In recent months, an organization called The Islamic State, (also referred to as ISIS or ISIL) has taken over a large area of Syria and Iraq. ISIS stands for the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. The organization is a jihadist movement, which means that it’s composed of Islamic extremists who believe that God, who they call Allah, wants them to kill people who don’t worship as they do. They also hold women to be inferior to men and strictly enforce repressive laws. The Islamic State wants to annihilate the United States because it represents freedom and wants a free Iraq. In the last month ISIS has murdered at least two American journalists by cutting off their heads and it says it will kill more Americans.
The Islamic State dates back about 15 years, during which the group bore different names and operated in states ranging from Jordan to Afghanistan and Iraq. In recent years, a power vacuum in Syria and Iraq has allowed The Islamic State to exert its influence. In Syria, various groups have been fighting Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad for control in a Civil War. Syria is weak. In Iraq, President Obama pulled out American soldiers, wrongly believing Iraq was strong enough to defend itself. And, after initially declaring the United States would fight Syria if it used chemical weapons, President Obama backed down and did nothing against Assad when he did use chemical weapons. This emboldened terrorist groups like The Islamic State to believe the United States was weak. The Islamic State has taken advantage of this lack of strength in the area, gaining control over large swaths of land.
The Islamic State, it is believed, has over 31 million fighters who come from all over the world, including from 1 to 2 million westerners. Leader of The Islamic State Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was born in Iraq, and was held in captivity by the United States. He was released either in 2004, or in 2009. Al-Baghdadi has had stunning success in his brutality. When ISIS takes over an area, it gives the citizens one week to make a decision: Become Muslim and believe in the religion exactly as The Islamic State believes, pay a special tax until you die, move, or be killed. It is not known exactly how many people The Islamic State has murdered, but we do know that up to 1,000,000 have fled, and we have pictures of murdered children and men.
In a speech last week, President Obama announced “we will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorism strategy.” What this exactly means on the battlefield is still unclear, and it is unclear if the President thinks this a war or not. The President has said we will bomb The Islamic State, and we will work with other countries, however, he has said he will not put American soldiers on the ground.
1. What is The Islamic State?
2. What is The Islamic State doing in Iraq and Syria?
3. Read at least one newspaper article about this event, and answer the question: What should the United States of America do about The Islamic State? What is the best way to defeat it?
In September 2014, Current Event for Kids.com published an article titled “The Islamic State.” It gives a history of this terrorist organization and traces America’s actions towards it up to that time. The article this week deals with the name of the Muslim Terrorist organization, and the events of September 2014 through today, February 25, 2015.
What is in a Name?
In October 2014, French officials declared that they will refer to the Muslim terrorist organization that is attempting to establish a worldwide caliphate (kingdom) as Daesh. Daesh is the acronym of the organization’s full name, al-Dawla al-Islamiya fi al-Iraq wa al-Sham, and it also happens to be an insult when read aloud as one word. In Arabic, Daesh can mean “to trample down and crush” and “a bigot who imposes his view on others.” Members of D.A.E.S.H. have threatened to cut out the tongues of anyone who uses the term. Daesh members want to be known as The Islamic State, which gives them credibility (importance) as a country that is Islamic, or ISIS (Islamic State in Syria), or ISIL (Islamic State in the Levant). The Levant is the name of an area in Southwest Asia.
The United States of America and Daesh
September 2014 to February 2015
In a speech in September 2014, President Obama announced that the United States of America “will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL, through a comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorism strategy.” Since this time, the U.S.A. has used limited airstrikes to attack Daesh in Iraq and Syria. President Obama has declared that no U.S. ground troops will be used in the fight against ISIS.
In February, 2015, various journalists and politicians commented whether the U.S.A. was winning the war against ISIS. Peter Bergen, CNN’s national security analyst, reported that ISIS controls about the same area it did in September 2014, and that ISIS continues to successfully recruit terrorists. Bergen noted that while the Pentagon claims to be killing around 1,000 terrorists per month, it also admits that ISIS is recruiting about 1,000 terrorists per month. Vox, the liberal-leaning internet news source, reported that while ISIS is not retreating, it has stopped advancing. Journalist Zack Beauchamp noted that in order for ISIS to survive, it has to keep advancing or lose credibility.
Currently, ISIS controls an area larger than Switzerland with a population greater than 8,000,000. It is estimated that ISIS fighters number in the tens of thousands, possibly at 30,000. Recent reports show ISIS training children to become terrorist fighters, using similar tactics that Nazi Germany used in training youngsters to be part of Hitler Youth. Inhabitants under the yoke of ISIS, or Daesh, have no freedoms and face torture and murder if they do not follow a strict understanding of Islam.
In the months since September, 2014, ISIS has successfully tortured and murdered Westerners, Jews, Christians, and primarily, Muslims who ISIS believes do not follow the religion correctly. ISIS films when they torture and murder and uses these videos as recruiting tools. ISIS terrorists burned a Jordanian pilot to death in a cage. They also filmed their terrorists beheading twenty-one Egyptian Christians. In the last month, American aid volunteer Kayla Mueller was murdered. American intelligence say ISIS killed the twenty-six year old.
Even though President Obama vowed to destroy ISIS in September 2014, it appears he does not believe that ISIS is a dangerous threat to Americans. In February, President Obama hosted a Summit on Countering Violent Extremism. At this summit American leaders did not mention radical Islam or Muslim terrorists or ISIS. The Wall Street Journal editorial board noted that at about the time of the summit, in the Iraqi town of Kirkuk, ISIS paraded 17 Kurdish soldiers in cages through the streets. Kirkuk is an important oil trading center that ISIS did not hold in September 2014. It is believed these 17 soldiers will face the same end as other soldiers ISIS has captured.
1. In September 2014, what did President Obama vow the U.S.A. would do against ISIS?
2. Is ISIS winning the war against the U.S.A. or is the U.S.A. winning?
3. Why does ISIS film when it tortures and kills its enemies?
4. Do President Obama’s words and actions show that he is serious in using American power to defeat ISIS?
John De Gree
John De Gree writes the current events with a look at the history of each topic. Articles are written for the young person, aged 10-18, and Mr. De Gree carefully writes so that all readers can understand the event. The perspective the current events are written in is Judeo-Christian.
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