ISIS Ideology: The Cancer that Spreads Part 2

By Joe Gabbard

Flickr Creative Commons, Day Donaldson, November 2014.

Yet again, the Islamic State (IS) has generated news headlines after two brothers, identified as IS suicide bombers, killed at least 31 people in Brussels, Belgium. In my previous post, I wrote about the terrorist’s group ideology, arguing that the cancerous worldview was spreading throughout the greater Middle East, and called for a more holistic approach from the U.S. to address the threat. Sadly, since my last article – which concentrated on the threat that was emanating from Syria and Iraq – IS militants have conducted attacks outside the borders of its so-called “State” in Paris, San Bernardino, and Brussels. IS was once thought only to be a regional terrorist group that aimed to carve out a new state within in the Middle East, yet as the last 4 months have shown, the group harbors greater ambitions to bring about its apocalyptic vision of a new world order. The cancerous IS ideology has continued to spread, and the West remains without a cure.

In fact, the United States and European governments are reacting to all of these attacks with an alarming measure of surprise, and they are seemingly unprepared to address the threat. As recently reported to The Daily Beast, “U.S. counterterrorism officials are frustrated and angry at Belgium’s inability to tackle ISIS terror cells that are successfully plotting murderous attacks on the the West . . . {and} even with the EU in general, there’s an infiltration of jihadists that’s been happening for two decades. And now they’re just starting work on this.”[1] This disturbing report about the incompetency of European governments to address IS terrorist cells was coupled with a report that security officials have indicated that IS has trained at least 400 militants and sent them to Europe to conduct attacks against the West. These reports demonstrate that the West remains out of touch with reality and continues to underestimate the scope of the threat. These attacks are not anomalies that will simply go away with time but instead represent a systematic attempt by a sophisticated terrorist network to undo Western civilization.

London September 30 2014 015 Kurds Protest against ISIS ISIL Islamic State IS. Flickr Creative Commons, David Holt.

In a statement claiming responsibility for the attack in Brussels, the Islamic State said, “We promise the crusader alliance against the Islamic State that they will have black days in return for their aggression against the Islamic State.”[2] The religious overtones in this statement should not be missed. IS claims to be representing Islam’s struggle with the West and its leaders posit that true Islam is incompatible with Western values and beliefs. Therefore, IS identifies itself as the main antagonist to the “Christian” West. IS claims that these recent spate of attacks are but a continuation of its Muslim forefather’s attempt to bring Western civilization to an end ­– an ongoing conflict that began with the Crusades. The Islamic State is clearly motivated by a theological agenda, albeit a distorted one, and believes that Islamic prophecy requires the conquest of every country on earth. As William McCants rightly noted in his new book, “The Islamic State has set about laying the groundwork for taking over the world.”[3]

Iraqi Yazidi refugee girl with her family at Newroz camp where they are being helped by the International Rescue Committee. Flickr Creative Commons, August 2014, DFID.

IS is driven by a religious doctrine that validates the carnage it leaves on European streets, and the U.S. and its European allies need to realize that such a distorted theology will not die slowly. This cancerous doctrine will continue to spread so long as the United States and its European allies resign themselves to the limited approach that it has thus far implemented. We simply cannot destroy IS with a bombing sortie campaign; it requires a much more substantial and holistic approach, and one that involves a more committed and prepared West.



[3] The ISIS Apolcalypse: The History, Strategy, and Doomsday Vision of the Islamic State, Williams Mccants.


Joe Gabbard is an ExPatt Board member. He is currently a first year student at the University of Kentucky’s Patterson School of International Commerce and Diplomacy majoring in Intelligence and Security.  Joe attended Centre College for undergraduate where he majored in International Relations with a minor in History.  His interests include national security, theology, and philosophy and is passionate about researching how these disciplines are interconnected and related.


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