It is difficult to properly convey and/or understand the sadistic violence perpetrated and shown to the world by the terrorist group known simply by its acronym ISIS, and yet many more youth from all over the world are clamouring to be part of the group. (The acronym simply means the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. It has metamorphosed from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant –ISIL – to ISIS. Today, it is simply known as IS – the Islamic State). But this is because the ISIS has successfully evolved its message to sell a strange but potent new blend of utopianism and appalling carnage to a worldwide audience. Carefully documenting manipulated versions of its military campaigns, including beheadings, bloody rampages across Iraq and Syria, etc., ISIS has made its name on the marketing of savagery.
Four Prisoners being burnt alive by ISIS militants
One would have thought that right thinking youth would rather abhor such visuals as they tend to cut the future short. It is alleged that not less than 3000 ‘foreigners’, including Saudis, Afghans, Pakistanis, Australians, Canadians, British, French, and lately, Africans are in the ranks of the ISIS. The message must be potent then indeed; the enticement exceedingly lucrative; the motivation incredibly high; and the expectation undoubtedly heavenly! It must be noted that the ISIS was not born in a vacuum. It sprang out of the ashes of the so-called ‘war on terror’. Beyond Afghanistan, where the US-led coalitions sought to annihilate Osama bin-Laden’s Al-Qaeda, the war on terror turned on to regimes, perceived to be unfriendly toward the West (especially the US). So Sadam Hussein was overthrown and savagely hanged; Muamar Qaddafi was equally over thrown and savagely murdered. Attention was then turned on to Syria, where Assad had to be overthrown. In all these, some chaos ensued. The savage attempts to oust such unfriendly regimes were labelled as ‘pro-democracy forces’ by mostly Western mainstream media, where the atrocities of the concerned regimes were portrayed as heinous, while the savagery of the so-called pro-democracy forces were hailed and glorified. Indeed, the West, notably, the US and France unashamedly supported these miscreants. The US, for instance, openly supported the anti-Saddam, anti-Qaddafi, and anti-Assad elements with cash and intelligence. Indeed the Syrian opposition was promised a whopping $60 million by the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, at a meeting in London. The former ended up getting $100 million. Unfortunately, the Assad government was only weakened, not overthrown. In the ensuing impasse, the ISIS has succeeded in taking over large swathes of territory.
In Libya the ISIS has got a stronghold because of the instability, following the overthrow and murder of Qaddafi. Is it strange that the so-called pro-democracy forces have all turned against the West and democracy, looking rather to establish a caliphate and be ruled by Islamic Sharia laws? It is this contradiction that has created a fertile ground for crafting alluring messages by the ISIS. The message is simple: Islam is holy. Some unholy persons and/or states (the infidels) desire to subjugate Islam. (And here, they include Islamic States that, they perceive, are in bed with the West). The purity of Islam must be restored. You have a duty as a Muslim to respond to this call. Dying for a Jihadi cause is an access to heaven. In order to get more converts lucrative promises are also made amidst mind-enticing interpretations of the Koran. According to Jessica Stern, the most powerful tool for manipulation is the effective use of the internet. Hoffman has also indicated that the new brand of terrorism is more sophisticated, not hierarchical but cellular, brutish, and apocalyptic. In this sense, the world of ISIS is not confined to the Middle East. Cells can operate from anywhere, if it means just for the facilitation of money laundering and/or transfers.
News that some Ghanaians have joined the ranks of the ISIS caused a little stir. I was not, in the least, surprised. This column had warned in the past that the possibility of cells for terrorist groups to be founded in Ghana was real. We are vindicated. The recruitment will not stop. There is another sophisticated way of recruitment. A recent BBC interview (with a Kenyan) notes that some deception may be involved. Adverts are placed conspicuously in prominent national dailies, inviting applications for lucrative jobs in the Middle East, notably in the oil and gas industry. On arrival one is enlisted into the ISIS; resistance is punished severely. In the Ghanaian papers, notably the Daily Graphic, I have always been seeing such adverts. Will the intelligence community now turn attention on to some of these things? And, note it, fighting terrorism is not the use of brawn. Intelligence gathering is more important.
The war on terror will continue to fail for as long as it is led by the US, while the UN is impotent and pandering to the whims of the West. The ISIS will never be defeated for as long as they have a more powerful, enticing tool for recruitment (showing that Western civilization is the enemy – the Clash of Civilizations). Again, for as long as the ISIS is well resourced (it is the richest terrorist organization in the world), and for as long as it is cell-based, the carnage and chaos will continue. Global insecurity will continue to be exacerbated for as long as this perception of a Clash of Civilizations persists. This is more so since the world has began seeing a new Cold War emerging. Instead of the world coming together, under the auspices of the United Nations to tackle global insecurity, security has been personalized with nations creating coalitions and undermining each other. The various colour revolutions (Orange revolution of Ukraine, Arab Spring etc.) have geo-political undertones and so are the problems in the Middle East. Today, relations between Russia and the US are at their lowest ebb; between China and the US tensions remain. In such a setting, terrorism triumphs.