The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, which has claimed responsibility for Friday’s terror attacks in Paris, but the group as we know it today is in many ways a product of Syria’s civil war. That war is much bigger than ISIS but it is crucial for understanding so much that has happened in the past year, from terror attacks to the refugee crisis. And to understand the war, you need to understand how it began and how it unfolded.
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, better known as ISIS, has claimed responsibility for the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks in Paris. To really understand the group, the first thing you need to know about it is that it used to have a different name: al-Qaeda in Iraq.
U.S. troops and allied Sunni militias defeated al-Qaeda in Iraq during the 2007 “surge” — but didn’t destroy it. The U.S. commander in Iraq, General Ray Odierno, described the group in 2010 as down but “fundamentally the same.” In 2011, the group began rebuilding, and in 2012 and 2013 it freed a number of prisoners held by the Iraqi government, who then joined its ranks.
ISIS, unlike many other jihadist groups, doesn’t depend on foreign funders to survive. In Syria, it’s built up something like a mini-state: collecting the equivalent of taxes, selling electricity, and exporting oil to fund its militant activities.
Max Fisher has a basic breakdown of how ISIS managed to do this, which includes extorting money from humanitarian workers and selling electricity to the Syrian government that it’s currently fighting. There are two important takeaways here. As Fisher explains, these clever revenue bases have made ISIS much more effective on the battlefield than other militant groups
As the U.S. prepares itself for an invasion from ISIS the true threat comes from an even more deceptive organization. If anyone is terrorizing America directly right now, it’s the American government that would first fund and train terrorists who are raping people and setting them on fire, crucifying Christians and beheading children, then conspire with the media to scare the American people that the government’s own terrorist creation is going to attack here 9/11-style right before another 9/11 anniversary.
Nobel Michael is a senior mass communication major from Lancaster, Calif.