There are a lot of threats facing Frank Underwood in House of Cards Season 4: Heather Dunbar, his own wife, Will Conway. But, there's another threat facing all the fictional Americans in Netflix's show, and it may be ripped from the headlines. Is ICO in House of Cards based on ISIS? Netflix declined to comment when asked about the similarities. On the show, ICO is described as a Muslim extremist terrorist organization. They occupy Kurdish strongholds and are taking over oil fields in Syria. Sure sounds a lot like the real life terrorist organization ISIS, which stands for Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. According to the Los Angeles Times, ISIS owns almost two thirds of Syria's oil fields, providing a large source of income to their army.
On House of Cards, ICO stands for Islamic Caliphate Organization. According to The Wire, "A caliphate is an Islamic state. It's led by a caliph, who is a political and religious leader who is a successor to the Islamic prophet Muhammad. His power and authority is absolute." And, despite the organization's name change, it stands to reason that this fictional group may be partially ripped from the headlines. ISIS organized a caliphate in 2014 and The Washington Post reported that the rules governing the caliphate included women being discouraged from leaving the house, amputation as a punishment for stealing, and more.
The Netflix show has never shied away from referencing real life events. After America had differences with Vladimir Putin's leadership choices (particularly his anti-gay laws), House of Cards Season 3 introduced fictional Russian president Viktor Petrov and his own host of homophobic issues. True, Petrov wasn't based directly on Putin. Actor Lars Mikkelsen told Vulture, "We didn’t want to make an imitation [to Putin]," and, according to The Moscow Times, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the Russian News Service: "We [at the Kremlin] have not watched [HoC]… and we have not heard that [Putin's] image was used."
Still, it was hard not to see some similarities. The same goes for ICO and ISIS. The real terror group is one of the world's big threats these days, and this particular HoC plot point seems to be inspired by real life issues. Can Conway and Underwood come together to fight ICO together, rather than fighting each other while the terror group grows? Only time will tell, but maybe our real leaders can learn a thing or two from the show about how to collaborate in the face of a singular threat.
Images: Netflix (2)