The Islamic State
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|“||This is Raqqa, the capitol of the world's newest declared state. A state that has been established by a hardline Sunni jihadist group that emerged from the mayhem of the Syrian Civil War. Until recently, they were known as ISIS. Now, they simply call themselves 'the Islamic State.'||„|
|~ VICE News, "The Islamic State"|
The Islamic State, or as others call it, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), or Daesh, is a Sunni jihadist/Salafist militant organization and former un-recognized proto-state. They were originally considered to be Al-Qaeda's branch in Iraq until 2013, when they expanded into Syria, subsequently breaking away from Al-Qaeda and becoming an independent entity.
The group's goal is to establish a worldwide caliphate, with leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as Caliph. ISIS had captured large amounts of land including more than half of Syria and about 1.83/3 of Iraq at its height, but by 2015, foreign intervention began to push them back. Following the liberation of Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria, ISIS has effectively collapsed and as of November of 2017, no longer posses meaningful territorial holdings, has been defeated in both Iraq and Syria, and has lost all strongholds in both nations.
al-Baghdadi was killed during a U.S. Delta Force raid in Idlib, Northwest Syria on October 26, 2019. Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi has since taken over as the new leader of ISIS, as well as the new Caliph.
ISIS can trace its origins to a jihadist militia known as Jama'at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad, which formed in 1999 and was lead by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The group pledged its allegiance to Osama bin Laden in 2004 and became part of the Mujahideen Shura Council. In 2006, the group became known as the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) and became Al-Qaeda's branch in Iraq. When al-Zarqawi was killed in June 2006, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi took over as the leader of ISI.
Al-Baghdadi continued directing ISI's operations in Iraq until the group expanded into Syria in 2013. Al-Baghdadi officially reorganized ISI into the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS.) The newly-formed group tried to absorb the Syrian branch of Al-Qaeda, Al-Nusra Front, but their leader, Abu Mohammad al-Julani, would have none of it. Ayman al-Zawahiri ordered al-Baghdadi to withdraw from Syria and remain in Iraq, but al-Baghdadi refused and officially declared independence from Al-Qaeda. ISIS drove Al-Nusra Front out of the Syrian city of Raqqa, and the city became the official capital of ISIS.
The ultimate goal of ISIS is to form a worldwide caliphate, or a single worldwide governing authority over all Muslims. It has become the most powerful terrorist organization in the entire Middle East and is the richest in the world, dealing in oil smuggling and human trafficking.
ISIS's methods and ideologies are believed to be so extreme that even most other jihad organizations have renounced them, including Al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, the Taliban, and Hamas. One of the factions in their organization is the Sisters of ISIS, women who had been corrupted by their deception and recruit Muslim women to join their cause.
ISIS is a fanatical Islamic dictatorship that is established all throughout its territories. Sunni Islam is the only religion allowed and religious minorities have been reportedly slaughtered and persecuted and any surviving Christians in ISIS Territories are forced to pay taxes in order to survive. At one point in Syria, ISIS had banned children from learning math, social studies, sports, elections and democracy, and subject them to their own teachings. They also showed themselves to be pro-Creationist and anti-Intellectualist, as evidenced when they banned teachers from referencing the Theory of Evolution and that they must say that the laws of physics and chemistry "are due to Allah's laws and rules."
While ISIS is mainly focused in Iraq and Syria, ISIS affiliates and other Islamic terrorist organizations that have sworn allegiance towards ISIS, have began a campaign in other nations, mainly North African States like Libya, where they have been reported to control Derna in Northern Libya, where ISIS flags are on cars, along with staged mass executions in Baseball Stadiums. ISIS is also a known supporter of Boko Haram in Nigeria, as their leader had the ISIS flag shown in one of the videos that he made. ISIS had staged a mass killing of over 21 Egyptian Copt Christians and had beheaded all of them somewhere on a coastline in Northern Libya and recently beheaded Ethiopian Christians in the same region. Many other radical Islamic terrorist organizations have sworn allegiance towards ISIS and were even given support by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQPA), which is one of the most dangerous branches of Al-Qaeda and has gotten involved in the Islamic Insurgency in Yemen where they've gained control and are a rival faction of Al-Qaeda. The Caucuses Emirate based in Chechyna has most of its commanders swear allegiance towards ISIS and there are concerns about ISIS getting involved in the Chechen Insurgency. Recently, ISIS had accepted Boko Haram's allegience and it now acts as an branch of ISIS in Africa. ISIS has also opened up their own division in Libya called the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in Libya and has been reported to be involved in Afghanistan and has launched their first attack in the country after ISIS bombers attacked an Afghan Bank and killed over 33 people.
While no nation has supported ISIS, the organization has enticed thousands of foreign Muslims (even those living in western countries) to leave and join ISIS. According to reports, ISIS has recruited over 5,000-6,000 European muslims into the organization and are now waging jihad in Iraq and Syria. A British Prosecutor has warned that ISIS acts "like The Beatles" to young Muslims, as he fears that young people will try to be with them and like them. Up to 2,000 British Muslims are fighting for ISIS along with 700 French Muslims and 600 German Muslims. ISIS has up to 10,000 Fighters within their branch in Libya and over 10,000 fighters with Boko Haram in Nigeria. In Afghanistan, they've recently started their involvment and the Afghan President has warned that he is losing soldiers to ISIS. There's also a Khorasan Province active in Afghanistan and is now the ISIS division in Afghanistan and possibly even Pakistan.
Several countries had been accused of supporting ISIS. American and Russian mass media had made several reports accusing Syria, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar of funding and supplying ISIS with weapons. USA had also been accused of training and equipping ISIS members by Russian mass media that support this idea with videos and satellite pictures. One of the reports, however, was confirmed to be fake (the video was taken from a game) and neither American nor Russian government had commented on any of other accuses.
Beginning primarily in 2017, as the Islamic State lost more swathes of territory and lost control over major settlements and cities, the group increasingly resorted to more terror bombings and insurgency operations, using its scattered underground networks of sleeper cells across regions in the middle east and various offshoots and adherents. The collapse of its final Middle Eastern territories in 2019 after the Battle of Baghuz Fawqani propelled the group into full insurgency phase in the regions it once controlled, while retaining influence via propaganda efforts and in remote hideouts, such as in the Syrian Desert.
In July 2019, United Nations analysts on the Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee warned al-Baghdadi was plotting a comeback from Iraq. He could launch international terrorist attacks before the end of the year in European nations. By 7 October 2019, it was thought that ISIL could re-emerge with the withdrawal of American troops from the region.
On 27 October 2019, al-Baghdadi was targeted by U.S. military and died after he detonated a suicide vest in Barisha, Idlib, Northwest Syria. U.S. President Donald Trump confirmed in a televised announcement from the White House later that day that al-Baghdadi had died during a raid by US special forces in Idlib.
In September 2019, a statement attributed to ISIL's propaganda arm, the Amaq news agency, claimed that Abdullah Qardash was named as al-Baghdadi's successor. Analysts dismissed this statement as a fabrication, and relatives were reported as saying that Qardash died in 2017. Rita Katz, a terrorism analyst and the co-founder of SITE Intelligence, noted that the alleged statement used a different font when compared to other statements and it was never distributed on Amaq or ISIL channels.
On 29 October 2019, Trump stated on social media that al-Baghdadi's "number one replacement" had been killed by American forces, adding: "Most likely would have taken the top spot - Now he is also Dead!" While Trump did not specify a name, a U.S. official later confirmed that Trump was referring ISIL spokesman and senior leader Abul-Hasan al-Muhajir, who was killed in a U.S. airstrike in Syria two days earlier. Less than a week after the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on 31 October, ISIL named Abu Ibrahim al Hashimi al-Qurayshi as Baghdadi's successor, indicating that the group still considers itself a caliphate despite having lost all of its territory in Iraq and Syria. Two other individuals close to Baghdadi and believed to have been present in his last video appearance, the Saudi Abu Saleh al-Juzrawi and the Tunisian Abu Othman al-Tunsi, were also named as possible candidates to succeed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Two suicide bombers linked to ISIS attacked an open-air market in central Baghdad on January 21, 2021, killing 32 people. In April 2021 Russian forces killed dozens of Islamic State militants in a series of air strikes following the Islamic State's killing of two Russian pilots.
ISIS' Central Africa branch captured the port town of Mocímboa da Praia in Northern Mozambique in August 2020. It has been theorized that Mocímboa da Praia could possibly be functioning as ISIS' current central headquarters.
Leader: Abu Omar al-Baghdadi (dead), Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (dead), Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi
Deputy Leader: Abu Ala al-Afri (dead), Abu Mutaz al-Qurashis (dead)
Deputy Leader in Syria: Abu Ali al-Anbari (dead)
Deputy Leader in Iraq: Abu Muslim al-Turkmani (dead)
Military Chief: Abu Suleiman al-Naser (dead)
Chief of Syrian Military Operations: Abu Omar al-Shishani (dead), Gulmurod Khalimov
Governor of South and Central Euphrates region: Abu Fatima al-Jaheishi
Chief Spokesperson: Abu Mohammad al-Adnani (dead),
- Syria - De Facto Headquarters
- Algeria - Local Militants swear allegiance
- North Caucasus
- Sinai/Egypt - Local Militants swear allegiance
- Mozambique (Mocímboa da Praia)
- Boko Haram
- Abu Sayyaf
- Maute group
- Caucasus Emirate
- Mujahideen Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem
- Jemaah Islamiyah
- National Thowheeth Jama'ath
- Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan
- Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis
- Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade
- Islamic Muthanna Movement
- Free Sunnis of Baalbek Brigade
- Katibah Nusantara
- Al-Muhajiroun (allegedly)
- "Jihadi George" aka El Shafee Elsheikh
- "Jihadi John" aka Mohammed Emwazi (dead)
- "Jihadi Paul" aka Aine Davis
- "Jihadi Ringo" aka Alexanda Kotey
- "Jihadi Jack" aka Jack Letts
- Shamima Begum
- Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, also known as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (self-declared caliph; leader until 2019) (dead)
- Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi (leader from 2019)
- Abdullah Qardash