MAKE no mistake. IS has declared war on the world. From the moment the terror group’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi created his caliphate, the battle lines for a new global conflict were drawn. The charismatic leader is a mere mortal — but he claims to be God’s deputy on Earth, sent to wreak holy war on the enemies of Islam.
Put simply, a world war is a global conflict played out across continents between the world’s superpowers, battling to establish or rearrange the world order. Just like World War Two, this is a conflict which is being played out across the globe in simultaneous bloody insurgencies.
Since 2014 IS has exploded on to the world stage, seizing territory in Iraq and Syria while establishing franchises in Libya, Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, Nigeria and across Africa. Attacks inspired by IS’s murderous call to arms are now commonplace across the world, including in the West.
In June, 38 people — 30 of them Brits — died on a beach in Tunisia at the hands of gunman Seifeddine Rezgui Yacoubi. Last month IS gunmen and suicide bombers left 130 dead in Paris. And just weeks ago 14 people were killed and 22 seriously wounded when married jihadists Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik went on a gun rampage in San Bernardino, California.
The similarities between 1939 and 2015 are chillingly clear. So today The Sun shines a spotlight on IS’s new brand of religious fascism and its leader hell-bent on plunging the planet into World War Three.
Power through fear
JUST like Adolf Hitler, al-Baghdadi rules through fear, stemming from an unshakeable belief that his followers are a master race destined to rule the world. Those who do not convert to his twisted interpretation of Islam face brutal ethnic cleansing. For Hitler, that meant the genocidal extermination of six millions Jews in the Holocaust. But it was not just Jews who were executed. Gypsies, Poles, Slavs, Soviet PoWs, communists, homosexuals and the disabled were also killed.
Just as then, ethnic cleansing is taking place in the territory held by IS killers right now. Christians have been crucified, non-believers beheaded, homosexuals hurled from buildings. The Yazidi community of Iraq were branded devil worshippers by IS and have been mercilessly targeted since. Thousands have been killed.
After the Iraqi town of Sinjar was liberated last month, mass graves were uncovered, one containing the bodies of more than 80 women. All had been murdered by IS death squads. It is believed IS killed at least 3,000 Yazidis as they purged their new caliphate of non-Islamic influences. Fear stalks the streets of Raqqa in Syria, the new IS capital. Limbs are hacked off as punishment for even minor crimes such as petty theft.
Women must be covered from head to toe or face fierce reprisals. And just like in Nazi Germany, the elite are treated like royalty. Foreign fighters are given homes and weapons, plus free healthcare. Vanquished communities must supply their young girls as sex slaves and wives to the IS foot soldiers.
The grip of total power strikes utter fear into the enemies of IS while drawing killers from across the globe into its ranks.
The cult of leadership
HITLER took on a mythical aura among devotees who loved his stirring speeches and believed his twisted lies. He struck a chord with a nation left on its knees after World War One. The German people had been let down by their spineless leaders and were victims of a cruel injustice when they should have been a world powerhouse. At least, that is what Hitler told the masses – and they believed him.
Al-Baghdadi too has tapped into a new sense of victimhood felt keenly among Muslims worldwide. They feel the West has persecuted them, that they are voiceless and defenceless. Al-Baghdadi hails himself as a modern-day messiah, ready to lead them from victimhood to glory. Unlike Osama Bin Laden, he is not content simply to launch terror attacks but wants a whole new world order with himself, the Caliph, heading a new world superpower of Sunni Muslims.
In the end, Hitler’s death ended his brand of state-sponsored anti-Semitism and the rise of fascism in Europe. Whether the death of al-Baghdadi will produce the same result remains to be seen.
Propaganda for a new age
HITLER’S use of propaganda had never been seen before. He used leaflets, posters and films to fool a generation into abandoning reason to follow his mad racial science. Today, IS’s slickly produced web movies showing gruesome murders, children executing captured fighters, westerners being beheaded and other outrages are viewed by millions.
They spread like wildfire on web forums, while recruiters use Twitter and Facebook to groom new followers. And just as Hitler used icons as stamps of power and authority, so does IS. While the Third Reich used the swastika, IS flies the black flag – a symbol which is fast burning itself on to the psyche of the West.
And just as the Nazis burned books viewed as subversive to their twisted ideology, IS is destroying antiquities which they consider blasphemous. Parts of the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra have been destroyed, along with churches, shrines and statues of Assyrian gods. These acts of cultural terrorism were filmed and broadcast to the world, sending a statement of intent that nothing is beneath them, and their religious fervour cannot be questioned.
History on his side
HITLER thought he was head of a pure-blooded Aryan master race set for eternal world domination. Al-Baghdadi believes he is a messiah bringing religious purity enshrined in a single state. As the new self-styled caliph, he claims to be God’s deputy on Earth, chosen to bring about a new world order in which his brand of Sunni Islam rules for ever.
Al-Baghdadi and his devotees believe the final war will take place in the Syrian town of Dabiq, as the Prophet Muhammad is believed to have said “the last hour will not come” until Muslims vanquish the Romans at “Dabiq or Al-A’maq” on their way to conquer Constantinople, now Istanbul.
That prophecy has now been reinterpreted to mean Muslims are at war with today’s equivalent of the Romans – the West. IS believes it will draw the US and its allies, including the UK, into a final war it will win.
DURING World War Two it was Churchill, Stalin and Roosevelt versus Adolf Hitler. Now it is Cameron, Putin and Obama versus al-Baghdadi. Like Hitler, al-Baghdadi’s charismatic approach – his belief in Muslim dominance over the rest of mankind – has drawn millions of followers.
It is the global nature of this conflict which harks back to World War Two and hints at World War Three. The West and Russia are engaged in an uneasy alliance to defeat IS. Russian leader Vladimir Putin knows that economically his nation cannot compete on the world stage, so he is throwing everything behind his military prowess.
After annexing the Crimea and illegally invading parts of Ukraine he is now involved in Syria, propping up regional ally Bashar al-Assad, bombing friendly rebel forces and IS alike. The doomsday scenario of World War Three becoming a possibility relies on whether Russia and the US can find a peace plan for Syria, according to The Sun.