It is called the Islamic State, IS, ISIS, ISIL, or Daesh, but goes by many other names as well. It is the black-hooded, shadowy, nebulous, terror group that is everywhere and nowhere.
Like some mythical creature come to life, ISIS–as we will call it for this purpose–seems to have all the traits of the ultimate boogeyman operation. From recruiting campaigns via social media and slickly-produced videos, to precisely-worded propaganda, it appears that the group has all bases covered.
Not only does it boast all of the aforementioned characteristics, it appears to have access to an unlimited supply of cash to finance its dastardly schemes. If it were not for the fact that ISIS also happens to be, perhaps, the most brutal and murderous terror group this side of the Third Reich, this would be the stuff of James Bond movies.
Despite its despotic and ruthless reputation, the group still manages to maintain a fresh supply of willing volunteers who are eager to serve its merciless cause. As it were, one might liken the group to the multi-headed Hydra of ancient mythology—sever one head, and two more appear in its place. In fact, maybe it should have been called Hydra instead of ISIS, or whatever moniker it currently goes by. Then again, that name is already taken by another, albeit fictional, group that also has designs on world domination.
Beyond its gut-wrenching and depraved acts, and even the uncanny ability to attract legions of followers in spite of how it operates, lies its the most unsettling ability of all—the ability to resist the military might of two of the most powerful nations on the planet.
The United States is battling ISIS in Iraq and Syria, while Russia is engaging it on the Syrian front as well. Despite a year-long barrage of practically every kind of bomb being thrown at it by the U.S., and the recent addition of Russian firepower in Syria, somehow the group appears to remain relatively intact. For comparison, the U.S. beat back the entire Iraqi army—Republican Guards and all—in a matter of weeks, during the first Gulf War.
Most perplexing however, is the apparent reasoning for the seeming inability to rid the world of what both countries agree is a scourge to humanity. The U.S. accuses Russia of concentrating on U.S.-backed rebels, instead of ISIS, in order to keep the Assad regime in power, while Russia accuses the U.S. of being soft on the terror group. Although Russia claims it has done extensive damage to the group since it began airstrikes, there is really no foolproof way to verify this.
Meanwhile, ISIS continues its reign of terror and murder, virtually unchecked in some areas. The group is now even boldly claiming responsibility for downing a Russian passenger jet and issued a declaration of war against the country. ISIS has reportedly claimed responsibility for Friday’s horrific terror attacks in France that killed more than 150 people and prompted a national state of emergency there.
So far, the U.S. has not suffered any direct attacks from the group. Perhaps this is a testimony to the tight national security apparatus in place in the U.S.–or just good fortune, or both.
One of the biggest question marks, hanging in the air about ISIS, is where it got all of those Toyota trucks. Actually, the big question is how it funds its activities? Obviously, ISIS is not buying its equipment off of eBay and paying out of its PayPal account—at least hopefully not!
Reportedly, ISIS has taken over some oil fields in Iraq, which can serve as a source of revenue, but who is buying the oil and how are they transporting it? Does this premier bad-guy outfit have access to oil tankers as well?
There is also the issue of armaments. Who is supplying the guns ISIS uses to shoot people and the knives it uses to behead with? We know the group intercepted some equipment meant for anti-Assad rebels, along with what was taken from the Iraqi army. Also, let’s not forget those mass defections of U.S.-trained insurgents. Even this still does not account for all of its weaponry, but if you cut off the supply lines, you can bring the wheels of the war machine to a grinding halt.
ISIS could be reduced to throwing rocks and making IED’s out of soda cans and firecrackers in short order, if its supply lines were effectively disrupted. After all, this is a tactic pulled from “warfare 101.” Is ISIS really the autonomous, multi-tentacled organization it appears to be, or is it really a front for a nation-state? Is the rise of ISIS truly all about the formation of some vaunted caliphate, or is there something even more sinister behind it?