Despite significant losses of territory, ISIS continues to be a threat to the Western world. Germany has intercepted and interrogated many returning fighters from Syria and Iraq and the story they tell is chilling. Jihadists are separated by nationality and recruited and trained to return to their countries to commit acts of terrorism. These cells with sophisticated layers of anonymity present the greatest danger to Europe, especially Germany, France and Belgium.
Other reports indicate that as ISIS loses territory in Iraq and Syria, those that remained are glad to see ISIS leave even if it means occupation by the Iraq Army, the Kurds or Assad’s troops. Obviously, the local populations were not enthralled with ISIS rule and domination. There are even celebrations over wearing the color red again (banned by ISIS; it’s “too celebratory”).
But because gains are being made territory-wise in Iraq, Syria and even Libya, their tentacles reach far and wide. For example, there were 44 deaths in India last year tied to Islamic groups, mainly ISIS. This year, there have already been 40 and even more injured. The restaurant attack in Bangladesh and continued terrorism in Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines has officials worried there.
But nowhere is this more evident than with Boko Harem, a Nigerian Islamic terrorist group that has pledged allegiance to ISIS. Under the leadership of Abubakar Shekau, they had a tendency to kidnap girls and strap suicide vests on children. Their targets were indiscriminate. That has changed now under the leadership of Abu Musab al-Barnawi.
In what appears to be a jihadist coup, Shekau was forced out of his leadership role at the insistence of ISIS leaders in Syria. He has changed their name to ISIS West Africa Province. What got under the skin of the ISIS leaders was Shekau’s indiscriminate killings. Instead, al-Barnawi has pledged to target only Christians henceforth.
al-Barnawi has stated, on videotape, that Christians will be targeted because he believes that Western nations are plotting to Christianize West Africa through charity organizations. He claims that they are taking advantage of the war-torn areas- a war they started- luring in people through charity and Christianizing the children.
This strategy in West Africa fits perfectly with ISIS strategy elsewhere. The recent murder of a Catholic priest in France in his church was no accident. Another Christian priest was murdered in the Sinai because he was a “disbelieving combatant” which is ISIS for “non-Muslim.” And Christians are a dwindling minority in areas controlled by ISIS elsewhere.
The goal of ISIS is Muslim domination in the West. They have even dedicated editions of their online magazine- Dabiq- to this very philosophy. There are three options- (1) submission through conversion, (2) pay the jizyah, or infidel tax, and (3) death. There is nothing new in this strategy. It goes back to a 1998 fatwa issued by Osama bin-Laden and Ayman Zawahiri calling for a global jihad on “Crusaders and Jews.” When a terrorist returns to fundamentals, it is a sign of refocusing and rationalization.
But it goes even further back than 1998. A mere decade after the birth of Islam, it burst out of the Arabian peninsula and within three decades had conquered two-thirds of the Christian world. Once Egypt, the Levant, North Africa and Turkey were conquered, it has been a continuous battle against Christian Europe. By 622 A.D., three of five sees- churches founded by the apostles- were lost to Islam forever: Antioch, Jerusalem and Alexandria. It took another 800 years (1453) for a fourth to fall- Constantinople. All that was left was Rome and the Vatican.
The only regions of Europe left untouched were Germany, Scandinavia and Britain, but that was only because of remoteness. The ambassador of Tripoli explained to Thomas Jefferson that it is a Muslim’s right and duty to make war on Christians and enslave them. But, our school’s textbooks and Hollywood portray the opposite- that Muslims are the victims of intolerant Western Christians.
We could go to Cairo and give speeches and apologies about the past in an effort to let bygones be bygones. We could have a Pope who stands in front of the throngs in St. Peter’s Square and preaches tolerance towards Islam. We can have Western leaders lecture us that alleged Islamophobia is the bigger threat than actual Islamic terrorism.
Unfortunately, they would all be wrong. The conquering stage and mindset of Islam never really ended. A large segment at least some level of sympathy with the religious imperialism of their Islamic forebears. It is a form of intolerant religious supremacism.
The only difference now is that the radical elements in the Islamic world realize they cannot win a conventional war against the West. Because of our ignorance of documented history- much of it from Muslim scholars- they are invited with open arms into Europe and elsewhere.
If Israel were to pull up stakes right now and “move” to the Mexican desert, there would still be Islamic terrorism. If the United States removed all military and intelligence assets from Muslim countries, there would still be Islamic terrorism. If the West was to cut all foreign aid and close every embassy in a Muslim country, there would still be Islamic terrorism. If every charitable organization pulled out of West Africa tomorrow, there would still be Islamic terrorism.
Israel, “occupation of holy lands,” “support for despotic secular rulers” are all handy excuses for the task at hand at any given moment. There is unfinished business dating back to 1683 when Islam’s advance into Christian Europe was stopped at the gates of Vienna. Islamic terrorism today is not a battle of oppressed people seeking justice, nor is it one of peaceful co-existence. It an offshoot of the desire for world domination. It is achieved through violent terrorism and subtle infiltration. And it is a battle with no apparent end. Islam waited 800 years to take Constantinople and another two centuries to advance into the heart of Europe. If Trump or anyone else believes they can stamp it out in four years, history dictates otherwise.