“I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them”
—Qur’an, Surah 8:12 –
Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.
There is an unambiguous contrast drawn between the two statements of faith quoted above. In one, we see ostensibly fundamentalist words that are currently being used by groups like the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS, also seen as IS and ISIL) and others to justify and motivate their persecution and butchery of Christians in Iraq and elsewhere. In the other, we see prescient words of warning to those whose faith would make them targets and victims of fanatical, bloodthirsty hatred.
Canon Andrew White, Vicar of the Anglican Church in Baghdad, experienced the horror firsthand when ISIS descended upon on the Christian town of Qaraqosh. “I’m almost in tears because I’ve just had somebody in my room whose little child was cut in half. I baptized his child in my church in Baghdad. This little boy, they named him after me – he was called Andrew. This town of Qaraqosh is a Christian village so they knew everybody there was part of their target group.”
The brutality of ISIS has become known worldwide, and chillingly, there seems no one capable of standing against them. Iraqi forces, unable to stop them, simply fled. Syrian forces fought them to an uneasy draw, and America’s feckless Commander in Chief (who seemingly holds his most important title as something merely ceremonial) has no stomach for such a fight. This sadly means that thousands, and perhaps hundreds of thousands more, will lose their lives to these butchers.
Born out of the fires of the sectarian conflicts of Iraq and Syria, ISIS is the distilled, concentrated form of the same hate and rage-filled fanaticism which is opposed to the West and seeks to reshape the region into the Caliphate, an Islamic state led by a supreme religious and political leader known as a caliph, i.e. the “successor” to the prophet Muhammad. The banner of the Caliphate, if raised successfully, would be one under which all neighboring nations and peoples would fall.
Many of these fighters come from the same groups that formed “the resistance” in the conflicts in Libya and Syria, which in the eye of former Ambassador Ryan Crocker have come to present a threat more dangerous than previously understood. From the New York Times: “This is about America’s national security,” said Crocker, who was ambassador to Iraq under Mr. Bush and to Afghanistan under Mr. Obama. “We don’t understand real evil, organized evil, very well. This is evil incarnate. People like Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi,” the ISIS leader, “have been in a fight for a decade. They are messianic in their vision, and they are not going to stop.”
Shortly after its rise to power in the region, Christians were warned to either leave the Iraqi city of Mosul and other areas under ISIS control, pay the jizyah tax to ISIS leaders, or face a sentence of death. Those are the stark choices faced by Christian families in the region: One can flee, convert, pay a fine, or be put to death. There will be no tolerant coexistence. And in spite of the fact that Christians, Muslims and Jews have lived together in this region of the world for centuries, the strain of Islam that dominates them is now so extreme that Islam has come to represent an existential threat to the Christians and Jews.
The undeniable, inescapable fact is this: when ISIS hangs Christian men, rapes women and beheads children by the hundreds, they do so–as they themselves claim–in the name of Allah. ISIS has warned Christians, repeatedly and possibly for the last time, that “there is nothing to give them but the sword.” All across Northern Iraq, Christians and other religious minorities are huddled in refugee camps, trapped in the desert, or trapped in their homes, awaiting death. This is no mere localized conflict, but instead represents the larger, cultural conflict of resurgent, fanatical, militant Islamism, intent on regional and then global domination.
Sadly, it seems that the dire warnings of Mr. Crocker, Ambassador John Bolton, Vice President Cheney, and Senator Ted Cruz, among numerous others, have fallen upon willfully deaf ears at the White House out of obtuseness, ignorance, or a perverse blending of the two. America’s inept, incoherent, and incompetent foreign policy has contributed to the failures to address the growing crisis that is leaving scores of victims under the black flag of fanaticism.