Countering the Islamic State Scourge

The Islamic State terrorists have roots in Al Qaeda and a network of Sunni jihadi groups that coalesced in the midst of the Iraq War. “After being subjected to years of political and economic marginalization, state-sanctioned repression, lawlessness and corruption in the hands of Iraq’s Shia-led government, Sunni Iraqis rebelled by joining militant groups that pledged allegiance to ISIS,” writes Riaz Hassan, sociologist, author and director of the International Centre for Muslim and Non-Muslim Understanding, University of South Australia. “Many ISIS fighters are from the Sunni Awakening Movement which helped the United States to counter the insurgency of 2008 to 2011.” Temporarily subdued in Iraq, the extremists relocated to fight in Syria’s power vacuum. US President Barack Obama notes that oppression sows the seeds of extremism. The Islamic State fuels a war within Islam, with extreme Sunni fundamentalists pitted against Shias, moderates and non-Muslims. Hassan urges nations in the Middle East, Sunni or Shia, to overcome differences to battle poverty, marginalization, oppression and the Islamic State scourge. – YaleGlobal

Countering the Islamic State Scourge

Sunni and Shia nations must unite to battle oppression and the Islamic State violence
Riaz Hassan
Thursday, March 19, 2015

Roots of conflict: Sectarian policies of Shiite Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, top, won recruits for Sunni extremists like abu Musab al-Zarqawi and eventually the Islamic State

ADELAIDE: Opinions abound on the sudden rise of the Islamic State of Iraq Al-Sham, or ISIS, the barbarous extremist militia which has swept aside hapless Iraqi and Syrian armies and succeeded in controlling a vast swath of territory in northern and western Iraq and eastern Syria.

The group has announced the establishment of an Islamic caliphate based on Salafism, a puritanical form of Sunni Islam with close theological links to Saudi Arabian Wahhabism. Salafism seeks to idealize and emulate the piety and practices that characterized the formative years of the foundation of Islam. The Islamic State also seeks to expand its control to neighboring Arab States and eventually all Muslim lands.

If unchecked, the Islamic State poses a security threat not only to Iraq and the Middle East countries but also to the West because of its ability to recruit hundreds of foreign jihadists who may pose threats on their return. Media narratives suggest that the conquests are about religion, militancy and territory. But the goal is mainly to advance political goals with religion co-opted.  

The genesis of ISIS has its roots in the Al Qaeda–inspired Sunni insurgency called the Islamic State in Iraq, or ISI, that rose to fight the American occupation of Iraq and disempowerment of Iraqi Sunnis under the leadership of Jordanian jihadi abu Musab al-Zarqawi who was killed in a US-targeted attack in 2006.  ISI was an umbrella network of several jihadi groups waging a terrorist-guerrilla campaign against the United States, coalition allies and Iraqi Shias. In 2006 the group had around 20,000, mostly Iraqi insurgents with about 2000 non-Iraqi. The foreign jihadis were the main arsenal of suicide bombers in Iraq.

ISI was weakened towards the end of the US occupation, due to the 2007 surge in US forces with the co-option of the Sunni tribes of Anbar Province known as the Sunni Awakening Movement, mobilized and funded by the US military army to fight insurgents . By 2011, the Sunni tribal fighters numbered close to 100,000. Weakened ISI then found the Syrian civil war a fertile ground and moved its main operations to eastern Syria.

The creation of the Sunni Awakening movement was instrumental in reducing violence in Iraq, paving the way for the American administration to embark on political reconciliation among the Sunnis, Kurds and Shias in Iraq and withdrawal of US forces.  

The reconciliation agreement included equitable distribution of oil revenues, absorption of fighters from the Sunni Awakening Movement into the Iraq army and reversing the purge of Baathists from government. Iraqi Prime Minster Nuri Al-Maliki’s authoritarian and Shia-dominated government then reneged on provisions of the reconciliation agreement.

Sunnis were denied government resources, subjected to arbitrary arrest and torture on the grounds that the government was fighting terrorists. Shia militias terrorized the Sunnis. Massive alienation of Iraqi Sunnis, the failure of ethnic reconciliation, paved the way for the rise of ISIS.

ISIS is one of the several Sunni insurgents groups fighting the Iraqi state. It succeeds in areas like Mosul, Tikrit and Fallujah not because of its extremism and brutality but despite it. The Sunni majority fears their government more than ISIS. Now that Iranians are involved in a big way that would further strengthen their resolve.

After being subjected to years of political and economic marginalization, state-sanctioned repression, lawlessness and corruption in the hands of Iraq’s Shia-led government, Sunni Iraqis rebelled by joining militant groups that pledged allegiance to ISIS. Many ISIS fighters are from the Sunni Awakening Movement which helped the United States to counter the insurgency of 2008 to 2011. Official US reports suggest the Islamic State ranks number no more than 30,000.

The Iraqi government promised to absorb the Sunni fighters into the security forces but later reneged, claiming they were supporters of Al Qaeda. US President Barack Obama observed at a February conference on countering violent extremism, “When governments oppress their people, deny human rights, stifle dissent or marginalize ethnic and religious groups, or favor certain religious groups over other, it sows the seeds of extremism and violence.”   

Iraqi Sunnis are angry and disillusioned. And similar alienation and marginalization may explain the appeal of ISIS among the foreign jihadis flocking by the hundreds to Iraq and Syria. Large segments of Muslim minorities in Europe and elsewhere endure discrimination, joblessness and poverty

Prison statistics are dire: 3 percent of the British population is Muslim but 11 percent of prisoners are Muslim. In the Netherlands, 6 percent of the population is Muslim, but 20 percent of adults and 26 percent of juvenile prisoners are Muslim. Around 9 percent of the French population is Muslim but at least half of its prisoners are Muslims.

Most French prisons contain a majority of Muslims who continue to feel victimized by prison officials who confuse religious observance to extremism. Radical preaching in prison catches on, offering young Muslims prisoners an excuse for their predicaments and a fantasy of omnipotence by declaring death to their oppressors. Many suggest the radicalization of Charlie Hebdo killers Cherif and Said Kouachi began in prison. The largest contingent of Islamic State foreign fighters is from France.

According to French sociologist Farhad Khosrokhavar, a typical trajectory for Islamist terrorists includes alienation from the dominant culture due to discrimination and joblessness followed by petty crimes leading to prison, more crime and prison,  religious awakening and radicalization, followed by journeys to Yemen, Syria, Pakistan or Afghanistan to train for jihad. 

Other pathways for radicalization and recruitment for jihadi missions are social media and radical Muslim internet websites. A few, including the more educated who feel alienated from their parents’ culture, seek a life of thrill and the opportunity to fight oppression in Muslim countries.

The most pressing task for governments is to devise public policies for successful integration of marginalized Muslim minorities into mainstream society. The unemployment rates of Muslim minorities in most western countries tend to be three to four times higher compared to the majority population. If appropriate steps are not taken, a large segment of Muslim minorities could become a permanent underclass seriously fracturing social cohesion.

Some politicians in western countries exaggerate extremist tendencies among Muslim minorities to feed prejudices and bolster their own political fortunes. In Australia, for example, some 150 mostly unemployed Muslims have either travelled to Syria to join ISIS or are accused of supporting the cause – a  small fraction of the nation’s half million Muslims. Australia has broad counterterrorism laws, and yet the government is introducing more. One can never draft enough laws to prevent the 100 or 200 drawn to extremism, not without crossing human rights. And such laws can become counterproductive.

Western countries must recognise that, unlike Al Qaeda, whose animosity was directed against a distant enemy, the Islamic State war is against the near enemy – a war within Islam with Sunni extremists pitted against Shias, moderate Muslims and non-Muslim minorities. The war is between those who accept hybridity and pluralism in the Muslim world and those who envision a Muslim world dominated by a single strand of Wahabbism and its extremist offshoots. The United States and its allies must pursue a new strategy by forging stronger military and political  alliance between all neighboring countries to counter and defeat the scourge of ISIS.       



Riaz Hassan is director of the International Centre for Muslim and Non-Muslim Understanding, University of South Australia, and visiting research professor at the Institute of South Asian Studies National University of Singapore. He is the author of Inside Muslim Minds and Life as a Weapon: The Global Rise of Suicide Bombings and co-author of Afghanistan: The Next Phasewhich will be launched at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, DC, on 25 March 2015.

Copyright © 2015 YaleGlobal Online and the MacMillan Center at Yale


Muslim leaders and preachers proclaim the evil and fanatical ideology of Islam, which forms the core belief of muslim identity. They revile and preach hatred of Christians, Jews and non believers who are called Kuffar or Kafir. Islam is an extremely dangerous, extremely violent, misogynist, barbaric, medieval, death cult conceptualised in the Koran which states: "Kill the unbelievers wherever you find them" and "Maim and crucify the infidels", just two of the many violent verses in the Koran. Muslims reject and disdain western values of freedom and democracy, but cunningly use all the powers of democratic legitimacy to subvert western secular society to further their aim of establishing a Muslim Caliphate(State). They aggressively demand: The construction of more mosques, the oppression and subjugation of women and the absurdity of covering women by the hijab(head cover), niqab (veil) or total cover from head to foot of the burka. The burka symbolises fear, suspicion and social exclusion and is a barrier to normal social discourse. The face and body are completely covered with only a cotton mesh gap or small opening for the eyes, the wearer cannot be identified which poses a threat to security in public places. Most wearers of this ridiculous garb are functionally illiterate, unemployable, brainwashed by islam and mentally deranged; welcome to the reality of muslim Britain! Life for muslim women is a dystopian nightmare and they are systematically brainwashed into forced, arranged and polygamous marriages, sexual abuse is commonplace including marriages of children and minors, girls suffer cruel bestial and utterly barbaric fgm-female genital mutilation, punishable by up to 14 years in prison under English Law, but few cases are brought before the courts. Farm animals are cruelly butchered without pre stunning in the sickening carnage that is halal slaughter. Muslims advocate criminal justice sanctioning punishments of horrifying medieval savagery, including public beheading, crucifixion, stoning to death, hanging, amputation, muslims who convert to Christianity are sentenced to death. The consumption of alcohol is forbidden and punished by flogging and imprisonment or death , although currently unenforcable in Britain. The Archbishop of Canterbury has warned that Christians are being deliberately attacked because of their faith in parts of the muslim world and even martyred for their faith in large numbers. An affront to the civilized world, 'Islamic State' and its terrorist army are killing and torturing with merciless savagery across the world in the Middle East, North Africa, the Far East, the U.S.A. and Europe. Millions of muslims live in Britain and many of them support 'jihad' i.e. mass murder and bloody atrocities committed by their activists who call themselves 'soldiers of allah'. Let nobody be under any illusion spread by the preachers and propagandists that islam is 'a religion of peace', because anyone who dares to speak out against muslims risks being murdered and butchered by their killers. British soldiers are frequently subjected to death threats. On Wednesday 22 May 2013, a day of infamy, the full force of muslim savagery found its target and willing perpetrators , two 'soldiers of allah' committed the brutal bloody murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby.There are currently an estimated 14,000 muslims in UK prisons at an annual cost of over £750 million, most of them are extremely dangerous. Under the lax and lenient British Criminal Justice System many of them could be released early, free to carry out terrorist attacks to murder and maim potentially thousands of people. The British Government has failed its primary duty to maintain the security and protection of citizens and is complicit in the islamification of the country e.g.failing to stop exclusively muslim schools segregating and brainwashing children and illegal sharia law councils, persisting in the deluded belief, wasting public money in the process, that these savages and their rapacious, evil, barbaric ideology can be integrated into mainstream society. Instead, the Government instructs the courts to apply unjust and draconian laws on racism and hate crime to incarcerate and silence people with prison sentences for manifesting their anger and revulsion against muslim rapists, child grooming gangs, female genital mutilation and the horrific cruelty of halal slaughter. Whole areas in a growing number of towns and cities are now mainly muslim in character and are becoming mini caliphates with sharia law councils, mosques,minarets and halal abbatoirs. Many people move away, alienated by the islamification of their neighbourhoods, they have to suppress their rage, barely recognizing the country they grew up in, turned into a lawless, violent, rotten, repressive, squalid, nasty, globalized, multicultural wasteland. Islamic ideology is fundamentally opposed to the collective conscience of the majority of British people and sets muslims in direct conflict with the values of Western Civilization. Higher muslim birth rates will produce a majority muslim population in numerous areas of the the North of England and the Midlands where they proliferate by the year 2038. Europe as a whole is facing a demographic time-bomb and is confronted by majority muslim populations outnumbering indigenous European Christians. Before the end of the century a huge increase in the muslim population could see England transformed into a muslim country subservient to a caliphate in league with The Antichrist to wreak havoc and the destruction of Christianity. The supreme symbol of muslim dominance will be the conversion of Canterbury Cathedral into a mosque, destroying over one thousand four hundred years of Christian Civilization and History. Muslim leaders will be exultant to repeat the historic precedent of 1453, when the leader of the Ottoman Turks, Sultan Memhed ll ordered the Hagia Sophia, the main church of Orthodox Christianity to be converted into a mosque, symbolising the muslim conquest of Constantinople. Christian worshipers were slaughtered without mercy or sold into slavery and the building was desecrated and looted.By the year 2038, muslims will dominate Britain through sheer force of numbers, the direct result of muslim immigration and generous state welfare & child benefits. Ideal conditions for muslims to procreate and supplant the indigenous British population and take over the country,having already infiltrated the Great Offices of State,the Civil Service,the Armed Forces, the Police, the Judiciary,the B.B.C., regional and local authorities, public services, education,the press, media and broadcasting channels all of them suffused with malicious political correctness and the big lie of multiculturalism acceding to ever increasing muslim/ islamic demands. Anyone who opined to members gathered in the bar of a Surrey golf club at the end of the twentieth century that their way of life and culture could be replaced by islam within thirty to forty years would be rebuked for talking nonsense, not anymore. The inveterate moral cowardice of the British political class and the spineless left wing liberal governing élite for failing to STOP mass muslim immigration is a betrayal of the British People and will bring this country to breaking point. Britain will be faced with the most serious crisis in its entire history and the stark choice of either fighting to remain a predominantly Christian Social Democracy, with nothing less than national survival at stake, or surrender to a Theocratic Muslim Dictatorship/Caliphate and descent into a satanic dark age of barbarism, terror and chaos. The battle for the defence of Christian Civilization against this malignant, repugnant, barbaric, evil creed will continue a conflict which has lasted for centuries, except this time THE ENEMY IS WITHIN."The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men (and Women) to do nothing", Edmund Burke 18th century statesman, author and philosopher.
footnote: Canterbury Cathedral is under armed guard while more mosques are planned for construction.
HfS Communications 15 June 2018