Today's big problem (over-emphasized) by media:

ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria)

or, in other words, the biggest and only terrorist organisation that managed to conquer land and keep it for a longer time nowadays. Now, as of September 2016, the area it holds is:

ISIS Territory (source)

ISIS has an estimated total of 50000–250000 soldiers and slowly gains strength from 1999, when it was founded. Now, my question is: How can I possibly stop the ISIS? By stop, I mean to or a) totally annihilate the organization - destroy their infrastructure, bases and weapons, free the captured land and kill/jail all it's members, or b) to force the terrorists (or better, terrorISISts) to give up and surrender their forces.

Let's assume that:

  • I have complete control of the European Union and the United States

  • I have enough money to fund any reasonable project

  • The organization should be defeated before this decade ends

Can I somehow stop the terrorists? If yes, how?


closed as primarily opinion-based by Aify, TrEs-2b, Bellerophon, John Dallman, MichaelK Sep 25 '16 at 20:32

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • $\begingroup$ Can you "somehow stop them"? Well, yea, but then "reasonable" comes into play and that's opinion based. For example, I may think that nuking the entire area is "reasonable", but others may not. It will stop them, yes, at a cost of possibly igniting world war 3 and killing millions of innocents, but even then that could be "reasonable" to someone. $\endgroup$ – Aify Sep 25 '16 at 18:19
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    $\begingroup$ "I have complete control of the European Union..." If you can manage that, taking out Isis should be a walk in the park. $\endgroup$ – Cyrus Sep 25 '16 at 19:52
  • $\begingroup$ "only terrorist organisation that managed to conquer land and keep it for a longer time." No, it isn't. What about the Iran revolution? Or the War of Algeria? Or the American revolution? Or the French revolution? $\endgroup$ – Stephan Branczyk Sep 26 '16 at 17:55
  • $\begingroup$ If you could elminate nato countries funding ISIS through oil purchases or end american military support for ISIS (nytimes.com/2016/09/18/world/middleeast/…) you'd probably have a better start than where we are now $\endgroup$ – Twelfth Sep 26 '16 at 20:33

In the second movie of the famous Batman trilogy Joker attempts to "destroy" Gotham city by undermining is ideals. This is how you destroy ISIS.

As The Dark Knight ends Batman realized that (and I'm paraphrasing) "he knew that if he could corrupt the best of us [Harvey Dent/Two Face] (something bad, I can't remember what)" the point being that if you corrupt the ideals you end the organization (unless you have a Batman esque fall guy)

Harvey was the cornerstone of Gotham. Islam is the cornerstone of ISIS. Corrupt Islam, or more specifically "radical Islam". This is actually quite simple.

Edit: looking back I realize the IRA would have been a better example. This terrorist group was doing great until they crossed a line. They killed two children. Soon after no one wanted get involved in the IRA.

Do something atrocious in the name of (radical) Islam. Remember, atrocious to them, not you. IE killing a couple thousand moderate Islamists for not being active enough in their faith. That kind of thing should get the supporters packing.

I am not an expert on ISIS so I may be horribly wrong. Do feel free to correct me.


A bit more humane approach than Tr-Es-2b's answer:

1) Design and mass produce a cheap pistol. It's not built for a long service life by any means but it works decently.

2) Leaflet drop over all ISIS-controlled territory:

"ISIS has been determined to be a sufficient threat to the world that it will be removed, period. In 24 hours there will be a mass drop of firearms over this city. If ISIS controls this city 72 hours from now the city will be flattened. Starting 30 hours from now tactical bombers will be overhead to reduce ISIS hardpoints that they identify or which become apparent from being sieged by the population."

3) A weapons and leaflet drop over any city under imminent ISIS threat except that it will be flattened if the city falls.

  • $\begingroup$ So basically giving the people of the middle East the second amendment? $\endgroup$ – Aarthew III Sep 26 '16 at 1:23
  • $\begingroup$ @AarthewIII At present ISIS has the guns. I'm saying to give the people the means of removing ISIS before flattening the place. Enough people with simple guns can make the streets utterly unsafe for ISIS and if they have to hide out in strong points those can be reduced from the air. $\endgroup$ – Loren Pechtel Sep 26 '16 at 2:36
  • $\begingroup$ Petchel that sounds like the second amendment :P it also sounds like a good idea. One suggestion would be to also drop some extra ammo. $\endgroup$ – Aarthew III Sep 26 '16 at 3:32

The biggest challenge you face is a lack of patience and overabundance of determination. Your plan requires the complete defeat of a terrorist organization in 4 years. For perspective, the terrorist organization Al Qaeda, which is held responsible for the 9/11 attacks on America, still exists 15 years later.

The problem with this approach is that beating down terror is like playing whack-a-mole. It's almost impossible to take it all down without someone else picking up the torch. This is why we don't try to take on terrorist organizations in the way you want to .

Now I know this is a discussion of fictional worlds (no matter how politically charged the question's phrasing might be). However, since you chose to connect it to a real life conflict, I feel it is reasonable to seek expert opinion on the topic. In my opinion, the best analysis I have seen of ISIS appeared in the Atlatic last march: What ISIS Really Wants. It is a very lengthy and well written article, and near the end it starts to suggest a remarkably simple way to stop ISIS: hold still.

According to that article, the edicts upon which ISIS builds their movement upon are dependent on the growth of territory and the Jihadist waging of war against non-Muslims. Any group that declares themselves to be the caliphate not only must hold territory (as ISIS does now) but they must bring an offensive war against the non-Mulsims. Failure to do so simply proves they are not, indeed, the caliphate, and all of their claims are invalidated. Thus, if we simply deny them the capability to fight an offensive war, they will eventually consume themselves or lose their standing. It may not happen overnight. It may not happen in 4 years, but eventually the validity of ISIS as a caliphate will wane, and they will lose support.

Patience and self control are the undoing of ISIS. If you embody them, you can take them down, or change them into something which can exist on the world stage without all this violence.

  • $\begingroup$ If you combined my answer with yours... $\endgroup$ – Aarthew III Sep 26 '16 at 1:25

Make them go away

Of course by this I mean blow them away. The US military has the nuclear weapons and the drones advanced enough to destroy them, the only thing stopping them is the civilian casualties, but we know that doesn't matter. Blow ISIS up.

  • $\begingroup$ Yeah. Who cares about some "normal" people... Well, I'll stop ISIS, and then "normal" people will lynch me to death while going home... But good answer, +1. $\endgroup$ – RudolfJelin Sep 25 '16 at 18:24
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    $\begingroup$ @TrEs-2b Isis is a heavily conceptual organization. If you kill thousands of innocents I have a feeling you would just escalate the situation. To destroy Isis you need destroy their ideals. $\endgroup$ – Aarthew III Sep 25 '16 at 18:33
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    $\begingroup$ @TrEs-2b if you look at history you will find that persecution spreads rather than extinguishes religion. $\endgroup$ – Aarthew III Sep 25 '16 at 19:09
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    $\begingroup$ @TrEs-2b Islam is a global religion. $\endgroup$ – Aarthew III Sep 25 '16 at 19:37
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    $\begingroup$ @TrEs-2b - In regards to "the needs of the many" - ISIS poses a threat to many less people outside of its territory than the number of innocent people IN its territory... we're talking hundreds vs. hundreds of thousands. "the needs of the many" is to accept losses from rogue ISIS-inspired people and bring the terrorist state to an end with as little loss of civilian life as possible. $\endgroup$ – GrinningX Sep 25 '16 at 20:19

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