In general, ISIS has existed for over a decade as a movement. Its self-proclaimed leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi claimed the ISIS territory in 2014. ISIS aims to create an Islamic state across Iraq and Syria and has already seized many cities, including Iraq’s second largest city of Mosul. By implementing Sharia Law in the cities it controls, ISIS brings the state back to that of ancient times, both religiously and non-religiously. While ISIS cannot attack with air raids, it has formed an effective militia, eliminating the practice of Christianity in regions and attack truck drivers and others for money and resources. Some believe ISIS is part of or similar to Al-Qaeda, they are in fact very different and more rivals than allies. ISIS has declared itself as a separate body with views that are different philosophically and organizationally. The capturing of Mosul and its resources are a vital part of the state’s success. The series of Holy wars known as the Crusades took place from the 11th-13th centuries with Jerusalem as its epicenter. These military expeditions carried out by European Christians sought to retrieve holy lands from ancient Muslims. There were a total of 8 crusades between 1096 and 1270, and only the first and third expeditions were successful. In traditional Islam, Christian and Jewish states were viewed as something to be conquered and destroyed. After Muhammad’s death, Muslims attacked Christians and were very successful in capturing the most popular Christian cities, from the Middle East to Spain and North Africa. These conquests also reduced the Byzantine Empire drastically, causing the emperor in Constantinople to seek help from allies in Western Europe. The Crusades were the Christians’ response to centuries of Islam conquest.
Muslim members of ISIS and Muslims during the Crusades have few similarities. Both groups acted upon the same religious beliefs against those who practice Christianity. ISIS also seems to be getting revenge for what happened during the Crusades. Shortly after the attacks on September 11, 2001, Osama bin Laden stated that “our goal is for the nation to unite in the face of the Christian Crusade[s]”.
There are many more differences between Muslims of ISIS and those in 1095, such as the origins of conflict with Christianity. Long before the Crusades, Muslims had been capturing and destroying Christian cities and ravaging the separated Roman Empire, taking control of their holy lands. Muslim actions caused the Crusades to take place. Today, rather than stealing Christian holy lands, ISIS tries to establish is own modern caliphate in Iraq and Syria through brutality. Differences can also be seen in the way Muslims control the regions they conquered. Muslims during the Crusades only sought to destroy cities, while ISIS is using its control to its advantage and builds a state by relying on the resources of captured cities — those who defy ISIS face execution.
Obama’s comparison of ISIS to the Muslims of the Crusades was not very accurate, considering the extremely different behavior of ISIS compared to Muslims in the 11th century. Although ISIS claims to be acting based on the Christian Crusades, the Crusades are only a small part of Islamic history. Today, America faces a problem similar to the conflict that occurred several centuries ago. Muslim terrorists have seized many territories and must be stopped before their state grows too powerful.