The Rise of ISIS

The rise of Islamic State, an unheard of terror outfit until last year, is nothing short of dramatic. An organisation that's extreme even by Al-Qaida's standards, the ISIS has embarked on a bloody murderous spree, killing innocent lives and wrecking havoc all over the Middle East. Even worse, their hardcore violent ideologies are finding takers among many a young mind across the world. But is their advent a deformed child of western policy, fuelled by the never-ending and equally murderous War on Terror that the USA and its allies have unleashed since the epoch-making 9/11 incident? Did the war pour gasoline on the fire rather than fight it? The ISIS, by burning alive a captive Jordanian pilot, showed how brutal and savage they can be, yet there is a logic to their madness, writes Hassan Hassan in this interesting piece:
Savagery is part of Isis’s ideological DNA. The danger of the group lies in its effort to transform the concept of jihad not through individual fatwas, as al-Qaida does to justify suicide bombing in civilian areas, but through a fully fledged ideology. To do so, Isis uses stories from Islamic history and modern jihadi texts to change the paradigm of how to understand and conduct jihad.
One of the most prominent of those jihadi texts is a book called Idarat al-Tawahush, or Management of Savagery, by an anonymous jihadi ideologue who calls himself Abu Bakr Naji. The book, translated by William McCants of the US Brookings Institution in 2006, has been widely distributed on jihadist online forums. But for the first time, Isis members have confirmed that the book is part of the organisation’s curriculum.
Naji says that people think of Muslims at the time of the crusaders as one state, led by Saladin al-Ayubi and Nouradin Zinki, but “the fact is they were small families controlling citadels and fighting jihad against crusaders on a low level, in a hard hitting way. What Zinki and Ayubi did was to bring together those small blocs into one big organisation but the largest role was played by those small blocs.” According to Isis, violence has to be steady and escalatory to continue to shock and deter. Random acts of violence are not enough in this context.
Islamic traditions are filled with stories of mercy and tolerance. But it is not enough to tell these stories in isolation from other dark chapters in Islamic history that feed groups such as Isis. Isis uses these stories, combined with ideas and concepts accepted by the mainstream, as part of an ideology and a political project in the making. Muslim clerics speak in the realm of theory; Isis practises through stories and action. >>