Another day, another bombing.
Yesterday it was Baghdad, where some 165 people were killed in a popular shopping mall.
The day before, it was Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka, where a band of seven gunmen went into an upscale café and singled out non-Muslims to be tortured and killed in some perverse interpretation of Islamic doctrines.
A few days earlier, the world was horrified by the brutal triple suicide bombings and mass shootings at Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport that left 41 dead and 239 injured.
Taking advantage of the last few days of the holy month of Ramadan (which extremist jihadists mistakenly believe is a time when an act of mass murder will somehow earn them extra brownie points and additional virgins in the afterlife), the so-called Islamic State (IS) has been busy encouraging its devotees to strap on explosive belts and go out and kill infidels and fellow Muslims alike in the name of Allah.
In fact, at the start of the holy fasting month, the IS group spokesman in Iraq, Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, called on all Muslims to engage in jihad and become martyrs during the sacred 30-day period.
“The best acts that bring you closer to God are jihad, so hurry to it and make sure to carry out the invasion this holy month and be exposed to martyrdom in it,” Al-Adnani said in an online audio message.
“These are your weapons and this is Ramadan.”
Yup, forget the fasting and introspection and refraining from sinful behavior that have traditionally been associated with the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, the annual observance of which is considered one of the Five Pillars of the world’s second-largest religion.
The IS is telling its followers that the holiest month of the year is a time to kill and maim innocent civilians.
(Nothing like a 180-degree misinterpretation of the Quran.)
But the real reason that the Islamic State is summoning its factions to violence has nothing to do with Ramadan.
It has to do with grabbing headlines and intimidating the world with its horrendous ideology of hate and mayhem.
There are those who claim that the IS is on its last legs, and having lost both territory and support in its home base of Syria and Iraq, is now making a Hail Mary bid (excuse the juxtaposing of religious terms) to reaffirm its international influence with dramatic terrorist acts around the globe.
To a certain degree, they are right.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry defined the recent attacks in Turkey as a sign of the terror organization’s weakness, not strength.
“If you’re desperate and if you know you are losing,” he said, speaking shortly after the Istanbul bombings, “and you know you want to give up your life, then obviously you can do some harm.”
It is true that IS has suffered several recent reverses.
Iraqi soldiers have retaken Fallujah, and coalition forces have made serious inroads against the terrorist group along the Turkish border in Syria.
And even in the territories that the Islamic State still controls, there is simmered discontent and rebellion, quieted only by the very real threat of bodily harm.
Indeed, the Islamic State’s vision of a Levantine caliphate is gradually fading.
But while they may have lost physical territory in the Middle East, the Islamic State groups are not confined by lines on a map.
They encompass a complex network of transnational terror and are masters of slick internet videos and social media spiel that continually draw hundreds of new recruits from around the globe to their obdurate and lethal doctrine.
Wherever there is economic inequality and social discontent in the world, there is an incubator for IS ideology.
The Islamic State is gaining strength in places like Libya, Tunisia and the Sinai, and it is enticing the marginalized and dissatisfied youths of Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas to join their gruesome cause and surrender their lives for some ill-defined Weltanschauung that promises a paradise on Earth and in heaven for all those who blindly submit to its dogma.
The lethal reach of the IS’ evil terror knows no boundaries, and the only real way to combat the malignant spread of violent jihadism is by providing viable alternatives for the world’s disenchanted and disenfranchised youth.
Otherwise, the Islamic State’s nefarious adhan to murder will continue to beckon would-be jihadists to an unholy war against humanity.
Thérèse Margolis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.