ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror is a revelatory look at the world’s most dangerous terrorist group. Initially dismissed by US President Barack Obama, along with other fledgling terrorist groups, as a “jayvee squad” compared to al-Qaeda, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has shocked the world by conquering massive territories in both countries and promising to create a vast new Muslim caliphate that observes the strict dictates of Sharia law.
In ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror, American journalist Michael Weiss and Syrian analyst Hassan Hassan explain how these violent extremists evolved from a nearly defeated Iraqi insurgent group into a jihadi army of international volunteers who behead Western hostages in slickly produced videos and have conquered territory equal to the size of Great Britain. Beginning with the early days of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the founder of ISIS’s first incarnation as “al-Qaeda in Iraq,” Weiss and Hassan explain who the key players are-from their elusive leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to the former Saddam Baathists in their ranks-where they come from, how the movement has attracted both local and global support, and where their financing comes from.
Political and military maneuvering by the United States, Iraq, Iran, and Syria have all fueled ISIS’s astonishing and explosive expansion. Drawing on original interviews with former US military officials and current ISIS fighters, the authors also reveal the internecine struggles within the movement itself, as well as ISIS’s bloody hatred of Shiite
Muslims, which is generating another sectarian war in the region. Just like the one the US thought it had stopped in 2011 in Iraq. Past is prologue and America’s legacy in the Middle East is sowing a new generation of terror.
In a piece for The Guardian newspaper Hassan Hassan wrote:
“People say al-dawla excommunicates Muslims,” said Abu Moussa, using the term “al-dawla”, or State, in reference to Isis. “We don’t do that. Yes, we have no tolerance for anybody who opposes our message. Why do we fight the Free Syrian Army? We spread our message by proselytisation and sword. Ibn Taymiyyah said ‘the foundation of this religion is a book that guides and a sword that brings victory’. We guide and the sword brings victory. If someone opposes the message of the prophet, he faces nothing but the sword. As the prophet spread the message across the Earth, we are doing the same. When al-dawla first fought the Free Syrian Army, it was a problem for many. They did not believe the accusations. But later, one thing after another began to unfold and people started to accept them.”
Another member echoed Abu Moussa’s reasoning. “The prophet said: ‘I have been given victory by means of terror.’ As for slaughter, beheading and crucifixion, this is in the Qu’ran and Sunna [oral sayings attributed to prophet Muhammad]. In the videos we produce, you see the sentence ‘deal with them in a way that strikes fear in those behind them’, and that verse speaks for itself. One more thing: the prophet told the people of Quraish, ‘with slaughter I came to you’ . . . one of the fascinating insights we found is that Isis presents the “mainstream” Islam practised by Muslims today as one that was “invented” over the past few decades. To unravel this so-called invented Islam, Isis deliberately digs deep into Islamic sharia and history to find arcane teaching and then magnify it. It does so to shock its potential recruits and demonstrate it is preaching a pure and true Islam obscured by the mainstream.