Graeme Wood graduated from Harvard University in 2001 and speaks fluent Russian and some Arabic. He is a Canadian journalist.
Mr. Wood has written an in-depth, thought-provoking article in the March issue of The Atlantic, on “What ISIS really wants.”
It’s likely to be the most discussed article on the subject for some time.
The article stands in complete contrast to statements made by western leaders, who claim that ISIS does not represent Islam and that terrorism is not Islamic.
Mr. Wood delves deep into Islamic history and shows that, in fact, the opposite is the case, that ISIS is the real face of Islam and represents the true face of the religion. He makes such a convincing case to support his argument that I doubt anybody will sit down and argue with him. The facts fit. The question is: what are we going to do about it?
Today, the BBC World Service revealed that the number of Christians abducted by ISIS fighters on Monday from villages in North-East Syria is between 370 – 500, not the 70 originally thought to have been kidnapped. To say that fears are growing for their safety is an understatement. They may be used as hostages and traded for ISIS fighters taken as prisoners. According to Mr. Wood: “Exempted from automatic execution, it appears, are Christians who do not resist their new government. Baghdadi permits them to live, as long as they pay a special tax, known as the jizya, and acknowledge their subjugation. The Koranic authority for this practice is not in dispute.”
It has also been confirmed that three teenage girls who left England last week for Turkey crossed the border into Syria to join ISIS. The fact that they all went to an exclusive private school is further proof that joblessness and poverty do not cause terrorism, as the US Administration claims.
Earlier today, three Americans were charged with trying to leave the country to join ISIS. One of them even promised to kill the President of the United States if asked to do so.
Others, in both countries, have already gone to Syria to join the organization. ISIS is said to be attracting hundreds of new fighters each day.
“Tens of thousands of foreign Muslims are thought to have immigrated to the Islamic State. Recruits hail from France, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Germany, Holland, Australia, Indonesia, the United States, and many other places. Many have come to fight, and many intend to die.” (Wood, What ISIS Really Wants)
Meanwhile, as the threat from ISIS increases, the US and UK are continuing to reduce the size of their militaries, according to reports on today’s Fox News website and in last week’s Economist. The report on Fox News was based on the Heritage Foundation’s “2015 Index of US Military Strength,” which concluded that, for the first time in decades, the US can no longer fight and win two wars at the same time. During the last decade, the country and its allies fought two simultaneous wars, in Iraq and Afghanistan, arguably losing both wars. There is a very real possibility that wars against ISIS, al-Qaeda and Boko Haram may have to be fought in three different regions while, at the same time, there is also a very real prospect of a proxy war with Russia in Ukraine or maybe even the Baltic states.
A few days ago, I posted an article to my blog, titled “What If The President Is Wrong?” This was just after his claim that terrorism is caused by joblessness.
A few days later, I read Mr. Wood’s article in The Atlantic. Joblessness is not the problem. Rather, we have here a fundamentalist movement that is returning Islam to its 1400-year-old roots and copying Muhammed in the way he dealt with infidels and those in conquered lands.
Monday’s Chicago Tribune put it well: “What motivates these people? Why do so many of them, Westerners included, eagerly come to the desert to fight and die?
“The best examination we’ve seen appears in the current issue of the The Atlantic. “What ISIS Really Wants,” by Graeme Wood, argues that Islamic State is not a death cult that distorts Islam in a bid to gain political power. Rather, it is a fanatically rigid religious movement based on specific teachings and traditions of seventh century Islam, which it implements to a dangerously literal degree . . .”
“In the view of Islamic State leaders, there is only one extremely narrow belief path to follow – its own puritanical Salafist branch of Sunni Islam. The rest of us, even practicing Muslims, are infidels to be subjugated or killed . . . ” (Knowing Islamic State and Its Vision)
What is particularly interesting in Graeme Wood’s article is the conviction that ISIS has, that they are to play a significant role in world history leading up to the apocalypse. Christians will see in part a distortion of their own beliefs regarding end-time events.
“These include the belief that there will be only 12 legitimate caliphs, and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is the eighth; that the armies of Rome will mass to meet the armies of Islam in northern Syria; and that Islam’s final showdown with an anti-Messiah will occur in Jerusalem after a period of renewed Islamic conquest.”
This paragraph alone should tell us one thing – that ISIS is here to stay and will remain with us until the end-time events that Christians believe will see the return of Jesus Christ.
“What ISIS Really Wants” gives us a clear understanding of the beliefs and goals of ISIS. The question now is how is the West going to react?