MOSCOW, October 9 (RIA Novosti), Daria Chernyshova - The Islamic State (IS) group is a new phenomenon embodying the rise of political Islam, which poses a threat to the entire world while resembling a cancer that has started to metastasize, Former Russian Ambassador to Libya Veniamin Popov said Thursday.
“This is a cancer which started to metastasize,” Popov said at a press conference on the IS held at news agency Rossiya Segodnya’s press center. “This is a display of a common trend of the rise of political Islam. And this is a qualitatively new entity.”
“But this is the first time that a de-facto state has emerged. They are collecting taxes, rule the territories they have control over. On June 29, they declared a caliphate – a notion very close to all Muslims, because a Caliphate reminds of the golden age of Arab and Islamic civilizations, when they had huge territories, when they saw the rise of culture, education,” Popov highlighted.
The former ambassador pointed out that the idea of a caliphate is very attractive among Muslims, especially the youth and those Muslims who live in the West.
“Moreover, they attract the young people who see that this new state has become quite efficient, though severe as they cut heads off, but the idea is attractive to the young Muslims who live in the West, where they find themselves as second class citizens. All this poses a real threat to the entire world,” Popov said.
He pointed out that the IS budget totals more than $1.5 billion annually and many other extremist groups across the world have pledged to back the IS cause.
“A lot of extremists Islamic movements pledged support, solidarity and desire to join the caliphate,” Popov said, adding that those include Afghanistan’s Taliban, Islamic movement of Uzbekistan and Nigeria’s Boko Haram.
He underlined that the IS will be posing a threat in the long run. Popov also said that in nine years the number of Muslims across the globe is expected to exceed the number of Christians of all denominations combined.
“And the Islamic solidarity is a factor that needs to be taken into account. I believe it is very important to think about how to work with the Islamic youth. Not only how to deal with the terrorist threat by military means, but to find a way to win the fight for the hearts and minds of all the Muslims,” Popov noted.
IS, a Sunni jihadist extremist group bent on establishing a caliphate in the region, is an al-Qaeda spinoff that has garnered international attention in recent months by securing large swathes of territory in Iraq in addition to kidnapping and beheading four Westerners, including two journalists and two aid workers.