Fourteen years and three days ago, the Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda bombed the World Trade Center in New York City.
I was 5 years old at the time and living in another country; yet, I remember watching the twin towers fall on television, and I remember my family talking about 9/11 for days. It was an act of terrorism we all would never forget.
Fourteen years and three days later, the United States, thankfully, has not suffered an act of terrorism near as tragic or extreme as the bombing of the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001. New laws and precautionary acts were placed into effect since then that have heightened levels of national security. And with Osama bin Laden dead, we all feel safe again.
However, right now, as you read this article, a terrorist group that even al-Qaeda condemns for being “extreme” and “unlawful" is growing in size, power, influence, and money.
Many of you became familiar with this group when you saw videos that went viral in the past year -- videos of men in black ski masks cruelly beheading innocent foreigners dressed in orange prison-suits. Many of these foreigners were journalists or non-profit aid workers who were taken hostage, killed mercilessly on camera, and shared on websites for all the world to see.
This group is called ISIS, which stands for Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
ISIS is an extremist Islamic militant group in Syria and Iraq that is so cruel in its strict enforcement of the Sharia ‘Islamic' Law that many traditional terrorist groups condemn their practices.
They can be identified by their black flag with white Arabic writing that proclaims: “There is no god but Allah [God]. Mohammad is the messenger of Allah.” They also distinguish themselves with the hand gesture of pointing their index finger towards the sky.
Before, they were just a small terrorist group involved in Syria’s civil war, but now, they make $1 to $2 million a day by selling oil, looting from city treasuries, and the acquisition of powerful weaponry. Thus, they are continuing to expand at a rapid rate across the Middle East. Their ultimate goal is to conquer and unite the whole of the Middle East and create one whole nation called the “Caliphate,” which they want to expand control over the whole world.
In the process of doing so, they are cruelly murdering anyone who refuses to covert to Islam. Eventually, their goals are to eliminate the country of Israel and kill all Westerners.
ISIS abhors Western culture, hates Western religion (because it’s not Islam), and detests the fact that much of the West has been an Israeli ally since she became a nation in 1948.
As a result, ISIS hates America with a passion and wants to see American annihilated. They refer to the United States as “The Great Satan” and have frequently burned our flag publicly in their cities.
The U.S. has been sending hundreds of airstrikes to try and stop ISIS from conquering more land, but ISIS welcomes all the public attention and has been killing and raping more hostages to spread their name and instill a sense of fear world-wide. Kayla Jean Mueller, a 26-year-old American aid worker, was abducted in 2013 and tortured, raped, and eventually killed by ISIS militants in February 2015 while doing humanitarian work in Syria.
ISIS has been known to organize recruitment ‘pep-rallies’ among the youth of the Middle East, calling young men and boys to join their movement. Their bait: they're given weapons and they’re taught if they die for the ISIS cause, they will receive great rewards in the afterlife, one of them including having 70 beautiful virgins as wives in heaven.
On camera, boys have been filmed carrying machine guns and committing their lives to ISIS, saying, “In the name of God, I’d like to join the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and to kill with them.”
As ISIS continues to take over villages and cities, they torture and behead men, women, and children if they do not sympathize with their cause, and as a result, many join the ISIS army out of fear for their lives and for the protection of their families.
This terrorist group is worth your attention because they are a lot closer than you think they are.
ISIS has been implementing a new plan of action: reaching and terrorizing America by making inroads into the United States and gaining American followers to join them in their cause.
Yes, that’s right. They hate Americans, but want to use them to bring about mass destruction in the U.S.
And that is the ISIS strategy: making the “new face” of Terrorism an American - not the jihadists you saw flying planes into the World Trade Center 14 years ago.
In doing so, they amass American followers who are sympathetic to the ISIS cause after being brainwashed by ISIS’s political propaganda that can be found on social media sites and by means of underground ISIS groups here in the U.S. Many of these Americans are sold on the idea of being apart of growing rebel organization that has the power to instill fear into people, countries and nations by executing extreme cruelty and violence.
Over 200 Americans have already been reported trying to fly to Syria and Iraq to join the ISIS cause. Michael Steinbach, assistant director of FBI’s counterterrorism division, also said that “there are hundreds, maybe thousands” of ISIS followers in the United States. Other government officials have revealed that ISIS has followers in all 50 states.
Already, an unknown ISIS follower in the U.S. hung the black-and-white ISIS flag in front of the White House fence and tweeted from a pro-ISIS Twitter handle saying:
We are in your state
We are in your cities
We are in your streets
You are our goals anywhere"
ISIS publicly stated around the same time, “God willing, we will raise the flag of Allah in the White House.” This was accompanied by threats made to the U.S., where ISIS militants were filmed stating, "Don’t be cowards and attack us with drones. Instead send your soldiers, the ones we humiliated in Iraq. We will humiliate them everywhere…"
If you think these are just minor threats that don’t mean much, think again: the FBI has already made more than 30 arrests this year of both men and women who are suspected of plotting terrorist attacks on behalf of ISIS. Two of them were female American citizens inspired by ISIS and accused of planning to bomb New York City’s Herald Square.
My purpose of writing this is not to instill fear, nor to produce a sense of hatred towards those who affiliated to the Islam religion or those involved in ISIS-inspired terrorist activity. The truth is we live in a lost and dire world, and fear and hatred only fuel the fire. However, I am here to promote awareness to the youth of our generation who may feel as though terrorism is of the last decade and does not exist anymore - at least not within our borders.
Please consider this: What’s worse than losing a battle to your opponent because you’re weaker is looking a battle to your opponent because you failed to realize he even existed.
Terrorism is a very real threat, which is why it is so important that we pray for the protection of our cities, that we pray that our government has wisdom when it comes to fighting terrorism, and that we pray for ISIS so that they will realize the people they are really destroying is themselves.
Be aware of your surroundings and of the global situation we are living in right now, because chances are if it is not directly impacting you this very moment, it may in the near future.