Does Islamic State pose a threat to us?

The war against Islamic State needs to continue as if there were no negotiations going on with the Palestinians or war with Hamas.

AN ISIS member rides on a rocket launcher in Raqqa in Syria two months ago (photo credit: REUTERS)
AN ISIS member rides on a rocket launcher in Raqqa in Syria two months ago
(photo credit: REUTERS)
It is important to understand the degree to which Islamic State is a threat to the State of Israel and to the world. But first I would like to refer to the ridiculous “intelligence assessments” recently voiced by Meretz chairwoman Zehava Gal-On and US Secretary of State John Kerry.
It’s difficult to figure out what information these two people based their statements on, but I will make an effort. There is no logic to their assertions that there is a relationship between Islamic State and the Palestinians. There is no basis for the claim that there is a connection between Islamic State’s murderous campaign and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Islamic State, which belongs to the Salafi-Jihadist faction of Sunni Islam, is a group of murderous fundamentalists who have combined forces with violent, bloodthirsty gangs and believe they are on a divine mission.
The Palestinians, on the other hand, have been actively engaging in a longstanding political and territorial dispute with Israel. Some of them are extremists and have joined Hamas – the local equivalent to Islamic State – but the majority is interested in finding a real solution without violence. They want an independent country, self-rule, and the freedom to work and make money to support their families.
The only problem is that both the Palestinians and the Israelis lack leaders who could lead all of us toward this goal. As a result, this conflict will continue to take lives on both sides. But even if this conflict were to be resolved tomorrow morning, Islamic State fighters would continue on with their murderous campaign to conquer the entire Middle East and turn it into a global Islamic caliphate. Gal-On and Kerry have now granted legitimacy to Islamic State and its actions.
Islamic State was formed on principles similar to those espoused by the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and the Taliban. Its teachings are based on the Salafi movement, which calls on Muslims to force the entire world to look up to the prophet Muhammad.
But the Salafi-Jihadist faction has taken this idea one step further.
Its members are no longer content to simply teach others about their faith in an effort to make them believers.
Instead, they advocate the use of violence and genocide in their effort to conquer the world.
Of course, Hamas leaders would never admit that their ideology is consistent with that of Islamic State, but it is difficult to alter reality.
Hamas also fights against and hurts all people who do not agree with it, regardless of whether they, too, are Muslim or if they ascribe to another religion.
Islamic State identified the power vacuum in Iraq and took advantage of the opportunity to conquer a large amount of territory with relative ease.
In addition, with the civil war raging in Syria, they realized that this area, too, was weak enough for them to take control there.
Next, since Jordan is considered a weak state that does not enjoy the support of many Arab countries, Islamic State set its sight on this area. And so, Islamic State is fearlessly making headway in Jordan. Islamic State made a few initial efforts to move into Lebanon, too, but it immediately came up against Hezbollah, which aligns itself with the Shi’ite branch of Islam. Hezbollah was keen on protecting its large military bases, which it keeps strong in an effort to stand against Israel.
A few dozen young Israeli Arabs have joined the ranks of Islamic State over the past two years, some of whom left to join the Nusra Front, which is fighting against Bashar Assad’s tyrannical minority government.
Others joined Islamic State in its struggle to bring Islamic rule to Syria. These Israeli Arab youths leave Israel and go to Turkey, whence they can easily cross the border into Syria. The number of Israeli Arabs who’ve joined Islamic State is small, though, and the Israeli authorities are not feeling threatened by this phenomenon.
Most of these people grew up hearing rhetoric in mosques every Friday and were recruited by Islamic State through Facebook or on Islamic Jihad websites. Others were introduced to these ideas while studying in Jordanian universities. Almost none of these persons were supported by their families or by any other organization and many left without notifying their loved ones. They joined up with Islamic State because they were looking for something to make their lives meaningful or just to get away from their families. They certainly didn’t go there to fight for the sake of the Palestinian people.
Islamic State leaders succeeded in catching a few Web surfers in their net, but the small number who took the bait and were willing to fight on their behalf have proved to be insignificant.
The people who pose a much more serious threat are the ones who return to Israel after fighting with Islamic State and becoming indoctrinated over time with their ideology. The return of such persons could pose a real security risk. Luckily, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) has the ability to track these young men and to identify and detain them for questioning when they reenter Israel.
The war against Islamic State needs to continue as if there were no negotiations going on with the Palestinians or war with Hamas. And the struggle against Hamas and efforts to get negotiations with the Palestinians back on track need to continue as if there were no Islamic State.
The writer is a former brigadier-general.