rise to power is their abundance of funds. ISIS has a great range of sources for its funding such as robbery, religious tax from Muslim and non-Muslims, support of religious groups, etc. One of the major sources of their funds is the oil field that they have captured. Besides that, they are acquired great sum. Though there is no definite source to prove the claim, but after observing the huge scale of activities, there is a hint of state support for ISIS.
Now question arises what makes ISIS crucial to International politics? Firstly, Iraq lies in the heart of the Middle East, bordering Jordan, Turkey, Kuwait Syria, and Saudi Arabia. Thus, acquiring Iraq would mean disrupting the peace of the region. Secondly, Iraq is one of those countries, which possess great oil reserve, and ISIS capturing these fields will adversely affect the international oil trade. Thirdly, ISIS would be revival of terrorism on the forefront of the international politics after the moribund phase for Al-Qaeda. It will eventually start a vicious cycle of terrorism and counter-terrorism which means the increasing rate of civilian’s death toll.
Now it will be the responsibility of the neighboring countries and western power specifically, to protect the civilians, not just the ones belonging to their respective nationalities, but the civilians of Iraq as well. If the rightful measure has not been take place timely, then it would be highly impossible to halt the atrocities of the ISIS group.
About the Author
Loveleena Sharma has completed her graduation in Political Science from Delhi College of Arts and Commerce. And, with her ardent interest in International Relations, is now pursuing her Masters in International Relations from the South Asian University. She is interested in subjects like Foreign Policy, Conflict Transformation and Peace Building, South Asian studies, etc. She has earlier interned at DLSA (Delhi Legal State Authority). She has also volunteered at Amaani, for the education of the underprivileged children. She has an inclination towards theatre, and has performed in various competitions during her graduation. She is currently working as the Research Associate for Alexis Centre for Public Policy and International Relations.