By Roger Drinnon
An expert on Islam with ties to the LCMS has weighed in on the State Department’s recent designation of the barbaric acts of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) against Christians as genocide, noting such belated gestures are inconsequential.
“Since taking geographical control of parts of Syria and Iraq in the summer of 2014, [ISIS] has repressed, persecuted and killed anyone not of its strict, literalist Sunni Muslim persuasion. The U.S. State Department’s belated recognition of reality, almost two years on, is not exactly praiseworthy,” said Dr. Timothy R. Furnish. “The [State Department] acknowledgment that ISIS is committing genocide against religious minorities — Christians in particular, but also Yazidis and Shi`i Muslims — is, frankly, almost too little too late.”
His comments came amid tragic reports that at least 30 people were killed in coordinated ISIS terrorist attacks on a Brussels airport and a train in Belgium March 22. The Synod’s International Center Chaplain and Director of Worship Rev. William Weedon immediately took to social media to offer a prayer for victims of the attacks.
“We are devastated by this news,” said President Gijsbertus van Hattem of the Evangelisch-Lutherse Kerk in België, the Synod’s partner church in Belgium, in a statement released by the International Lutheran Council. “But we take comfort in the peace of Christ — a peace which passes all understanding. Despite the raging of the world, we have the suffering and risen Lord with us.” (Click here to read more.)
Furnish holds a Ph.D. in Islamic History from Ohio State University as well as a Master of Arts in Religion from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. He is a media commentator on the topic of Islam, a veteran of the U.S. Army and consultant to the U.S. military and intelligence community. His latest book, Sects, Lies and the Caliphate: Ten Years of Observations on Islam, explains the origins and ideology of ISIS. Another of his books, Ten Years’ Captivation with the Mahdi’s Camps, explains Islamic apocalyptic thought and historical movements.
Calling it what it is?
Both Congress and the State Department made separate, formal proclamations in March against the jihadist extremist group ISIS, also known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) or simply the Islamic State (IS).
Congress passed its resolution March 14 declaring that ISIS was in fact committing genocide against Christians, Yazidis and other religious minorities in the areas it now occupies.
Additional language in the omnibus spending bill passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama in December required Secretary of State John Kerry to declare by March 17 whether the Islamic State was committing genocide. Kerry met that deadline by issuing an official statement March 17.
In his official statement, Kerry used a more generalized and esoteric designation “Da`ish” for the terrorist organization in lieu of “ISIS.” Furnish said such terminology does little to counter the threat posed by Islamist extremists.
“Da`ish is the Arabic acronym for ISIS [Dawlah al-Islamiyah fi al-Iraq wa-al-Sham] and sounds in Arabic like a vaguely insulting term meaning ‘to trample underfoot,’” said Furnish. “It has absolutely no effect on ISIS’ brutal jihad operations … An apocalyptic-minded group like ISIS is not going to be deterred by name-calling.”
ISIS kills deployed U.S. Marine
Just two days after the State Department’s announcement, the Department of Defense (DoD) announced the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Inherent Resolve – the Defense Department’s designation for U.S. military operations in Iraq and Syria against ISIS that began in August 2014.
Staff Sgt. Louis F. Cardin, of Temecula, Calif., died March 19 in northern Iraq from wounds suffered when ISIS forces reportedly attacked Cardin’s unit with rocket fire. The incident remains under investigation, according to a March 20 DoD press release.
Cardin was deployed from the 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, Camp Lejeune, N.C., to support Operation Inherent Resolve.
“This is the second combat death since the start of Operation Inherent Resolve, and it reminds us of the risks our men and women in uniform face every day,” said Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook in a statement released March 19. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the service members involved, their families and their coalition teammates who will continue the fight against [ISIS] with resolve and determination.”
Death toll rising
Some news agencies have reported that since the jihadist group declared its goal of establishing a global Islamic caliphate in the summer of 2014, ISIS has executed more than 10,000 people, including women and children, in Iraq and Syria.
(See related article, “ISIS, other radical Islamists driven by Muslim eschatology.”)
Roger Drinnon (email@example.com) is director of Editorial Services and Media Relations for LCMS Communications.
Posted March 22, 2016