Looking at the ongoing struggle in Iraq between civilization and a barbaric regime, it’s appropriate to question whether the world has arrived at another Sept. 10 moment. Are we on the brink of another terrorist attack and not even know it?
The rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) bears an eerie and terrifying resemblance to the Taliban regime that ruled Afghanistan leading up to the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The U.S., Iraq, Iran and other nations seem determined to stop ISIS, apparently learning the costly lessons received 13 years ago.
In hindsight, where vision is 20/20, we should have been onto the Taliban long before the hijackers boarded airplanes on Sept. 11, 2001. The regime offered safe harbor to al-Qaeda, the terrorist network led by Osama bin Laden, which carried out attacks on U.S. embassies in Africa in August 1998 and on the USS Cole off the Yemen coast in October 2000.
The Taliban itself became a ruthless theocracy and violently suppressed women and religious minorities. They publicly demonstrated their intolerance about six months before 9/11 by destroying the Buddhas of Bamiyan, two massive statues carved into cliffs centuries earlier.
History seems to be repeating itself with ISIS, a regime formed out of the chaos of the Syrian civil war that has infected much of northern Iraq with a unique and terrifying brand of violence. They’ve attracted tens of thousands of fighters from all over the world—including the U.S. and United Kingdom—and radicalized and incorporated them into a murderous machine hell bent on imposing a medieval society that the regime claims to be based on Islamic law.
Like the Taliban, ISIS has flaunted its intolerance in a particularly terrifying, bloody way. They destroyed historic religious sites near the northern Iraqi city of Mosul such as the tomb of the prophet Jonah, an important figure in the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths. ISIS also used social media to depict various murderous acts, from crucifying religious minorities to the beheadings of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff.
ISIS’ rise and acts of violence brought the revulsion of the civilized world—and spurred a campaign to stop it dead in its tracks. American military forces launched air strikes in northern Iraq which helped the Kurdistan and fledgling Iraqi armies retake much of the region. Military experts, however, agree that further action is needed in Syria, ISIS’ center of power.
There is also concern about the potential for radicalized ISIS fighters with American and British passports to return to their home countries and bring the war there. Prime Minister David Cameron proposed giving the British government the authority to revoke passports of any Briton suspected of fighting for ISIS. Some American lawmakers are calling for similar legislation here in the States.
As much as this nation is rightfully tired of war and leery of travel restrictions, the situation demands that the U.S. step up and destroy ISIS. Much like the Taliban, the Nazis and other terrorist regimes that preceded them, ISIS is bent on nothing more than imposing their will and exporting death around the world.
There is no room for discussion or debate with ISIS—only their unconditional surrender, lest we allow them to bring another 9/11 to our doorstep.