While President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry insist that terrorist groups such as ISIS have nothing to do with Islam, Graeme Wood of The Atlantic investigated the group and its philosophy and found that, indeed, the groups is deeply connected to the faith. It may be a 7th century fundamentalist version of Islam, he concluded, but Islam is at the terrorist group’s center.
On Monday morning Mr. Wood joined Joe Scarborough and Richard Haass from the Council on Foreign Relations to discuss ISIS’ connection to Islam.
Scarborough: Graeme, everybody is thinking — and I guess the biggest thing your article [“What ISIS Reallly Wants”] revealed is we all like to sit here and go, oh, they just get these sociopaths from across the world who are attracted to just killing and they just want to kill, and the killing is the end game. No, the killing is not the end game. You sum it up here well. “The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It’s a religious groups with carefully considered beliefs, among them is that it is a key agent for the coming apocalypse.” They don’t want just land. They don’t have a long-term strategy. They are religious fanatics but they are planning out the final days.”
Wood: Yeah that’s exactly right. Often it’s said that ISIS is an organization that uses religious means for secular ends. I think it might be the other way around. That it’s an organization that has religious ends and it uses secular means to achieve the ends. But finally what it’s looking for is an apocalyptic solution.
Scarborough: I picked this up in The New York Times. I thought it was interesting read that here … The New York Times pointed out, Richard Haass, that the executioner who was speaking in fluent English actually used words out of the Koran that were text talking about the coming apocalypse, the final battle between East and West.
Haass: That’s what’s different about this group I mean, it’s part organization, it’s part network, it’s part movement. But unlike some other terrorist groups who seem to get up in the morning trying simply to destroy for revenge for history, these people have a, quote, unquote, positive agenda, which means that they’re much more dangerous and they’re likely to [have] — much greater endurance.
Scarborough: Explain because a lot of people spit out their coffee. When you say positive agenda, what do you mean by that?
Haass: They actually have things, as misguided as we think it is, they have a political agenda. Here we are in the 21st century. They might want to go back to the 7th century. They have this vision of society; when they speak of the caliphate, they’re not geographically confined. It’s throughout the region. So when I say “positive” it’s not in a positive sense that I approve it, obviously.
Scarborough: I’m cleaning it up for you Monday morning.
Haass: What it means is that these people are more than destroyers. As misguided as they are, they are in their own blinded ways trying to build something.
Scarborough: And again, what your article, Graeme, pointed out was that westerners, who say “Oh they’re petty thieves and robbers and assaulters from across the planet,” don’t understand and will say, “This isn’t Islam, this is as far from Islam as possible.” You say this actually is as stripped down and pure Islam as it gets. One very crude way to put it is this would be the ultra-fundamentalist Christians who believe every single word of the Bible has to be interpreted in the exact ways which could also lead to some violence. But here, they actually believe that they’re going towards end days, and that’s this agenda that Richard is talking about.
Graeme: You can see that actually in the video that came out yesterday. As you mentioned, the quote directly from some Hadiths some of the holy texts of Islam, that they mentioned the second coming of Jesus Christ, for example. They say when Jesus is coming back and they quote and say he will break the Cross, he will kill the swine, and he’ll abolish the jizyah, the tax levied on Christians in the Islamic State. This is very specific use of text. It’s not people speaking without any knowledge of Islam but a view of what Islam looks like. It’s a view that very few Muslims share.
There was more to this discussion which is included on the video above.