Ameen Izzadeen , courtesy of The Daily Mirror, 20 March 2015, where the title reads: “ISIS: The mystery behind the monster”
“… when you see them pray, you will look to them and think they are better than you; when they fast, you will think that they are better than you; they will recite Qur’an very well but it will never reach their throats, and they will leave the deen (the religion) like the arrow from the bow…” This was a warning from Prophet Muhammad about a group who were to come at a later time.
In early Islamic history, there was a group called Khwarij who fitted this description. They were zealots, but apparently failed to comprehend the spirit of Islam. Yet, hordes of youths lured by the Khwarij’s fanaticism left their homes to join the group. Ali, Islam’s fourth Caliph, declared war against them fearing their harmful ideology would destroy Islam.
Today this phenomenon is happening once again; thousands, of youths, including girls as young as 16, are leaving their homes to join the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), whose brutality knows no bounds. These youths erroneously believe that ISIS is fighting the cause of Islam and the cause it champions – the establishment of an Islamic caliphate – is worth dying for. Among those who left their homes to join ISIS were three British teenagers – Shamima Begum, Amira Abase and Kadiza Sultana. They made international headlines with the British media describing them as Jihadi brides. This week three British youths were arrested in Turkey while on their way to Syria.
The canker is spreading and stopping this is, first and foremost, the responsibility of the Muslim world. Addressing the European parliament in Strasbourg some ten days ago, Jordan’s King Abdullah said ISIS was a problem within Islam and therefore it was the responsibility of the Muslims to e radicate it. “We will not allow them to hijack our faith,” the monarch said, pointing out that the terrorists’ acts ran counter to basic Islamic values such as mercy, peace and tolerance.
As the ISIS terror continues, a big question mark looms large over efficacy of the US-led military campaign against the group. Air strikes on ISIS targets in Syria by the United States and its Western and Middle Eastern allies began in September last year. Six months later, ISIS is still a force to be reckoned with. In Iraq, government troops and the Kurdish Peshmerga militia are struggling to flush out the ISIS from key cities and regions, even though they are getting help from the US and neighbouring Iran.
Why is ISIS so formidable? Only a year ago it was an army of less than 25,000 rebels. Today it has a fighting force of some 200,000 and its influence is spreading in the Middle East. On Wednesday, gunmen suspected to be having links with ISIS killed 19 foreign tourists at a museum in Tunisia’s capital Tunis. In Libya this week, the rebel government in Tripoli launched a military campaign against groups that have pledged allegiance to ISIS.
The monster needs to be stopped. But who created the monster? It is the West and its Gulf allies. Their main aim was to oust Syria’s Hafez al-Assad because Syria under Assad was a key link in the Iran-led Shiite alliance in the region and had rejected Saudi-Qatari proposals to build energy pipelines to the Mediterranean across Syria. Assad in a recent interview hinted that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was programmed by the US when he was a prisoner in Iraq.
Al Baghdadi’s military successes began in 2013 with a jail break in Iraq. Hundreds of hardcore militants who escaped from the prison were sent to Syria to fight Assad’s forces. Last year al-Baghdadi’s forces captured large areas of Iraqi territory. The lightning speed with which Iraq’s US-trained forces retreated in the face of the ISIS advance implied some kind of collaboration at a high level in the Iraqi military. The case of ISIS is not black and white. It is one of the cloak and dagger cases, for which the Middle East is notorious — from the Arabian Nights folklore and the saga of Lawrence of Arabia to the creation of al-Qaeda and George W. Bush’s oil-centric tall stories about weapons of mass destruction.
ISIS was directly and indirectly armed and financed by powerful countries both in the West and the Middle East. Recently, Iran’s Fars News Agency carried a shocking story which many Western media outlets chose not to publish or broadcast. The news items claimed that Iraqi troops shot down two British planes carrying weapons to ISIS terrorists. The news agency quoted Hakem al-Zameli, head of the Iraqi Parliament’s National Security and Defence Committee, as saying that Iraqi parliament had sought explanation from London. He disclosed that Baghdad was receiving daily reports from people and security forces in Anbar Province on numerous flights by US-led coalition planes that airdrop weapons and supplies for ISIS.
The same news story also claimed that Iraqi troops had found US and Israeli made weapons in areas purged of ISIS terrorists, suggesting some Israeli links with the terror group.
In his address to the US Congress on March 3, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu labelled Hamas and Hezbollah as terrorists while he projected ISIS as a lesser enemy than Iran. This together with the lack of support from ISIS for the Palestinian cause, even while Gaza was being pounded by Israel last year, and the ISIS’s ‘coexistence’ with Israeli troops at the ISIS-held territories adjoining the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights points to a possible collaboration with Israel. In another development, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said this week that a man working for a foreign intelligence group helped the three British girls to travel to Syria via Turkey. The Turkish media later reported that the man worked for the spy agency of Canada, a country that works closely with Israel. As various intelligence groups destabilise the Middle East by manipulating the ISIS, it appears that the Middle East is being pushed into a deeper abyss. The US says the way-out is the resumption of the Geneva process aimed at a solution to the Syrian crisis. But after hinting last week that it would talk to the Syrian government, Washington now says it will not. The deadlock continues. So does the mayhem in the Middle East.