The Self Proclaimed Islamic State

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The self-proclaimed Islamic State is a militant movement that has conquered territory in western Iraq and eastern Syria, where it has made a bid to establish a state in territories that encompass some six and a half million residents. Though spawned by al-Qaeda’s Iraq franchise, it split with Osama bin Laden’s organization and evolved to not just employ terrorist and insurgent tactics, but the more conventional ones of an organized militia.In June 2014, after seizing territories in Iraq’s Sunni heartland, including the cities of Mosul and Tikrit, the Islamic State proclaimed itself a caliphate, claiming exclusive political and theological authority over the world’s Muslims. Its state-building project, however, has been characterized more…show more content…
The group that calls itself the Islamic State can trace its lineage to the aftermath of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. The Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi aligned his Jama’at al-Tawhid w’al-Jihad with al-Qaeda, making it al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI). Zarqawi’s organization took aim at the U.S. forces, their international allies, and local collaborators. It sought to draw the United States into a sectarian civil war by attacking Shias and their holy sites, including the Imam al-Askari shrine in 2006, to provoke them to retaliate against Sunni civilians. Zarqawi was killed in a U.S. air strike that year. The emergence of the U.S.-backed Awakening councils, or Sons of Iraq, further weakened AQI as Sunni tribesmen reconciled with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s Shia-led government. Zarqawi’s successors rebranded AQI as the Islamic State of Iraq, and later, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). The name refers to a territory that roughly corresponds with the Levant, reflecting broadened ambitions as the 2011 uprising in Syria created opportunities for AQI to expand. The group is known to its followers as il-Dawla (“the State”) and to its Arabic-speaking detractors as Daesh, the Arabic equivalent of the acronym ISIS. The Islamic State’s current leader, the self-proclaimed caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, spent time in U.S. run prisons in Iraq. Cells organized within them, along with
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