The Islamic State (IS) claims to have posted online the names, U.S. addresses and photos of 100 American military service members. It is calling on its "brothers residing in America" to kill them. Last month, U.S. law enforcement officials arrested three IS-related suspects for conspiring to attack New York's Coney Island and assassinate the president. Officials are also concerned about Americans fighting with IS who could return home as terrorists.
For months it has seemed that IS is winning. Last June its fighters captured Mosul, forcing Iraqi armies to flee. They advanced close to Baghdad, taking captives and executing prisoners along the way. Groups in Nigeria, Libya, and Afghanistan have since joined their declared caliphate. Terrorists loyal to IS recently killed 19 tourists in Tunisia. It seems that every day's news brings bad news in this global battle.
But there's good news as well. As The Economist reports, recent losses to Kurdish, Iraqi and Shia militias have cost IS 25 percent of its territory. America and its allies have bombed oil facilities that provided much of IS's revenues. Most of its hostages have been sold or murdered. As a result, IS may have lost up to 75 percent of its income.
Internal divisions are growing as well. Some of the eight million people living under IS rule report that extortion and violent repression are rising while public services are declining. The movement has even started to kill its own followers for fleeing to the enemy and, in one report, for beheading too many people.
This good news does not mean that the threat of IS is near resolution. Even if it loses all of its holdings in Iraq, it will have safe haven in Syria so long as that country's sectarian civil war continues. It can continue fostering "lone wolf" terrorism in America and around the globe. But its status as a caliphate, the ideal Islamic state, is being damaged. And that status is the secret to its global appeal.
What should we do next? Ayaan Hirsi Ali has an answer. Named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world, she is a fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Her latest book, "Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now," is being published today. Ali notes that the religion of her birth "is at a crossroads. Muslims need to make a conscious decision to confront, debate and ultimately reject the violent elements within their religion." She proposes that those in the West support such a project and encourage Muslims to do the same.
Undoubtedly such a reformation would lessen the threat of IS, al-Qaeda, and other terrorist organizations. But the ultimate answer to the violence inherent in Islamic history and theology is found in the Prince of Peace. (Tweet this) Jesus is appearing to Muslims around the world in visions and dreams. His Spirit is calling Christians to intercede for Muslims in their neighborhood and around the world. Have you answered his call today?
Publication date: March 24, 2015
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