ISIS and the “End of the World”: How Apocalyptic Beliefs Influence Their Terror

paris terror attackThe attack by ISIS in Paris which killed 129 people on Friday came the same day as the United States announced they had probably killed ISIS “celebrity” executioner Jihadi John. Thursday, a suicide bombing in Lebanon killed at least 43 people, an attack ISIS also took responsibility for. A couple of weeks ago, ISIS claimed that they had taken down a Russian passenger jet over the Sinai Peninsula, killing all 224 people on board.

Undoubtedly, the war hawks and armchair patriots here in America will claim that this is both a reason to ramp up military action, while also stating that this whole thing could have been stopped if French civilians had been armed – because gun fanatics and warmongers never miss a chance to push their agenda.

Now that we’re fairly confident the attack in France was carried out by ISIS, that makes it the third act of terrorism against a foreign country they have managed to pull off outside of Iraq and Syria in the past couple of weeks.

Political figures here have already jumped on this tragedy for their own agendas, and in the coming days, the calls for military action will certainly escalate. Unfortunately, that is exactly what ISIS and other Islamic extremists want – as well our own religious extremists who believe a massive conflict in the Middle East is what is needed to bring about the return of Jesus and the end of the world.

Right-wing Christians aren’t the only ones who believe in an apocalypse, it also turns out that the Islamic State does as well. Their version of events also includes a “Mahdi” – a prophecy that the Islamic State is currently trying to fulfill.

During the last years of the U.S. occupation of Iraq, the Islamic State’s immediate founding fathers, by contrast, saw signs of the end times everywhere. They were anticipating, within a year, the arrival of the Mahdi—a messianic figure destined to lead the Muslims to victory before the end of the world. McCants says a prominent Islamist in Iraq approached bin Laden in 2008 to warn him that the group was being led by millenarians who were “talking all the time about the Mahdi and making strategic decisions” based on when they thought the Mahdi was going to arrive. “Al-Qaeda had to write to [these leaders] to say ‘Cut it out.’” (Source)

Make no mistake about it, ISIS wants to draw countries like the United States, France, and Russia into a final conflict in the Middle East. They believe, just like Christian fundamentalists, that there will be a great war which will fulfill religious prophecies. You know they’re crazy when even Al-Qaeda had to tell them to “cut it out.”

This type of thinking played a part in the shooting and bombing in Paris, the bombing in Lebanon, and the bombing of the Russian passenger plane. Unfortunately, these countries have little recourse other than to launch military action in Syria and Iraq against ISIS which will draw more recruits to the extremist group.

Ultimately, the only way for the Islamic State to be defeated is for Muslims around the world to reject their ideology and to support Muslim and Western nations who seek to destroy their armed forces. This is not a war that can be won solely on military might, it is a conflict that can only be won when Christians and Muslims both reject extremism and refuse to live with fear and hatred.


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