Donald Trump recently claimed, either seriously or, as he now says, sarcastically, that President Obama and Hillary Clinton are the co-founders of the Islamic State (ISIS). While this claim, along with many of his statements, is false, it was intended to elicit a favorable response from his audience and score political points.
Trump’s claim enjoys a plausibility on the part of his supporters because relatively few Americans are aware of how ISIS came into being. To become aware of this, Americans need to educate themselves, something many fail to do, lending weight to Trump’s proclamation, “I love the uneducated.”
A recently published book is very helpful in understanding the rise of ISIS. “Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS,” by Joby Warrick, is this year’s winner of the Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction. The tactical beginnings of ISIS go back to Islamists battling the Soviets in Afghanistan in 1979, while the ideological underpinnings of ISIS go back as far as the Crusades and Muslim holy texts that mention black flags.
More recently, Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq played key roles in the founding of ISIS. The Bush administration falsely portrayed Zarqawi as the link between the 9/11 attacks and Iraq’s leadership. The U.S. helped track and eliminate Zarqawi in 2006, but his followers gained strength in Syria, appearing in 2013 as an army.
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ISIS is a threat to the Middle East and the entire Western world. It needs to be dealt with in a serious and informed manner.