After I received a forth email empathically encouraging me to read What ISIS Really Wants by Graeme Wood, I decided to invest one hour needed to fully engage it. I was glad I did.
Wood paints the phenomenon of the ISIS narrative within the contemporary Islamic scene, and offers some very insightful commentary while doing so. One short-coming of the article is that he only offered one other competing Islamic hermeneutic, and as far as I know, there are many. Wood unfortunately presupposes that the traditional Muslim understanding of Mohammed is credible, which is problematic in my opinion. Other important voices are here, for instance.
But it is still a great read, as long as we understand that groups like ISIS come and go in Islam, even if ISIS is one of the most impressive. (One one the most helpful sources for helping me understand Islam and its internal conflicts is this summary: Islam is Not a Civilization.)