The world doesn’t know much about ISIS, now loosely expanded as the Islamic State, but from what we know, it’s a bigger threat to Islam and Muslims than all those terrorist organisations deriving their sustenance from this religion.
What adds to the mystery of this outfit is its relative obscurity and what compounds this obscurity is the fact it’s now ruling over large swathes of northern Iraq. When a legitimate opposition in Syria is struggling to make gains against a dictatorial ruler and losing most of the gains it made, despite a vigorous international support including from the Arab world, it’s surprising that ISIS could carve out a huge space for itself with unprecedented ease, and without any ostensible international support. The US-trained, numerically powerful Iraqi forces fainted like terrified children before the advancing ISIS army. If some thought that Iraqi forces were caught off guard by the instantaneousness and ferocity of the attack, they were proved wrong: ISIS continues to hold onto its gains while Iraqi forces look as muddled and weak as before.
ISIS is no answer to the mess Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki has created with his divide-and-rule policy. Sunnis in the country, sidelined and blatantly discriminated against by their own prime minister, were forced to support the extremists to restore their dignity and self-respect, but the brand of Islam ISIS is imposing would be unpalatable to most dyed-in-the-wool extremists and it wouldn’t take long for ordinary Iraqis to shun them.
The ISIS has done enough to cause shock and scorn. Some of their decisions have already grabbed international headlines. According to one report, the jihadists are said to have ordered the genital mutilation, aka female circumcision or FGM, of approximately four million women between the ages of 11 and 46 in Mosul. The source of the news was a UN official, but some reporters based in Mosul later tweeted that they were not aware of such an edict. There are two more reprehensible orders from the Sunni extremists: one, an ultimatum to Christians in Mosul to leave or convert to Islam, and second, a warning to Muslim women to wear niqab, face veil, or risk punishment. Mosul was once among Iraq’s most diverse urban centres, home to Shias, Shabaks, Turkmen and Yazidiz, as well as Assyrian and Chaldean Christians. Will Iraqis allow the extremists to wipe out this grand heritage?
The world needs to know more about ISIS and its financiers. The mystery surrounding its origins and leaders needs to be resolved. The world and Muslims have suffered enough from Al Qaeda and can’t tolerate another rabid, medieval outfit which is claiming to be its offshoot•