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ISIS – Iran and Shia- Sunni Conflict

  • The Sunni outfit ISIS sees Iran, a Shia theocracy, as an ideological rival and battlefield enemy.
  • ISIS refers to the Shias as Rafidha (a derogatory term for Shias used by Sunni extremists).
  • For the IS, Shias are not real Muslims — they are apostates who follow shirk (idolatry).
  • In the IS-controlled territories of Iraq and Syria till 2018, Shias faced systemic persecution and violence.
  • IS also continued to attack Afghanistan’s Hazara Shia minority.
  • Iran-backed militias targeted ISIS in parts of Syria and predominantly in Iraq.
  • Earlier, ISIS carried out a coordinated attack on Iran’s Parliament and the mausoleum of Ayatollah Khomeini.
  • Iran also sees ISIS as an immediate security threat.
  • Iran dispatched Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) units, being the first country to aid Iraq against ISIS attacks.
  • Iran’s state organs refer to ISIS as a “terrorist organisation” or Taqfiris (excommunicators of fellow Muslims).
  • Major General Qassem Soleimani played a significant role in anti-IS operations.

Islamic State: Background

  • It is also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and by its Arabic acronym Daesh.
  • It is a transnational Salafi (Sunni) jihadist group.
  • It was founded by Abu Omar al-Baghdadi in 2004 and fought alongside Al-Qaeda during the Iraqi insurgency.
  • ISIL aims to return to the early days of Islam, rejecting all innovations in the religion, which it believes corrupts its original spirit.
  • ISIS is the self-acclaimed leader of jihadists, disregarding other groups, including Hamas.
  • Aided by the Syrian civil war, it occupied large territories in Iraq and Syria in 2015.
  • By 2019, it lost all its Middle Eastern territories and returned to insurgency tactics.

ISIS activities in India

  • In early 2020, ISIS circulated an India-centric propaganda material called Voice of Hind.
  • Intelligence agencies observed incidents of online recruitment through various channels.
  • Incidences of radicalisation of Kashmiri youth by ISIS and sporadic protests were also observed.
  • ISIS released an online poster justifying “retaliatory action” in the Wilayat e Hind, or the “Indian Province” of its supposed Caliphate.
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