ISIS, but Buddhist

As the debate over the true relationship between ISIS and Islamic tradition grinds on, historians of 20th-century Mongolia must be wondering why no one is talking about Baron Roman Fedorovich von Ungern-Sternberg.

In the early 1920s, Ungern-Sternberg carved out a religiously inspired pseudo-state based in Ulaanbaatar, terrorizing its inhabitants with sadistic public murders to fulfill his messianic dream of a restored empire. His story is instructive for anyone trying to understand what’s unique and what isn’t about the Islamic State.

  • luna

    Author’s blog is here, apparently he’s a superfan of all things Arab/Muslim. I’m guessing since his area of expertise is neither Buddhism nor Mongolia, his article was intended to draw attention away from the (quintessential) ISLAMIC state.

  • BillyHW

    “Other people do evil, therefore ISIS is un-Islamic” is a logical fallacy.

  • John Guest

    Why go through the historic gymnastics to find a model for ISIS?

    Why not just read the Koran?

    • canminuteman

      The ISIS situation is very much like the situation in Sudan 100 some odd years ago when the “MAD Maadi” set up an islamic state in Khartoum and threatened all of north Africa. IIRC it lasted about twenty years, then a British led military expedition (including Canadians) went to Sudan and destroyed the regime. A young Winston Churchill was there as a cavalry lieutenant and took place in the last major cavalry charge in British history at the battle of Omderman.

  • Kathy Prendergast

    Drivel. Any reading of the Koran confirms that ISIS are just following it to the letter.

  • When I read this sentence: “His never-fully articulated interpretation of the faith, with which he sometimes mixed bits of Christian eschatology, was probably just as bizarre to most Buddhists as ISIS’s strain of Islam is to Muslims today.” – I knew the purpose of this article was to claim that ISIS is not really Islamic.

  • luna

    This is not journalism but rather creative writing. Baron Roman Fedorovich von Ungern-Sternberg was a warlord, his attraction to Buddhism was incidental.

  • xavier

    Hi all

    For a more dispassionate review of his life go to

    The blogget provides a much longer and more detailled look at his life and the events. In any case you can make up your own minds about the baron.


  • Spatchcocked

    Nice yertz…..yirtz?….yerts?….yertz?…..very cozy looking…..nice yak dung fire in the hearth….glass of mulled camel piss……and a welcome worthy of Ebenezer Scrooge.
    Pass the yoghurt petit fours to our guest Fatima.