ISIS, the militant group that calls itself the Islamic State, had a shocking and seemingly overnight rise to power. But you may be amazed to learn that, despite what we see on TV news, their organization has serious flaws — and may simply fizzle out.
That was one of the takeaways from a panel discussion at WGBH Studios in Boston last Thursday. "Examining the ISIS Threat" brought together Frontline's Martin Smith, the veteran reporter behind the powerful new film “The Rise of ISIS;” professor Mia Bloom of the UMass Lowell Center for Terrorism and Security Studies, whose research focuses on ethnic conflict, political violence and radicalization; and Charlie Sennott of The GroundTruth Project, just back from the Middle East.
Smith's film is a terrifying portrait of ISIS’ rise, but the discussion was surprisingly uplifting. While some worried that ISIS could pose a threat for years to come, Bloom said, in the scheme of things, she expects the group will be little more than a footnote to history.
She pointed out that the group sustains itself in large part with help from Sunni leaders and former Saddam Hussein loyalists. But the more brutal ISIS becomes, the more intrusive in Iraqis’ daily lives, the less their Sunni supporters want to remain a part of the coalition.
And Bloom believes that ISIS — which many have described as nihilists just hiding behind religion — can’t help themselves: they won’t be able to moderate their behavior for the sake of running Iraq.
You can watch the entire panel discussion below.
Let us know what you think. Was the discussion more optimistic than you had anticipated? Add your voice in the comments section or by tweeting with the hashtag #RiseOfISIS.