An Iraqi War Veteran's Thoughts on ISIS
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.