The Islamic State’s pernicious premise of using faith for sowing division among Muslims and going on an incessant killing campaign for territorial gains is another example of extremist ideology that is walloping the Middle East and causing untold suffering.
Islamic State, earlier known as Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) recently declared a ‘caliphate’ in areas taken over by its members under the shadow of the gun. Propped up by terrorist backers, who want to promote a destructive line of thought, the Islamic State has taken on the might of the Iraqi state so much so that the armed forces have been outdone and the government virtually taken hostage. The militants, who promote a strain of what they call actual Islam, aim at derailing the Iraqi state by dislodging Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki’s government. The Iraqi army has been rendered ineffective by the warring militants who have also decided to eliminate thousands of Kurdish and Yazidis. The minority Yazidis, mostly concentrated in the mountains, have been besieged by the militants. 40,000 Yazidi families have been stranded in the mountains without food and water. They are in danger of starvation and dehydration on the top, and would be killed by the Islamic State if they came down.
Amid the instability in Iraq, the lashes of the Islamic State are proving too painful for Maliki. The panicked Iraqi leader has become desperate enough to egg on Kurd fighters, his former sworn enemies, to take on the Islamic State.
Jihadis, as the militants are popularly called, have also complicated the Syrian crisis. The plethora of groups fighting President Bashar Al Assad’s regime will have a dangerous contender to deal with. The spillover of the fighting from Syria into Lebanon has been precipitated by the Jihadis. The Lebanese army has lost senior personnel to the militants, creating a situation in which Sunni clerics had to intervene.
The ideologies of the Islamic State are so extreme that in some cases even Al Qaeda doesn’t agree with them. Lately, it is Iraqi Christians who are their target. This has created panic among the minority community in the country, forcing many to flee or migrate to other countries.
Hardline groups like the Boko Haram and Islamic State have shadowed the extremism propagated by Al Qaeda, which was founded by Osama bin Laden, who made terrorism history on September 11, 2011. The resurgence of new Islamist groups is becoming a practice that needs to be studied by security and strategy analysts for social and economic indicators fuelling their rise.
The world has to be sensitised to the rise of new Islamist groups and ways and means of stanching their aspirations. If it continues like this, the day is not far when new avatars of Al Qaeda will sprout every day. Let us guard against this•