SYRIA — A formerly affiliated subsidiary of al-Qaeda, known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham (ISIS), has been committing brutal acts of violence that even al-Qaeda condemns. After being denounced from al-Qaeda as a “deviant organization," the group is increasing its presence in the Levant (the Sham), particularly Syria. In Early May ISIS carried out seven public executions in the Syrian city of Ar-Raqqa, leaving two of the deceased on display, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The slaying of the seven Syrian rebels in Ar-Raqqa are just the beginning of the threat ISIS poses on the region. According to the group, the seven prisoners were crucified in response to a grenade attack on ISIS members. However, an eyewitness source told CNN that the five dead prisoners that were not displayed were children. The source, from an anti-ISIS activist group, also claims that these five victims were under eighteen; one was a seventh-grade student.
Their other attacks are also seemingly unjustified acts of terror. ISIS’s targets tend to be apparently innocent civilians, including cab drivers, goat herders, and children. Their use of crucifixion began this March when, as CNN reported, ISIS accused a shepherd of theft and murder. ISIS members shot the shepherd in the head and posted his body to a wooden cross. Photo evidence showed the body leaning against a building painted with ISIS’s name and flag.
ISIS relies on symbolism in their attacks—like with the crucifixion—making their acts all the more terrifying for the people. CNN reported that another man killed by ISIS had his body covered in a red sign that read in Arabic, "This man fought Muslims and detonated an IED here."
The group justifies many attacks as revenge. However, in February, Daily Mail reports that a young girl was stoned to death in Syria by ISIS. She had made a Facebook account and ISIS authority condemns the use of social media, equating it to adultery.
The Syrian government has left voids in the communities since the civil war, which has allowed ISIS to easily slip into power by preying on the people. ISIS has been using the absence of authority to seize it for themselves and issue dictates that comply to strict sharia law. CNN reports that decrees are posted on buildings that command: "All shop owners must close their stores immediately upon the announcement of prayer and go to the mosque. Any violators after the issuance of this announcement will face consequences."
ISIS forces the Christian minority to follow a different set of rules. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Christians must not recite prayers around Muslims, cannot repair churches, cannot display crosses, and must pay a special tax to militants.
ISIS’s rule is so harsh that even Al-Qaeda criticizes the group and cut ties with them. The imprisoned al-Qaeda leader, Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi has written letters from jail condemning ISIS’s actions. The Long War Journal reports that Maqdisi wrote that their attacks on Muslims is “unlawful” and that the group has denied al-Qaeda leadership saying they “began to justify their sin and their transgression against the Mujahideen, as well as their rebellion against their leaders and their rejection of the advice of their leaders, under the guise that al Qaeda has deviated from the path of Jihad.”
The rules instated by ISIS have not been imposed since ancient Islamic times. Abbas Barzegar, assistant professor of Islamic studies at Georgia State University, told CNN,” It has become a standard feature of fringe Islamist groups to revive these outdated practices in an effort to bring back what they believe is authentic." And he goes on to say that what the group believes is “authentic” to Islam is to punish anyone who opposes God because they “deserve the highest form of punishment possible”.
There are Syrians that are confronting the extremist group. An anti-ISIS activist uses Facebook for updates, plans for protests, and posts of alleged crimes committed by ISIS. The anti-ISIS Facebook page currently has 12,000 followers.
- The Extremist Organizations 'on the Front Lines' (nytimes.com)
- "Most bloody jihadists": a renegade Syrian mercenary slam UK extremists for atrocities ~ Britons in Syria make up the majority of the foreign terrorists (GRAPHIC) (syrianfreepress.wordpress.com)
- American citizen carries out suicide bombing for Al-qaeda in Syria (theiranproject.com)
- Jailed jihadist ideologue says the ISIS is 'deviant organization' (longwarjournal.org)
- Hundreds of Britons with ultra-extremist Islamists fighting in Syria (telegraph.co.uk)