More from RELS 348: Empire, Religion, and Colonialism

Is ISIS really an Islamic extremist group or do they just claim to be when they are the run of the mill crime syndicate? The news article “Kenji Goto delivers his ISIS captors’ new demands while holding photo of his beheaded cellmate” would have you believe that this extremist group is still following God’s will at first glance. Once reading the article there is a ransom demand that is changed from 200 million dollars to the release of a woman in Jordan. This does not sound like ISIS is doing actions out of the will of Allah but are doing them to push their organization forward. If they were an actual religious extremist group they would simply be doing these actions for the sake of doing them. Their actions of beheading have still shocked the world just as much as when they did it to five other people and has once again rallied nations together. ISIS claims that their demands are far more reasonable than before and should be met easily even though the prisoner they want released is another extremist who attempted to blow up a hotel in 2005. The fact that ISIS has demands proves that this is not a case of misplaced righteousness, they are a criminal organization. Professor Shelly in Der Spiegel’s interview in the International Herald Tribune argues that ISIS is being run like a crime syndicate more than an extremist group and this is because it costs money to run an operation of terror. Shelly explains a number of the criminal activities that ISIS is tied to which makes it far more clear that ISIS is more of a criminal organization. She elaborates that ISIS is not a part of Islam and believes that they have been misinformed or misinterpreted the sacred texts. This is not entirely true in the sense that Islam was founded on military force. In Robert Irwin’s “For Lust of Knowing” he brings up a number of points in Islam’s founding and history where military force was used and he says “Islam was a violent religion that owed its success to force of arms”[1]. Islam’s beliefs are a much more pacifist but as a religion Islam has not always been peaceful. Islam did it for the sake of doing it though, ISIS is doing what they are doing to elicit a response from the west and are just trying to get ahead in the criminal world. ISIS is not a group of extremists following religion and their beliefs they are merely criminals.


[1] Irwin, Robert. For Lust of Knowing, 21. Penguin Group, 2006.


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