Yesterday, I touched a little bit on how ISIS’ acts of terror have had their intended effect on people in the Middle East. Those targeted—or even existing in the blast zone—are falling apart, and it’s not all due to videos released of burnings and beheadings.
ISIS has a long history of rampaging through villages, destroying homes and kidnapping civilians (including women and children.) This is a tactic we’ve seen Boko Haram use as well; it creates an atmosphere of instability and fear, puts all the control in the hands of the terror group, and makes it much easier to gain both new territory and new members.
Today, ISIS fighters continued their rampage, kidnapping “crusaders” in northern Syria and Afghanistan*.
From Fox News:
ISIS’ online radio station, al-Bayan, said in a report Tuesday that ISIS fighters had detained myriad “crusaders” and seized 10 villages around Tal Tamr after clashes with Kurdish militiamen. ISIS frequently refers to Christians as “crusaders.” Syria’s official SANA news agency reported that ISIS overran seven villages during an attack on Monday.
It was not immediately clear what ISIS planned to do with the Assyrians.
The militants have a long history of killing captives, including foreign journalists, Syrian soldiers and Kurdish militiamen. Most recently, militants in Libya affiliated with ISIS released a video showing the beheading of 21 Egyptian Christians.
But ISIS also could use its Assyrian captives to try to arrange a prisoner swap with the Kurdish and Christian militias that it faced off against in northeastern Syria. There is a precedent: The extremists have released Kurdish schoolchildren as well as Turkish truck drivers and diplomats after holding them for months.
Last year, ISIS abducted several Assyrians in retaliation for some of them fighting alongside the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, or YPG. But most were released after long negotiations, Reuters reports.
Hassakeh, the province in northern Syria that is the target of ISIS’ latest campaign, is currently host to a power struggle between Kurdish and ISIS forces. The fighting has spilled over into neighboring provinces, where ISIS has executed similar raids and kidnappings.
A similar attack happened in Afghanistan today, where 30 ethnic Hazaras were dragged from two passenger buses traveling between Kandahar and Kabul.
Abdul Khaliq Ayubi, a local government official, said the gunmen all wore black clothing and black masks.
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“We contacted the Taliban through tribal elders but Taliban said they are not behind this kidnapping,” Ayubi told CBS News.
He said the drivers of both buses had told authorities that the kidnappers spoke in a foreign language.
“We believe they are Daesh (ISIS),” Ayubi said, adding that he had received reports of ISIS activity in his district recently and had reported it to provincial leaders.
If it’s confirmed that ISIS was behind the abductions, the bus passengers would be the first hostages held by the group in Afghanistan.
The Hazaras, who are a Shiite Muslim sect and a minority in predominately Sunni Afghanistan, are no stranger to persecution. They have also been targeted by both the Taliban and other Sunni extremist groups.
So, here we are.
Syria is and will continue to burn, while new territories like Afghanistan are welcomed to the horror. ISIS has made it clear that they intend to gain new territory, and protect their legacy, in spite of the coalition air strikes and increased ground resistance. ISIS’ leaders know that, because the eyes of the world are currently focused on the Middle East, they will have to work harder at maintaining and building upon the narrative that they created when they beheaded James Foley last year.
For them, this means not only continuing to create the videos and photographs that you and I see, but also carrying on with the everyday acts of barbarism that slowly chip away at the resolve and resistance of the people ISIS seeks to control.
Officials are still trying to confirm that ISIS is indeed responsible for the abductions in Afghanistan. Although much of the media’s focus has been on ISIS’ actions in places like Syria, an expansion of their operations into Afghanistan has left the realm of the theoretical and moved into that of the possible, if not probable. According to the Daily Mail, “[s]ightings of armed fighters wearing black and carrying the ISIS flag have been reported in Farah, Helmand, and Zabul. Videos of allegiance have also emerged from neighbouring Pakistan.”DONATE
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