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This week, President Obama shared plans for an accelerated U.S. bombing campaign against ISIS in Iraq (and soon to be in Syria) that will focus on eliminating key leaders and destroying the weapons that ISIS seized from the U.S. The expanded bombing is predicted to have ISIS on the defensive for the first time since it emerged as a serious threat. In his recent ISIS speech, Obama said, “Working with the Iraqi government, we will expand our efforts beyond protecting our own people and humanitarian missions, so that we’re hitting ISIL targets as Iraqi forces go on offense.” However, officials say they do not see ISIS collapsing anytime soon.

What the heck is going on with this whole ISIS tragedy?

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So let’s start from the beginning. ISIS is the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. It was first an al Qaeda group, but launched as the Islamic State in Iraq (ISI) in 2006. By 2013, they merged with an al Qaeda-backed militant group in Syria called Jabhat al-Nusra or al-Nusra Front and then called themselves ISIS.

Led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the entire point to ISIS is to create and Islamic state across Iraq and Syria, specifically across Sunni. They have been completing their mission by killing dozens of people through public executions, crucifixions and other horrendous acts. This group pretty much controls a large portion of northern and western Iraq, ignoring international borders by having their presence felt in Syria’s Mediterranean coast, all the way to the south of Baghdad.

The leader of al-Nusra, Abu Mohammed al-Jawlani did not want to merge with the ISI group. Lots of fighting went down between al-Nusra and ISIS and al-Qaeda renounced all ties to ISIS after a year. By the summer of this year, ISIS kidnapped more than 140 Kurdish schoolboys in Syria, forcing them to take radical Islamic theology lessons, they seized Mosul’s airport, TV stations and the governor’s office, they freed up to 1,000 prisoners, taking control of all of Mosul as well as Tikrit (blah blah town). ISIS then took over Al-Qaim, a town on the border of Syria, as well as three Iraqi towns. ISIS is perpetually releasing hell in the Middle East.

Their reign of terror has only begun. ISIS has also created and Islamic state that eradicates all state borders (this made al-Baghdadi the authority over the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims) and they forced 1.2 million Iraqis from their homes. That is when the United States got involved, sending over 300 troops to Iraq to add security to the U.S. Embassy and the airport in Baghdad. ISIS has now taken over all Syrian cities from Dier Ezzor to the Iraqi border and even a major Syrian oil field. After claiming to have killed 270 people in Syria, ISIS militants blew up Jonah’s tomb, a holy site in Mosul.

And it was just last month that a video was posted on YouTube of missing U.S. journalist, James Foley getting beheaded by ISIS militants, who then threatened the life of fellow U.S. journalist, Steven Sotloff. They decapitated Sotloff earlier this month and broadcasted it in a video online.

Last week, three senior members of ISIS were killed in a U.S. air attack. NBC News is reporting that the selective strikes on ISIS leadership can have a big impact. Aiming to rally support for the campaign, Obama brought focus to ISIS’s well-publicized human rights abuses, calling the group’s fighters “unique in their brutality.” He continues, “They execute captured prisoners. They kill children. They enslave, rape, and force women into marriage. They threatened a religious minority with genocide.” Obama’s aggressive words are filled with hope, “We will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL [ISIS] through a comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorism strategy.”

Now you’re all caught up.


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