International (MNN) — The Islamic State established roots before the turn of the century, but it wasn’t until the last few years that the terrorist organization was recognized worldwide. The attacks of the Islamic State are hard to number. Many of their claims of responsibility cannot be verified, and much of the bloodshed has taken place where deaths are hard to document.
ISIS consistently receives a lot of media attention. They’re one of the first organizations to be recommended as an Entity of Particular Concern by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom. And it’s not very hard to see why. Tom Doyle of e3 Partners says that despite the number of violent terrorist organizations our globe has seen in recent years, ISIS has somehow been even more sinister.
A new level of violence
He says, “Shockingly, the Islamic State took terrorism to the next level. I mean, we’ve seen jihadist groups for decades now. We’ve seen the Muslim Brotherhood, the Al Qaeda, Hamas in Gaza. But yet, what the Islamic State did was just really unheard of.”
Doyle refers to the complete devastation of communities in the Middle East. The group has targeted Christian and Yazidi communities in Iraq and Syria, and even moderate Muslim communities who don’t agree with their theology. You probably remember the group coming onto the scene in Syria, demanding Christians in the city of Raqqa pay, convert, or die.
As troops fight to eradicate ISIS from the terror group’s strongholds in Iraq and Syria, they’re discovering a trail of carnage.
“We’ve seen in some areas where they have this theology of rape. And rape has always been a part of war and aggression and it’s a horrific thing,” Doyle says.
The theology, he explains, compels the jihadists to participate in rape and institute slavery in the communities they take over. They claim that the act of taking sexual advantage of unbelievers is allowed and even encouraged by the Quran, and in doing so, they can draw closer to their god.
In addition to targeting specific religious communities in territory takeover, ISIS has targeted people at random in public places all over the globe. They’ve also inspired others to take similar action in allegiance to them.
A loud message gets attention
“You would think that this would just turn people away from any kind of jihadist mentality, but this has actually been a recruiting tool for the Islamic State as people from Europe and even the United States of America have decided they want to be a part of what the Islamic State is doing.”
Doyle shares his belief for why people might respond to the terror of ISIS in this way, saying, “I think for some people, they’re looking for an identity.
“Of course, they get over there and they what the Islamic State is about — whether it’s a young girl that wants to be an ISIS bride, or some young man that wants to be a fighter — and they realize they’ve just thrown their lives away and how evil it is,” Doyle says.
Terrorism, he points out, is hardly the only thing youths are turning to in their search for identity. But apart from Christ, the identity they find will be destructive.
“Satan’s attacking the next generation. We definitely need to be praying for them.”
While ISIS has disgusted most people and inspired the relative few, Doyle believes they will certainly have an impact on how other organizations operate. ISIS has received a lot of attention on the media for their especially heinous activity. They also have run a fairly successful recruitment campaign through social media. There are other groups that would like to get that much attention around the globe.
“They’ve set some new standards that are obviously evil standards, but it’s worked for them, in a sad way,” Doyle says of the Islamic State.
And there is one group that seems poised to take ISIS’s place if they are ever fully destroyed. “Most people agree in Syria that the group in line to take over if the Islamic State goes down is Jabhat al-Nusra.”
This faction of terrorists is a fairly new group, but they have also been extremely violent.
“They have been content to wait in the wings, in some cases, letting the Islamic State take the hits, and [hope to be] in a position to take over,” Doyle explains.
That was the bad news; here’s the good news
Every story, no matter how impossible, contains a sliver of hope. It’s no different in this situation.
“I think as bad as things are, we need to remember that Jesus is capable of reaching anybody. No one is unreachable.”
In his new book, “Standing in the Fire”, Doyle shares true, inspiring stories of Christians who have been spared in the face of extremism, and extremists who have given their lives to Christ. These stories may not be the norm, but they need to be told.
Doyle says, “Whether it’s the Islamic State or Jabhat al-Nusra, the evil is unimaginable. But they’re not outside of the potential of Christ to reach them. So that’s what we have to keep praying, that they’re defeated; but then also, that members will come to faith in Christ. They have stories to tell. This is like Saul becoming Paul, magnified.”
To get your own copy of this book, and for some additional resources, click here.