LOS ANGELES (Catholic Online) – The Islamic State has been referred to as "al Qaeda’s JV team" by President Obama and they are widely viewed as the angry little brother of al Qaeda, or as just another terrorist organization bent on hatred of Israel and the West. However, these off-the-cuff, and frankly, cavalier assessments are absolutely wrong.  Instead, the Islamic State could be regarded as a genuinely "evil" organization by western standards. Their leadership is seeking nothing less than the apocalypse and they have a very specific vision of how to trigger that event.
Here are some need-to-know facts about that Islamic State that may shock you.

1. The Islamic state is not a rabble of angry Muslim men.

The face of the Islamic State could be Jihadi John, although he is only the media personality that most people recognize. When viewed through this popular lens, the Islamic State looks like a barbarian rabble. Angry young men armed with AK-47s and knives are shooting and hacking their way through Syria and Iraq. Yet, if we were to watch some of the very raw footage of their executions and other proclamations, we will notice one bizarre quality -the men are happily carrying out these deeds.

Instead of expressing rage, these men are happily cutting off heads and shooting people. They seem to revel in their work.

The map of the Islamic State shows their controlled territory which is already larger than many nati

The map of the Islamic State shows their controlled territory which is already larger than many nations. They seek a final battle in Dabiq where the apocalypse will begin when they are on the brink of defeat.

2. They seem happy because they are not psychopaths, but "saved."

These mass-murdering men who like to tweet pictures of themselves and even their children posing with severed heads or pulling triggers are commonly seen smiling. Some of this is certainly the product of their sophisticated PR ability, but their good mood comes from a sincere belief that they are doing holy work. Members of the Islamic State belong to a specific sect of Islam that preaches the apocalypse is near and they think their work will bring it to fruition. As any person of faith knows, the knowledge of imminent salvation is an occasion for joy, not sorrow or anger. These killers truly believe they are doing good works and are therefore proud of them.

Islamic State fighters are genuinely gleeful as they kill because they sincerely believe they are do

Islamic State fighters are genuinely gleeful as they kill because they sincerely believe they are doing good deeds.

3. Their goal is the end of the world.

The Islamic State does not seek to destroy Israel, America, or to commit evil misdeeds for the sake of evil. Nor do they seek to establish their own little country where they can live as their ancestors did in the seventh century. Instead, they literally seek the annihilation of the world. 

They specifically believe that a final battle must be fought in the city of Dabiq on the border between Syria and Turkey. The defeat of the Western army there, often referred to as the army of "Rome" (Catholics take note!) will trigger the apocalypse.

4. The Islamic State is sophisticated with an organized government and military.

When many people think about the regions controlled by the Islamic State, it is easy to regard the territory as a region dominated by barbarians whose primitive customs would be considered quaint if not for their quickness to murder. However, this is a fatally inaccurate understanding of the Islamic State.

The Islamic State regards itself as an actual state and administers itself as such. The government is highly organized with a leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and various departments including a separate military wing.

The state has a police force, mints its own coinage, and controls its borders perhaps better than most western countries. It makes money on the international market by selling oil. They also accept donations from significant supporters around the world. They have a sophisticated PR presence and a global recruiting strategy with imams and volunteers working social networks, trolling for new recruits.

The quality of its videos and propaganda is first-rate and parallels that of any western nation and it takes advantage of the democratic nature of the Internet to disseminate and reach potential sympathizers.

The Islamic State is said to be minting its own coins, a sign of a sophisticated government bureaucr

The Islamic State is said to be minting its own coins, a sign of a sophisticated government bureaucracy.

5. Anybody who disagrees with the theology of the Islamic State must die.

The Islamic State is simple in its interpretation of the Quran. Anybody who does not agree with their specific interpretation of the book is apostate or an infidel and faces a choice, if lucky. That choice is to either convert, pay a punishing tax while recognizing their subjugation to the Islamic State, or die. Anybody who resists, who commits an unpardonable offense, or who does not enthusiastically support their specific brand of Islam is slated for death.

There is no room for negotiation or compromise. There are some who propose making peace with the organization by granting the Islamic State its own sovereign territory and legitimacy. They are not interested. They seek to goad the world into fighting them, then they seek a final battle which will usher in the apocalypse.

6. They believe the apocalypse will begin when they are at the precipice of defeat.

Several clerics of the Islamic State have made clear they expect to be defeated. In fact, defeat is part of the recipe for the apocalypse. When the last few thousand fighters are left and the army of Rome is about to be victorious, the intervention of "Mahdi," their apocalyptic figure, will be at hand.

Make no mistake! This is what victory looks like for the Islamic State.

The supporters of the Islamic State believe the Mahdi, an apocalyptic savior, will come to defeat th

The supporters of the Islamic State believe the Mahdi, an apocalyptic savior, will come to defeat the army of Rome just when all seems lost to them. It makes sense that the Islamic State will concentrate in Dabiq as they are eventually pushed back.

7. The Western world may be in cahoots with the organization to some degree.

Although the west is quick to condemn the Islamic State, and is even active in bombing them, there may be some level of collusion between the two sides. The evidence for this is circumstantial and it amounts to speculation, but it also raises some questions which are not easily answered.

For example, it is known the Islamic State is generating much of its operating income from the sale of oil. Who is buying the oil? Why are these transactions permitted to continue? Why haven’t the refineries or wells been bombed? Even if the goal is to protect this infrastructure, these systems can be knocked offline by various, relatively surgical means. With all the bombs dropped to date, why hasn’t this happened?

The Islamic State, although a hermit kingdom in its own right, is still connected to the global economy. Credit cards and banks work there. Why isn’t all of this shut down?

The Internet which admittedly few of the people of the Islamic State use although to powerful effect, is essentially controlled by the United States, the birthplace of the technology. The world’s internet traffic flows through the USA. A few simple commands could literally knock the entire region offline, stopping the tweets and the Facebook posts and other propaganda the organization is using to recruit. Why are they still online?

The answers to these questions could be as simple as the fact that even President Obama does not fully appreciate what he is dealing with, in which case he needs to be briefed and he either needs to amend his approach or step down and allow someone who can handle the problem take over. However, this is simply not going to happen. One has to ask (and demand answers) how such a powerful organization such as the executive branch of the U.S. government could get something so badly wrong for so long.

The leader of the Islamic State is Abu Bakar al-Bhagdadi. He was once held in detention by the U.S.

The leader of the Islamic State is Abu Bakar al-Bhagdadi. He was once held in detention by the U.S. in Iraq but was released. He seeks the end of the world along with hundreds of thousands of others who believe as he does.

8. The end of the Islamic State will not come by peaceful means.

The painful realization is upon us. The Islamic State will not go away by any conventional means. They literally seek the destruction of Rome, have threatened the Pope and the Vatican and they have no regard for the international community. Even if we cut their sources of revenue and communication, the beliefs will remain. The motivation will be untouched. As such, they will march towards their goal, which is the apocalypse, and they will do literally anything to goad the world into battle. Such people cannot be pacified.

While it would appear that a militant strategy to defeat the Islamic State plays directly into their hands, there is one thing we understand that they do not. Their beliefs are grounded in myth. Even if the "Army of Rome" were to meet them in battle at Dabiq, and every piece of their apocalypse were in place, there would still be no apocalypse because the Imams of the Islamic State are simply wrong.

Given this, we can safely call their bluff and eliminate them.

Unfortunately, war has a hydra effect, creating two terrorists for every one that is killed. War also consumes innocent lives and pulls the defender down to the level of the attacker. Yet, when confronted with a hostile entity which will accept no end but death, is there a choice?


All wars end, and the world has a responsibility to act and to defeat the Islamic State, which can certainly be defeated. If a peaceful end to this trouble can be found, we have a fiduciary responsibility to exercise it. But failing that, our penultimate responsibility is to simply stop, contain, and reduce the Islamic State, even if slowly and by military means, so that innocent lives are not destroyed by its Islamic cancer.