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In the modern world, terrorism has become a global threat regardless of the different nation’s economic, social and religious settings. Some of the dangerous terrorist organizations in the 21st Century include ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant), Al-Queda, Boko Haram, The Taliban and Al-Nusra Front. These organizations are actively involved in terror activities across the globe using different kinds of weapons with an objective of achieving certain motives (Dimovski, Ilijevski, Babanoski, & Rusumanov, 2016). This report focuses on the ISIS terrorist group, discussing its motives, weapons, and capabilities, where it is located and United States tracks it, its crimes as well as the countermeasures that can counter and combat this group.
Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Terrorist Organization
The terrorist group ISIS was founded by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in 2014 as a splinter group of al-Qaeda. It is also known as the Islamic State and Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) or Islamic State (IS). The group controls Northern regions of Iraq and Western regions of Syria where it has established its government that employs brutality and the Sharia Law in its rule. The group’s fighters come from all parts of the world and they are encouraged to join the group for them to enjoy heaven on earth. IS’s objective is it to come up with an Islamic state referred to as a caliphate across Syria, Iraq and other parts of the Muslim world. It also intends to declare military, political and religious authority over these regions. IS has an apocalyptic vision that makes them hold the belief that they will usher in paradise by capturing specific physical territories in the area (Gatehouse, Khan, & Friscolanti 2015).
Weapons and Capabilities of ISIS
Gatehouse et al., (2015) provide that ISIS have both light and heavy weapons. The light arms include different kinds of rockets, anti-tank missiles and launchers, mortars and anti-craft weapons. Some of the heavy arms and advanced technology at the disposal of ISIS include dozens of Soviet-manufactured tanks, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicles, planes and self-propelled artillery. In 2014, ISIS was also reported to have used chemical weapons in Ayn al-Arab (Kobanî) attacks as indicated by symptoms of its victims. Simpson (2014) claims that a large number of weapons that ISIS owns were obtained through looting from the armies of Iraq and Syria. Other weapons were seized from rebel groups in Syria or purchased from Iraq, Syria or abroad.
For example, it managed to capture arms and ammunition from the American army such as M16 rifles. ISIS is considered to the richest terrorist group globally implying that it has strong financial capabilities. Most of the oil and gas fields in Syria and some oilfields in Iraq are under the control of the organization. It also gets revenues from various criminal activities such as collection of taxes from local citizens, extortion of money in the form of protection fees from locals. Other revenues are from taxes from non-Muslims, ransoms from kidnappings and donations from wealthy individuals and groups. The number of IS operatives in 2014 estimated to be 25,000 with 12,000 coming from Syria and Iraqi and more than 13,000 coming from Western and Arab countries (Skousen, Mason, & Cromwell, 2015).
Location of ISIS and how the U.S tracks it
The organization is mainly located in Western Syria and Nothern Iraqi. The US tracks both IS recruits entering and leaving Syria and Western. The U.S’s counterterrorism strategy against ISIS has been degrading and ultimately destroying the group. The group posts various videos on social media, and the US has benefited from such posts to track its militants through its Air Force Intelligence. The U.S military has undertaken more than 150 successful airstrikes on the group through targeted action. Other approaches the U.S has used to fight the group include conducting systematic attacks against it using collected intelligence. It has also increased support to ground forces fighting ISIS by providing improving intelligence as well as strengthening their defense (Obama, 2014).
Crimes committed by ISIS
The terror group has been involved in killing dozens of individuals in single incidences and performing public crucifixions, executions of the religious minority. It has also committed other brutal acts such as raping and forcing young girls into marriage. According to United Nations and Amnesty International, the group is answerable for war crimes, human rights abuses, and large-scale ethnic cleansing in northern Iraq (Skousen et al., 2015).
Countermeasures for Combating the ISIS
Counterterrorism measures for the fight against ISIS can be derived from the United Nations strategic framework for fighting terrorism. The framework is based on four pillars including dealing with conditions that are likely to promote the spread of terror. Secondly, thwarting and fighting terrorist activities through various efforts. Thirdly building the capacity of nations enabling them to prevent and combat terrorism. Lastly, the fundamental basis for fighting terrorism should be the promotion of respect for human rights for all global citizens as well as the rule of law (Simpson, 2014). This strategic framework can be achieved in various ways. Containment whereby Western ground forces avoids the occupation of the regions held by the group.
This ensures that the organization does not gain more territory while making its hold over seized territory weaker. The groups that lie within the organization’s frontiers such as Syrian Kurds, Iraqi central government and Jordan should be helped to improve their defense. Another effort entails reinforcing or developing barriers between the group and its targets. Intelligence organizations from America and Europe need to increase their surveillance both at home and abroad. Nations also need to co-operate more in this fight because it will increase the chances of succeeding against this group. For instance, the opening of Turkish air bases in 2015 enabled the U.S air forces to strike the organization’s holdings in northern Syria.
The Turkish cooperation is also very significant in controlling potential operatives’ transiting as Syrian Civil War volunteers. Such efforts will make sure Western Europe is not vulnerable to the group’s attacks and prevents the organization from getting foreign volunteers. Additionally, regional powers that border the territories under the control of ISIS need to be pressed more to ensure they counter dangerous ideologies that bring new followers to the group (Skousen et al., 2015). For instance, Saudi Arabia should be pressured into using its influence in the interpretation of Islam and resources to counter ideologies of the group.
ISIS is one of the deadliest terrorist groups in the world that has managed to establish a caliphate in Syria and Iraqi as well as commit various crimes in other parts of the world. The group has strong military power due to the heavy weapons it captured from Iraqi and Syrian armies and other groups as well as those obtained through purchase. ISIL criminal activities have resulted in the killing of many citizens and other brutal acts that target the minority in the society. The U.S government has helped in weakening the group by collecting intelligence that helps in conducting targeted air strikes and assists in strengthening ground forces fighting the group. Other approaches that can help to fight this group include containment, improving intelligence and defense systems, increasing co-operation between nations and countering ideologies that promote terrorism.
Dimovski, Z., Ilijevski, I., Babanoski, K., & Rusumanov, V. (2016). Elements of The Terrorism Reviewed through Instrumentum Operandi, Organizational Setup and Phases of Realization of the Terrorist Act. Academic Journal Of Business, Administration, Law & Social Sciences, 2(1), 231-237.
Gatehouse, J., Khan, A. R., & Friscolanti, M. (2015). The New Age Of Terror. Maclean’s, 128(47), 20-25.
Obama, B. (2014). On ISIL, Our Objective Is Clear. Vital Speeches Of The Day, 80(11), 346-348.
Simpson, J. (2014). Islamic State can be beaten. (cover story). New Statesman, 143(5232), 24-29.
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Skousen, D. M., Mason, B. C., & Cromwell, D. W. (2015). Targeting ISIL Fighters And Supporters. Reporter, 42(3), 2-8.