ISIS – an Incomprehensible Enemy

isis1James Foley was kidnapped first. He was just grabbed off the street by Muslim fanatics.

Then he was kept as a prisoner and tortured.

Finally he was be-headed publicly.

Why could that not be the fate of any American traveling abroad?

You’re a tourist in a Middle Eastern country with an American passport?

Maybe they’ll just pick you up off the street.

Peggy Noonan writes very clearly here about the new threat that is ISIS.

The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham is not just a grandiose army of freelancers and fanatics. They’re something different in kind from the al Qaeda of old—more vicious, more organized and professional. George Packer in the New Yorker estimates ISIS controls 35,000 square miles of land. “The self-proclaimed Caliphate stretches from the newly conquered towns along the Syrian-Turkish border,” through northern Syria, across the Iraqi border, “down to the farming towns south of Baghdad.” ISIS funds its operations not like primitives but sophisticates: They sell oil and electricity and empty banks in the areas they seize. (A CNN report put their haul from the oil fields alone at $2 million a day.) They also make money from kidnappings and what they call taxation. Mr. Packer quotes a former Pentagon official: “ISIS now controls a volume of resources and territory unmatched in the history of extremist organizations.”

They are something new and different in the Mideast drama. They ably take left-behind American and Russian armored vehicles and weapons. They are savage: Al Qaeda once threw them out for brutality and bloodlust. “Extreme Violence Lies in Isis DNA,” is how the Financial Times pithily put it. They have a talent for war and draw fighters from throughout the world, particularly young men from the culturally fractured and materialist West. Those young men, desperate to belong to something, to be among men on a mission, to believe in something bigger and higher than their sad selves, are ripe for jihadist recruitment. Many hundreds of ISIS fighters are said to hold U.S., British or German passports, which will make it easier for ISIS to come here, as they have promised to do.

What is so different about this enemy and so terrifying is that it is trans-national. When Nazism arose in Germany it was identifiable as a nationalist movement. The Nazis were German and Germany was the enemy. When communism was the enemy it was Soviet Russia. Russia was Communist so Russia was the enemy.

With new technologies and global travel, the enemy is no longer a nationally recognized and identifiable entity.

ISIS is trans-national. It is not only drawing young Muslim men from Western Europe, it can very easily recruit them to the cause from within their own countries. Cells loyal to ISIS can exist in every country around the world. Wherever there are Muslims there could be radicalized Muslims. Indeed, already wherever there are Muslims there are radical Muslims.

Their loyalty is not national. Their loyalty is not to an ethnic group or a tribe or a language group.

Their loyalty is to their religion and their religion transcends national, ethnic, linguistic and tribal loyalties.

Because ISIS’ main loyalty is to their religion they will be very difficult to identify and counter. They could be anywhere.

Furthermore, like all violent revolutionary movements they will attract and use the violent members of any society. They will attract the underclass, the undereducated, the disenfranchised, unemployed. They will attract the criminals, the discontents and all those desperate souls who have nothing to lose by joining a revolution because they already have nothing. Emboldened by their violent success they will continue their rampage until all is destroyed.

ISIS have made their intention very clear. They want to destroy the Western civilization. They want to drown us in our own blood.

I think we should believe them.

As Noonan observes, they have already done everything they said they would do.