The Rise of ISIS in Middle Eastern and Global Affairs

The history and the rise of Islamic State (ISIS) reveal a complex revolutionary Islamic movement that the world has found it difficult to tame. Currently, this terror group occupies a large territory in US and Syria. It has toppled the Syrian government and imposed itself as the legitimate government of Syria. In 2014, its leader, Al-Baghdadi declared Syria an Islamic state Caliphate that is to be governed strictly on Sharia laws. He also appointed himself the Caliph, meaning the God’s deputy on planet. Apparently, ISIS is mobilising the Muslim community to declare their allegiances to the religion of Islam and must accomplish the duty of building an ‘Islamic pure world.’ The ISIS has also opened its own Islamic schools; it collects taxes and enforces harsh justice system. It has a following stretching across The Middle East, Europe, Asia and North Africa. Its fighters are international. They represent the many different global cultures. Its recruitment strategies are unique from the famous terrorist groups.  ISIS derives its massive revenues from the oil fields in Syria, taxes imposed on locals, kidnapping and many others to keep hold on its thousands of fighters. With the terror being the contemporary global issue, the rise of ISIS is a risk to the global community. The war on terror has being complicated by the massive growth of the ISIS through its vigorous global recruitment. On the other hand, various jihadist groups including the former Al Qaeda sympathisers have joined the ISIS movement. It is estimated that about 1000 fighters are recruited daily. It is therefore imperative to conclude that rising of ISIS is a global contemporary issue.  Its ideology of the Caliphate, the massive wealth and its recruitment strategy is complicating the war on terror.  

Explanation/analysis of the historical facts/evidence in relation to the time at which they happened

The sudden emergence of ISIS on the international scene, have prompted a various explanations regarding its origin. It is important to understand that the history of ISIS stretches back to 1990s. The group was founded by Abu Musab al-Zarqawia, a Jordan citizen. He participated in the Afghanistan soviet war as a journalist covering the war. In 1992, he returned back to Jordan but in 1999, him and some al-Qaeda members planned a terrorist attack known as the ‘millennium plot’. The plan failed and Zarqawi had to flee Jordan to Afghanistan where he met Osama Bin Laden. In 2001, he sought refuge in Iran after fleeing Afghanistan. Before, America invaded Iraq, he had travelled to Kurdish, the northern region of Iraq where he collaborated with the regions Islamist organization known as Ansar al-Islam, which had been formed in 2001. In 2003, he joined insurgents in fighting the US soldiers. In 2004, his Islamic Jihad Organisation collaborated with Osama. He became the recognised representative of al-Qaeda in Iraq. He adopted a jihadi strategy of killing the innocent Shi’ite population.  He despised Shiite and the Sunnis. He hated them for being pro Americans.  On the other hand, his strategy was to scatter the US effort of forming a government to stabilize Iraq. Despite the disapproval from Osama, Zaqawi employed the ‘Islamic legitimacy’ a philosophy he derived from his jihad beliefs to exercise mass killings against the Shiites (Sekulow, p 259).

In 2006, the American forces killed Abu Musab al-Zarqaw. His position as the leader of al-Qaeda was taken by Abu Hamza al-Muhajir. Months later, an umbrella network was formed. The network was named as Islamic State of Iraq. Abu Omar al-Baghdadi was appointed its leader however; the al-Qaeda members who had been recruited by al-Zarqawi dominated the network. Between 2008 and 2011, the US and the Iraqi forces, waged an extensive military campaign against the ISI and other jihad groups. In 2010, the American and the Iraqi forces killed both Abu Hamza al-Muhajir and Abu Omar al-Baghdadi. The leadership of ISI was then inherited by Abu Bakr al-Baghdad. The unfolding truth is that long before America waged a military invasion against the ISI network, in the year 2000, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had been constructing a jihadi infrastructure in Syria. It is in Syria that the al-Qaeda recruited jihad operatives to carry out attacks in Iraq. At the time, Syria was harbouring activities of a terror group right in its doorstep while the world was focusing its nuclear program (Isakhan, p. 106).

Analysis of the historical facts

According to Warrick, the foundation of ISIS was because of three factors.  The first factor is a prolonged history of conflict and dictatorial governance in the entire Middle East. Second factor is the improper, missteps and mistakes by the western world such as the invasion of Iraq, the handing of Zarqawi as an international fame prior to the invasion of the Iraq. Zarqawi was falsely identified as the key link between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda thus disregarding other key player of jihadi. Finally is the influence of Zarqawi. Another mistake that facilitated the rising of ISIS according to Warrick, is the 2011 pulling out of the US soldiers from Iraq. It therefore left the US and the western world with lack of intelligence about the activities of the ISIS. Regarding the history of dictatorial governance in the Middle East, Warrick attributes the trend to quick dissolutions of the authorities in this region and dependence on the government by the reining authorities to retain the legitimacy of their governments. However, when these governments that is Syrian and Iraqi governments lost their authorities, the ISIS rose to fill in the power vacuum.  With the available weak authority and the need to strengthen the network, ISI began breaking out the al-Qaeda prisoners who had been jailed in the Iraqi prisons. More than five hundred ruthless al-Qaeda fighters were released (Warrick, p 253).

The released fighters provided enough military strength for the ISI. By the end of 2011, the network sent it fighters in Iraq to fight against the Assad regime. In 2011, ‘Al-Nusra Front’ was established. Its purpose was to add power base to the ISI outside Iraq. However, it is the desire of Al-Nusra Front’ to become an independent jihadi organisation that led to the unification of the two organisations thus becoming the ISIS. Since its invasion of Syria and declaring it an Islamic state, ISIS has grown stronger.  Its brutality has led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Syrian Civilians. The world is now faced with immigration crisis caused by nine million refugees who have fled the civil war in Syria while in Iraq, over 3 million people have been misplaced. Besides, it is imperative to acknowledge that globalization has played a significance part in harnessing the growth of this terror group. Moreover (Global Terrorism Index, 142).

Significance of the historical facts

Contrary to al-Qaeda, that has globalized jihadist ideologies; the ISIS is not pursuing utopian global goals. The group has evolved its ideologies to a regional context. Its setups for building regional Islamic states are more realistic and tangible to their sympathizers. Its evolution solely relies upon the many erupting failing states to which, it camouflage with the local rebels in the pretence of liberation to the locals (Cockburn, p 248). The advance technology has facilitated interconnectedness. It has enable ISIS to instantly reach out to its followers and even appeal to potential followers. It has made the apocalyptic war between the muslims and non-muslims to be attractive to even the disaffected youth across the world. Its doctrine of ‘caliophate’ is attracting thousands of youths across the world who not only believe in such doctrine but are psycopaths who are out to seek adventure. Evidence of how the ISIS is exploiting globalisation is the resent declaration by it spokesperson Abu Muhammad al-Adnani that Muslims in the western countries to kill any non-Muslims they come across. Such statements are only meant to fuel tension to the world despite its already polarized method of recruitment (Cockburn, 286).

The global community is jittering due to the fact that unlike other terrosrist groups, ISIS does not depend on financial assistance to sustain its terror operations. The group has established its tax systems and impossed it on the Syrian people. It loots, collects rumsorm  and sells oil from the oil fields it controls in Iraq and Syria. The significance of its financial capacity is that it is able to finance a large scale and sophisticated type of terror to the world. Economic experts too are worried that the ISIS conflict in the Middle East may disrupt the oil markets globally if it seizes the major oil fields in these region (Bennis, p 266).Unfortunately, the greatest challenge is how to counter the efforts of ISIS. More immigrants are gaining interest in joining the group. They have the individual desire to leave in a world that is free from the western influence or to be the caliphates. In the face of these challenges, the global community must accept that ISIS is a product of a history based on events that it played a role. However, contrary to the previous military wars it waged on terror groups, the ISIS requires a different approach. The global community must denounce the military solution and embark on a political solution to counter the influence and the future greater damages posed by this group. The world must also promote good governance to cut out the breeding environment for such organisations (Sagini and Patterson, p 183).


Therefore, it is imperative to conclude that ISIS was established during the war on terror in Iraq.  It was formed by leaders like Abu Musab al-Zarqaw who believed in the doctrine of jihad. Its leaders took advantage of the volatile government to propagate and strengthen the activities of the ISIS. Most importantly, without the knowledge of the world, ISIS existed as early as 2000. The group currently controls Syria and Iraq. It has an appealing recruitment method that is attracting thousands of youths across the world. The ISIS has also complicated the war on terror making it a global contemporary issue. The biggest global fear is that it has a massive wealth than any other terror organization. It is suggested that the world must use a political instead of military approach to counter the ISIS.















Cited From

Cockburn, Patrick .The Rise of Islamic State: ISIS and the New Sunni Revolution. An investigation of the chaos in Iraq and Syria.Verso, London, 2015. 192 pp.

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Bennis, Phyllis. Isis and Syria: The New Global War on Terror. Oxford: New internationalist, 2016. Print.

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Sekulow, Jay. The Rise of Isis: A Threat We Can’t Ignore. , 2014. Print.Bottom of Form


Warrick, Joby .The Rise of ISIS from Regional Terror to Global Threa. 2015. Print.

Sagini, Meshack M, and Thomas E. Patterson. Globalization: The Paradox of Organizational Behavior : Terrorism, Foreign Policy, and Governance. 2015. Print.

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Cockburn, Patrick. The Rise of Islamic State: Isis and the New Sunni Revolution. , 2015. Print.

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Isakhan, Benjamin. The Legacy of Iraq: From the 2003 War to the ‘islamic State’. , 2015. Internet resource.

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Global Terrorism Index 2015: Measuring and Understanding the Impact of Terrorism. Sydney: Institute for Economics and Peace, 2014. Internet resource.

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