The article at hand is very long, titled "What ISIS really wants" in the Atlantic. The TL;DR version is this: ISIS is an apocalyptic cult and they are beyond reason.
That the Islamic State holds the imminent fulfillment of prophecy as a matter of dogma at least tells us the mettle of our opponent. It is ready to cheer its own near-obliteration, and to remain confident, even when surrounded, that it will receive divine succor if it stays true to the Prophetic model.Every time I read about mass movements like this, I'm always reminded of "The True Believer" by Eric Hoffer. A salient quote:
Passionate hatred can give meaning and purpose to an empty life. Thus people haunted by the purposelessness of their lives try to find a new content not only by dedicating themselves to a holy cause but also by nursing a fanatical grievance. A mass movement offers them unlimited opportunities for both.Last night on "60 Minutes" was a textbook model of the "true believer." It followed the brothers in the Charlie Hebdo attack:
As a teenager, Cherif was more interested in rap than religion. This video, shot by his friends, documents that period in his life when was he smoking pot and chasing girls. He worked as a pizza delivery boy, but his life changed in 2003 when he became radicalized by a group of young Muslims in this Paris neighborhood. They were angry about the American invasion of Iraq and set up a recruitment ring to send young French Muslims to fight jihad against U.S. forces.There you go: he went from an everyday kid, smoking weed and delivering pizza. Then, as Eric Hoffer might say, he was introduced to the devil he could believe in and give his empty life some meaning. It was a piece of cake to nurse that grievance straight into fanaticism.