How ISIS Affects U.S.

How ISIS Affects U.S.

The radical Islamic group has dominated and attacked parts of the world; what are the facts we need to know?

College student Kareem Sharba was sitting in his house in Homs, Syria, two weeks ago, when he started to feel the ground shake below him. He noticed a huge cloud of smoke looming near his house complex and ran to the site. Only 500 feet away from an elementary school, a bomb car had exploded, resulting in the death of 40 children, 13 adults and over 400 casualties.

“The first thing I saw was a kid’s leg,” Sharba said.

This is one of the many attacks that have occurred as a result of ISIS, short for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

ISIS has made many headlines this year and continues to be broadcasted as the principal part of many televised news networks’ “Breaking News” segments. The name evokes a sense of concern for humanity.

What is ISIS?

ISIS, which formally split from the radical Islamist group al-Qaeda earlier this year, aims to take over and establish a Sunni caliphate in Iraq, Syria and parts of Lebanon, oppressing the other branch of Islam, the Shia.

The Sunni make up the minority of the population of Iraq, while the Shia is the majority. Most of the population is Arab Muslim, but there is also a small Kurdish population that includes Sunnis and Christians. In fact, three percent of the population in Iraq is Christian, according to the CIA’s 2007 World Factbook.

This group, with approximately 50,000 members, funds itself through the oil it acquires from controlling territories and raiding banks, acquiring over a million dollars per day, making it the richest terrorist organization on earth.

ISIS acts through violence and terror, killing many groups of people through public execution, amputations and crucifixions. In fact, ISIS beheaded two American journalists, James Foley in August and Steven Sotloff in September.

ISIS’s attacks on civilians prevents Sharba from attending college.

“It’s by far a lot worse than al-Qaeda because they have a lot of money, modern weapons and support from big countries and foreign governments,” Sharba said.

While Sharba’s parents live in Tartous, which is relatively safe, his brother lives in Damascus, the capital of Syria, where ISIS’s rockets sometimes target.

“I am worried about my brother, but there is nothing that we can do about his or our safety,” Sharba said.

Upper School history teacher, Tracy Walder, teaches her Spycraft class about global issues, including ISIS.

“This problem could have been stopped if we had kept a closer eye on the leadership of Iraq,” Walder said.

The Reason Behind the Violence

ISIS’s motto is “convert or die.”

“Basically, what they’re doing is going to villages and completely slaughtering the people who won’t convert to [Sunni] Islam,” Walder said.

But what stirred the initial conflict amongst the Iraqi government officials?

In 2003, the United States intervened and attacked Iraq because of its alleged connection to weapons of mass destruction and nuclear arms. As a result, the government in Iraq collapsed, creating a lack of central authority.

“The problem is when you go to war in a somewhat unstable country and then remove their leader, it can create a power vacuum, and terrorists love that, because it breeds instability,” Walder said.

Senior Ariella Stromberg takes Walder’s comparative government class and remains informed on these issues.

“We didn’t act fast enough and, as a result, [ISIS] has taken advantage of both Iraq and Syria,” Stromberg said.

So in a tragic result of irony, the U.S. created further violence that it tried to suppress in 2003.

How Does ISIS Affect Others?

Junior Nathalie Naor has family that lives in Israel and is impacted by ISIS.

Israel lies on the southern border of Syria and is a constant threat to the country’s security. It also shares a border with Jordan, ISIS’s next possible target.

As for her family who lives in the U.S., Naor also finds ISIS to be a threat.

“The impact on my family in the U.S. is the increased risk of terrorist acts, whether directly by ISIS or by any homegrown terrorists radicalized by the ISIS ideology,” Naor said.

Additionally, ISIS has tried to contact people from the U.S. and Europe for recruitment purposes and has even proposed marriages through social media including Twitter and Facebook, often targeting students 21 and under.

“My concern is that I have never seen so many people in the U.S. that have been captured. It’s a little disturbing to see how many people we’ve deterred,” Walder said.

Recently, three girls from a high school in Denver attempted to fly to Turkey and later Syria to join the ISIS efforts over there. The fifteen and sixteen year old students were caught, however, in Germany, after one of their parents notified the police.

Similar situations have occurred in Minneapolis as well as many other cities across the US.

“Social media has played a very significant role in the recruitment of young people,” FBI spokesman Kyle Loven said.

In order to combat this surge of terrorism, the U.S. has implemented air strikes into the region and is even considering partnering up with Iran.

“I think that one of the most dangerous things is that it surprised us and it caught ourselves off guard,” Stromberg said.

ISIS continues to terrorize people and create further violence, with no end in sight.

“No one in Syria cares any more,” Sharba said. “We’ve been living like this for four years and we’re used to these kinds of things.”