If you ever needed that final piece of evidence to convince you that evil does exist in the world, then ladies and gentlemen may I provide exhibit A: ISIS/ISIL, or otherwise now simply known as, the Islamic State.
Chances are you’ve see or heard the title ISIS being tossed around a fair bit lately on TV and social media. If you’re still not on the up-and-up on who/what ISIS/The Islamic State is, here’s a brief overview.
They have been identified by several over the last few years, original the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), then the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), before everyone seemingly coming to rest on the Islamic State. You’ll find different news outlets and government agencies picking one and sticking to it. They are widely considered/classified as a terrorist organization. Originally is was comprised of Sunni Arab terrorist insurgent groups, with close ties to Al-Qaeda In Iraq as well as other groups part of the Iraqi Tribes that profess Sunni Islam. They grew significantly during the height of the 2003-2011 War in Iraq, before playing a significant part in the Syrian Civil War. They are known for their extreme interpretation of the Islamic faith and sharia law. Oh, and their utter and perverse brutality. They’ve cut a swatch of extreme violence everywhere and anywhere they have traveled. Shia Muslims, Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac Christians, Armenian Christians, Yazidis, Druze, Shabakis and Mandeans have experienced their brutality more than others. Let’s put it this way—the Islamic State is so brutal that even Al-Qaeda seems to have cut ties with them due to their brutality and because they aren’t easily controlled and when issues arise, they are apparently unwilling to easily resolve issues.
If Al-Qaeda did cut ties that’s essentially the same as Hitler and his Nazi henchmen walking away from another mass murderer saying, “Wow, man… that’s crossing the line. We’re outta here, c’mon guys.”
They’re big fans of taking prisoners, beheading them, posting the video to the Internet, and then saying things like, “We will drown all of you in blood.” One ISIS member even went so far as to claim in a video interview that he/they would raise the ISIS flag over the White House. And then he died in a U.S. airstrike. Oops. Their latest stunt has been organized through social media as a means of trying to provoke President Obama using captured journalist Steven Sotloff as bait. It’s cruel, sick, and insane.
I realize that all seems pretty crude, but that’s the reality. That’s who they are. They have a blatant disregard for human life. It’s their way, or certain death. They’re pure evil, inhuman even. They truly have no humanity. I’ve done my part to better inform myself of who these people truly are by doing a little Twitter research (because ISIS members and their supporter ilk are all over Twitter) and to see read the stories of the violence they have perpetrated on the innocent in their path makes me beyond angry. What’s more aggravating is how they and their supporters have truly adopted the faux-martyr complex. They blame their course of action on unprovoked Western actions that have led to the death of their loved ones. If there is one thing about the historical record in the modern age, it’s the reality that they are the aggressors. They irrational clinging to a false ideology that they have mired in their own demented ambitions. They want blood. Whose blood? Doesn’t matter, whoever they have deluded themselves to believe has crossed them at the moment.
Just this week the world was yet again alerted to ISIS’s brutality when they uploaded video of one black masked ISIS member, who was speaking English in a heavy British accent, beheading an American journalist, James Foley, who has been held captive since 2012. British Intelligence has apparently identified that man as Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary, a hip-hop artist from London. He is apparently not good though as no one in the hip-hop community has ever seemingly heard of him. Foley, a reporter for GlobalPost, was in Syria covering the Syrian revolution when he was taken captive in 2012. His only “crime” being that he was born and raised in a Western democracy, and that he didn’t believe as they do. By all accounts I’ve read, Foley was brave to the unfortunate end.
The reality is that a rather large segment of Americans cared very little about ISIS… until Foley’s death hit the wire. One funny man Twitter user I follow, Tom Siedell (@badbanana), jokingly remarked a couple weeks ago, “I guess we'll know ISIS militants have reached America when we start noticing them in the background of our selfies.” This tweet being less a joke and more a jab at our evermore increasingly self-absorbed society. Stories of ISIS’s violent march into Iraq started popping up several months ago with a lot of folks asking, “How are Americans unaware of this happening? They are taking over entire Iraqi cities!” Additionally, one particular segment of American culture has recently become very aware of the actions of ISIS— Evangelical Christians.
ISIS had been chasing around Iraqi Christians (of various traditions) for weeks and, like everyone else they consider infidels or “the enemy,” they were beheading them, crucifying them, stoning them, or whatever horrible means by which they could end their lives. Facebook feeds have been ablaze with the plight of Iraqi Christians losing their lives at the brutal hands of ISIS.
The truth is… Christians should be up in arms. Everyone should be. But here’s the problem: ISIS has been going all medieval on people in Iraq and Syria for quite a while now. They’re not just targeting Iraqi Christians, either. They’re not specifically targeting Westerners and leaving everyone else alone. Everyone and anyone that doesn’t share their worldview, religion, or ideology loses their life. Some are simply made an example of. Foley, sadly being one of them. The realities of this terrible evil known as ISIL/ISIS/IS, or whatever abbreviation we assign them, is that our outrage over their alarming inhumanity and evil actions shouldn’t be limited to those in our own tribes. Evangelical Christians should be up in arms about all loss of life in that region. Americans, in general, should all be outraged about the lives being lost in that region. Regardless of whether or not you supported or disagreed with the decade long engagement in Iraq, at some point your humanity has to take over and say, “This shouldn’t be happening in the world we live in. Life has value, and ISIS doesn’t not value life.” Christianity should be doing whatever it can to see the lives of those who are not believers in Syria and Iraq spared, these are, after all, the very people that we should be serving and ministering to, right? I’m sure Ann Coulter would disagree, but who cares?
I guess my plea would be for all Americans, regardless of race, religion, tribe, or whatever to be outraged by this and not let the international community be quiet as ISIS rolls on, taking more and more lives in the process. A concentrated effort by said international community would bring an abrupt end to the sound of their death knells rather quickly. I don’t understand the silence by some nations. Is it because right now ISIS’s concentration seems to be on Iraq and Syria while simultaneously threatening the United States?
“Well, they haven’t named us yet, so let’s just stay out of it. Maybe they’ll forget about us.”
That’s not an sound approach to handling the evils of mere men.
I value lives, even lives that do not believe as I do. So much so that I would support defending the lives of innocent people. Would you stand by and let an aggressor hurt your family? No. You are well within your moral and legal (and certainly, biblical) rights to defend them against such evil. And I don’t think it should be an issue of whether or not they are the same nationality, religion, race, or whatever as we are . ISIS is evil, and they mean to disregard and dispatch every human life that disagrees with them or wishes to disrupt their plans for world domination. Such evil exists in the world, sadly, and it always will. This fact, however, doesn’t mean we have to agree with it, much less tolerate it.
One thing is clear: ISIS is well-funded, reasonably well-organized, and unbelievably brazen. I have no idea how capable they are, but given the idea that we never thought that terrorists could commit such a terrible act against us in 2001, we would be ill-advised to believe ISIS wouldn’t take the opportunity to hurt us or anyone else in our homelands.
If you are a praying man or woman, don’t just pray for those in our particular tribe. Pray for all those whose lives are in jeopardy in that part of the globe. We don’t harbor mercy, we seek it’s extension.