Article by Ariana Jessa (UWCAC 2015-17)
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, commonly known as ISIL or ISIS, was founded in 1999. Undoubtedly, it has had a major effect on societies all around the globe. Within its 16 years of existence. ISIS has claimed religious, political and military authority over all Muslims in the world. ISIS has achieved things that no other terrorist group has managed to achieve before. It has been able to capture, claim and keep territory in the heart of the Arab world. Besides the abundance of human rights violations, brutal mass murders, and a habit for ethnic cleansing, ISIS has succeeded in creating the most widespread terror in 50 years. There have been many terrorist groups that have risen and fallen in the last half century, such as Boko Haram, Al Qaeda and the Taliban. However, no group has had such widespread effect in a long time. Over 60 countries are waging war against ISIS, yet their widespread support has resulted in countless attacks all over the world, with no signs of stopping.
Nevertheless, it is not the senseless violence that makes ISIS effective, it is its widespread influence and social media tactics that have caused the unparalleled paranoia in societies all over the world. ISIS has posted countless videos on the internet of the beheadings of soldiers, civilians, journalists and aid workers, as well as the destruction of cultural heritage sites. It is because of its social media presence that it has managed to catch so much attention. People talk and post about ISIS in every corner of the globe. Its horrible videos are shared through the internet by thousands of people.
By demonstrating a lack of value for human life, through graphic videos and worldwide attacks, ISIS has managed to stay relevant and active despite the attempts of the world’s most powerful countries to stop it. This shows the widespread influence, breadth of funds, and unparalleled numbers, that ISIS has managed to gain in such a short amount of time. However, ISIS shows no signs of stopping. The attacks in Paris, as well as other sporadic acts of violence that have been claimed by ISIS, have caused every country to fear attacks, increasing the paranoia of terrorism to a level similar to the aftermath of 9/11. ISIS is unafraid to eliminate any competitor to exact its goals, and their effectiveness is originated in the general population’s knowledge that there is no boundary that ISIS cannot cross. The fear, distrust, and panic that ISIS has caused, is the root of their effectiveness as a terrorist organization, as they have managed to capture copious amounts attention on the world stage. They have caused the biggest paranoia in 50 years, through their social media presence and global influence that spans larger than any terrorist organization of its kind.