Since the summer of 2014, ISIS has transformed the politics of the Middle East.
These jihad fighters combine fanaticism with military expertise and have won spectacular and unexpected victories against Iraqi, Syrian and Kurdish forces.
ISIS has spread from Iraq’s border with Iran to Iraqi Kurdistan and to the outskirts of Aleppo, the largest city in Syria.
ISIS is intoxicated by its triumphs.
It does not care about the growing list of its enemies, and has created unlikely alliances of enemies, like the United States, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States and many Western countries.
ISIS is without mercy, as it kills and targets anyone against its rule.
Its leaders are the products of war.
Deliberate martyrdom through suicide bombing is a central and effective feature of their military tactics.
ISIS are experts in fear.
Videos showing executions terrify and demoralize.
And even though many living in the ISIS caliphate do not like their new masters and are frightened of them, they are even more frightened by their former governments who they view as hated enemies for their treatment of those who dissent.
Many defect to ISIS, as ISIS is viewed as better, stronger, winning wars, making money, and offering training.
ISIS seeks to reshape the world through violence.
The West talks about degrading and destroying ISIS, but there doesn’t seem to exist any evidence of a long-term decisive plan other than to contain and harass the jihadists by long range bombing.
Those countries most threatened by ISIS are least able to defend themselves as they lack even the most basic of reinforcements or supplies and are therefore incapable of defence and demoralized of any hope of victory.
ISIS is expanding.
The caliphate covers an area larger than Britain and dominates 6 million people – a population larger than Denmark, Finland or Ireland.
ISIS has tanks and artillery and controls most of Syria’s petroleum production.
Opposing ISIS is very dangerous.
Every act of terrorism shows that ISIS is coming to kill and destroy any who stands in their way.
Until the world acts decisively and directly, ISIS will continue its butchery unimpeded.
It is the world´s very disunity and ignorance that fuels ISIS power.
Paris will be attacked again, as will other cities both Western as well as Middle Eastern.
Each failure to challenge ISIS empowers ISIS.
ISIS uses its fanatical fundamentalism and interpretation of Islam, (an interpretation fostered by the very lands the West views as allies such as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia) to “justify” its acts.
It has been this assassin’s cloak that has made Islam and terrorism synonymous in the minds of the ignorant and the uninformed.
Islam is blamed for the actions of terrorists, but terrorists follow their own twisted logic and exist outside normality, outside morality, and are beyond reason.
Terrorists are senseless men without conscience, some who use religion to disguise their evil.
The Islamic conscience, the conscience of the vast majority of Muslims, a conscience shared by most religions, stands for justice, truth and humanity.
When we paint all Muslims with the same brush, we undermine their humanity and defame over one billion people – one in five who share our planet – their societies and their histories.
Sharia law is not practiced by most Muslims, nor has it ever been, nor will it ever be.
To understand the events of Paris and Beirut, to comprehend what drives men to murder, is to try to define the undefineable, to decipher irrationality through logic.
It can’t be done.
So, what can be done?
We need to define for ourselves, first and foremost, what it is that we stand for, whether we be Christian, Muslim or other, by remaining open to discussion and the acquisition of knowledge.
We must not hate entire groups for the actions of a few, for if we do then the very beliefs we claim to espouse – justice, truth and humanity – are nothing more than catchphrases of hypocrisy.
We can start by appreciating our homes and our communities and getting involved in our mutual benefit.
Interaction in our local communities is a healthy start to understanding the world as a whole, for it is only in looking beyond ourselves can we truly make a positive difference in the world, both locally and globally.
We must not lose courage and faith in ourselves, for no matter what tragedy befalls us, whether manmade or not, we will always have who we are, our own Paris.
We must speak out and act against those who would have us hate or whom would destroy us, while never forgetting that hate and destruction is practiced by very few, not by the majority.
Never stop believing that love can, and always will, conquer all.
We must not let hate or fear dictate our actions, for we are better than this.
Though Beirut may seem less relateable to many than Paris, we must not view places far removed from us, geographically or culturally, as less worthy of compassion, for throughout the world we share a common humanity.
This humanity is our Paris.
We’ll always have Paris.