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An Iraqi War Veteran's Thoughts on ISIS

Updated on September 15, 2014

First, I want to state I am not an expert on ISIS, but I have been deployed to Iraq, and was very aware of the politics there while I was there. After looking at the recent news and images of ISIS, they are completely different from the scenes I saw in Iraq. In the area where I was at, the Taliban had a mainstay on local villages. Of course, Al Queda had a big presence, but the local people feared the Taliban more so. In every section of Iraq, certain groups have more of control than others. It reminded me of gang warfare.

The extremist groups did have a hierarchy and organization, but they were nothing like a ISIS. Sure, there were beheadings and torture of individuals and groups, but nothing to this extent, and nothing this public. If you are wondering why Muslims are killing other Muslims is because there are two main fractions of Muslims in the region, Sunni and Shiites. Both of these denominations are Muslims, and they read and believe in the same Quran. They believe in the same five pillars of Islam, which include a belief in God, daily prayer, fasting during holy days, charity, and pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in their lives.

Sunnis are the more democratic of the two branches of Islam. They believe that their spiritual leader should be elected to office, or chosen by the elders, and should have some background and credentials to the job. The Shiites believe that the spiritual leader should be a descendent of the Prophet Mohammed in the 7th century. The two groups believe different people were the successor of the Prophet Mohammed.

What the two groups fight about is a lot, and it's complicated; and I lived there nearly a year. However, the Sunnis who are mostly in the North in Iraq, are more liberal. They do things that the Shiites believe go against the Quran, and they believe that it warrants death. They believe the Sunnis are worst than non-Muslims, because they know the Quran and go against it's teachings. They are literally imploding in a civil war, but the aim of ISIS is primarily to destroy us. From what I can tell, they are cleaning house right now, either converting or destroying the Sunnis. I think right now the President is waiting for ISIS to make a drastic move, so we can pounce on them and Syria. I think this is a matter of time, most likely within a few weeks.

I don't think ISIS will be successful at their attempt of making a September 11th, part II. ISIS has a clear leadership and mission statement, they can hide behind the face masks which make them feel invulnerable. Individuals who are suicidal are the most dangerous opponent of all, they have nothing to loose. ISIS are individuals who take the Quran literal. They literally believe in an eye-for-an-eye type of mentality.

This may end in very different ways, but I believe they will either find and kill the top leadership (which is best case scenario), or ISIS will shoot down an American plane flying over Syrian air space, then all hell will break out. I think we may go to war with Syria. Syria has pulled our punk card one too many times. I pray that we find their leadership and kill them, and that Syria will be fearful of all the countries that will come together and they will bow out gracefully, which is doubtful.

I understand this is a not a situation that is going to solved over night; even if that night was filled with air strikes to Syria and Northern Iraq. I've been to war, I have seen my Marine brothers die, and I have made some hard decisions which ultimately meant I was either going to come home, or not. While war on television's screens may look exciting or easy, there are service members who are dying behind all the drama. Since the time I have written this article this morning, people have sent some disturbing comments about how we should just invade and kill all of the Syrians and Iraqis. Besides that being absurd (and genocide), keep in mind the people who are on both ends of the barrel, because neither come back home okay.

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    • Alli Rose profile imageAUTHOR

      Alli Rose Smith 

      4 years ago from Washington, DC

      Thank you for raising such a good son, Ms. Cass. Please tell him that I thank him for his service.

    • Alli Rose profile imageAUTHOR

      Alli Rose Smith 

      4 years ago from Washington, DC

      Thank you, Dr. Kidd for reading my article.

    • Dr Billy Kidd profile image

      Dr Billy Kidd 

      4 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Thanks for explaining the difference between the Sunnis and Shi'ites. It's important for people to understand that tribes rule much of the Middle East. Some living in the rest of the world cannot imagine people living by 8th Century codes. But it's for real.

    • Diane Cass profile image

      Diane Cass 

      4 years ago from New York

      First of all...thank you for your service. My son also served in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was in Mosul, which is now in ISIS hands. He is upset that we sat back and did nothing while ISIS took over what he fought so hard for. I don't know what the answers is, but it is not sitting around and doing nothing while a very real enemy organizes and gathers strength. The bombs where loosed on ISIS the other night. We'll see what happens.

    • vkwok profile image

      Victor W. Kwok 

      4 years ago from Hawaii

      I, too, am concerned, especially with the call for genocide. Even if someone lives in enemy country, that doesn't necessarily mean they support the cause. There are those, civilians, who just want to live their normal, everyday lives.

    • rebelogilbert profile image

      Gilbert Arevalo 

      4 years ago from Hacienda Heights, California

      I feel the concerns expressed in your article, Allison. ISIS keeps challenging the U.S. to commit to stronger action each day. We all fear beheading American and British soldiers will lead into something even more cataclysmic. The Obama administration is trying to limit U.S. soldier involvement by forming a coalition with foreign allies but I'm not sure that will work successfully. Many people fear war but ISIS is too dangerous to leave alone.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      4 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Thank's for writing about the Isis. Poeple tend to mouth off when they have never been in the area. Going to war is the most dreaded act. I hope and pray our president will find a better solution. I am positive he is working diligently with our allies to do just that. Thank you for sharing...

    • goatfury profile image

      Andrew Smith 

      4 years ago from Richmond, VA

      Thanks for the perspective. Cool to hear from someone who has actually been there.

    • Sandra Eastman profile image

      Sandra Joy Eastman 

      4 years ago from Robbinsdale MN

      It is a shame that those in power in the US appear to be so short-sighted that they either refused to see this coming it chose to ignore it. It certainly appears that the person in charge has chosen to bury his head in the sand and only pull it out to play a game if golf

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Very helpful insights here and in line with what appears on the surface, often it is just that simple.

    • Alli Rose profile imageAUTHOR

      Alli Rose Smith 

      4 years ago from Washington, DC

      Thank you, and I re-looked at my article and edited it of 8:30 a.m. EST. I didn't mean to make them seem like Natzis when they are just punks behind a mask. When I was in Iraq, I heard rumblings about a new group from a translator, but it was more gossip than anything. Too bad we didn't take care of business back then. I appreciate your insight.

    • Matt Jordan III profile image

      Matt Jordan 

      4 years ago from Gulf Coast

      This is a good article, Alli. But you might want to guard against painting a picture of a superman enemy. We tend to do that before every conflict, only to find out the enemy is just a collection of human beings. ISIS is a mean bunch, and many are very well-trained. But the majority of the 30,000 are just extremist doctrinaires with guns. The reason they were able to chase off the Iraqis and take our weapons and troop carriers is the incompetence of Al Maliki purging popular (successful) officers and Iraqi corruption.

      We lost our biggest opportunity to eliminate ISIS when they were 20,000 strong and strung out along the roads across Northern Iraq. By playing small ball with our initial sorties, we woke them up and chased them into hiding; inoculated them, if you will. There are a few strategies out there that will put them on the move and flush them out, I just wonder if we have anyone at the top with the brains and the balls to pull it off.

      As you said, time will tell. Stay tuned here everyone.

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