Uncovering The Roots Of Isis: How One Man’S Imprisonment Led To The Birth Of Today’S Most-Feared Terrorist Group
When it comes to understanding the ideology and terror behind ISIS, it is important to look at how this group came into existence.
To do this, we must go back and uncover the roots of the world’s most brutal terrorist organization.
It turns out that the roots of Salafi Jihadism, the fundamentalist ideology believed by many ISIS supporters, can be traced back to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood movement in 1950s.
Since then though, political repression and imprisonment has caused a divergence from moderate values espoused by adherents of this branch of Islam, leading to today’s violent insurgencies that operate only with violence and terrorism.
A key ingredient for the founding of ISIS was when an individual was wrongly imprisoned during this time period in Iraq; this led to an increase in terror stemming from US-led invasion as well as during Syrian Civil War when radicalized individuals were recruited by this now notorious organization.
By understanding more about its origins and history, we can work towards countermeasures against extremism and terrorism from potentially forming again in the future.
The King’S Unwitting Gift: How The Release Of Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi Changed History
The creation of ISIS can be traced all the way back to the fateful release of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi from a Jordanian prison in 1999.
This al-Qaeda leader, born in 1966 in the city of Zarqa, was a key figure whose influence shaped recent history.
He had been arrested in 1994 after being found in possession of illegal weapons that he intended to use in a terrorist attack on an Israeli outpost as revenge for the killing of 20 Muslims by a Jewish extremist that same year.
While jailed at al-Jafr, Zarqawi and his fellow Islamist inmates studied the Koran and hardened their hatred for those they saw as enemies of Allah – namely, the United States and Israel.
Then, to pacify Islamists, King Abdullah II released not only Zarqawi but also 15 other Muslim Brotherhood members.
During his imprisonment, Zarqawi developed into a father figure with loyal followers willing to follow his every instruction.
This would prove divinely advantageous soon after his release from prison when he formed what eventually became known as ISIS.
Bush Administration’S Hesitation Cost Us A “Golden Opportunity” To Take Out Terrorist Leader Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi In 2002
After being released from prison, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi quickly set about forming a series of terrorist training camps.
He began by traveling to the Queen Alia International Airport in Amman, Jordan.
But Zarqawi’s false story of honeybee farming was quickly debunked by Jordanian intelligence officers, and Zarqawi had to retreat to Afghanistan instead.
Upon arrival, he sought out Osama bin Laden who was initially hesitant of the newcomer but eventually recognized that his skills could be an asset and granted him permission to run a terrorist training camp for Islamist volunteers.
This camp was then relocated to the mountains of Iraq following the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.
It soon became clear that Zarqawi had been building a powerful terrorist network as his men gained control over northeastern Iraq and formed a miniature Islamic theocracy.
By 2002, he even gained notice from senior Bush administration officials after being implicated in the assassination of diplomat Laurence Foley in Amman.
The United States locates the camp via spies and recommended bombing it, but the Bush administration feared this early strike could jeopardize their war plans against Iraq and declined – thus missing out on what could have been a chance to stop Zarqawi before containing his rapidly growing power became impossible.
The Bush Administration’S Invasion Of Iraq Provided An Opportunity For Terrorist Zarqawi To Build An Unstoppable Network
Iraq had descended into chaos in the aftermath of the US invasion, which provided a marvelous opportunity for Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and his terrorist network, Ansar al Islam.
Zarqawi quickly took advantage of the lawlessness and anarchy, rallying thousands of disenchanted Iraqis to his cause and even receiving support from across the Muslim world.
Former captains and sergeants from Saddam Hussein’s army joined Zarqawi’s group due to its impressive rise.
In under a year, he was able to build a massive terror network capable of executing large-scale attacks consistently.
The US administration eventually admitted that Iraq had become host to many more Al Qaeda-style terror groups since its invasion – an ironic outcome considering they couldn’t originally find any evidence to support their campaign.
Why Osama Bin Laden Formed An Alliance With Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi Despite Disagreeing With His Brutal Tactics
Zarqawi and al-Qaeda had drastically different approaches to terrorism, but despite their differences of opinion, they were able to come together in Iraq under the guise of a unified organization.
It all began when Zarqawi wrote a letter to Osama bin Laden in January 2004 asking for help and resources in order to further expand his organization’s reach.
Initially, bin Laden was reluctant – citing Zarqawi’s particularly brutal tactics as their biggest point of contention.
Despite these feelings of apprehension, Zarqawi went ahead with his plans, executing barbaric attacks across Iraq including the infamous murder of Nicholas Evan Berg.
The video depicting this beheading shocked the world and catapulted Zarqawi into infamy as the “sheik of the slaughterers.” Although bin Laden still disapproved of Zarqawi personally, he recognized an opportunity for a much needed “win” and became officially committed to forming al-Qaeda in Iraq or AQI with Zarqawi as its leader.
Zarqawi’S Brutality Led To His Unfortunate Demise
Zarqawi’s barbarism had become too much for many, especially after he declared it a sin to participate in the 2005 Iraqi elections.
He and his men followed through with their threats of violence, carrying out several attacks across Sunni districts, killing at least 44 people and making it nearly impossible for any Sunni to vote in the election.
Furthermore, Zarqawi’s cruelty and acts of terror against westerners and Muslims alike earned him more enemies than allies by the fall of 2005.
This caused U.S forces to start steadily taking out his command structure, leading to the arrest or death of hundreds of terrorist lieutenants.
But the act which would seal Zarqawi’s fate was his attack on three Jordanian hotels frequented by foreign diplomats in November 2005.
This slaughter resulted in 60 innocent lives lost, including 38 Arab wedding guests and solidified Jordan’s resolve in fighting terrorists alongside U.S forces.
It eventually led to Zarqawi’s assassination in June 2006 as Jordan discovered that he was meeting regularly with a religious advisor who was living in Baghdad.
The intelligence derived from the detainee allowed U.S fighter jets to bombard Zarqawi’s safe house which crippled him enough for ground troops who later arrived on the scene can claim his life – ultimately ending his reign of terror and bloodshed forever.*
The Rise Of The Islamic State: How A Desperate Terror Organization Finally Found Its Perfect Leader
When chaos erupted in Syria in 2011, it presented a perfect opportunity for Zarqawi’s weakened terrorist organization to find a new home.
Previously, they had been suffering from years of losses due to US commandos and a lack of resources; however, Syria gave them the chance to start again with new life.
This lawless land provided them with a place to move freely and acquire weapons and fighters.
The terror group also found a powerful new leader in Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, whose qualifications as an Islamic scholar, college professor and descendant of the Prophet Muhammad made him ideal for the role of Caliph – symbolizing the movement’s goal of establishing an Islamic State.
Due to these numerous advantages presented by Syria’s volatile environment, Zarqawi’s followers seized this chance to rebuild their legacy.
How Radicalized Muslims, Funding And Resources Fueled The Rise Of Isis
As the Syrian civil war escalated, so did the numbers of Arab Muslims joining the jihadist organization.
Money and weapons were donated in huge amounts, not just by individuals but also by Arab governments that wanted to see justice done to Assad.
This massive influx of financial support enabled the expansion and strengthening of ISIL into a fully fledged army with departments for social media, logistics, finance, training, recruitment and much more.
By 2013, it had gotten so powerful that ithad managed to defeat four Iraqi army divisions and had control over a third of Iraq’s territory.
That’s when Islamic State became official: on April 9th 2013 under the name “Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham” or ISIS.
With this name, they signalized their intenton toestablish a worldwide caliphate under the new identity: Islamic State.
Raqqa was declared their new capital shortly afterwards and ever since then, ISIS has been steadily expanding its territory across Iraq and Syria.
The final summary of Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS is that this infamous terrorist organization owes much to one man, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
After decades-long unrest and insurgency in the Middle East, he was able to take advantage of the chaos and formed a very powerful terror group.
He showed how weak organizations can become strong forces for good or evil depending on the goals they pursue and their willingness to fight for them.
It serves as a testament to the fact that no country is immune from extremism if it does not take steps to address underlying grievances.