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9 Things You Need to Know About ISIS

Islamic State fighters in Raqqa. Photograph: AP
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Following the horrific scenes in Paris, daily terror warnings and large scale press coverage, we’ve devised 9 facts about the barbaric death cult, which is the biggest threat to western democracy we have seen in 50 years. Here are 9 facts about ISIS that you need to know.

  1. What is ISIS? Formerly known as Al-Qaeda in Iraq, ISIS is a terrorist organisation built on Radical Arab Sunni revivalism. It is an unprecedented de-stabilising jihadi force who’s brutal violence has been likened to the Middle Ages.
  2. What do they want?Opinions vary. According to academic researchers and texts leaked to the press,  far from being an army of mindless, bloodthirsty fanatics, ISIS is a deeply calculating organisation with a complex infrastructure, who’s aim is to build a viable country rooted in fundamentalist theology.
  3. How will they achieve this?Anthropologist Scott Attran, who addressed the UN Security Council believes  “The greater the reaction against Muslims in Europe and the deeper the west becomes involved in military action in the Middle East, the happier ISIS leaders will be. Because this is about the organisation’s key strategy: finding, creating and managing chaos” and “[ISIS] conscientiously exploits the disheartening dynamic between the rise of radical Islamism and the revival of the xenophobic nationalist movements that are beginning to seriously undermine the middle class – the mainstay of stability and democracy” In short: ‘divide and conquer.’
  4. Who is their leader?Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi; also goes by the name Abu Du’a.
  5. Who else is involved? 42 international groups, including Nigeria’s Boko Haram and the Philippines’ Abu Sayyaf, are believed to have offered support or sworn loyalty to ISIS and its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, according to the Global Terrorism Index, published last month by the Institute for Economics and Peace.
  6. How do they publicise themselves? ISIS conducts their propaganda campaign using all of the latest social media and production techniques, maximizing their ability to reach out to a wide group of potential recruits.
  7. Where do they get the funding? ISIS has developed a variety of revenue streams to fill their war chest. Large windfalls include a $425 million injection of funds stolen from a Mosul bank while regular economic gains consist of criminal activity such as extortion, theft of historical artefacts and donations from wealthy patrons.
  8. What are they responsible for? Their barbaric actions include mass shootings, suicide bombings, televised beheadings and public crucifixions. The most recent European attack being Paris, France, killing 127.
  9. What about the rest of the world? Over 60 countries, including the USA, Russia and the UK are directly or indirectly waging war against ISIS.

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