Every time you turn on the TV these days you’ll see news reports spreading fear about the terrorist group ISIS. Just about every news station is saying that ISIS has infiltrated the United States or that they have plans of bombing subways, schools, and they have entered the country via plane, boat, or across the Mexican border. But what is ISIS, where did they come from, and are they really a threat?
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). These named are fairly new, however. The group has gone through several name changes over the years but for the longest time it was popularly known as Al-Qaeda of Iraq (AQI).
The AQI was originally founded by Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi back in 2004. During those days, the group was completely loyal to Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden. After leaders died during the war, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was appointed leader in 2010. By then the group went by the name Islamic State of Iraq (ISI).
In 2013, the group began merging with the Syrian branch of Al-Qaeda, the al-Nusra Front. Al-Qaeda’s leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri was against this merge but both parties continued anyway and thus formed the ISIL/ISIS known today. Al-Qaeda has since disavowed the group.
The main goal was to help the al-Nusra front topple the Syrian government and establish a Sunni caliphate in the region. Eventually though the al-Nusra Front and ISI began fighting between each other, leading to the near abolition of the al-Nusra Front, forming the primarily ISI-lead group known today.
ISIS has since invaded the borders of Jordan, taken their strides to conquer Iraq and is now moving in to re-establish Sunni Islam in their territory.
But are they a threat to the United States?
A lot of attention came by when ISIS publicly executed American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff. There was a call for all Sunni Muslims across the world to execute any civilian that would impede against ISIS’s goal to establish their rule over their territory, particularly against the US after the recent air strike attack.
However, ISIS has made no claims or threats of invading any country, US or otherwise. The group is more focused on their own territory, fighting their own battles against the groups that fought for the old governments or for the coalition of US troops. ISIS is too preoccupied fighting wars to keep its territory – even against other terrorist groups and Islamic states – for it to fully invade another country.
The only real threat ISIS poses to the United States is fear and radical thinking. There are no ISIS proclamations to invade Texas, bomb Washington DC, or fly airplanes into financial districts. ISIS is currently engaged in civil war within its own borders.
This doesn’t mean that they aren’t a threat. They’re just too far away, too disarrayed and disorganized for them to become a real invasive enemy. Then again, many politicians gain votes and money by spreading fear-mongering lies and by promoting anti-foreign policies.