The Iraq He Left Behind

<p>Abbas Jammali</p>

Abbas Jammali

In June 2014, Abbas Jammali was on his way to the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad to collect his visa and passport to attend Ball State.

“When I was going over [to the embassy], I saw ISIS killing Iraqi soldiers, behead them in front of me,” he said.

This is the Iraq he left behind.

The goal of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria is to re-create the Islamic state the way it was in the early decades after the rise of Islam, according to Yaron Ayalon, an assistant professor of history at Ball State.

“You really have to learn the history of things, especially with the case of ISIS where they keep referring to all sorts of events that took place in the seventh century. If you don’t start with the seventh century and the rise of Islam, you’re never going to understand ISIS,” Ayalon said. “If you really learn something from history, one of the things we know is that the early Islamic state is nothing like what ISIS claims it was.”

ISIS controls territory in Iraq and Syria and now rivals Al Qaeda as the world’s most powerful jihadist group, according to the New York Times.

Besides controlling land in the Middle East, the group is also known for killing dozens of people at a time and carrying out public executions, according to CNN. U.S. journalist James Foley was beheaded August 19 and Time magazine contributor Steven Joel Sotloff on September 2.

Sitting in his apartment, Jammali, a first year masters student in physics, talks to his family via Skype as part of their daily ritual of communication, despite the eight-hour time difference.

He often avoids talking about ISIS with his parents because they are already worried enough.Abbas Jammali

“Our government sometimes blocks the Internet network to make it difficult for ISIS people to contact each other,” Jammali said. “The Internet in Iraq is not good. Sometimes I can’t understand everything [my family] is talking about.”

For the rest of Jammali's story, read on at


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