By Krishangi Singh:
The ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) has gained near-totalitarian control in the area of Iraq and Syria with its roots planted firmly in the countries through terror and reckless violence. The certainly failed attempt of Iraq government to stop the terror attacks of ISIL goes on to show how deeply this organisation has infected the country in its short span of existence since 2006. The most recent attack by ISIL at a gas field in central Syria on July 18th has left 270 Syrians dead and a lot more terrified. Just a day after this brutal attack, the ISIL on July 19th issued a clear ultimatum to all Christians residing in Mosul, Iraq: either convert to Islam, pay Jizya (a tax on non-muslim residents) or else leave the country. This warning in Mosul, North Iraq has left Christians with a clear statement of either becoming a second class citizen in their own country or to not be a part of it at all.
The jihadist militant organisation that started as an al-Qaeda break-away faction in 2006 has left its parent organisation looking tame in front of it. As the ISIL was publicly disavowed by Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of al-Qaeda, for its hardline policies, it has diminished its hold on Syria to some extent. Thus Baghdadi seems to have turned his attention back to his homeland with the recent capture of Mosul and Tikri. Yet recent name shift from ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) to ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) only goes on to demonstrate the sudden rise and expansion of this terrorist organisation.
The self proclaimed ‘caliph’ Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is set on the idea to create a new ‘caliphate’ extending all the way from Egypt to Iraq in which Sharia Law will be implemented immediately including amputation and beheading. He has ordered punishment against everyone who chooses to abide by state law instead of Sharia law making Iraqi troops it’s prime targets as they refuse the implementation of Sharia law and constitute majorly of Shiites.
On the path to string together a unified Islamic state, the theocratic dictatorship ISIL is creating bears no resemblance to its predecessor. The Ottoman Empire, which was the last caliphate, remained tolerant to various ethnicities residing in it. Ishan Tharoor for ‘The Washington Times’ writes ‘For centuries, the Ottoman held sway over a vast,complex and diverse empire, home to many ethnicities and faith’.
Clearly, The bloodthirsty war running in Syria and Iraq have shown no such signs as it goes on to execute non-sunni population on a daily basis. Human Rights Watch reports that the ISIL has killed approximately 5,500 people and left about 1.2 million people homeless in only the first six months of 2014. Apart from Shia, ISIL also remains intolerant towards Christians, Shabaks, Turkmen and Yazidis.
India is home to around 177 million followers of Islam, out of which 10% are Shia. Given the ISIL’s no tolerance policy for other sects, India is definitely a potential target. ISIL has also made its intentions clear with the map they released marking the boundary for their caliphate which included Gujarat in it. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi released a 20 minute audio tape on the day of Ramzan that declared war against ‘countries that have violated Muslim rights’, which includes India.
Another big threat that ISIL poses is the fact that apart from the 10,000 Indian workers stranded in Iraq, there are hundreds of thousands of Indian workers working in other arab countries who will be in danger. Not to mention, if the 250 million tonnes supply of oil from Iraq is jeopardized, it will lead to a substantial hike in fuel price.
Being so close to the battleground, we cannot turn our faces away from the threat. A country that is home to the third largest population of Islam followers, we certainly need to be wary of ISIL. It will not only see our homeland as a potential target but also as a recruiting ground for it’s army. Indian authorities have already gathered information on four men from Maharashtra who are now in Iraq to fight for ISIL. India Today reports that sources suspect men from Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu are also being recruited to fight for the ISIL. This not only poses threat as an evident recruitment drive is taking place in India but also for the possibility that these recruits might just come back in the country to start terrorist organisations of their own.