WASHINGTON, July 11, 2016 — On Thursday night, a Shiite shrine was attacked by suicide bombers and gunmen who killed 26 and wounded 52. On Sunday, a truck bomb took the lives of 292, the deadliest attack in Iraq since the U.S. led-invasion.
The attacks were carried out in areas filled with people preparing for the holiday of Eid. This has been one of the bloodiest Eids in history, with more than 350 dead in eight countries. Muslims around the world are trying to come to terms with the violence triggered by ISIS, especially during this holy time.
While ISIS has lost Fallujah and might soon lose Mosul, it is demonstrating to the world that it still has an iron grip on the population of Baghdad. They have shown that they can attack anytime and anywhere, with no advance warning. They showed it in Paris and Brussels, and now they are showing it closer to home, even as they continue to lose ground.
They have shown also that no location or time is sacred to them or can escape their hatred.
ISIS has a powerful tool and a powerful advantage helping it to spread its hatred throughout the world. The tool is its use of social media and the internet to radicalize its followers throughout the world. The advantage is the weakness of the Iraqi government
As was shown in Orlando, all ISIS has to do is make convincing radicalization videos to target isolated and rebellious young people, post them on the internet, then sit back and wait. They help young men radicalize themselves behind their own computer screens, then carry the violence into their own streets. ISIS, thousands of miles away, takes credit and adds more bodies to its body count as its name spreads through the global media, riding waves of fear and insecurity.
The weakness of the Iraqi government is intertwined with its incompetence and corruption. One example of is the so-called bomb-detecting wands used at security check points, which have been proven to be fake. Yet the government continues to use them, as trucks filled with explosives roll right past the checkpoints and into populated areas.
With no strong leadership, no powerful government and no effective police force or security system, ISIS has waltzed through Iraq and gobbled up the power that should be vested in the government like a wolf devouring its prey. ISIS is growing because people fear it, and that fear spreads with every new body that is added to the death toll.
To stop ISIS, the world needs to come together and address those two crucial issues. We must shut down websites that carry ISIS propaganda across the world and at the same time help Iraq develop a strong security force, whether that be through new technology, training soldiers or aiding its leaders.
The Iraqi government must take care to protect its civilian populations while it wages a war against ISIS, else the civilians will turn against the government and towards the terrorists, who say they will protect them. This war needs to be carefully planned and strategic, but we must act now. Every minute we sit on our hands and hide behind bureaucratic red tape, people are staring at their computer screens, watching videos that plant the seeds that yield harvests like Orlando.