In this article I want to shine the spotlight on ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. We are going to see who they are and take a look at their leader, Al-Baghdadi, and how did he get to the position where he is today. We will also look at the Saudi connection, what does the Saudi government have to do with ISIS.
Once we look at the who and why we are going to look at the capabilities of this terrorist organization. We will look at their finances, the weapons that they have. We will look at what we should fear about this group.
We will look at the uniqueness of this organization. There are some things that are unique to them that you won’t find with the other Muslim terrorist groups.
We are also going to look at ISIS in America. What do we have to look forward to here in our own country.
Who Is This Group?
To answer this question we must understand the civil war in Syria. To understand this civil war we must first understand the difference between a Shi’ite Muslim and a Sunni Muslim.
Syria is one of three Shi’ite nations. There are not many Shi’ites in the world. They make up about 10% of the world’s Muslim population. Sunni Muslims are, by far, the largest group of Muslims in the world. Most of the Shi’ite Muslims live in Iran, Lebanon, and Syria.
A few years ago a civil war started in Syria. The people felt oppressed by their dictator and rose up to overthrow him. This has been in the news for the last four or five years. The Sunni nations around Syria saw this as an opportunity to overthrow a Shi’ite nation and make Syria a Sunni nation.
In the beginning of this civil war it was Shi’ite against Shi’ite. It is now Shi’ite against Sunni as the Sunnis try to take over the country. One of the branches of Al-Qaeda had a split. This was the beginning of ISIS. This organization is growing at a phenomenal rate. We will see that their capabilities are amazing. What they have accomplished in such short time is also amazing. ISIS is a Sunni organization.
We need to understand the difference between the Sunnis and the Shi’ites if we are to understand what is happening in the Middle East. The difference between the two groups has to do with succession. The difference goes back to the death of Muhammad. It has to do with who will be the caliph or successor of Muhammad. The best way for us to understand “caliph” is to think of it as an emperor or a king. The caliph is the supreme leader of all of Islam. His word will be law and he will control everything.
When Muhammad died the next leader was Abu Bakr, the best friend of Muhammad. It was quite clear that Muhammad had great trust in him and it was a natural flow of leadership. Abu Bakr was not a blood relative of Muhammad. The Sunni Muslims say that the caliph does not have to be related to Muhammad while the Shi’ites believe that the caliph must be a blood relative of the Prophet. This is the major difference between these two Muslim groups.
The third caliph was Uthman and he was assassinated by the Shi’ites in order to put in a caliph who was from Muhammad’s blood line. They installed Ali, a cousin and a son-in-law of Muhammad. About two years later Ali was assassinated by the Sunni Muslims. The Sunnis and the Shi’ites have been fighting over this for 1400 years.
The Sunnis have been fighting the Shi’ites in Syria but they weren’t getting anywhere. Since the Americans had left Iraq there was a great opportunity to obtain weapons and to rob and pillage that area and amass great wealth. There new leader, Al-Baghdadi, led them to stop fighting in Syria because they were not able to defeat Assad. He realized that they needed more resources, wealth and weapons, and they were available in Iraq. As a result they now have mass amounts of weapons and wealth. Their success in Iraq has captured the attention of Muslim youths around the world.
Who Is Al-Baghdadi?
To begin with Al-Baghdadi is not his given name. It is a name that he has chosen for himself. His real name is Ibrahim Awad al-Badri. He comes from a group of Muslim scholars. His friends would describe him as a polite man, a shy man, somewhat unimpressive, but certainly a religious scholar. They say that he eschewed violence and that he was known for his soccer playing.
He studied in the University of Baghdad in Iraq. He obtained both a Masters and a PHD at this university. For many years he lived in a small apartment attached to a mosque in a small town called Tobchi. One of his friends said that when the Americans came to remove Saddam Husein he didn’t show any hostility toward them.
The catalyst that started to change things was in 2004. In 2004 he got into an argument with his landlord who owned the mosque and the apartment in which he lived. His landlord was trying to force him to join a Salafi political organization. He refused to do so and it resulted in his being thrown out of his apartment. From that time on we see different man.
Another classmate said that at that time he formed an Islamic militia. This militia later joined Al-Qaeda. This was the beginning of his jihadist activities.
At this time Awad al-Badri became a leader within Al-Qaeda with his own militia. Shortly after this he is taken captive by the US Army and held as a prisoner. Some say that his hatred for America really developed while he was in prison.
The change of American leadership with the election of Obama had a great effect on what followed. His promise to end the war in Iraq led to pulling our forces out too soon. When we pulled our troupes out of Iraq everything started to fall apart. All of the gains we had made started to disappear and the lives of our young men, the money we spent, and the victory we had won, were given away.
This resulted in the release of Awad al-Badri. As our troupes were leaving Awad al-Badri said “I’ll see you guys in New York.” At the time we didn’t see that as a threat, but time has shed new light on the statement. It is now something we must consider.
After his release, Awad al-Badri rejoined Al-Qaeda. He had been under the leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi who was killed in 2006. The new leader was another man named Al-Baghdadi and when he was killed Awad al-Badri took his name.
When the new Al-Baghdadi (Awad al-Badri) took over it became ruthless. This is when the mass beheadings started. They would strap suicide bombs on mentally disabled men, women, and children and would detonate them remotely when they walked into a crowd. They would hide explosives in corpses to kill those at funerals. In other words he led them to new levels of brutality.
The decision to change tactics and methods was not a decision he made alone. There was a Sharia council that chose him to be the new leader and approved of this new brutality.
He led the group for Al-Qaeda for two years. He then split from Al-Qaeda because they wanted him to join up with another group. From early 2014 he started running his own show with what has become ISIS.
The Saudi Connection
Now we come to the Saudi connection. There is a great report by Alaster Crook, a British diplomat who served for years as a British intelligence officer in MI6. He has overseen many of the conflicts in the Middle East. He said:
“To understand ISIS you need to understand Wahhabism, which comes out of Saudi Arabia.”
When you boil it all down to the basics it is summed up with this quote:
“One ruler, one authority, one mosque.”
In other words, Islam must be brought into unity controlled by one leader, one authority, and one mosque. The divisions in Islam must be eradicated. This is the viewpoint of Al-Baghdadi. As a result of this the Saudis embraced this ISIS organization and encouraged Al-Baghdadi to set up the caliphate. This is the goal of every Muslim, regardless of which division of Islam they fall under.
This was the goal of Muhammad. He was trying to set up a world-wide Islamic caliphate. One of the reasons for the popularity of ISIS is that for many years Islam has been without a caliphate. The last caliphate was the Ottoman Empire and it ended in the early 1900’s. It has has been the dream of Muslims to reestablish the caliphate.
The problem is that when Al-Baghdadi set up the caliphate he proclaimed himself the caliph. This didn’t set to well with the king of Saudi Arabia. After all, he is the king and that is supposed to be his position. It was when Al-Baghdadi declared himself caliph that the king of Saudi Arabia started telling Western leaders that they had better take out ISIS because if they did not ISIS would be in Europe and the US withing months.
The Saudis are famous for getting us in the West to fight their battles. They use the fact that they control so much of the world’s oil to get the West to do their bidding.
The Finances of ISIS
Look at what this group has done in such a short time. The Economist says that ISIS is one of the best financed terrorist organization in the world. The only ones that can rival ISIS are the state sponsored groups like Hezbollah which is sponsored by Iran and Hamas which was sponsored by Egypt when the Muslim Brotherhood was in power.
They actually pay their fighters. They pay the front-line soldiers, not their generals and other officers, $400 per month. In September of 2014 they had 30,000 fighters. That means they are paying out $12,000,000 a month just for payroll. This doesn’t count the other costs of running an army. The bulk of their money comes from oil revenues from the oil fields in Iraq.
It is estimated that last year ISIS brought in more then 800 million dollars just from the oil revenues, another 40 million from the hostages they have taken, and another 40 million from donations. They have the funds to run their organization like no other terrorist organization has ever had. ISIS is certainly a force to be reckoned with.
We made a mistake in thinking this was just the JV team. I even misjudged them. I thought they were premature in proclaiming the caliphate. They get the support they do because every Muslim wants to see the caliphate reestablished.
The Weapons of ISIS
ISIS went into Iraq because the US had left a lot of weapons behind and they were easy pickings. The most important issue concerning weapons is that 40KG of uranium was taken from the university in Iraq by ISIS. What does this mean for us? This means that ISIS has the ability to make a number of dirty bombs.
They don’t have to have a warhead to use this against us. They can smuggle it across the border. This is just one of the reasons our borders must be secured. There is evidence that ISIS is coming across our southern border.
What Is Unique About ISIS?
The most unique thing about ISIS is that they have occupied territory. They have taken territory and kept it under their control. ISIS now occupies 12,000 square miles of land within Iraq. This is the size of Belgium. It is larger than the state of Maryland. None of the other terrorist groups have done anything like this. There might be one exception with Hamas in the Palestinian Territory. It is not quite the same because they did not capture this territory, the took over from within.
Another unique thing about ISIS is that they have been able to bring in a number of people from around the world. No other group has been able to develop such an attraction for the Muslim youth. One reason for this is that they have declared themselves the caliphate. This changes things in the eyes of Muslims.
Many young people have joined groups like Al-Qaeda but the difference with the Islamic State is that a Muslim can do more than just perform jihad. Jihad is one of the highest acts that a Muslim can do and dying as a martyr is the only way a Muslim can have guarantee of entering Paradise. If a Muslim dies in jihad he gets to go to heaven and have a sexual orgy for the rest of eternity, he also gets to intercede for seventy of his family members. The opportunity to enter jihad it is very appealing to young men. In addition to this there is the attraction of being able to take part in rebuilding the caliphate.
One of the most interesting of the international recruits is Jihadi John. He became famous for the beheading by ISIS of the journalist, James Foley. He was born in Kuwait, but grew up in London. He graduated from the University of Westminster with a degree in computer programing. His real name is Mohammed Emwazi. He was nicknamed Jihadi John because at first we didn’t know who he was.
ISIS in America
What are the abilities of ISIS in the US? Last September I attended a security briefing in Washington DC. At the time Michelle Bachman was still in congress. She had a permanent seat on the Intelligence Committee and was an overseer of the CIA, the NSA, and other aspects of homeland security. She held an unclassified briefing. There was a lot of concern that Americans were going to Syria and joining ISIS. She told us that the government knows of at least 300 who have gone to fight with ISIS. She called on the government to revoke their passports, and possibly their American citizenships. She suggested they be tried for treason since ISIS is a declared enemy of the United States. She also said that we know about the 300, but what about those we don’t know about?
The issue is that the Obama administration has refused to revoke the passports of these people. We know of some of them who, after being trained and fighting in Syria, have returned to America. One person who should have been arrested traveled freely in America for six months after his return to America. A border patrol officer questioned him and he gave a story about his going to Syria to visit family. They called his mother and she confirmed the story so they let him go. They did not pass this on to the FBI for further scrutiny. He returned to Syria and made a video of himself renouncing his American citizenship, burning his passport, and strapping a bomb to himself. He blew himself up amongst a group of Syrian troupes.
Who knows what he was doing while he was here in the States? How do we know that he didn’t set up a cell here in the US?
This is not limited to Americans. ISIS has been able to recruit Muslims from 80 different countries to join their cause. It is estimated that about 15,000 have joined ISIS from other countries.
A State Department spokesperson said they are combating 90.000 tweets a day from ISIS. This is another unique thing about ISIS. They are successfully using social media to recruit young people.
Another unique thing about ISIS is that we are seeing international alliances. Other Islamic terrorist organizations are pledging their allegiance to ISIS. They are bringing various factions and Islamic groups together like never before. There are Islamic groups from Afghanistan, Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Libya, Indonesia, Pakistan, the Philippines, Yemen, who have pledged allegiance to ISIS.
Let’s get back to ISIS in America. The Director of the FBI told the Attorneys General of the states that ISIS is a spiderweb that avidly uses social medial to radicalize people across the United States. He said:
We have investigations of people in various stages of radicalization in all 50 states. This is not a New York phenomenon, or a Washington phenomenon, this is all 50 states in which they are very hard to see.”
It is spread throughout our entire country.
Our borders are open to their coming in. In the briefing I mention earlier we learned that agents have detained at least 10 members of ISIS at the US/Mexican border. Back in September four terrorists tried to sneak across the border. These are the ones we know of. How many have successfully entered our country that we don’t know about?
We know that they are trying to get in. We know that there are those here in America who are sympathetic to them. We know they have uranium that can be used to make dirty bombs. We know that this organization netted over 880 million dollars last year. We know that they are not slowing down. They have captured the imagination of Muslim youth.
One in four people in the world is a Muslim. Many of these people believe their day has come.
I don’t want to be an alarmist, but these are the facts. These are the things we do know. What about the things we don’t know?
These are the things you should know about ISIS. The government has its hands full in trying to protect us.
I want to say thank you to those who are doing their jobs to protect us. Hopefully we will have good leadership that will untie their hands so they can do a better job of protecting us.
Most of all we need God’s aid in all of this. Let’s not forget that God is still sovereign and there is a reason God is allowing Islam to grow. As I have said before, we believe that God has raised up an enemy to bring judgment upon our nation for in sins.
Unless we repent, unless we turn to God, there is no hope for our nation. The only thing that will cause God to have mercy on us is if we repent and turn back to Him.