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The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ASPA as an organization.
By Monique Maldonado
April 17, 2015
As ISIS continues a global campaign of fear by sacrificing lives at no discretion, it is evident that terrorism continues to rise beyond 9/11. ISIS is an extreme jihadist group who wants to establish an Islamic state across the Middle East. They mark their territory with relentless propaganda as well as publicize their most gruesome killings to exacerbate their psychedelic ideologies.
Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)
According to The Christian Post, ISIS is a fairly new radical Islamic group whose “beginnings can be traced to the Second Gulf War in 2003 when the U.S., along with coalition forces of other nations, invaded Iraq and toppled dictator Sadaam Hussein.” During this time, al-Qaida was responsible for most of the insurgent operations in the country when Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi surfaced and created what was initially the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI). As leader, Bakr al-Baghdadi moved into Syria to establish ISI, now known as ISIS.
ISIS, which was once a derivative of the Al-Qaida organization, was established during the Sunni Awakening when the group went to war with Sunni tribes in Iraq. ISIS saw an opportunity to expand its operations into Syria and rule most of both countries. Today, they have taken over a large portion of the northern and western regions in Iraq and have gained power in key locations in Syria.
Rendering to CNN National Security Analyst, Peter Bergen’s statement, “Syria is where the Prophet Mohammed is supposed to have predicted that the armies of Islam and Rome would meet for the final battle that will precede the end of time and the triumph of true Islam.” A prophecy that is supposedly based on preconceived philosophies of radical dominance that epitomizes ISIS. The group has no regard for local or international policy, laws and governance. Their behavior is based on Sharia law, which is the foundation of Islamic law, along with radical influences such as Osama bin Laden and Abu al-Baghdadi.
ISIS has established a net worth of $2 billion—and is succinctly known as the most lucrative terrorist group in the world, according to authors such Jay Sekulow, Jordan Sekulow, Robert Ash and David French. Over the past nine years, the group has taken over major cities like Mosul and Tikrit, provoked wars to influence their principles, established a caliphate over neighboring borders, taken over Syria’s largest oil field and increased its forces to over 31,000 fighters. ISIS became well-known in 2014 when a highly publicized video surfaced of the beheading of American journalist, James Foley. Foley was the first American citizen killed by the hands of ISIS.
Is There Clarity in National Security Against ISIS?
It is no secret ISIS has complete hatred for U.S. doctrine, democratic governance and dominance in the Middle East. ISIS has become much more of a concern to the U.S. government since its global expansion, financial stability, innovative military operations and attractive recruitment has been in the public media. Its tactics to torture, punish and heinously execute innocent lives put the group on the U.S.’s list as an immense security threat. The nation is forced to shift its strategy on exactly how to mitigate its operations toward ISIS.
President Obama released the latest National Security Strategy (NSS) in February 2015. While it focuses on the president’s main priorities for America, it is somewhat ambiguous on how to fight today’s war–particularly against ISIS. Paul D. Shinkman, writer at U.S. News, explained the list of priorities (in order) in the NSS as: “Advance our rebalance to Asia and the Pacific, strengthening alliances with Europe, and security and stability in the Middle East and North Africa.”
How does the current strategy assist with innovative threats against national security?
How does the same priority and government guidance from a few years ago defeat one of the most dangerous terrorist groups in the world?
Senior military leaders believe present U.S. government policies are too nebulous for present-day threats and if the NSS does not have an exact strategy on how to overcome terrorism in the Middle East, the U.S. will not succeed in the fight against ISIS. Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria are the leading countries in global terrorist threats. If there is “absent-minded” strategy, the nation stands to lose. Retired General and former U.S. Central Command Commander, James Mattis testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee and emphatically stated, “we need to come out from our reactive crouch and take a firm, strategic stance in defense of our values.”
It is evident the national security strategy is very multifaceted, but the defeat against ISIS is not. U.S. government policies should not only represent how it conducts business overseas and strengthens its relationships with allies/security partners abroad, but also reflect constant changes that continue to affect national security. Senior government leaders should acknowledge the discord between present-day threats and current policies and focus on ways to fight ISIS. Not just talk about it, but also take action, now.
Author: Monique M. Maldonado is a U.S. Air Force active service member and adjunct professor. She teaches for the School of Graduate and Degree Completion Programs in the Master of Criminal Justice Department at Tiffin University. She is a doctoral candidate at Walden University, completing her degree in public policy and administration with a specialization in terrorism, mediation and peace. Maldonado can be reached at [email protected].