Islamic State is a virus, says Gulf official


A government official from the Gulf has said that Islamic State spreads extremism throughout the region by praying on uneducated preachers and journalists.

In a wide-ranging interview with the JC, the official called IS “the virus of small ideas”, and predicted that the Arab world would be fighting Islamic extremism for at least the next 30 years.

The United Arab Emirates suspended its fight against the terrorist group in December after a Jordanian pilot was captured, but sources have indicated it is now once again a committed member of the coalition.

It is understood that, on Sunday, the UAE supplied a squadron of war planes with pilots and technicians, to Jordan to assist with its missions against IS.

The government official, who did not wish to be named for fear of reprisals, said the worst educated and least intelligent Arab citizens often gravitate towards journalism and preaching because these are the only jobs available to them. This leaves vulnerable, often ignorant people with control over the region’s public discourse, he said.

From this public pulpit, the audience’s attention can be held with extremist ideals, with a black-and-white, easily understood world-view that is partly based in traditional ideology.

The official, who is also a specialist on religious radicalism, said: “Many of IS’s ideas are simple ideas, which many Muslims share. Preachers invoke the idea that their congregants are under attack because it allows them to gain power through fear and hatred of an outside enemy. Arab countries must take back their language and the language of God.”

However, the official added that the outlook was not all negative.

“I feel very positive about the Arab world. It can’t get any worse, and I think liberal ideas are going to spread. You can see an appetite for change in the revolutions in Egypt and elsewhere, even if they got it wrong.”

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