It is time to get serious about the threat of the Islamic State
The Islamic State (ISIS) claimed responsibility for two of the three terror attacks carried out June 26th. More than three dozen people were killed and hundreds wounded in assaults on a Kuwaiti Shia mosque, a Tunisian resort frequented by foreign tourists and a factory in France.
ISIS boasted it was behind the Kuwaiti and Tunisian attacks, just the latest outrages that have marked this group since even before its formal founding. The Kuwait attack is believed to have been carried out by a Saudi national who previously fought for ISIS; the group praised the acts of the gunman in the Tunisian attack.
ISIS is infamous for posting — as recruiting efforts — videos of its horrific killings. They have beheaded, burned alive and drowned hostages, most of whom were civilians in the fight against terrorism. Their leaders call for acts of violence around the world.
It does not matter if these attacks are planned and ordered directly by ISIS or carried out by a “lone wolf” completely unknown to the terror group but motivated by some internet video. Innocent people — and yes, ISIS, your victims are innocent — are dying.
Each act by ISIS draws the same finger-wagging condemnations from world leaders and results, perhaps, in an air strike from 30,000 feet or a missile fired from a drone. This is not enough of a response to make ISIS change its terror tactics.
No one wants to see anyone killed on any side of any conflict and a huge multinational military operation is the very last option. However, if ISIS is going to continue to act as a terrorist organisation without respect for human life and call for attacks, it is time for a serious international response that does not withhold any military option.
Often the threat of decisive-level military action can force even the most stubborn group to face reality. But those measures must be considered a very real possibility by all parties involved and there must be the resolve that such operations would indeed be carried out if necessary.
It is a weakness when forces limit their own choices. It was shown in Bosnia that an air campaign wasn’t enough to halt ethnic cleansing of Muslims in the region. It wasn’t until there was talk of ground troops entering that fight that the Bosnian leadership gave up.
The direct risk to themselves of capture, or worse, outweighed their desire for power and to subjugate the population.
It is likely the same with ISIS. A US-led air campaign alone did not do much to slow the group but when that air power worked in coordination with forces on the ground ISIS has suffered substantial losses.
If this is truly a state actor, as ISIS apparently wishes to be considered since it deemed itself a “caliphate”, that state and its leaders must be held accountable for their words and actions. ISIS is acting internationally; the response to its actions should be international.
US President Barack Obama, who can be blamed for taking a too-tentative approach to international terrorism overall and ISIS in particular, has previously said this is the not United States’ fight alone. In this he is correct; all nations should have long ago been pushed past the condemnation phase and into action by ISIS. What red line must be crossed before the world acts?
ISIS boasted it was responsible for the recent attacks. It is time for the international community to hold the group accountable for crimes it confessed to.
Polite diplomatic condemnation has not slowed ISIS in any way. The world needs to find a message that will get ISIS’s attention. That message must include demonstrative consequences. Until ISIS is made to pay a serious price, the list of its atrocities will continue to grow.