IPS reveals insurgents

By Gilda Ordonez

Staff Writer

Dr. Idean Salehyan led attendees into the unknown in Room K234. Salehyan, an associate professor of political science at the University of North Texas, unveiled the secretive lives of transnational insurgents at the latest Brookhaven College Institute for Political Studies event on April 22.

Ahad Hayaud-Din, Brookhaven Government professor, invited Salehyan to further educate students on the complex topic of groups such as al-Qaeda and ISIS. “I thought Salehyan did an excellent job taking something complicated and breaking it down to smaller pieces,” Hayaud-Din said.

The leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, proclaimed he was the new caliph of Islamic civilization on June 2, 2014, Salehyan said. A caliph is the political and spiritual leader of the Caliphate, which is the “political-religious state comprising the Muslim community and the lands and peoples under its dominion,”according to britannica.com. The position is similar to the Pope in Catholicism.

Salehyan said the last Caliphate was Abdul Mecid II. His reign ended in 1924 when Turkish President Ataturk abolished the Islamic Caliphate during the demise of the Ottoman Empire. Al-Baghdadi is a direct descendant, allowing him to claim he is next in line for leadership.    

Under the rule of the caliph, Salehyan said, Muslims are expected to adhere to the lifestyle of the Prophet Muhammad, who lived in the 600s A.D. ISIS bases their interpretation of religious doctrine on an extremely conservative and radical ideology known as Salafism. Salafism is a small sub-sect within Sunni Islam, and not all Sunnis believe in this violent interpretation.

Under this version of the Caliphate, rules are strictly enforced and many people consider the conditions to be human rights violations. The Salafist ideology rejects modern values, denies equal rights to women and resorts to violent public punishments for anyone who does not follow its strict interpretations. These punishments include public torture and violent executions, according to nytimes.com.

Salehyan said al-Qaeda is the primary group that pioneered the way for other radical groups seeking to bring back the Caliphate. Unlike other groups, ISIS has used social media to gain followers and loyalty. Extremist groups are swearing allegiance to ISIS in Libya, Egypt, Algeria, Yemen, Nigeria, Lebanon and Jordan. They are also gaining new members from across North America, Europe and Asia. “Fighting ISIS is, and will be for the foreseeable future, a major challenge,” Salehyan said.

The U.S. must also pick a side and be strategic regarding to which countries to support. “We are opposed to ISIS, we don’t like what ISIS is doing,” Salehyan said. “The United States government doesn’t, but neither does the Iranian government. How we fight this and who we partner with … to fight a group like ISIS is a real challenge.”