[November 8, 2018] If you are one of the doubting-ninnies that thought the terror group ISIS was just another religious movement meant to bring a different brand of Islam to the Middle East, you were wrong. Now that ISIS has been pushed back and large swaths of Iraq territory retaken, the evil of their ideology is finally being exposed.
Not unlike the evils of Nazism and Communism, which demand total conformity, extremist Sunni Islam supporters have banded together to destroy cities and towns across Syria and Iraq. Ah, that’s the way our media have portrayed it. In reality, however, death and destruction followed wherever these ideologies have prevailed.
Over the past few months, a number of humanitarian organizations have combed the grounds once occupied by ISIS. They are finding hundreds of mass graves filled with women, children, and old men.1 Those who refused to conform were tortured and killed. This harks back to the ovens of Nazi Auschwitz and Stalin’s graves of Bykivnia.
During the lead up to WWII and after, political leaders looked the other way as some of the most appalling atrocities ever in the history of humankind. Then U.S. president Barack Obama called ISIS a “JV Team” – meaning they were amateurs at playing with the big boys like the U.S. This was one time that Obama seriously underestimated a real threat that came back to kill thousands of innocents. This is what happens when political leaders fail.
And then the West doubled down on their ignorance of ISIS and pulled troops from Iraq and reduced its footprint in numerous Middle Eastern countries and averted our eyes to the tragedies there. This allowed not just ISIS but the resurgence of al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Hezbollah, Hamas, and a number of Islamic-centric groups. When they grow in power, people die.
Will ISIS finally be destroyed? I asked this question many times over the past few years (see links here, here, and here). No strategy intended to defeat Islamism can succeed if Islamism itself and its violent expression in jihadism are not first named, isolated, and understood.
The answer is, unfortunately, obvious to those who study terror groups. Until you destroy the ideology, you will never destroy its evil. When political leaders fail, evil grows.