Middle East studies in the News
Who is ISIS: A Look Into The History and Motivations Behind ISIS [on David Romano]
by Linda Ong
Many questions remain after the Paris attacks, but one thing is clear-- ISIS is becoming increasingly difficult for authorities to track.
In recent years, ISIS has recruited individuals in Syria, Iraq and abroad, many of whom have become radicalized.
The Islamic State of Syria, also known as ISIS, is an extremist brand of Islamism, or the combining of Islam and politics.
According to the CIA, the group has grown to 30,000 fighters strong and has claimed responsibility for a slew of attacks on Western nations.
"This is really about power and using any ideological cover you can to attain it," said David Romano, a Middle East expert and Chair of the MSU Thomas G. Strong For Middle Eastern Studies.
It's how Romano describes the driving force behind ISIS, an evolution of al Qaeda.
"They're going to cherry pick passages from the Qur'an and use it to justify what they're doing," said Romano.
An ideological cloak to cover political hopes and dreams.
"What they really want is political power. They want to feel strong, to be strong, vis-a-vis the west, vis-a-vis others, vis-a-vis domestic competitors in the region.
While al Quaeda believed in building itself underground, ISIS pushed its way into Syria to establish a territory of its own.
"This is a wholly new phenomenon to create an Islamic caliphate with a kind of apocalyptic utopian vision.
Romano said ISIS has reverted to a medieval interpretation of Islam that many contemporary scholars disagree with, but one Romano said keeps militants motivated and the jihad relevant.
"The whole apolcalyptic aspect of Islam its useful for mobilizing your troops in a very assymetric war," he said. "ISIS fighters are fighting on multiple fronts, suffering devastating airstrikes from U.S. and its allies, military defeats from the Kurds, and if you want to keep instilling hope in them, you talk about the after life, the apolcalytpic End of Days Battle, where against all odds, they're going to succeed, that can be very useful, and nothing does it like religion."
Many Muslims across the world have taken a stand against the actions of ISIS-- several have used the Twitter hashtag "not in my name" to voice this.Note: Articles listed under "Middle East studies in the News" provide information on current developments concerning Middle East studies on North American campuses. These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch and do not necessarily correspond to Campus Watch's critique.
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