ISIS is the largest terrorist organization in history, at one point seemingly controlling a land mass larger than Britain and ruling over a population of millions in parts of Syria and Iraq. Since ISIS first emerged on the international scene, with their invasion of Iraq last summer, their influence has only grown as they now have supporters and affiliates in several countries (e.g. Libya, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Egypt, etc…) who have declared their allegiance to ISIS’ self-proclaimed “caliphate” and wage war and commit acts of terror on their behalf.
Image: Map showing ISIS declared provinces from recent NYT article on the growth of ISIS.
As an organization, they regularly commit extraordinary acts of violence. Recently, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum found in a report that ISIS committed an act of genocide against the Yazidi people. Others have highlighted efforts by ISIS that have contributed to the extinction of Christianity in the Middle East. They have also, more than any other group, slaughtered enormous numbers of Muslims (primarily Shia) for not adhering to their particular view of Islamic orthodoxy. ISIS has also brought back institutionalized slavery at the quasi-state level, as they systematically enslave and rape captured female populations, with thousands of Yazidi women suffering this fate. By some estimates, as many as two to three thousand Yazidi women are still prisoners of ISIS. Add to all of this a long list of other abuses, including regularly throwing homosexuals off of rooftops as a form of execution, crucifixions of children, drowning of prisoners, burning prisoners alive, amputations, and of course beheadings, beheadings, beheadings, etc… all proudly recorded and posted online.
One might assume that such an organization would be universally condemned. Unfortunately, a recent Pew Poll shows otherwise. While the poll has been celebrated for showing how unpopular ISIS is in the Muslim world, and initially appears to show extraordinarily high “unfavorable” responses by participants when they were asked about ISIS, a closer look at the numbers really gives no reason for cheer and only feeds my pessimism. In a survey of ten Muslim majority countries, the Pew Poll reveals that ISIS has, in actuality, troublingly high numbers of support. Continue reading