Mideast Expert: Islamic Leader Twists Theology to Justify Actions

Tuesday, 08 Jul 2014 12:23 PM

By Melissa Clyne

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Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-professed leader of the Islamic State terrorist organization, is "becoming a magnet" to all Muslims who feel alienated, from Europe to the Middle East to the Malay Peninsula, said Middle East expert Robert Rabil, a professor at Florida Atlantic University appearing on Newsmax TV’s "America’s Forum."

Baghdadi has morphed himself into a 21st century caliph —  leader of an all-Islamic state —  yet his ideology and methodology hearken back to the Middle Ages, said Rabil, who explained that the head of the terror group is couching himself and his organization as the only "rightful Muslims" descended from the Prophet Mohammed, proselytizing that "you have to come to us, you have to follow us, and we are going to lead you to reestablish the caliphate and bring the glory of Islam."

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The Islamic State (also known as ISIL and, formerly, ISIS) is a "religiopolitical" group intent on creating a caliphate composed of all the Sunni majority areas, Rabil said.

"They are ambitious, they are bold, they have money, they use terror, and they use theology to justify their actions," he said.

What’s especially frightening for the world is that the Islamic State is a "transnational" effort that has spread from Iraq to Syria to Chechnya and Dagestan and is attracting Muslims from Europe, other parts of the Middle East, and the United States, who will then return home. Rabil cited as examples an American suicide bomber from Florida who traveled to Syria to fight in the civil war there and a Lebanese man who conducted a suicide attack in Beirut last month.

"This is a big problem for the international community," he said.

The United States needs to pursue diplomacy, but that plan should also include a military strategy, he suggested.

"Every day we don't do something about the Islamic State, every day it's going to be harder for us to dislodge them."

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