The development comes as the US State Department warns that a new global terrorist group like Daesh could emerge in Iraq unless the country implements social and political reforms.
Radio Sputnik discussed the issue with Dr. Munqith M. Dagher, president and chairman of the Independent Institute for Administration and Civil Society Studies.
Sputnik: What is your take on the concerns of the State Department official about the emergence of a new global terror group in Iraq? How likely is it that a group similar to Daesh will appear?
Munqith M. Dagher: Since more than a year, when the war against Daesh started, I warned that Daesh or similar organizations might reappear again. All my research in the region, I’m doing a lot of research in Iraq and also in Syria, in these previously occupied areas by Daesh [indicates that] it seems that this possibility is there and unless social, political and economic issues [are] solved there, then Daesh or similar organizations might reappear — though they have been defeated militarily.
Sputnik: Mr. Padgett also stressed that Iraq needs to implement social and political reforms; can you elaborate more on that?
Munqith M. Dagher: Actually, all the research done has proved that the deep reason for the [evolution] of Daesh and the emergence of Daesh was due to the socioeconomic and political circumstances. People felt for a long time in these areas, in Sunni areas, that they and their national identity had been marginalized. They felt that they had been treated as second-level citizens or even as third-level citizens; there’s a lot of unemployment. There’re different socioeconomic, political and non-religious issues that made Daesh take over all these areas. They only use the extremist religious ideology as a cover, or as an umbrella, but the deep reasons are socioeconomic and political.
Sputnik: Are you saying that people are joining the terrorist groups because they’re poor?
Munqith M. Dagher: Yes, and actually a few months ago I had access to captured Daesh fighters in [an] Iraqi prison and I interviewed a lot of them; most of them know very few things about Islam and the real ideology of Islam. Most of them joined Daesh when they were 16 years old for social reasons, for feeling significant, for employment and food; for different reasons, but definitely religion wasn’t among the top reasons behind joining Daesh.
Sputnik: Can you explain how the group recruits people? I understand that when you live in poverty, maybe joining a terrorist group is a way out, but still how do they brainwash young people?
Munqith M. Dagher: They brainwash them by providing them with a feeling of significance. Young people, especially those who are out of school, feel insignificant; [Daesh] recruits them, providing them with weapons, giving them some status. This is one of the reasons. The other reason is that using the feelings of marginalization, especially those among the older people, Sunnis, who have felt that they’re treated as third-level citizens; they provide them with a tool or a vehicle that makes them feel that they’re first-level citizens and can take revenge on those who have been treating them badly and not equally. These are the main things, in addition to employment and [provision of] good financial sources for them, as well.
The views expressed in this article are those of the speaker, and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.
*Daesh (also known as ISIS/ISIL/IS) is a terrorist group banned in Russia