I got to know ISIS fighters in Syria pretty good, after all I spent much of the past two years filming and documenting a range of foreign fighters for several TV channels. I can understand why some would be confused about ISIS as Muslims are very sceptical of what they see in the news media. Some wonder if it is a conspiracy against well intending Muslim fighters. I can appreciate their hesitancy. As a journalist I follow the media very closely and all we need do is look at the awful media coverage of the Gaza events to know that something is seriously wrong with mainstream media. Is this another case of such?
3 Things You Need to Know About ISIS
For easy reading I have listed 3 reasons why I believe ISIS has poisoned the Syrian revolution.
#1 Support of the People
In all honesty without any holding back of the truth, the Syrian people who lived within their territories and those who lived outside of their territories absolutely hated ISIS. Most of them felt that they had merely traded in a tyrant in Bashar Al Asad for another tyrant in ISIS. They felt they were second class citizens in their own country. Most people don’t realise but ISIS is 95% foreign fighter. They would walk the streets and look down on the average Syrian and many of them wouldn’t return the “salaam” if greeted as they didn’t see many of the Syrians as Muslims. Yes it’s true that Syrians in general like their cigarettes, music videos, and other stuff they should leave alone but to consider them non-Muslims??? This is very far. Why is it that Syrians don’t join ISIS? Jabha Islamiyya, Jabha An Nusra, and all the other Islamic groups are predominantly Syrian with a minority mix of foreign fighters. Why not ISIS? It is because ISIS terrorised the indigenous people and no one wanted them in their country let alone join them. Their prisons were full of weak Syrians who ran afoul of their corrupt ideology. Where are those Syrians who are supposed to be cheering on the “rise” of ISIS? I don’t know of any who are.
#2 Fighting Fellow Mujaahideen
ISIS fighters in Syria are not on one single front line against Bashar Asad’s army in Syria. I know this is a shock to many who have fallen prey to the nasheed and heroic youtube videos featuring ISIS fighters but after having spent much time throughout the country I can tell you with certainty that all of their resources that well intending Muslim donors have given them are being used to fight their fellow Mujaahideen. They are no threat at all to Asad’s forces as they are not fighting them ANYWHERE in Syria. For fear of not wanting to get my account closed on Facebook I would show you pictures of how they beheaded Mujaahid fighters from Ahrar Asham, Jabha An Nusra and other groups fighting the Asad regime. How ugly is it to see the heads of bearded Muslim fighters on the floor with an ISIS fighter posing over them holding a knife and one finger in the air as if he killed these young men for the sake of Allaah. ISIS felt that ONLY they were serious about bringing Islam to the people and no one else was. Therefore they eagerly spilled the blood of those who had fought numerous battles against regime forces.
While 95% of ISIS consists of foreign fighters, it doesn’t mean that 95% of the foreign fighters have gone to ISIS. Most of the foreigners do not go to ISIS. The news media wants the people at large to believe that as it fits their narrative that “foreign fighters are a threat to their home country” narrative. Actually ISIS made things very difficult for the foreign fighters in Syria as they unlawfully imprisoned, killed, and endangered the lives of the Syrian people. Thus some of the Syrians began to dislike ALL foreign fighters due to ISIS actions as they couldn’t tell who was and who wasn’t ISIS.
#3 Support of the Scholars and People of Influence
There is not ONE scholar who came out in support of ISIS and it’s leader’s claim to khilafah. Actually it is just the opposite, they all came out in unison denouncing the claim to the caliphate in specific and the movement in general. ISIS has been denounced by several Shaykhs who are respected by people of Jihad like Shaykh Abu Muhammad Al Maqdisi, Shaykh Abdullaah AL Muhaysini, and Shaykh Abu Qatada, not to mention a huge rebuke from Ayman Zawahiri and his demand for them to pack up their operation in Syria as well.
A small amount of Muslims around the world have an apocalyptic view of how things should be and ISIS seems to suit them just fine. They feel that ISIS is on the truth simply due to the fact that the news media and the masses are against them. This can in no way be used as a proof. The world at large is against rapists, murderers, and thieves too. Can we say that they are on the truth simply because they are fiercely opposed?
How could we as Muslims not scorn a movement that has:
*NO SUPPORT OF THE COMMON PEOPLE IN THEIR LOCALE
*NO SUPPORT OF THE OTHER MUJAAHIDEEN FIGHTERS
*NO SUPPORT OF A SINGLE KNOWN SCHOLAR
Is it likely a group like this could bring benefit to the lives of the Muslims they would lead in their local area? Therefore is it likely they could bring peace and unification to the Muslims around the world? Or is it more likely that they would bring more disunity, destruction, and chaos?
A total lack of wisdom from this group led by Abu Bakr Baghdadi is what has hurt the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people. Foreign fighters along with their Syrian counterparts were a big reason for the taking of huge swaths of territory during this revolution and the regime feared that mix. Notice that much territory was being taken in Iraq by Sunni forces (falsely stated that ISIS is the head of them-but that’s another story!). Also, notice that those advances have all but stopped as soon as the news broke of this new “Khalifah”. At best I think we can only say that Baghdadi’s group is sorely lacking people of wisdom in their ranks and in no way can be branded “saviours” of the Muslim nation in any way.