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ISIS gains momentum, remains imminent threat

Still of video from an ISIS YouTube video.

World media circuits have been dominated by the growing terrorist cell in the Middle East, The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). Since its founding in ‘03, ISIS has been a steadily expanding presence in the countries of Iraq, Syria, and Turkey, among others.

Its goal? To establish a Sunni state in Iraq- a caliphate under extremist tenets. The Sunnis are now considered the religious minority under the leadership of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

Maliki established a Shia sectarian state that has passed laws enabling the mass-arrest of Sunnis. Last year, Shia-controlled Iraqi police killed Sunni protesters who were advocating for more representation in the government.

According to journalist Zack Beauchamp of, “So long as Shias control the government, and Sunnis don’t feel like they’re fairly represented, ISIS has an audience for its radical Sunni message.”

Most of ISIS’s funding comes from its holdings in Syria, as they contain oil and resources that they then sell back to the nation. Additionally, numerous nations have given ransom pay to the terrorists to see the return of their citizens.

By ‘07, the group assumed control of southern Baghdad. Scores of Christians and minority religions fled, unable to pay the mandatory jizya tax for non-Islamic members of the state.

As for Christians who wish to stay in their homeland,  ISIS is clear.

“We offer them three choices: Islam; the dhimma [non-Muslim] contract – involving payment of jizya; if they refuse this they will have nothing but the sword.”

In the winter of 2009, the terrorist organization killed 282 and injured 1,169 in two Baghdad bombings. At least 500 terrorists escaped Iraqi prisons, including Abu Ghraib, in the summer of 2012 as a part of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s Breaking the Walls offensive.

As violence escalated, Al Qaeda renounced its ties with ISIS in February of 2014. They had repeatedly asked members of the group to lessen the brutalities in Syria. Just three months later, seven people were publicly executed, including crucifixions, in northern Syria.

ISIS terroritories | BBC

The BBC recently reported that the UN is investigating ISIS for war crimes against fellow Iraqis and Syrians. These crimes include kidnapping, rape, and execution. But the tragedy that struck almost tangible fear into the world occurred on Aug. 19. It was not the mass-murder of minorities, or the rapes and kidnappings of Syrian women. It was the brutal footage of an execution.

On Aug. 19, American journalist James Foley was decapitated on video by a member of the Islamic State. On the same day, it was revealed that as many as 50,000 are fighting for ISIS in Syria. Days later media circulated that a covert mission to rescue several Americans, including Foley, had gone awry. Today, all American citizens question the future of U.S. involvement in Syria and Iraq.

“As commander in chief, I will not allow the United States to be dragged into another war in Iraq,” President Barack Obama said in early August.

With a Congress on vacation and a President authorizing limited air strikes and supply airdrops on the very country he pledged not to reenter, America remains skeptical.

About Marianna McMurdock

Self-described as an "ardent archivist", Marianna is currently the Editor-in-Chief of the Sun. When she is not despairing over her beloved television characters (Underwood and Holmes represent) she enjoys listening to movie scores, Andrew Bird, and Beyonce. She also serves the Sun as Photo Editor, and has been a self-taught photographer for four years. Her personal work is available at

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