Opinion: Where did ISIS come from and where is it going? | SierraSun.com

Opinion: Where did ISIS come from and where is it going?

Sid Bekowich
Special to the Bonanza

ISIS or ISIL are respectively acronyms formed from: Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, which is the eastern part of the Mediterranean with its islands and neighboring countries.

This terrorist group, which is an offshoot of al-Qaida, wants to recreate the Islamic Empire that flourished for several hundred years (7th-11th centuries AD) with its seat of power first in Damascus, Syria and subsequently in Baghdad, Iraq.

At its zenith, it extended over the Middle East, North Africa, parts of the Indian subcontinent and the Far East, as well as Spain (except Catalonia), parts of France, Italy and several lands in the Levant.

As is the case in history, all empires rise and fall, and so it was with this Islamic Empire, which started to disintegrate around the 11th century AD.

Eventually the Middle East was dominated by the Ottoman Empire and subsequently by the British, French and Italians who divided the area among themselves as spoils of the victors in World War I.

Thus, one can see that peoples of the Middle East have been subjugated for the past 1,000 years and during this period of servitude they yearned for their past days of glory and sought deliverance in religion, particularly Islam, for Islam was the driving force behind the empire they built.

So here comes Mr. Baghdadi, rather Dr. Baghdadi (he has a Ph.D. in Islamic theology), an ambitious and opportunist terrorist who takes advantage of the leadership vacuum in Iraq: The government is Shiite and anti-Sunni; the Sunnis in the center are disgruntled; and the Kurds in the north are on the verge of declaring independence and keeping the oil fields there for themselves. The Shiites in the south are content to ally with Shiite Iran next door.

Baghdadi moves into northwest Iraq without encountering any resistance as the Iraqi soldiers drop their weapons and uniforms in the streets and flee.

Suddenly Baghdadi has lots of money from selling oil from the oil fields he just captured. He has lots of American tanks and guns that the fleeing Iraqis left behind.

Now he has an embryo of his grand design and declares the creation of an “Islamic State” in the parts of Iraq and Syria that he controls.

And to assert his claim he proceeds with a barbaric campaign of beheadings and mass murder, in the name of Islam and jihad, to terrorize world opinion into submission.

He cleverly stages for the media gruesome scenes of cold blooded murder, which the media oblige by projecting them repeatedly on television and writing ominous articles about an imminent threat of home grown ISIS jihadists.

What is ludicrous about this jihadist/terrorist phenomenon is that in Islam today there are no infidels to repel, hence no jihad to join, for Islam accepts Christianity and Judaism along with Islam as the three monotheistic religions started by Abraham.

Clearly, the current turmoil in the Middle East is due to sociopolitical grievances that have been festering there for a long, long time.

Attempting to establish an integrated Arab Nation in the Middle East is not new. Over 60 years ago, Jamal Abdul Nasser and other military officers deposed King Farouk in a military coup and declared Egypt a republic.

Eventually, Jamal Abdul Nasser, as the president of Egypt, formed a political union among Egypt, Sudan and Syria. But his efforts to include other Arab countries in the union failed and that union eventually collapsed.

So instead of a political union, Baghdadi wants to become a caliph, i.e. the chief Muslim civil and religious ruler, as the successor of the Prophet Mohammad, an idea that also is not new.

Sa’id Al Qutb, an Egyptian scholar, started such a movement about 60 or 70 years ago, which captured the imagination of many zealots, one of whom was Osama bin Laden.

Now the Middle East is awash with a plethora of misguided “jihadists,” a silent majority of Arabs who are disenchanted by their governments, Arab dictators pondering their fates and an America watching intently for the next move by ISIS.

Sid Bekowich is an Incline Village resident.