In the light of the ongoing crisis in Iraq where 40 Indians have been abducted, the Suuni militant outfit, variously called ISIS and ISIL, has been hogging international headlines. The Islamic State in Iraq and Levant, also known as Islamic State in Iraq and Syria or Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham, derives its ideology from the radical Sunni Wahhabi sect, an ultra-orthodox branch of Islam that has roots in Saudi Arabia and the UAE. A jihadist militant group in Iraq and Syria, it showcases itself as a militant voice for Sunni Muslims and is notorious for its hatred towards members of the Shia sect of Islam as well as non-Muslims. It aims to establish a caliphate in the Sunni majority regions of Iraq, expanding to include Syria at a later stage. With the militant group acquiring large swathes of territory in Iraq, the ISIS is increasingly looking like a state with the state.
The ISIS, which is being hailed as Al Qaeda 2.0, has taken the centerstage in the global Islamist jihad movement in a very short span of time and is being seen as an organised, very efficient and most ambitious terror organisation in the world. In a strange reversal of fortunes, Al Qaeda which once had dominated the world of terror for the last 20 years or so, appears now more in the shadow of ISIS, which it had earlier led ideologically.
The ISIS was founded in 2003 by Abu Musab Al Zarqawi, who later in 2004 declared allegiance to Al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden, as a reaction against the American-led invasion and occupation of Iraq. Al-Qaida’s central leadership, however, severed all ties with the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) in February 2014 after an eight-month long struggle for power.
The ISIS is currently led by its chief Abu Bakr Al–Baghdadi who proclaims himself the true heir of Bin Laden and accuses Al Qaeda for deviating from the cause. A scholar of Islamic history, he joined rebel fighters during the 2003 invasion Of Iraq by the US. He was captured by the US in 2006 and was kept in the US-run prison in Iraq camp Bucca. He is believed to have joined forces with Al-Qaeda here. He joined the ISIS on his release and became its chief in 2010.
Richest jihadi outfit
According to Iraqi intelligence, the ISIS is the richest jihadist group in the world with assets worth $ 2 billion dollars. About 75 percent of its wealth comes from assets seized, when the group captured the Iraqi city of Mosul in June 2014. This included about $429 million looted from Mosul’s central bank as well as a large quantity of gold bullion. Its other sources of income are extortion, robbing banks and gold shops and funding from private donors in the Gulf countries. It is also believed that the group generates revenue from producing crude oil and selling electric power in northern Syria. The crude oil is reportedly sold back to the Syrian government.
Tactics: Arms and the Men
The ISIS is believed to have around 6,000 fighters in Iraq and 3,000-5,000 in Syria, including approximately 3,000 foreigners. 1000 of these are reported to be from Chechnya, and perhaps 500 or so more from France, Britain and elsewhere in Europe. Sources believe that the group has about 15,000 people performing secondary roles.
The ISIS has been constantly innovating its tactics and techniques to keep pace with the changing times. According to a report in The Washington Post, ISIS fighters use support-by-fire positions, in which heavy weapons like machine guns are used to provide covering fire for their troops. Going by what a video film released by the ISIS, the rebels appear to be a well-trained and an organized force. They are believed to be using American-style body armour vests or “plate carriers”. Scenes from an hour-long propaganda video footage released by them also shows ISIS fighters firing what appears to be an SA-7 Man Portable Air-Defense System, commonly known as a MANPADS. They are also seen using some kind of wire-guided anti-tank guided missile, similar to US-made TOW currently in use by moderate Syrian rebels. They have also been seen using Chinese HJ-8 and Russian AT-4 anti-tank systems in Syria.
India is possibly on the radar of the extremist outfit, as a recently released world dominion map by the terror outfit shows. The map shows parts of north-west India, including Gujarat, which is presented as the part of the Islamic state of Khorasan, a caliphate that the ISIS is aiming to achieve. According to sources, there was a flow of jihadist fighting in Iraq and Syria from India who would return and become the link between Middle East outfits and the Indian subcontinent. Looking at the rapid pace at which this terror outfit is charging ahead, India must be ready to face the challenge posed by this brutal militia.
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