There is much confusion and disinformation regarding what is now being called one of the greatest threats to the Western World since the Cold War and the nuclear buildups between the U.S. and the USSR. Below are ten things you should know about the rise of the “Islamic State.”
1. First of all, lets fill in the blanks about these two acronyms:
ISIS stands for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
ISIL is the goal of a larger umbrella group calling itself the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, aspiring to establish a new caliphate, which will include Jordan, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Cyprus, and southern Turkey.
2. ISIS and ISIL are composed of Sunni Muslims. In opposition, the governments of Iraq and Iran are both ruled by Shiites (Shia Islam). Prior to the U.S. toppling Saddam Hussein, Iraq had been a Ba’athist State, a Sunni movement to unite the Muslim world.
3. What is the difference between Sunni and Shia Islam? The two major branches of Islam are a result of a schism that developed after the death of the Prophet Muhammad in the year 632. While both sects consider the Quran holy, there is disagreement over Muhammad’s successor.
Sunnis believe Abu Bakr, the father of Muhammad’s wife Aisha, was the rightful heir.
Shias believe Muhammad chose his cousin and son-in-law to be the next caliph.
4. Who is the leader of ISIS and ISIL? Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, an Iraqi who claims to be a descendent of Muhammad, is the leader of the Islamic state. He is a skilled military tactician with a PhD in Islamic Studies.
5. How strong are ISIS and ISIL? According to the Huffington Post, there are 30,000 to 50,000 men and some women fighting for the Islamic State.
6. Where is the Islamic state? ISIS and ISIL currently occupy an area between Syria and Iraq of about 13,000 square miles. Other areas under their control in northern Iraq change daily.
7. How much money does the Islamic state have? It is estimated through bank robberies and oil sales, ISIS and ISIL have at least $2,000,000,000 in liquid assets. They have also acquired vast amounts of military equipment abandoned by the Iraqi Army.
8. ISIS and ISIL are at the gates of Israel. Syrian rebels with ties to ISIS have taken control of a border crossing at the Golan Heights.
9. Are ISIS and ISIL direct threats to the U.S? Until the discovery of American born fighters last Sunday, the danger was deemed low. Douglas McArthur McCain is believed to be the first American killed in battle for the Islamic state. He may have been the vanguard of home-grown terrorists.
10. Was President Obama right not to arm Syrian rebels against President al-Assad? His detractors say no. But some military experts believe arming Syrian rebels would have put more American arms in the hands of the Islamic state.