ISIS Explained


Video from Kurzgesagt

News site “Kurzgesagt” explains the current issues in Iraq in less than five minutes here, including hot topics such as ISIS, Syria, and regional war.

Lacy Hamilton, Editor in Chief

For those who are truly embarrassingly uninformed about ISIS, they should first know that “ISIS” stands for Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. President Obama refers to ISIS as “ISIL,” which stands for Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, a historic name for the land mass east of the Mediterranean from Egypt. ISIS is widely known for being a terrorist force that sparked turmoil in the Middle East around 2014. However, the rise of the Islamic State actually began in 2001, when Islamist extremist Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi joined forces with al-Qa’ida. ISIS states that its goal is to create a radical Islamic State governed under Sharia law, and it pursues its goal through violence, recruitment, and territorial expansion. 2014 was a big year for ISIS, mainly because of territorial gain, which came hand-in-hand with mass murder of Iraqi and Syrian people, and that is why the media focused more heavily in the past year than in any year before.

Most members of ISIS were once escapees from Iraq, fleeing to Syria. Beginning in 1979, Saddam Hussein, the former president of Iraq, radically suppressed Shi’ite and Kurdish movements to overthrow his political group, the Ba’ath Party. Under his heavy hand, suppressed groups fled to Syria, creating a geographic tension in the Middle East. Under Hussein’s rule, the Shi’ite and Kurdish groups were largely unsuccessful in terrorist movements. However, on December 20, 2006, this power struggle flipped in favor of the radical Shi’ite and Kurdish groups, when the United States carried out the execution of Hussein. These groups now largely make up the ISIS/ISIL terrorist movement.

So far, the United State’s CIA estimates ISIS to have over 30,000 fighters in Syria alone, and their terrorist attacks have killed an estimated 200,000 people. Sixty-two counties, including all of the world’s top movers and shakers, are on the State Department’s list of the “global coalition to degrade and defeat ISIL,” with the multitude of these countries pledging military or humanitarian support.