Al-Qaeda was a fundamentally different type of group than ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant). The former was a loose-knit group of smaller local groups, joined by a common cult-like leader: Usama bin Laden. Now that bin Laden is dead, the group has splintered into these smaller local groups again. Taking out the leader of Al-Qaeda was very effective.
But not so with ISIL. They are not joined by a common leader, but by a common idea. What defines ISIL as a group is the idea of a worldwide fundamentalist Islamic kingdom, attained by unrestrained violence. They are on a crusade to capture the holy land, so to speak, except that their intended “holy land” is the entire planet, and they have no real moral code in their efforts to attain that goal. They believe that eventually the whole human race will accept Islam. And not any version of that religion, but only the extremist version. They believe that extreme control over all human persons under their power, and extreme violence against all opponents (including moderate Muslims) is the correct path to their goal.
You can’t bomb an idea. You can’t kill or capture a concept. Regardless of whether an social, political, or religious idea is good or evil, you can’t stop it with weapons.
ISIL has leaders. I have no idea what their names are. If one dies, he is promptly replaced by another, who holds to the same simple extreme ideology. Killing the leaders of ISIL has little effect.
Can we bomb their soldiers, thereby defeating the group? Not really. When they have fighters in the field trying to take a city or town, they can be bombed or shot, with some effectiveness in halting their advance. But these fighters are quickly replaced. The ideology offered by ISIL is compelling to many Muslims. It offers simplicity and power. It appeals to the worst aspects of fallen human nature. ISIL offers men extreme control over women, a broad approval to be violent, and a certain type of fame or success within their culture. It appeals to religious fundamentalists, since the ideology of ISIL is extreme fundamentalism, made worse by the use of extreme violence.
In Western nations, most Muslims have a moderate view of their own religion; they are not fundamentalists. And even those who tend toward fundamentalism do not tend toward violence. They do not have the goal of conquering the world and of forcing all to comply with their version of Islam. Muslims in the West tend to favor democracy and freedom and rights, all of which is antithetical to the violent fundamentalism of ISIL.
In many Islamic nations, the ideas of democracy, freedom, and individual rights has not taken root in the population. And they have no Judeo-Christian ethic. They are led by the religion and culture of Islam. And in some nations, the fundamentalist version of Islam predominates. Muslim scholars who would argue for religious freedom and a moderate interpretation of Islam are rejected by the populace, who prefer the simple unyielding version of their religion. As a result, an extremist group like ISIL finds fertile soil for its growth and spread.
How can we stop ISIL, if not by the weapons of war? They could certainly be stopped by prayer, self-denial, works of mercy, and repentance from sin. If enough sinners repented, neither ISIL nor any similar group could rise to power. “Through fasting and prayer, one can stop wars, one can suspend the laws of nature.” [Mary at Medjugorje]. But given that most Catholics refuse to repent and go to Confession, refuse to fast and to pray devoutly and frequently, what can we expect of non-Catholics? How can we expect hardened sinners to repent, if Mass-going Catholics avoid Confession, do not fast, seldom pray, and do not believe what the Church teaches?
In the short term, ISIL cannot be stopped. Weapons do not work against an ideology. Christians refuse to live their own faith to the full.
ISIL will conquer Iraq and Syria. They will then foment extremist Islamic ideology in the other nations of that region. Iran will continue to seek nuclear weapons. And once they obtain nuclear weapons, Iran will unite with ISIL. Extremist Islam is not extreme devotion to God, but rather an extreme quest for power, by any means necessary. If you think that ISIL is bad now, wait until they make a formal pact to join with a nuclear Iran.
World War 3 is imminent. In theory, it could be stopped by repentance and conversion, followed by prayer, fasting (and all manner of self-denial), and works of mercy. But too few persons are repentant. Most teachers and leaders of Catholicism seldom pray, seldom fast, are self-indulgent, and seldom perform deeds of charity. And the followers are like the leaders. Not enough persons will pray, fast, and repent in order to stop World War 3 and World War 4.
The Warning, Consolation, and Miracle will seem to bring a vast wave of repentance and conversion. Unfortunately, many will not repent, some Catholic leaders will feign repentance, many repentant souls will soon backslide into grave sin. And those who remain repentant will not pray and fast and do works of mercy as they ought. For the leaders of Catholicism, especially lay leaders and priests, are poorly catechized. Yes, the teachers themselves have not learned the subject area they are teaching: Catholicism. So the repentant will become like lost sheep, willing to follow the shepherd, if only they could find a good shepherd in the midst of so many pretenders.
The repentance and conversion which follows the Warning will not suffice to prevent World War 3. And as of this moment, the innumerable unrepentant grave sins of humanity are calling for a grave response from the Lord.
2. ‘The priests, ministers of my Son, the priests, by their bad life, by their irreverences and their impiety in celebrating the holy mysteries, by love of money, love of honor and of pleasures, the priests have become cesspools of impurity. Yes, the priests are asking for vengeance, and vengeance is suspended over their heads. Woe to the priests and to persons consecrated to God, who by their infidelities and their bad life are crucifying anew my Son! The sins of persons consecrated to God cry out towards Heaven and call for vengeance, and see how vengeance is at their doors, because there is no longer found anyone to implore mercy and forgiveness for the people; there are no longer generous souls, there is no longer anyone worthy to offer the Victim without blemish to the Eternal on behalf of the world.’
3. ‘God is going to strike in a manner without example.’
4. ‘Woe to the inhabitants of the earth! God is going to exhaust His wrath, and no one will be able to take himself away from so many afflictions combined.’
5. ‘The leaders, the guides of the people of God have neglected prayer and penance, and the demon has obscured their intelligence; they have become these wandering stars that the old devil will drag along with his tail to make them perish. God will permit the old serpent to place divisions among rulers, in all societies and in all families; physical and moral pains will be suffered; God will abandon men to themselves, and will send chastisements which will follow one after another for more than thirty-five years.’
6. ‘Society is on the eve of the most terrible scourges and of the greatest events; one must expect to be ruled with an iron rod and to drink the chalice of the wrath of God.’
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