President Obama now faces the biggest foreign policy crisis of his presidency; the implosion of Iraq. Over the past several months a group unknown to the general public has further destabilized an already bad situation. The group is known by the name ISIS and its power and reach has grown greater than the terrorist group Al-Qaeda. To keep our readers informed rolling out answers some fundamental questions about ISIS.
What is ISIS?
ISIS is the acronym for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. It is also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant as well as the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham. The terrorist group is not a recognized state at all but a set of independent and powerful jihadist non-state actors. However the group has declared itself an independent state claiming vast amounts of territory in Iraq and Syria.
The group was originally started during the early years of the Iraq war working in cooperation and with the blessing of Al-Qaeda in 2004. However the group grew so powerful and violent that in 2014 Al-Qaeda cut all ties with the group.
What does ISIS want?
-To force a withdrawal of coalition forces from Iraq;
-Overthrow the current Iraqi government
-The death of all collaborators with the American supported Iraqi regime;
-The destruction of the Shia population
-To establish subsequently a pure Islamic state under Sharia law.
Where are they getting the money from?
ISIS has been getting the bulk of its money from private donors. Allegedly money has flowed into ISIS from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other Gulf states. But just this past June, ISIS forces raided the Iraqi Central Bank of Mosul. It is estimated that the group was able to steal $429 million in U.S. dollars and a large amount of gold. It is estimated that the organization has over $2 billion dollars, making it the richest terrorist organization in the world.
How are they fighting?
As a whole, ISIS are using captured American weapons and equipment. The weapons and equipment include:
- Armored Personnel Carriers
- U.S. Army Combat Uniforms,
- Interceptor body armor
- AN/PVS-7 night vision goggles
- M16 rifles
- M4 carbines
- M203 grenade launchers
- M60 machine guns
- UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters