ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria): New Threat to the USA?

20140811_iraq_yazidi_2 Last month, the militant group ISIS ( Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) declared their jihad (holy war) against the minorities of Iraq which included the dwindling population of  Middle Eastern Christians, Yazidi sects and Kurds. Little was known that the situation would worsen to such a great extent. According to an opinion article published in the New York Times, it was an image out of the eighth century: bearded Islamist marauders abruptly executing unbelievers, prowling as they went. Their prime motive is to establish a  Sharia state Caliphate (succession) and they are ready to slay anyone who comes in their way. But underneath that ghastly exterior lurks something more modern and more sinister. According to the recent annual report, the group is sophisticated, strategic, financially savvy and building structures that could survive for years to come. ISIS currently brings in more than $1 million a day in revenue and is now the richest terrorist group on the planet.

Although it is the first and foremost responsibility of the Iraqi government to solve their domestic issues, however  the present situation is not in their hands anymore and ISIS stance against the minorities is leading towards their genocide.  I believe that the fast- paced popularity of this newly formed  militant group poses a great threat to other nations of the world as well. It is a danger that is not only limited to Iraq,  but  also to United States and  other peace seeking nations that support harmony and human rights. In this current situation the powerful western nations such as the United Kingdom, France and United States share the responsibility to take appropriate measures to deal with this terrorist organization (ISIS)  before it manages to spread its wings outside the territory of Iraq and Syria and into the other parts of the world.

According to a recent article published in TIMES magazine, ISIS has long threatened America openly. In June 2014 the group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, warned Americans that “soon enough, you will be in direct confrontation [with us]” and just  last week a spokesman for the group vowed that “we will raise the flag of Allah in the White House.” Can these open warnings be taken lightly?

Such threats cannot be taken frivolously; these are comprehensible terrorist threats that require  confrontation. On eleventh September 2014,  United States will mark fourteen year anniversary of the terrorist attacks that shook the entire nation with grief and anger. I believe that the United States should take appropriate measures to restrain ISIS group before the situation gets out of control.

In the light of the ongoing human right crisis in  Iraq,  President Obama recently announced his  decision to  conduct airstrike against the militants and send humanitarian aid to the minority that will help buy time for both Iraqi and Kurdish forces to regroup as they are fighting against the ISIS militants. In my opinion, President Obama’s decision to face these militants is a great step towards humanity, because thousands of  Yazidis and Christian minorities are being forced to convert, pay the religious tax or die. Political, social and economic situation of Iraq has worsened since the United States launched its war in 2003. In this current situation, I believe the United States government has all the possible ways and means to help the endangered minorities of Iraq and eliminate these terrorists before the threat reaches the Western nations.

Recently in a CNN interview, a grieving father in Iraq shared his story of how he pleaded with his son to not volunteer, but the nineteen years old  had already made up his mind and there was nothing he could say to discourage his 19-year-old son from  joining ISIS, which refers to itself as the “Islamic State.” With tears in his eyes he said, “My son dreamed of becoming a computer engineer, now he’s just a terrorist.” Analysts and U.S. officials estimate ISIS has as many as 10,000 fighters in Iraq and Syria, that number likely doesn’t include these latest recruits, mostly young men between the ages of 16 and 25 who are primarily poor, unemployed and uneducated. It is sad that these militants organizations target young and poor boys who have a great future ahead of them but instead are lured into terrorism.

My father  has worked as a public officer in the northern areas of Pakistan shared from his own experience with parents of the boys who are recruited in the militant organizations,  “Parents of young boys are helpless when it comes to counsel their young sons, because the militants shower them with expensive gifts, latest electronic devices and various other privileges to gain support in their mission.”

However, the war that ISIS militants have waged against the helpless and weak minorities of Iraq and Syria is absolutely one-sided in which  Christians and Yazidis  are  powerless and completely vulnerable. An article recently published that the ISIS militants  want to live in a world that is quite literally cleansed of those who do not share their deranged beliefs, and by killing Yazidis, Christians and members of other religious minorities, they believe that they are serving a noble and just cause. Vian Dakhil, the only MP represents the Yazidi minority group in Iraq’s Parliament, said in an impassioned speech that seventy  Yazidi children had died so far from thirst and suffocation, women were being killed or sold into slavery and that five hundred men had been “slaughtered.” On the other hand, over the course of 48 hours, 30,000 families are stranded in the Sinjar Mountains with no water and food as they are left there to die. I believe that in such a grieving situation in which human rights are being altered on such a high extent, the United States should carry out all required measures to deal with the militants directly. Although the humanitarian aid that is being provided to the strangled community is a compassionate act, there is a need for a stronger action against these religious fanatics.

The United States, the United Kingdom and Kurds have been conducting air drops of food and water for the besieged civilians, mostly ethnic Kurds of the Yazidi faith, who fled to the mountain twelve days ago to escape ISIS militants who see them as non-believers. However, I believe that  while the United States and its allies facilitate the minorities, it is  equally important for them to stop the ISIS militants from  conducting terrorist acts and expanding to other regions.  The latest killing took place after President Obama announced that the  U.S.-led air strikes had broken the siege by the militants against the minorities trapped on a mountain in northern Iraq. According to the Iraqi and Yazidi leaders, the brutal Islamic State fighters have buried Yazidi men alive, killed children and kidnapped women to be slaves.

Lately, there have been some critics of the current United States intervention in Iraq. In New York Times opinion article  states that armed intervention will not benefit the United States in any way because ISIS does not pose a strategic threat to the United States, therefore, the logic to exercise military force remains weak. The more the United States becomes militarily entangled, the more likely the restricted insurgent movements will gain international objective, thus exacerbating the blowback risk of terrorism against U.S. interests. Also, the former deputy CIA director Michael Morell told CBS News in June 2014, “The more we visibly get involved in helping the Iraqi  government fight the militants, the more we become a target.” Likewise, renowned writer Nick Gillespie criticized the latest Unites States humanitarian intervention in Iraq with the consideration of the 2003 Iraq war. In an article published in Daily Beast, he wrote that  the Iraq War was an exercise in “nation building” it failed massively, even as it destabilized the region and increased animosity toward the United States. In his opinion, the goal of American foreign policy should first and foremost be the defense of American lives and goals and there’s no more reason to go back into Iraq now than there was to invade back in 2003.

With all the above mentioned concerns posed by the critics, would it be wise to underestimate ISIS? Just because right now they are  not posturing any  visible threat to the western countries ( although they have openly warned the United States) certainly does not mean, they do not have a  propensity to carry out a terrorist attack in the future.  Should the government wait for the militants to  continue to gain more material strength and recruits? According to  Aaron Zelin of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, “ISIS militants are most likely planning attacks whether the U.S. conducts targeted air strikes or not and the government shouldn’t have reactionary policy when it comes to ISIS anyway – we should destroy them as soon as possible.”   I believe that this is the right time for the United States and its allies to deal with ISIS, because not only do  they pose a serious  humanitarian threat to the minorities of Iraq but they also pose  a bigger threat for future terrorist activities. Although I am certainly not in favor of another war, but I do agree with Obama’s decision to selectively target the militant centers  and possessions  and provide the required assistance to the defenseless minority of Iraq without sending more troops  from the United States. It is a significant step towards eliminating terrorist activities and protecting the vulnerable Iraqi minority.


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