ISIS is undoubtedly a real and exponentially growing threat. But who are the key players in this monstrous group, and why are they achieving so much success? This comprehensive report explains the formation of ISIS and the process by which it has been funded, armed and equipped.
The rebranding of ISIS as ‘ISIL’ by the USA denotes the expansion of the extremist group beyond Iraq and into the Levant, reflecting its similarly expanding power, peril, and prowess. As political analyst Hussein Royvaran explains, “The US regards it as a security threat which must be destroyed by bombing, whereas ISIL is a social phenomenon, rather than military”. With strong intelligence, a tight structure, and a powerful propaganda machine, this group is now the world’s wealthiest terrorist organisation.
Yet ISIL owes its strength to countries who supported the group when it benefited them to do so. Turkey provided the bulk of ISIL’s funds, logistics, training and arms in the fight against Assad, whilst an agreement between ISIL and the Kurdistan government permitted ISIL to conquer the Iraqi city Mosul in July 2014 while allowing the Kurds to take the oil rich city of Kirkuk. As journalist Pepe Escobar explains, “My informed guess is that more or less they divided the territory. They made an agreement”. The USA paradoxically poured resources into moderate rebels during the group’s early stages to fight against the Soviet Union, and years later confronts the same men as extremists, proclaiming war a new enemy: “The United States will… degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group known as ISIL , ” declares President Obama.
ISIS and ISIL are one and same thing.
Once a small militant faction, ISIL has now attracted over 12,000 radicalised militants. Following the brutal beheadings of journalists and aid workers, the group is succeeding in its quest to provoke Western powers, and swell its ranks with vulnerable youth. As Escobar notes, “The way they edited the beheading didn’t have to show blood, didn’t have to be aggressive – it was a very good piece of filmmaking, just suggesting fear”. This informative doc reveals the subtle processes by which ISIL have emerged, and questions the policies and mistakes that have permitted its evolution.