ISIS has plans for terrorist attacks on the United States and other countries in order to launch a world war and trigger what it considers an apocalypse. So say experts on terrorism and Islamic theology who have studied the organization in detail.
“ISIS wants a war between Islam and the rest of the world, with Muslims on its side, as a way of creating and expanding its so-called ‘caliphate,’” Miami Herald world affairs columnist Frida Ghitis wrote in a recent CNN.com column.
On the surface, Ghitis wrote, ISIS’s strategy seems self-destructive. It provoked France and by extension NATO, and then it brought down a plane from Russia, which is not part of NATO.
“ISIS must have known that shooting down a Russian plane would make [Russian President Vladimir] Putin turn his guns against the perpetrators, which is exactly what has happened,” she wrote. “By attacking Russia, ISIS is doing the unimaginable, making Putin and the West start working together — against ISIS.
“…ISIS seems to be risking it all, creating the conditions for an overwhelming international attack, by the United States, Russia, France, Turkey, perhaps all of NATO, against its ragtag army. If this happens, it could lose it all.”
The goal, she wrote, is simple: provoke the countries to retaliate and get all Muslims to side with ISIS. It hopes its brutality and attacks will turn worldwide public opinion against moderate Muslims and Muslim 1refugees, and in turn the two groups will have nowhere to turn but ISIS.
“Its ultimate vision is an apocalyptic one,” she wrote. “A strategy that looks self-destructive is, in fact, destructive, but perhaps less baffling than it seems as first glance. As many scholars have noted, ISIS’s long-range vision is of an end-of-days battle with the West — what it calls Rome. It is the ultimate suicide mission, one that sees the entire world involved in a grand final conflagration.”
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The attacks in Paris were planned by ISIS’s top commanders at its headquarters in Raqqa, Syria, and probably were ordered or approved by ISIS’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, experts say.
The ISIS Apocalypse
One of ISIS’s key beliefs is that there will be an apocalyptic battle between the forces of true Islam led by a Caliph, and the armies of Rome at the Syrian city of Dabiq, said Graeme Wood, a contributing editor at The Atlantic and a member of the Council of Foreign Relations.
ISIS  has captured Dabiq, and al-Baghdadi has proclaimed himself Caliph, Wood noted. That means al-Baghdadi expects to lead the final battle between Islam and the rest of the world.
“Dabiq is basically all farmland,” an ISIS supporter tweeted earlier this year. “You could imagine large battles taking place there.”
Wrote Wood, “The Islamic State’s propagandists drool with anticipation of this event, and constantly imply that it will come soon.”
Many of the beheadings have taken place at Dabiq. According to ISIS’s theology, the Caliph will win the battle at Dabiq, conquer the entire world, and impose Sharia law, says Bernard Haykel, who is regarded as one of the world’s foremost secular authorities on ISIS’s ideology.
“Even the foot soldiers spout this stuff constantly,” Haykel told The Atlantic. “They mug for their cameras and repeat their basic doctrines in formulaic fashion, and they do it all the time.”
Politicians and some Muslim leaders may try and excuse the Koran by saying ISIS is twisting texts, but Haykel said the Koran is clear in teaching violence.
“People want to absolve Islam,” he said. “It’s this ‘Islam is a religion of peace’ mantra. … These guys [ISIS] have just as much legitimacy as anyone else.”
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