09/04/2014 12:48 EDT | Updated 11/04/2014 05:59 EST

ISIS Has Shifted Into Second Gear

Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
SALADIN, IRAQ - AUGUST 31: A Shiite militian flashes victory sign after Iraqi forces have entered the northern town of Amirli which had been under the siege of Islamic State militants for over two months in Saladin ,Iraq on August 31, 2014. Supported by Kurdish forces and Shiite militias, the Iraqi army launched an offensive shortly after the U.S. carried out airstrikes against Islamic State (IS) positions near the town, and dropped aid for the nearly 20,000 Shiite Turkmen trapped in Amirli. The government forces and Kurdish peshmerga forces have been fighting against the militant group to block their advance. (Stringer - Anadolu Agency)

For those who have not being paying attention, the great Jihad is continuing but with the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), it has finally shifted into second gear. By now it should be evident to anyone but the most callow and most blinkered of us that there is an ideologically-driven evil loose on the world.

At this very moment, its targets are the remaining Christians of the Middle East, the Yezidis of Iraq, and the long-suffering Kurds; while its proxies and partners are dealing with such diverse elements as Nigerian schoolgirls and Israelis living within artillery rocket range of the Gaza Strip. However, the rest of us will get our turn soon enough.

ISIS is also known as ISIL (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) or Daesh -- an acronym based on Dawlet al-Islāmiyya Irāq Shām which translates to more or less the same thing. ISIS also inherits the names of more than a dozen other terrorist groups that have operated in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon over the last dozen years. It is derived from al-Qaeda and from the Muslim Brotherhood/Salafist axis beyond that.

The Kurds of the Iraqi Kurdistan face extreme violence from Daesh. In Sara Akrami's recent interview with Ali Javanmardi, Voice of America's Kurdish journalist, Javanmardi states that "the creation of Daesh is due to suppression and discrimination against the Sunni Kurds by the Shia based government in Baghdad." According to Javanmardi, when it comes to the Kurdish issue and Kurdistan, the majority of the Kurds are Sunni. However, most Iraqi Kurdish political parties and politicians is to focus on the Kurdish national issue rather than religious issues. The Kurdish society does not accept the Islamic fundamentalism. Furthermore, the Kurds in Iran support the creation of Iraqi Kurdistan and they are not in favour of an Islamic caliphate government or Taliban."

Javanmardi also adds that "the Kurds of Iraq especially the supporters of President Masoud Barzani have a persistent goal of achieving independence. The first step toward the establishment of the state of Kurdistan is to focus on the oil industry and increase the economic independence and purchase defence weapons for possible upcoming events. Ultimately, there will be a national referendum for the Kurdish independence."

The Kurds are one of the few insurgent groups in the Middle East that have shunned the tactics of terrorism; but their Peshmerge guerrillas have stoutly resisted oppression from all directions. They have also proven to be one of the few reliable allies in Northern Iraq that Western nations can safely rely upon.

Over the last decades, we have seen the Taliban, al-Qaeda, and various other groups kill hundreds of thousands of Muslims and tens of thousands of non-Muslims in pursuit of their objectives. However, there has long been debate over ways and means to achieving these objectives. In June, 2014, ISIS claimed that the Caliphate has been restored and this makes them even more dangerous than ever before.

The rapid growth of ISIS is also a direct result of the coalition disengagement from Iraq and the muddle over a lack of a coherent strategy about dealing with the 'children' of al-Qaeda. Western nations must defend our own interests by engaging ISIS partisans before they kill millions of people and spread even more war in all directions. Coming to the immediate aid of the Kurds would make excellence sense.

Finally, it is time to act. There are people who need water, food, shelter and arms. We should also be unstinting about providing close-air support, a safe refuge, and training. Furthermore, it is time that the international community especially the United States should start taking action about solving the ongoing Kurdish issue. The Kurds of Iraq are already a de facto nation and the reliable base we need to protect ourselves by engaging ISIS while it is still confined to one region. Recognizing what is already real might be a fitting reward for true allies.

Special thanks to Ali Javanmardi, Journalist at Voice of America.


  • He was part of a group of four Brits called 'The Beatles' based in the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa
    A former hostage, who was held for a year in the Syrian town of Raqqa, has told the Guardian that the killer was the ringleader of a trio of UK-born extremists the captives nicknamed "The Beatles" because of their nationality.
  • He was the ringleader, and in charge of guarding foreign hostages
    DON EMMERT via Getty Images
    The masked killer who murdered Foley is known as 'John' to the group.
  • He is left-handed
    Only 10% of the world's population are left-handed. All of the information from the video will be analysed rigorously by intelligence services, including the way he holds his weapon, his height, body movement and intonation. MI5 have a database of Brits they believe have travelled to Syria, and they will be comparing what they know about each one, the Telegraph reported.
  • He is probably from south London but could have family links to Afghanistan
    MACIEJ NOSKOWSKI via Getty Images
    Dr Claire Hardaker, a linguistics experts at Lancaster University, has told several media outlets that the man's vowels marked him out as likely from the south-east of England, but most likely from London. Elizabeth McClelland, a forensic voice and speech analyst, told the Telegraph the accent has "possible influences of Farsi, which could suggest a family link to Afghanistan".
  • He was probably chosen for the job because his British accent would be more sinister for Western viewers of the video
    TAUSEEF MUSTAFA via Getty Images
    "This is significant because it signifies a turn towards threatening the west. They are saying we're going to come after you if you bomb us," Prof Peter Neumann, director of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation, at King's College London told the Guardian.
  • He emailed the Foley family, furious about the US airstrikes, informing them he would kill their son
    Foley's family had been emailed by ISIS as early as last Wednesday and were informed that the terror group intended to execute the reporter in retaliation for US air strikes against Isis targets in northern Iraq. GlobalPost chief executive, Philip Balboni said that ISIS "made no demands", just informed the family the execution was going to take place. They tried to engage him in conversation, but to no avail, because the jihadist was fuelled by "seething anger".
  • He had previously wanted a ransom to spare Foley's life, but the US government did not pay
    According to the New York Times who spoke to a family representative and a captive held alognside Foley, ISIS demanded the United States to provide a $100 million ransom ransom for Foley's life, but unlike several other European countries who did pay out, the US refused.
  • He was the main negotiator in the release of 11 IS hostages earlier this year
    Almost a dozen hostages, some held for over six months, were handed to Turkish officials. They included two Spanish journalists, one pictured here, Javier Espinosa.
  • The militants foiled an attempted rescue by US Special Ops
    US President Barack Obama sent troops to Syria this summer to rescue a number of Americans being held hostage, including Foley, senior administration officials said. Several dozen special operations troops who were dropped by aircraft into Syria did not find them and engaged in a firefight with IS militants before departing.
  • The killer treated Foley differently and more harshly that other hostages
    French journalist Nicolas Henin spent seven months in captivity with Foley, including a week where they were handcuffed together, telling the BBC Foley was treated as "some kind of scapegoat" and was beaten more frequently. "Some countries like America but also like the UK do not negotiate and, well, they put their people at risk," he said.