Why you should be paying closer attention to ISIS/ISIL

By YeOldeScribe ~ September 13th, 2014 @ 4:05 pm

The front pages of our newspapers are not filled with good news these days. There’s Ebola to worry about from Africa. Domestic abuse scandals with the NFL at home. But while those two issues seem to be occupying the public’s attention for now, a larger threat looms: the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (or the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, if you prefer).

ISIS-Flag

The ISIS Flag. This is an organized group with one objective: an Islamic State which represents the entire Middle East (and beyond).

People will yell at the media all the time for putting journalists into stories where it’s not warranted. There’s sometimes when we’ll agree with that. But there’s a reason why the two beheadings of American journalists sent shockwaves through our nation, and it’s not just because media members were involved. The act was particularly gruesome for two reasons: the target and the method. In times of war, there are two groups of people who, even in the most fearsome battles, are usually left alone: doctors and journalists. To attack either of these groups is something you just don’t do. They are considered innocent, non-combattives who are off limits. The fact that ISIS/ISIL was not only willing to capture journalists but execute them very publicly was a declaration of hostilities on their part, if not an outright declaration of war. The fact that they were beheaded means something too. It’s a particularly violent and macabre death, and to show it unedited to the world was supposed to make a statement.

You’ll notice that we’re not linking to the videos. We’re not going to and we never will. There’s no reason to. We’re not going to participate in turning this video into what we’re calling death pornography. The lives of these two men mean more than that. As the public, you have the right to know. But, as a journalist himself, our writer begs you not to watch the video. That’s what the ISIS/ISIL terrorists want you to do. So don’t.

As Americans, we tend to focus only on the things that impact us, which is another reason the deaths of the journalists (both American) have gotten so much attention. But what ISIS/ISIL has done on the ground in such a short amount of time is equally troubling. They’ve managed to generate a surprisingly high amount of funds through smuggling, extortion and more recently through selling oil from cities the organization has captured. The group probably has more money than al-Qadea did in their heyday, with lower estimates coming in at over $25 million dollars. Not exactly chump change.

What can ISIS/ISIL do with that money and land? The only good news is that funding war is an expensive proposition, especially without a national economy to mass produce things. Thankfully, ISIS/ISIL isn’t that powerful yet, and while they have captured key cities in the Middle East, they have yet to capture Baghdad, and they can’t claim an entire country as their own. This means that ISIS/ISIL is burning through a lot of the resources they have just to get to this point. But this isn’t necessarily a good thing. Desperate groups take desperate action, and that will mean further headaches for the U.S. and our allies.

All of this means that no matter what you call the group, ISIS/ISIL is a force to be reckoned with, and one that is worthy of your attention. Let’s put it this way: when the fact that the Secretary of State doesn’t use the term “war” to describe U.S. intervention (while other executive branch officials do) is newsworthy, it’s time to start paying attention to what’s going on, if you haven’t already.

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