Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Friday, December 15th, 2017

Five Things You Need to Know about ISIL

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Five Things You Need to Know about ISIL

The self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) did not only shed the blood of innocent individuals but also dishonored thousands of women and destroyed tens of cultural monuments. ISIL gained global prominence in early 2014 when it drove Iraqi government forces out of key cities in its Western Iraq offensive, followed by its capture of Mosul and the Sinjar massacre. ISIL is widely known for its videos of beheadings of both combatants and non-combatants and its destruction of cultural heritage sites. The group proclaimed itself a worldwide caliphate and began referring to itself as the Islamic State or IS in June 2014.
In Syria, the group conducted ground attacks on both government forces and opposition factions and by December 2015 it held a large area in western Iraq and eastern Syria containing an estimated 2.8 to 8 million people, where it enforced its interpretation of sharia law. In July 2017, the group lost control of its largest city, Mosul, to the Iraqi army. Following this major defeat, in August 2017 ISIL continued to lose territory to the various states and other military forces allied against it, resulting in significant territorial losses for ISIL in the areas of Syria and Iraq. Following the defeat of ISIL, however, reports said that mass graves containing at least 400 suspected ISIL victims, many wearing prison uniforms, have been found in northern Iraq. The sites were discovered on Saturday near Rashad air base close to the group’s former stronghold, Hawijah, 45km west of Kirkuk. It is said to be a common ISIL tactic to imprison and execute anybody who was in opposition to their rule.
The discovery of the mass graves was not the first after the collapse of ISIL in Iraq and Syria. In August, Iraqi military investigators discovered two mass graves near a former ISIL prison outside Mosul that contained the bodies of 500 victims. Earlier that month, Associated Press news agency conducted a survey that concluded that ISIL buried thousands of their victims in at least 72 mass graves across Iraq and Syria.
In a speech in September 2014, United States President Barack Obama said that ISIL is not “Islamic” on the basis that no religion condones the killing of innocents and that no government recognizes the group as a state, while many object to using the name “Islamic State” owing to the far-reaching religious and political claims to authority which that name implies. In fact, ISIL never respected religious tenets as they killed and dishonored thousands of people. It never showed mercy to civilians and targeted people indiscriminately, which is against both Islamic law and international principles. In short, the first issue to be known is that ISIL is a self-styled group with anti-religious ideology but operating under the cloak of religion.
ISIL follows an extremist interpretation of Islam, promotes religious violence, and regards Muslims who do not agree with its interpretations as infidels or apostates. The second fact to be known about ISIL is that it sought to foist its warped minds on the public with the barrel of gun and targeted both Muslims and non-Muslims. So, ISIL intended to mask its radical ideology under religious sharia but its veneer of sanctity was uncovered to the world.
According to some observers, ISIL emerged from the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood, the first post-Ottoman Islamist group dating back to the late 1920s in Egypt. It adheres to global jihadist principles and follows the hardline ideology of al-Qaeda and many other modern-day jihadist groups. However, other sources trace the group’s roots to Wahhabism. The third thing is that ISIL did not practice upon a certain school of thought but its behaviors originated from different radical schools.
The United Nations Commission on Human Rights has stated that ISIL “seeks to subjugate civilians under its control and dominate every aspect of their lives through terror, indoctrination, and the provision of services to those who obey”. Civilians, as well as the ISIL itself, have released footage of some of the human rights abuses. This is the fourth fact that ISIL was widely involved in human rights violation and respected neither human rights principles nor the International Humanitarian Law (IHL). Men, women, and children suffered under ISIL on the grounds of their race, color, and creed. ISIL fighters trampled upon people’s rights without a tinge of guilt.
ISIL is known for its extensive and effective use of propaganda. It uses a version of the Muslim Black Standard flag and developed an emblem which has clear symbolic meaning in the Muslim world. It propagates through social media, radio, and press, which is the fifth issue to be known about this group. It was ISIL’s wide propaganda that recruited people from around the globe and the youths and people of faith fell for its bogus claim.

In brief, ISIL is a self-proclaimed group with hardline ideology operating under the mask of religion and left people with two choices either to succumb to their ideology or die. It did not practice upon a certain school of thought rather it amalgamated a number of radical mindsets which had no rational or religious bases. ISIL violated people’s rights and dignity to a great extent. It is highly propagandist and recruited people through spreading propaganda.

Hujjatullah Zia is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at zia_hujjat@yahoo.com

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