ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, has burst into the global consciousness with dramatic beheadings of Western journalists and aid workers. As ISIS has conquered territories in Syria and Iraq, its terrorizing of native Yazidis and sexual enslavement of Yazidi women, immolation of a captured Jordanian pilot, and beheadings of Coptic Christians have been widely publicized. Yet more than any of the jihadist movements – Iran’s Muslim Brotherhood and offshoots, al-Qaeda, for example, ISIS has drawn thousands of followers from all over the world, including the West, to ISIS controlled territories in Syria and Iraq.
To better understand the seemingly improbable recruiting success, and to explore what the United States can do, ‘Morning in America,’ the syndicated radio program hosted by Bill Bennett, welcomed in the vantage point of forensic psychiatrist Michael Welner, M.D., Chairman of The Forensic Panel. Dr. Welner, whose pioneering Depravity Standard research in criminal and everyday evil impacts the discussion of war crimes, unexpectedly characterized the beheadings and social media efforts of ISIS to be a distraction from the real reasons for its momentum.
In a lengthy interview that Bennett, the former United States Secretary of Education, termed ‘a masterful explanation,’ Dr. Welner pointed out the unique messianic quality that ISIS embodied in the declaration of a Caliphate by its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. ISIS, he noted, was appealing to the devout with a utopian message of nation building, and touching fundamental Muslim tenets and traditional longings to serve the Caliphate. Be it to Salafist groups annihilating those around them of other faiths, or quietly devout females or recent converts in Europe, the ideals of the Caliphate, now restored after over a 1,000 year absence, include idealized proscriptions that encompass even social welfare. ISIS message of traditional and unadulterated Islam, strictly adhering to the Qu’ran, insulates it from rejection from Muslims for whom criticism of the Qu’ran is strictly forbidden, echoing political correctness, observed Dr. Welner.
Dr. Welner proposed a variety of underutilized solutions available to America, cautioning that the messianic quality of ISIS endowed it with the unusual determination that would need to be aggressively confronted while its forces are comparatively smaller and more easily defeated.
Listen to the full interview here: