It's said that a quiet majority of Pakistani Muslims in cities like Bradford, Rotherham, Birmingham and Manchester, broadly support what ISIS (or whatever their latest name) is trying to achieve. To some there is unease at their tactics but it is a fact that the Koran states that all infidels must be conquered, given the chance to convert to Islam and, if they refuse, beheaded.
There have been lots of discussions over the years about what bits of the bible mean but no such discussions take place within Islam. The book is clear as crystal, it's words unambiguous, it's instructions clear. So why should we expect Muslims to condemn ISIS for doing exactly what the Koran demands?
And there is history on their side. The use of extreme force, inhuman violence and gut wrenching brutality has worked before for a religion and succeeded in turning it into an all pervasive power across the globe - I speak of course about Roman Catholicism.
The RC religion was borne of controversy and violence. After 300 years of persecution the Christians who lives in Rome (and who were a very small sect within the overall Christian faith) dropped lucky. The Emperor Constantine was thinking about his sins - he is widely regarded as the worst of all Roman Emperors - and as all top folk did he went to the muses seeking absolution. The fact that his transgressions were so legion that they refused him tells you a lot about the guy, so he went in search of another religion that would assure his forgiveness and absolution. After a lot of searching up popped the Roman sect of the Christian church. They offered him absolution (when nobody else would) in exchange for his promise to wipe out every other Christian sect. Given his talent for butchery (this is the fella who raped and murdered his own mother and sister remember) he readily agreed.
The Roman Catholic Church was founded in a blood bath of Christian persecution by a guy who just wanted to get to heaven and was being told by the RC's that this was the way to do it. It's estimated that in the next twenty years Constantine butchered over 300,000 Christians who wouldn't adopt the RC version of events. Most wouldn't as the RC faith is contrary to scripture, adorating Mary, and was also at odds with many other parts of scripture (they later rewrote the entire New Testament to fit their version).
From their base they expanded across Europe thanks to Roman patronage and then, when the New World was discovered they sent their top man Torquemada there to 'convert' the Aztecs and Mayans. This was achieved again by wholesale massacre. In Mexico they butchered the top 6,000 elders of the Aztec people to show their force - publicly executing the leader in horrific fashion and killing his four wives and sixteen children in front of an appalled people.
Of course they had also encountered the Cathars in Europe two centuries earlier and the horrific brutality they exercised there is significant in terms of ISIS today.
The Cathars were strict followers of the New Testament. They condemned Rome for its temples, pomp and extreme shows of wealth. Rome's response was to destroy them. Cathar settlements would be surrounded and left to starve for several weeks. Then they would enter, line the men up on one side and the woman on the other. The children were herded into the middle where they were spit roasted (alive), then the women were gang raped until they died. Finally the men were beheaded. It's estimated that over a half million Cathars were murdered. Rome prevailed.
The tactics of Rome against the Cathars showed levels of brutality never seen before or since - until today. ISIS seem to be copying what the RC Church did with historical precision. And it's working of course. They control vast tracts of Iraq and Syria, their rule is absolute and totally accepted. Everybody in their region is now Muslim. If fact cold logic says they've done a very good job. And one suspects they will continue to do so.
ISIS was born out of the glorification of the various terrorist sections, by people who wanted to make fundamentalism the true religion. This is exactly what the RC Church did under Constantine. They removed the ambiguity and created one Christian faith - even if it was totally at odds with everything Jesus had said - and that faith survives to this day as the worlds biggest religion.
ISIS can look to the success of the RC church and legitimately hope and aspire to be as successful. Islam is an evangelical religion as was Roman Catholicism; spreading the word with brutality and fear works - ask the Pope!
Perhaps the west thinks it can stop ISIS, perhaps it can, but it will pop up somewhere else, converting as it goes. Pakistan will be next, and China will also see its docile Muslim community rise up. The next 100 years will be about religious wars, and Islam will be the biggest region in the world by the end of it. How that effects us remains to be seen.
Diplomatic efforts and nation armies certainly won't stop it so maybe give the job to the one organisation that is as brutal and determinedly self preservationist as ISIS - maybe we send in the Roman Catholic Church to short them out. It's brutality when conversion opportunities arise is way beyond what ISIS could dream of.
You might think me flippant but I am a bit serious here. The chance to confront Islam as they did in previous centuries would be accepted by Rome. Conversion and perhaps a glimmer of hope that they could finally wipe out a religion that they see as being borne from the drug and alcohol fuelled delusions of a Paedophile from the Yemen (a pretty accurate definition as it happens) would be very attractive. If they were given clearance for a 'no holds barred' approach they'd be up for it and they would prevail.
During the Crusades Rome fell down because of manpower issues. Here they would have technology so superior the numbers wouldn't matter. And let's be clear, the west would like to see the back of Islam, it's always been that way.
First we'll do the diplomatic stuff, send in Arab troops and British planes, but none of that will work. Trust me, what's needed is the Catholic Church with its gloves off.