Why ISIL is Different

As opposed as I have been to military action in the Middle East, I am wondering if it might not be warranted against ISIL. This group is very different from other terrorist gangs, such as al Qaeda or The Muslim Brotherhood. The crucial difference is that ISIL adheres to an apocalyptic vision of mission, whereas all other Islamic extremists have a more provincial, and political vision.

ISIL believes that it can call out the Mahdi, a kind of second coming of Mohammed, by slaughtering all unbelievers. Their goal is not a limited Caliphate, but a world-wide reset of humanity through violence. While we could negotiate with al Qaeda or other groups by finding mutual interests (and we have in the past), there is no mutual interest with ISIL. They have only one goal – to kill. They believe that only by killing can the Mahdi arrive, and the more killing they do, the sooner he will come. Other terrorist groups have been seeking nuclear or biological weapons as a negotiating tool, or for limited use in Western countries to gain political capital. ISIL would have no hesitation to use the weapons anywhere, simply to cause death.

For you Islamophobes, ISIL and its apocalyptic vision has plenty of Christian corollaries in history, and Christian cults like this still exist. This is why we should consider ISIL a unique threat. We know how dangerous these types are (ref. Jonestown). Military solutions alone will never defeat ISIL, doctors and teachers are just as valuable assets as bombers and tanks. This means a real commitment of resources that might dwarf Iraq. Ugggghh!

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