Look at the coverage of most mainstream news outlets in the wake of the recent Brussels terrorist attacks and you’ll hear the words “Islamic extremists” or “radical Islam” multiple times.
The importance of terminology to define ISIS has been critically analyzed by professionals since the group eclipsed al-Qaeda as the foremost terror threat to the West in 2013.
The mainstream media has made ISIS synonymous with Islam without further investigation into who exactly is deemed a prime candidate for ISIS recruitment.
The brothers linked to the Brussels attacks were well known to the Belgian police for their long rap sheets of organized crime, not only because of their religious beliefs.
Seasoned criminals, the brothers were never linked to any terrorist cell or vocalized Islamic aggression prior to the Paris attacks.
Multiple media reports depict the attackers as young criminals initially looking for an illegal outlet that eventually found them emerged to deep in the terror cell, much like previous attackers whose criminal history has been recently brought to light.
Thus, the question being posed is if Islamic extremists or radical criminals accurately depict ISIS’ target recruit.
Examining ISIS methodology, one will find that Western society is directly targeted as being the reason the Middle East has endured suffering in the past.
To combat the years of self-described oppression they will commit brutal mass killings under the “convert or die” mentality in an attempt to create a worldwide Islamic State.
In juxtaposition to the religious backings behind the gruesome terrorist attacks, many Islamic leaders and followers alike have urgently condemned ISIS.
To understand that ISIS represents the Islamization of radicalism and not the radicalization of Islam, is to gain a greater understanding of whom ISIS is and why terminology matters.
The Obama administration has taken a definitive stand against defining ISIS as religious warriors for Islam.
“The notion that the West is at war with Islam is an ugly lie,” President Obama said last year when urging countries to view the terrorist group as rampant militants and to reject the idea this is a clash of civilizations.
To further these sentiments CIA director, John Brennan talks about ISIS members in a interesting way:
“Most — many — of them are psychopathic thugs, murderers who use a religious concept and masquerade and mask themselves in that religious construct.”
Falsely personifying ISIS members not only does a disservice to Muslims but it also feeds into the doctrine of the terrorist organization.
The more the West ostracizes Islam as a whole, the more power ISIS gains in recruiting young people in need of a purpose, and who want to watch the world burn.
Lately, waves of young Muslims have joined ISIS in search of a place of refuge in what analysts call a youth revolution.
The characterization of ISIS members as Islamic extremists walks a dangerous line between stigmatizing Islam as a religion and fueling the recruiting tactics of the terrorists.
Shifting the terminology widens the public’s knowledge on ISIS as an organization and demeans the terrorist organization’s underlining schemes of correlating Islam with their gruesome acts of violence.
We should consider it.
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Cover Photo Credit: marc cornelis/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)