BYU Kennedy Center fellow and war correspondant: ISIS still rampages in chaotic Middle East

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The situation in the Middle East is bad and likely to stay that way, and the American military is monitoring the situation.

BYU Kennedy Center fellow, U.S. military member and author Dodge Billingsley described updated prospects for the Middle East in a campus lecture Jan. 21.

Dodge Billingsley spoke at BYU’s Kennedy Center on ISIS history and the recent acts of violence committed throughout the world. (Kennedy Center)

Billingsley introduced the military’s stance on what America is willing to do to control the ISIS situation. “Every soldier that goes around Iraq is combat-ready and combat-proficient, and if it happens and if it’s necessary we are going to end up fighting these guys,” he said.

Billingsley’s lecture focused primarily on information about ISIS rather than U.S. involvement.

ISIS stands for Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. This rebel group originated from the early days of the Syrian civil war, but it took advantage of the instability in Iraq to spread there as well. ISIS currently controls territory in Iraq and Syria but its influence is not limited to the Middle East.

Billingsley explained that ISIS currently brands acts of terrorism and violence in France, Nigeria, Australia, Afghanistan, Jordan, Libya, Egypt, North Africa and Asia. Billingsley said ISIS is a worldwide phenomenon.

He described the acts of ISIS as a “competition to see who can be the most violent.” He also said ISIS members and their recruits “inspire each other” by acts of violence and continue to be more and more forceful. Billingsley gave examples of the terror the group promotes throughout the world:

  • Australia: An ISIS radical named Man Haron Monis took 17 people hostage in a Sydney coffee shop. Two of the hostages and Monis were killed.
  • Afghanistan: Information has been provided that ISIS has been actively recruiting members and paying them as though the positions were careers.
  • Pakistan: Recent school attacks have been inspired by ISIS.

This terrorism has only taken place within the last few months, and Billingsley said there is “zero reason for ISIS to disappear.”

He explained the importance of the media for the ISIS movement. “If nobody sees it, it doesn’t matter,” he said.

ISIS understands the power of media. “(The media) is one of the key elements for them to fight these kind of battles,” Billingsley said.

After reporting the grim state of ISIS and its gruesome workings, Billingsley ended his lecture with a realistic worldview. “Frankly, we’re in for a new reality in the Middle East,” he said. “There is going to be decades and decades of instability.”

He said he does not know how the U.S. could solve these problems at present.

“I’m not optimistic it is going to be calm,” Billingsley said.

Billingsley is a faculty member at the Navy’s post-graduate school and director of Combat Films and Research, producing and directing many documentaries. He has also written two books exploring America and Afghanistan and the Russian-Chechen wars based on his on-the-ground coverage of the conflicts.

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