November 18, 2019

In the aftermaths of Hurricanes Irma and Harvey, will Hurricane ISIS make landfall?


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This image made from video posted on a militant website Saturday, July 5, 2014, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, purports to show the leader of the Islamic State group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, delivering a sermon at a mosque in . A video posted online Saturday purports to show the leader of the Islamic State extremist group that has overrun much of and Iraq delivering a sermon at a mosque in Iraq, in what would be a rare – if not the first – public appearance by the shadowy militant. (AP Photo/Militant video)

Article by Correspondent Dallas Darling From

“We must search out totally new ways to anchor ourselves, for all the old roots religion, nation, community, family, or profession are now shaking under the hurricane impact of the accelerative thrust.”  – Alvin Toffler

Like hurricanes, the nature of stands for “We love death more than you love life.” Indeed, and regarding ’ social media posts celebrating Hurricanes Harvey and Irma as signs of Allah’s punishment, calling the natural disasters “soldiers of Allah,” they’ve already started to recruit disenchanted Americans affected by the destructive disasters.

In addition to having much in common with millions of the displaced victims and jobless, they’re targeting veterans of foreign wars, social mediaized adolescents, those impacted by climate change, lone wolves and others impaled by a dysfunctional electorate.

Identity Is Interchangeable and When Enemies Are the Drastic Others

In many Western countries, “radical Islamism” has actually grown in tandem against the backdrop of economic decline.

Consequently, ISIS is able to push a narrative of victim-hood and heroic struggle in which the religious faithful and working classes (authentic) must battle and tear up the real roots of their problems: A global and wealthy cadre of elite demagogues (inauthentic).

And since identity has long been interchangeable in ISIS’ global war, the extremist group has moreover started recruiting thousands of unemployed, disenchanted and displaced Americans because of the hurricane’s destructive paths.

American veterans against so-called jihadists in Iraq and Afghanistan – and now Syria – are surprisingly prime targets for ISIS too. Not only does ISIS understand the post-traumatic stress and let-down caused by wars, but they’ll encourage veterans to aim their weapons at their fellow citizens. From Timothy McVeigh to Nidal Hussein, including lesser known recruits, ISIS will indeed use Hurricane’s Harvey and Irma’s worsening affects on disillusioned and homeless veterans. They plan to also look for explanations and enemies in the drastic otherness of those responsible – America’s political and economical elites.

ISIS’ Self-Flattering Impulses and Exploiting Failed Arrangements

Thanks to social media, the U.S. can no longer be distinguished from its apparent enemies. To be sure, there’s little difference between dozens beheaded and buried in a mass grave, or dozens beheaded and buried at the bottom of a fighter jet’s bombed out crater.

Coupled with the vulnerability of young people moving away from Western and family and community values, not to mention how Hurricane’s Irma and Harvey have already caused more fragmentation, ISIS is now playing to the emotions of adventurous and self-flattering impulses of youth, reassuring them they can change and rule the world.

Given the rise in natural disasters, brought on by climate change, the poor and oppressed will be marginalized even more. Neither will they be able to participate in the commercial society, the global market economy or nation state and utilitarian rationality.

ISIS will consequently use this dysfunctional economic backwardness (disaster capitalism) to their advantage, exposing the massive gap between rich and poor caused by the hurricanes.

It will also launch their destructive instinct in a society whose political arrangements fail to accommodate the growing aspirations to justice and equality of its masses.

Lone Wolves and Pied Pipers

ISIS moreover plans to use Hurricane’s Harvey and Irma to remind recruits – especially lone wolves –  “Jihad is not dependent on a time or a place,” and that it is “global…not stopped by borders or barriers.”

In other words, this stateless and homeless revolutionary and extremist force will offer a voice for political actors – political actors who want to be noticed and leave their “mark” through violent spectacles on a global stage. In anticipation of lone wolves killing randomly, ISIS will also push the concept of “will to power” in a liberal democracy that has become incoherent and filled with pity.

Whether ISIS ever becomes a Category 5 Hurricane remains to be seen. However, it hopes to bring a “wind like nothing they have ever seen.” To be sure, not only do anarchists, terrorists and despots thrive in times of spiritual and political and economical decay, but in times of natural disasters so do the pied pipers of radicalism and extremism. In fact, and whether a refugee camp in Syria or ghettoized inner city in the U.S., ISIS is already appealing to the insulted and injured.

Expect More Hurricanes of Anger and Hatred

Like hurricanes, ISIS will remain unpredictable. And even if ISIS is someday defeated, it will simply morph into something else – as the West’s “freedom fighters” in Afghanistan changed into al-Qaeda, and the West’s “freedom fighters” in Iraq changed into ISIS.

Meanwhile, those who support – and supported – despotic leaders while talking endlessly of their superior values will cause more hurricanes of anger, hatred and terror to make landfall.

Such hurricanes will also try and exterminate a world of what they deem to be soul-killing mediocrity, cowardice, hypocrisy, opportunism and immoral deal-making.

Dallas Darling ([email protected])

(Dallas Darling is the author of Politics 501: An A-Z Reading on Conscientious Political Thought and Action, Some Nations Above God: 52 Weekly Reflections On Modern-Day Imperialism, Militarism, And Consumerism in the Context of John’s Apocalyptic Vision, and The Other Side Of Christianity: Reflections on Faith, Politics, Spirituality, History, and Peace. He is a correspondent for You can read more of Dallas’ writings at and

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