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ISIS: An Overview:


Jan. 29, 2015
By ALI COGGINS

On Wednesday, September 10, 2014 President Obama delivered his Presidential Address regarding the threat of the terrorist group who refers to themselves as ISIS. ISIS, or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, is a radical Islamic terrorist organization whose goal is to create an Islamic caliphate.

ISIS is also known as ISIL, which stands for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. The Levant is a vast region of the Middle East that encompasses Cyprus, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, and part of southern Turkey. Obama, in his speech, makes a clear statement that this terrorist group is not the Islamic State, because “no religion condones the killing of innocents” which is exactly what ISIS does.

Not only have servicemen and women been killed, American citizens have been executed on foreign soil at the hand of ISIS on foreign soil, a blatant act of war in some people’s opinions. American journalists Steven Sotloff and James Foley were abducted and beheaded by this terrorist organization.

President Obama’s foreign policy plans have therefore failed miserably, and this speech is his attempt at restoring the American public's faith in him, or to come up with a new plan. President Obama’s address was brief, approximately 15 minutes, in which he explicated his plans on dealing with the brutality and threat of ISIS, and his response to their horrific message.

In the analyzing of Obama’s speech, one can notice the underlying message to Obama’s speech. His purpose was to deliver a strong, powerful speech that will rally the American people to support his actions, and convince those that oppose America and it’s ideals that “If you threaten America, you will find no safe heaven.”

Obama refers to himself as the Commander and Chief, and his ordering of air strikes to remind both citizens and threats that he is the President of the United States, to inspire a sense of confidence or fear in his listeners.

The statistics given of the troops Obama has brought home, the stating of 150 successful airstrikes, the increase in ground support by sending 475 servicemen and women to Iraq, and his statistics of the saving of innocent men women and children serve to remind American citizens that he has their best interests at heart, and only he, President Obama, can deal with the threat ISIS poses.

Obama begins his speech with ‘My fellow Americans’, and continues with the use of ‘we’ showing how he considers himself one of the masses, and that what concerns the American people also concerns him, stating how children were killed by ISIS, referring to America as ‘our homeland’, stating that ‘We stand for freedom, justice, dignity.’ ‘Americans united in confronting this danger.’ ‘We will destroy ISIS.’ ‘If you threaten America, you will find no safe heaven.’ He does this not only to inspire a sense of patriotism in his listener, but to remind them that America must be united to face a threat such as ISIS.

However, although he and his speechwriter’s attempted to convey this unity, this spark of patriotism, did it work? Did it make the people feel more secure, knowing that President Obama will take care of ISIS? Many are simply left wondering what will the President do? Just what action will he take to protect our people and country?

According to ABC News, “The president plans to expand airstrikes and increase ground support by sending 475 servicemen and women to Iraq.” Obama states in his speech that there will be no ground war in Iraq, and no combat troops will be on foreign soil. This shows a contradiction within his single, brief speech that leads some American to question if the President has truly made up his mind on the subject, or is merely seeking to appease the American people. This opinion is bolstered by past quips and speeches given by Obama in which his foreign policy plan undergoes drastic changes.

Although Obama intends for the confrontation with ISIS to be brief, and result in minimal casualties, the Pentagon spokesman disagrees. "I think we are in this for a matter of years," Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby told CNN on Thursday. "... We are steeling ourselves for that period of time."

Obama’s latest orders for airstrikes were aimed at cutting off ISIS’ revenue by targeting oil-refineries according to CNN.

“ISIS has likely dispersed much of its command-and-control capabilities in Syria, and leaders are now "mixed in with the civilian population," [retired U.S. Army Col. Peter] Mansoor tells reporters.

"So it's unlikely these airstrikes have crippled ISIS," states Mansoor.

Obama continues to approve airstrikes targeting ISIS and it’s affiliations as this battle for counterterrorism wages on, hunting down those who have threatened the American people, and those who stand in the way of American’s life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.

CNN provides some Fast Facts on the movement of ISIS and what it has done thus far:

The group currently controls hundreds of square miles. It ignores international borders and has a presence from Syria's Mediterranean coast to south of Baghdad. It rules by Sharia law.

ISIS's initial strategy for revenue was through extortion and robbery. Recently, al-Baghdadi's strategy shifted to generating resources through large-scale attacks aimed at capturing and holding territory.

Unable to serve under the new Iraq government after Saddam Hussein's military was disbanded, former Iraqi soldiers became ISIS fighters, according to Middle East expert Fawaz Gerges.

Leader: 
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi: Very little is known about al-Baghdadi, but a biography posted on jihadist websites in 2013 said he earned a doctorate in Islamic studies from a university in Baghdad.

He formed the militant group in Salaheddin and Diyala provinces north of the Iraqi capital before joining al Qaeda in Iraq.

Al-Baghdadi was detained for four years in Camp Bucca, which was a U.S.-run prison in southern Iraq. He was released in 2009.

After ISIS declared the creation of the so-called "Islamic State," he began using the name Al-Khalifah Ibrahim and now goes by that name with his followers.


 

Timeline of ISIS:

2004 - Abu Musab al-Zarqawi establishes al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI).

2006 - Under al-Zarqawi, al Qaeda in Iraq tries to ignite a sectarian war against the majority Shia community.

June 7, 2006 - Al-Zarqawi is killed in a U.S. strike. Abu Ayyub al-Masri, also known as Abu Hamza al-Muhajer, takes his place as leader of AQI.

October 2006 - AQI leader Abu Ayyub al-Masri announces the creation of Islamic State in Iraq (ISI), and establishes Abu Omar al-Baghdadi as its leader.

April 2010 - Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi becomes leader of ISI after Abu Omar al-Baghdadi and Abu Ayyub al-Masri are killed in a joint U.S.-Iraqi operation.

April 8, 2013 - ISI declares its absorption of an al Qaeda-backed militant group in Syria, Jabhat al-Nusra, also known as the al-Nusra Front. Al-Baghdadi says that his group will now be known as Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS).

April 2013 - Al-Nusra Front leader Abu Mohammed al-Jawlani rejects ISIS's attempt to merge with the group.

February 3, 2014 - Al Qaeda renounces ties to ISIS after months of infighting between al-Nusra Front and ISIS.

May 2014 - ISIS kidnaps more than 140 Kurdish schoolboys in Syria, forcing them to take lessons in radical Islamic theology.

June 9, 2014 - Monday night into Tuesday, militants seize Mosul's airport, its TV stations and the governor's office. ISIS frees up to 1,000 prisoners.

June 10, 2014 - ISIS takes control of Mosul.

June 11, 2014 - ISIS takes control of Tikrit.

June 21, 2014 - ISIS takes control of Al-Qaim, a town on the border with Syria, as well as three other Iraqi towns.

June 28, 2014 - Iraqi Kurdistan restricts border crossings into the region for refugees fleeing the fighting.

June 29, 2014 - ISIS announces the creation of a caliphate (Islamic state) that erases all state borders, making al-Baghdadi the self-declared authority over the world's estimated 1.5 billion Muslims. The group also announces a name change to the Islamic State (IS).

June 30, 2014 - The United Nations announces that an estimated 1.2 million Iraqis have been forced from their homes.

June 30, 2014 - The Pentagon announces the United States is sending an additional 300 troops to Iraq, bringing the total U.S. forces in Iraq to nearly 800. Troops and military advisers sent to Iraq are there to add security to the U.S. Embassy and the airport in Baghdad, and to provide support to Iraqi security forces.

July 2014 - In Syria, all the cities between Deir Ezzor city and the Iraq border have fallen to ISIS, says Omar Abu Leila, a spokesman for the rebel Free Syrian Army.

July 3, 2014 - ISIS takes control of a major Syrian oil field, al-Omar. It is the country's largest oil field and can produce 75,000 barrels of oil daily.

July 17, 2014 - In Syria's Homs province, ISIS claims to have killed 270 people after storming and seizing the Shaer gas field.

July 24, 2014 - ISIS militants blow up Jonah's tomb, a holy site in Mosul.

August 8, 2014 - Two U.S. F/A-18 jet fighters bomb artillery of Sunni Islamic extremists in Iraq. President Barack Obama has authorized "targeted airstrikes" if needed to protect U.S. personnel from fighters with ISIS. The U.S. military also could use airstrikes to prevent what officials warn could be a genocide of minority groups by the ISIS fighters.

August 19, 2014 - In a video posted on YouTube, U.S. journalist James Foley, missing in Syria since 2012, is decapitated by ISIS militants. The militants then threaten the life of another captured U.S. journalist, believed to be Steven Sotloff.

September 2, 2014 - ISIS releases a video showing the beheading of U.S. journalist Steven Sotloff. Sotloff's apparent executioner speaks in what sounds like the same British accent as the man who purportedly killed Foley. He's dressed identically in both videos, head to toe in black, with a face mask and combat boots. He appears to be of similar build and height. He waves a knife in his left hand, as did the militant in the video of Foley's death.

September 11, 2014 - The CIA announces that the number of people fighting for ISIS may be more than three times the previous estimates. Analysts and U.S. officials initially estimated there were as many as 10,000 fighters, but now ISIS can "muster between 20,000 and 31,500 fighters across Iraq and Syria," a CIA spokesman tells CNN.

September 13, 2014 - ISIS militants post video on a website associated with the group, showing the apparent execution of British aid worker David Haines. This makes him the third Western captive to be killed by the Islamist extremist group in recent weeks. ISIS directs a statement at British Prime Minister David Cameron, threatening more destruction if Britian continues its "evil alliance with America." At the end of the video, the executioner threatens the life of Alan Henning, another British citizen held captive. The executioner appears to be the same one who killed both Steven Sotloff and James Foley.

September 23, 2014 - The United States carries out airstrikes against ISIS. The bombing is focused on the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa, a city in northern Syria.

October 3, 2014 - ISIS releases a video showing the apparent beheading of hostage Alan Henning. It blames the killing on the UK for joining the U.S.-led bombing campaign against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. In the same video, the group threatens the life of American aid worker Peter Kassig, also known as Abdul-Rahman Kassig