ISIS, Boko Haram and their growing affiliates are large paramilitary criminal organizations presenting as Militarized/borderless Islamists. Both the West and the global political/religious Islamic world will need to take these groups far more seriously and directly than they have thus far. If not, these large criminal organizations will increasingly encroach, disrupt, further disseminate and kill internationally.
The announcement by ISIS that they have declared a ‘wilayah’ or province in South Asia should hardly be a surprise. ISIS are only the ‘crack trained fighters’ when filtered through the international mainstream media. Certainly, that so many members of this and similar groups appear more than willing to die can give them a false front of strength. Shared suicidal ideations may allow for higher risk operations but hardly reflects unique training or military competence.
Sustained confrontation with professional regional and international military forces is not something Militarized Islamists could withstand for very long as has been seen more recently. Instead, ISIS and affiliates are apparently realizing their need to further disburse throughout the region as they learn that concentrating to fight battles also makes them easier targets in much larger numbers to include more effective disruption of their supply chains.
Militarized Islam isn’t just at war just with the West; they are at war with political/religious global Islam as well and, as we’ve seen, with one another depending on the conditions and circumstances. Seeding themselves regionally across cells and networks will extend their resources, create stronger internal alliances, make supply chains harder and harder to track and disrupt while allowing them further reach with less macro risk.
Right now, these growing militarized criminal gangs continue to have largely free reign while throwing the West constant distractions as they organize, reorganize and extend. Despite the horrific brutality and death they have brought to the rest of Islam, the West offers days of coverage to the ISIS murder of a single reporter or aid worker while providing no perspective what-so-ever on the breadth and depth of what is actually happening.
ISIS’ unexpected announcement of their own ‘province’ in South Asia is just the most recent headline grab and has already been derided by the ‘Islamist experts’ in the West as delusional. But, as is often said, ISIS strategists may be as ‘delusional’ as the proverbial fox in this most recent and novel distraction.
Realize that I am not at all dismissing murder. It is unacceptable and tragic whether of one, two or one hundred innocents. But the West along with global Islam also needs a context, perspective and gut check. And in that Militarized Islam has killed and brutalized numbers of their own to a degree with no parallel to their impact on the West, global Islam should be even more alarmed.
If the West continues oblivious, snide and generically hateful while continuing to see any Muslim as all Muslims; if global Islam continues to bury its head in the sand and engage in massive demonstrations with regards to certainly offensive but otherwise pointless cartoons, the disaster will, if far more slowly, move increasingly and unrestrained in all directions.
ISIS, Boko Haram and others need to be addressed seriously, deliberately and directly by the international community. Western Islamophobic nonsense pretending to ‘refute PC constraints,’ for instance, only provides Militarized Islam more time to organize, recruit and build momentum.
And Islamophobia as a ‘cottage industry’ and strategy allowing expanded fundraising and attention getting by conservative and nativist right wing groups to include the broader dismissal of the serious reality which is occurring will only lead to the much greater risk of all.