Apple is a brand, Under Armor is a brand, Pepsi is a brand, Hollywood is one of the biggest brands there is; so how then can ISIS, one of the worst terrorist organizations be termed as a brand?; a group that has led to the deaths of thousands, and fleeing of millions more from their homes; A group that has taken over control of parts of Syria and Iraq, and forced their interpretations of the Islamic law upon those who are living in the cities? How then can they have the same standing as some of the world famous brands? We must first understand what a brand is.
A brand is a collection or a community of persons who have a common system of belief and this belief is what attracts others, and theyll share this belief, and so on and so forth. People who are part of this classification are willing to follow its trend by making purchases where viable, and applying it to their everyday lives, and actively participating with other who share the same beliefs.
ISIS is a community that has ideologies and is on a quest to have as many recruits as possible who find the philosophy being churned by its leaders appealing (McCants, 2015). ISIS has all the markings of a brand and has applied various tactics that have seen them gain worldwide recognition as much as other brands such as Apple, Google, and many others have:
They took advantage of a disastrous war in Iraq after Al Qaeda waged an attack on the United States by the bombing of the twin towers and the pentagon. The United States failed to secure a legitimate government and security personnel thus leaving a void for various extremist groups who took advantage of this turbulence as well as the rebellion brought on by the Arab spring. Brands have been known to take up the gap created by their competitors not working at full capacity. The vacuum left by the overthrown governments left a clear way for the groups to expand and attract new fighters and sympathizers (Fishman, 2008).
They target young Muslim and non-Muslim youth who feel frustrated by life in the west and were looking to be part of something life changing. Many of these youths were susceptible to the messages of ISIS especially with their great deaths threats against infidels and non-Muslims. They propose to rid them of the western influences which have tainted their view of their lives. This targeted advertising has made it easy for them to take control of larger portions of Iraq and Syria and have access to oil wells and an efficient military personnel as well as a bureaucratic organization (Fishman, 2008).
Competition from other religions factions who do not seem to have a clear vision of their attacks, and were faced with leadership wrangles. ISIS became the best choice for those who wished to take part in this self-proclaimed jihad war for those who needed to be part of a straight forward and rewarding organization.
They have built themselves as a brand with far-reaching ambitions that their parent group Al-Qaeda could not manage. They were able to break away from the rankings of Al-Qaeda in 2014, and this enabled them to position themselves as a top jihadist group global (Fishman, 2008).
The Islamic State has managed to attract a vast amount of attention most of which is surrounded by mystery (McCants, 2015). The headlines regarding the IS are seen on a daily basis with the events of this groups happening suddenly and unexpectedly even when they have been around since 2006; their activities caught global attention from 2013, and they set themselves apart as being more than a Syrian branch of the infamous Al Qaeda. They have been on a quest to gain territories, recruits, and resources, and they have gone on to declare themselves as a global Islamic empire. They have been known as the Islamic state to show that they are on a global quest (Zelin, 2014).
Image 1.1 (Zelin, 2014).
ISIS or ISIL is an acronym for the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant and is also known as the Islamic state of Iraq and Syria. They are a jihadist militant group who follow the Islamic fundamentalist doctrine of the Wahhabi of the Sunni Muslims. The group has on occasion dropped the last titles and has been known as IS once it declared that the group is a global threat to peace and security. This declaration of IS as a state by itself has received criticism from various religious groups including mainstream Muslim organizations, the United Nations and governments across the world. The group had taken control of Iraq and Syria, and they went ahead to enforce its interpretation of Sharia laws, governing a population that ranges from 2-8 million (McCants, 2015). The group also has affiliates that have control in parts of North Africa in countries such as Nigeria and Libya as well as parts of Afghanistan.
ISIS gained popularity in 2014 after they managed to drive out the Iraqi government from key cities in the country as they sought to rid the country of the western influence especially from the United States, who had just started their withdrawal process. They also managed to capture and establish control over the city of Mosul located in the north of Iraq on 10th June 2014. These actions prompted the United States to renew its efforts in Iraq with the overthrowing of the government in the country (Neumann, 2015). ISIS claim to have over 40,000 fighters many of who are of Iraqi and Syrian descent as well as many foreign fighters. The Central Intelligence Authority estimates that this number is about 31,000 and nearly two-thirds of that number is foreign warriors. The organization claims to have over 35 affiliate groups who have pledged allegiance to them ranging from Pakistan to Yemen (Burke, 2015).
The ideology of ISIS is being strongly condemned as many Muslims are distancing themselves from their call of jihad stating that the organization has strayed from the true form of Islam, and they do not reflect the true virtues and teachings of the Koran. The group has been labeled and categorized as being a terrorist group by the United Nations and the European Union including their member countries with many of the Nations waging war against ISIS activities, especially in Iraq and Syria. Unlike the Al-Qaeda, which during its 14-year operation was a terrorist group and they operated by attaching themselves to a pre-existing uprising of the Al-Shabaab and the Taliban, ISIS is a fully fledged revolution that has recruited foreign and local fighters in less than two years. The result of this large number of recruits has made it easy for them to capture many territories and have far more reach than Al-Qaeda could ever accomplish (Burke, 2015).
Foundation and growth of ISIS
ISIS has its foundation traced to 2002 when the Tawhid Wal-Jihad was founded by Abu al- Zarqawi who had been linked with Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. He refutes these claims that he was not a member of the group (as he disagreed with the approach of the Al Qaeda) which focused on destroying the far enemy- the west- and did not focus on the closer enemy which was the Islamic leaders. ISIS took root after the American invasion and subsequent control of Iraq in 2003 (McCants, 2015).
The Saddam Hussein regime was overthrown during this war and this threw the administration in disarray, and the existing government was destroyed. This vacuum left due to a lack of proper administration made the country vulnerable and the United States failed to secure a viable government and security personnel to protect the citizens for the nearly ten years they were in the country (McCants, 2015). They -American army- tried having an administration that was led by Nouri al-Maliki, who was a Shiite, but the so-called democratic regime alienated the Sunni population which had held leadership in the country for much of the countrys history even while being the minority group in the country.
The organization had its progress weakened first with the death of Al-Zarqawi in 2006 in an American-led attack and second with the presences of the American troops and other global policies who were in support of the Sunni population was a setback for ISIS. As part of the Al-Qaeda, they took advantage of the vacuum and lack of proper security personnel as well as the alienation of the Sunni population and they became the number one adversary of the American army stationed in the country (McCants, 2015). McCants (2015) further notes that the withdrawal of the US army from Iraq that ended in 2001 saw the organization gain strength, and they began making their way into Syria where they were part of the civil war that started in 2011 as an extension of the Arab spring. ISIS served as an umbrella network for many of the jihadist organizations as they continued to make their case against the United States and their Western influence in the Islamic world as well as the Shiite population.
One of their greatest achievements was taking over the city of Mosul which is the second largest in Iraq and at the same time the organization managed to set up its headquarters and governmental center in the eastern part of Syria and named Al-Raqqah as its capital city. They then established the Islamic State (IS) which is referred to as the Islamic Caliphate, and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi headed this faction (McCants, 2015). The United States took an interest in the activities of the organization and in 2014 they launched a severe struggle against the group, and this is still ongoing.
The massive campaign by ISIS in 2014 saw them taking control of cities with many of the government forces being forced to leave their posts, and those who were captured and brutally massacred. The group may have seemed to come out of nowhere, but their activities were and are part of their foundation (Burke, 2015). The name they chose for their organization was a testament to the ambitions they had; theres extended to more than a jihadist faction, they were intent on becoming a governing state under the Islamic law and to which all Muslims within its territory would pledge their allegiance.
Target audience and recruiting process of ISIS
ISIS targets children and young people and they have revamped their efforts to recruit more of them across the world. Young women are offered up as potential brides for the fighters, but the question that has many wondering is, what is the selling point for these young men and women who leave their homes and join this terrorist group? What persuades them to leave their families knowing they will not be seeing them again and travel to an unknown destination? One of the ways in which they have managed to have high rates of recruitment is their use of social media as a tool for spreading their propaganda (McCants, 2015). Their videos play like action movies showing brutal killings and explosions celebrating their activities. They are using platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, and Whatsapp to spread these messages to their target audience and their use language that appeals to them.
They make the promise of a better life and an escape from the life they have while at home. Many targeted youths are frustrated and suffer from various frustrations with no way to get away. They are promised a life with no bills to pay, free housing, electricity and other luxuries; who wouldnt want this? For those who are used to good things such as shampoo, and other necessities, they are also provided as gifts from Allah to the state (Caliphate). They are promised to live better than they are at home and not in caves as they may think.
Many of their recruits do not need to travel to the Middle East to carry out attacks and other tasks required of them. Plans are made using various methods such as the couple in California who carried out a shooting in San Bernardino. Such a team is hard to keep track of as t...
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