International (MNN) — From its beginning, the terror group known as ISIS, ISIL, Islamic State, and Daesh has been clear about its intent: creating a global Islamic Empire.
“They don’t want national states like Iraq or Syria. They want an empire again,” notes Tom Doyle, Middle East expert and author of “Killing Christians: Living the Faith Where It’s Not Safe to Believe.”
“It’s not going to be confined to Iraq and Syria, and the greater Middle East. They’re going global, and they have plans for Europe, for America, you name it: they’re moving out.”
World leaders are trying to stem ISIS growth to avoid the creation of an Islamic empire.
At the end of last week, the United Nations passed a resolution sanctioning anyone who traded with, bought oil from, or paid ransoms to, the Islamic State. In New York, diplomats from over a dozen countries met to discuss Syria’s ceasefire, Europe’s refugee crisis, and ISIS.
To understand ISIS’ desire for not just a caliphate, but an entire Islamic empire, one needs context. Doyle begins with a brief “history lesson.”
The Islamic empire: then and now
From 1517 to 1917, the Ottoman Empire controlled most of what is now known as the Middle East.
When that empire collapsed, a large section of territory went unclaimed. Enter: the Mandate Period and European intervention.
“They were dividing up this empire and establishing national identities,” Doyle explains. “ISIS wants to come in and erase all of that. They see it as a product of the West.”
Establishing a “caliphate” in Iraq and Syria is only the first step, he adds.
“They want to rule [the Islamic empire] from the Middle East, and then make their move to the rest of the world…. They see it as a global jihad that will one day rule the world,” says Doyle.
“They even have their own ‘Armageddon’; they believe this is going to happen in Dabiq, Syria…. They believe they’ll fight the ‘armies of Rome’ [the West] in Syria.”
When U.S. President Barak Obama announced specialist troops would be deployed to Syria, Twitter “went crazy,” Doyle says. “All the ISIS accounts [said] ‘They’re here – the infidels.’
“They believe they’re marching toward their Armageddon.”
Body of Christ perseveres, grows
In the midst of it all, Muslims are coming to Christ, and believers aren’t backing down. The good news must be taken in light of a harsh reality, though.
“It is very tenuous for believers, especially in Syria and Iraq,” Doyle shares. *Tariq, a Muslim-background believer from Iraq, has been Doyle’s friend for the past 15 years. Tariq recently called to share an unexpected message.
“He called me, and as we were talking on the phone, I realized something: he’s calling to say ‘good bye,'” says Doyle.
Tariq ended up being okay, Doyle is quick to add. ISIS had been at the edge of Tariq’s town, but airstrikes kept the terrorists at-bay. This “close call” was an important reminder for Doyle: believers like Tariq are living each day realizing it could be their last.
And yet, “They’re not asking for this trial to go away,” says Doyle. “So, we’re praying that God would give them strength, that He would give them boldness, that they would be a light–just like those 21 Egyptian martyrs.
“There are people that are standing unaffected by Islamic terrorism. They’re ready to suffer, they’re ready to die…. It’s a great lesson for us.”