ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, is now a huge militant group, too extreme even for the Al Qaeda. Throughout June and July in 2014, ISIS has seized control of Syria and Iraq. What is it that ISIS wants? According to Journalist Tognotti from Bustle news, “ISIS has voiced publicly in June, that their stated mission is to establish a new Islamic Caliphate in the Middle East.”
The controversiality of ISIS stems not only from their efforts to overthrow the Muslim governments, but also their acts of mass violence against civilians of Shiia religion.
According to the United Nations,
“…over 24,000 Iraqi civilians have been injured or killed by ISIS in the first eight months of 2014, now over 1.8 million have been displaced from their home.” Justifying their crimes through the Islamist ideology, they have massacred religious minorities including Christians. Young boys are captured as child soldiers; women and girls are forced into sex slavery.”
Although the majority of ISIS’s actions have been relevant to the Middle Eastern area, ISIS is now meddling in the larger scope of the world, including the vast expanses of social media.
Here is a concise overview, in chronological order, of some of the major events caused by ISIS in the past few months, since August 2014 to February 26 with the recent identification of Jihadi John.
Beheading of the West
In August 19, 2014, a Youtube video of the beheading of an American journalist James Foley went viral. The masked man then threatened to behead another hostage, Steven Sotloff, if Obama did not cease fire.
After a month, in September 13, ISIS beheaded a British aid worker, David Haines. Another British worker Alan Hennings was then killed in November. In the videos, ISIS condemned the United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron over his policy of arming Kurdish forces to combat ISIS.
Yet, many terrorism specialists have indicated that ISIS has no intent to attack the West, nor do they have the ability to do so. Ironically though, ISIS has already attracted more than five hundred British volunteers, and a hundred Americans (The New Yorker).
ISIS in Japan
Early in 2015, Japan become a victim of the relentless killings of ISIS. In January 2015, a video was released online of journalist, Kenji Goto, holding a photo of the decapitated body of Haruna Yukawa. The audio message in the video by Jihadi John, the executioner, demanded the release of Sajida al-Rishawi, a woman facing death penalty due to her crime of triple bombing hotels in Jordan.
And without any warning, on February 1st, 2015, the beheading of Kenji Goto was displayed to the world. “People in Japan are now calling Kenji Goto’s murder their 9/11,” according to The New Yorker. The ISIS negotiations to bring back Sajida al-Rishawi had failed. There were talks about trade involving Kenji Goto or the Jordanian Air Force pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh, in return for Sajida al-Rishawi.
Since then, there were many headlines implying the controversy of remilitarization of Japan, such as “Japanese government exploits hostage crisis to push remilitarization” from the Worlds Socialist Web. The punishment for Japan’s past world war crimes were implemented by the Allied powers, such as Article 9 of Japan’s constitution to prevent remilitarization. But now Abe speaks, “Japan’s security environment has changed, and we must fortify our national security.”
Moreover, according to the New Yorker, the political scientist from University of Tokyo has said, “The cruelty of the Islamic State has made Japan see a harsh new reality. … We now realize we face the same dangers as other countries do.”
The Killing of Jordanian Pilot
On February 5, 2015, the ISIS video revealed a horrific video of the execution of Jordanian pilot, Lt. Moath al-Kasasbeh. Right before his death, Al-Kasabeh spoke of the latest attack mission where his jet crashed near Raquaa. He was then burned alive inside a cage.
“This cowardly terror by a criminal group that has no relation to Islam … it’s the duty of all citizens to stand together.”
– King Abdullah of Jordan, in response to the pilot’s death
In return, Jordon executed two prisoners Sajida al-Rishawi and Ziad Karbouli. Meanwhile, the pilot’s family is insisting for more revenge. Jordon is planning on more anti-ISIS air strikes, and hundreds of Jordanian demonstrators have protested out in the streets.
Jihadi John Identified
Last week, February 26, the Islamist militant, “Jihadi John” has finally been identified. He is Mohammed Emwazi, a 26-year-old British computer programming graduate from London.
According to BBC News, Asim Qureshi, a human rights advocate, revealed that Emwazi was recruited by MI5, unknown to his family, to Syria. With the title “Jihadi John,” Emwazi has appeared in numerous ISIS beheading videos of Western hostages; his victims including the U.S journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff; British aid workers David Haines, Alan Henning; and the Japanese journalist Kenji Goto.
– Sammie Kim (’18)
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