WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT ISIS
A little from a long article..... from Wikipedia
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
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الدولة الإسلامية (Arabic)
|Motto: باقية وتتمدد (Arabic)|
"Bāqiyah wa-Tatamaddad" (transliteration)
"Remaining and Expanding"
|-||Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant declared||3 January 2014|
|-||Caliphate declared||29 June 2014|
|Time zone||Arabia Standard Time (UTC+3)|
|Calling code||+963 (Syria)|
The Islamic State (IS) (Arabic: الدولة الإسلامية ad-Dawlah l-ʾIslāmiyyah), formerly the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL //) or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS //),[a] is a Sunni jihadist group in the Middle East. In its self-proclaimed status as a caliphate it claims religious authority over all Muslims across the world and aspires to bring much of the Muslim-inhabited regions of the world under its political control, beginning with Iraq, Syria and territory in the Levant region, which includes Jordan, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Cyprus and an area in southern Turkey that includes Hatay. It has been designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Indonesia, and Saudi Arabia, and has been labeled by the United Nationsand Western and Middle Eastern media as a terrorist organization. The United Nations has accused the Islamic State of committing "mass atrocities" and war crimes.
ISIS is the successor to Tanzim Qaidat al-Jihad fi Bilad al-Rafidayn—more commonly known as Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI)—formed by Abu Musab Al Zarqawi in 2004, which took part in the Iraqi insurgency against American-led forces and their Iraqi allies following the 2003 invasion of Iraq. During the 2003–2011 Iraq War it combined with other Sunni insurgent groups to form the Mujahideen Shura Council and consolidated further into the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI //). At its height it enjoyed a significant presence in the Iraqi governorates of Al Anbar, Nineveh, Kirkuk, most of Salah ad Din, parts of Babil, Diyala and Baghdad, and claimed Baqubah as a capital city. However, the Islamic State of Iraq's violent attempts to govern its territory led to a backlash from Sunni Iraqis and other insurgent groups, which helped to propel the Awakening movement and a decline in the group.
Under its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, ISIS has grown significantly, gaining support in Iraq due to alleged economic and political discrimination against Arab Iraqi Sunnis, and establishing a large presence in the Syrian governorates of Ar-Raqqah, Idlib, Deir ez-Zor and Aleppo after entering the Syrian Civil War.
ISIS had close links to al-Qaeda until February 2014, when after an eight-month power struggle, al-Qaeda cut all ties with the group, reportedly for its brutality and "notorious intractability".
In June 2014, ISIS had at least 4,000 fighters in its ranks in Iraq who, in addition to attacks on government and military targets, have claimed responsibility for attacks that have killed thousands of civilians. In August 2014, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claimed that the group had increased its strength to 50,000 fighters in Syria and 30,000 in Iraq.
ISIS’s original aim was to establish a caliphate in the Sunni-majority regions of Iraq. Following its involvement in the Syrian Civil War, this expanded to include controlling Sunni-majority areas of Syria. A caliphate was proclaimed on 29 June 2014, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi—now known as Amir al-Mu'minin Caliph Ibrahim—was named as itscaliph, and the group was renamed the Islamic State.
Name and name changes
The group has had a number of different names since its formation in early 2004 as Jamāʻat al-Tawḥīd wa-al-Jihād, "The Organization of Monotheism and Jihad" (JTJ).
In October 2004, the group's leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi swore loyalty to Osama bin Laden and changed the name of the group to Tanẓīm Qāʻidat al-Jihād fī Bilād al-Rāfidayn, "The Organization of Jihad's Base in the Country of the Two Rivers," more commonly known as "Al-Qaeda in Iraq" (AQI). Although the group has never called itself "Al-Qaeda in Iraq", this name has frequently been used to describe it through its various incarnations.
In January 2006, AQI merged with several smaller Iraqi insurgent groups under an umbrella organization called the "Mujahideen Shura Council." This was little more than a media exercise and an attempt to give the group a more Iraqi flavour and perhaps to distance al-Qaeda from some of al-Zarqawi's tactical errors, notably the2005 bombings by AQI of three hotels in Amman. Al-Zarqawi was killed in June 2006, after which the group's direction shifted again.
On 12 October 2006, the Mujahideen Shura Council joined four more insurgent factions and the representatives of a number of Iraqi Arab tribes, and together they swore the traditional Arab oath of allegiance known as Ḥilf al-Muṭayyabīn ("Oath of the Scented Ones").[b] During the ceremony, the participants swore to free Iraq's Sunnis from what they described as Shia and foreign oppression, and to further the name of Allah and restore Islam to glory.[c]
On 13 October 2006, the establishment of the Dawlat al-ʻIraq al-Islāmīyah, "Islamic State of Iraq" (ISI) was announced. A cabinet was formed and Abu Abdullah al-Rashid al-Baghdadi became ISI's figurehead emir, with the real power residing with the Egyptian Abu Ayyub al-Masri. The declaration was met with hostile criticism, not only from ISI's jihadist rivals in Iraq, but from leading jihadist ideologues outside the country. Al-Baghdadi and al-Masri were both killed in a US–Iraqi operation in April 2010. The next leader of the ISI was Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the current leader of ISIS.
On 9 April 2013, having expanded into Syria, the group adopted the name "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant", also known as "Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham." The name is abbreviated as ISIS or alternately ISIL. The final "S" in the acronym ISIS stems from the Arabic word Shām (or Shaam), which in the context of global jihad refers to the Levant or Greater Syria. ISIS was also known as al-Dawlah ("the State"), or al-Dawlat al-Islāmīyah ("the Islamic State"). These are short-forms of the name "Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham" in Arabic; it is similar to calling "the United States of America" "the States."
ISIS's detractors, particularly in Syria, refer to the group as "Da'ish" or "Daesh", (داعش), a term that is based on an acronym formed from the letters of the name in Arabic, al-Dawla al-Islamiya fi Iraq wa al-Sham. The group considers the term derogatory and reportedly uses flogging as a punishment for people who use the acronym in ISIS-controlled areas.
On 14 May 2014, the United States Department of State announced its decision to use "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL) as the group's primary name.The debate over which acronym should be used to designate the group, ISIL or ISIS, has been discussed by several commentators.
On 29 June 2014, the establishment of a new caliphate was announced, and the group formally changed its name to the "Islamic State".[d]
In late August 2014, a leading Islamic authority Dar al-Ifta al-Misriyyah advised Muslims to stop calling the group "Islamic State" and instead refer to it as "Al-Qaeda Separatists in Iraq and Syria" or "QSIS", due to the militant group's un-Islamic character.
Ideology and beliefs
ISIS is a Sunni extremist group that follows al-Qaeda's hard-line ideology and adheres to global jihadist principles. Like al-Qaeda and many other modern-day jihadist groups, ISIS emerged from the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood, the world’s first Islamist group dating back to the late 1920s in Egypt. ISIS follows an extreme anti-Western interpretation of Islam, promotes religious violence and regards those who do not agree with its interpretations as infidels and apostates. Concurrently, ISIS—now IS—aims to establish a Salafist-orientated Islamist state in Iraq, Syria and other parts of the Levant.
ISIS's ideology originates in the branch of modern Islam that aims to return to the early days of Islam, rejecting later "innovations" in the religion which it believes corrupt its original spirit. It condemns later caliphates and the Ottoman empire for deviating from what it calls pure Islam and hence has been attempting to establish its own caliphate. However, there are some Sunni commentators, Zaid Hamid, for example, and even Salafi and jihadi muftis such as Adnan al-Aroor and Abu Basir al-Tartusi, who say that ISIS and related terrorist groups are not Sunnis at all, but Kharijite heretics serving an imperial anti-Islamic agenda.
Salafists such as ISIS believe that only a legitimate authority can undertake the leadership of jihad, and that the first priority over other areas of combat, such as fighting against non-Muslim countries, is the purification of Islamic society. For example, when it comes to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, since ISIS regards the Palestinian Sunni group Hamas as apostates who have no legitimate authority to lead jihad, it regards fighting Hamas as the first step toward confrontation with Israel.
From its beginnings the establishment of a pure Islamic state has been one of the group's main goals. According to journalist Sarah Birke, one of the "significant differences" between al-Nusra Front and ISIS is that ISIS "tends to be more focused on establishing its own rule on conquered territory". While both groups share the ambition to build an Islamic state, ISIS is "far more ruthless ... carrying out sectarian attacks and imposing sharia law immediately". ISIS finally achieved its goal on 29 June 2014, when it removed "Iraq and the Levant" from its name, began to refer to itself as the Islamic State, and declared the territory which it occupied in Iraq and Syria a new caliphate.
In mid-2014, the group released a video entitled "The End of Sykes–Picot" featuring an English-speaking Chilean national named Abu Safiyya. The video announced the group's intention to eliminate all modern borders between Islamic Middle Eastern countries; this was a reference to the borders set by the Sykes–Picot Agreementduring World War I.
On 13 October 2006, the group announced the establishment of the Islamic State of Iraq, which claimed authority over the Iraqi governorates of Baghdad, Anbar,Diyala, Kirkuk, Salah al-Din, Nineveh, and parts of Babil. Following the 2013 expansion of the group into Syria and the announcement of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, the number of wilayah—provinces—which it claimed increased to 16. In addition to the seven Iraqi wilayah, the Syrian divisions, largely lying along existing provincial boundaries, are Al Barakah, Al Kheir, Ar-Raqqah, Al Badiya, Halab, Idlib, Hama, Damascus and the Coast. In Syria, ISIS's seat of power is inAr-Raqqah Governorate. Top ISIS leaders, including Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, are known to have visited its provincial capital, Ar-Raqqah.
During the Iraq conflict in 2014 the group expanded the areas under its control even further, and concerns have now been expressed about the capability of the IS togovern the territories it has conquered.
After significant setbacks for the group during the latter stages of the coalition forces' presence in Iraq, by late 2012 it was thought to have renewed its strength and more than doubled the number of its members to about 2,500, and since its formation in April 2013, ISIS has grown rapidly in strength and influence in Iraq and Syria. Analysts have underlined the deliberate inflammation of sectarian conflict between Iraqi Shias and Sunnis during the Iraq War by various Sunni and Shiite actors as the root cause of ISIS's rise. The post-invasion policies of the international coalition forces have also been cited as a factor, with Fanar Haddad, a research fellow at the National University of Singapore's Middle East Institute, blaming the coalition forces during the Iraq War for "enshrining identity politics as the key marker of Iraqi politics". ISIS's violence is directed particularly against Shia Muslims and indigenous Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac Christians and Armenian Christians. In June 2014, The Economist reported that "ISIS may have up to 6,000 fighters in Iraq and 3,000–5,000 in Syria, including perhaps 3,000 foreigners; nearly a thousand are reported to hail from Chechnya and perhaps 500 or so more from France, Britain and elsewhere in Europe". Chechen fighter Abu Omar al-Shishani, for example, was made commander of the northern sector of ISIS in Syria in 2013.
By 2014, ISIS was increasingly being viewed as a militia rather than a terrorist group by some organizations. As major Iraqi cities fell to al-Baghdadi's cohorts in June, Jessica Lewis, a former US army intelligence officer at the Institute for the Study of War, described ISIS as "not a terrorism problem anymore", but rather "an army on the move in Iraq and Syria, and they are taking terrain. They have shadow governments in and around Baghdad, and they have an aspirational goal to govern. I don't know whether they want to control Baghdad, or if they want to destroy the functions of the Iraqi state, but either way the outcome will be disastrous for Iraq." Lewis has called ISIS "an advanced military leadership". She said, "They have incredible command and control and they have a sophisticated reporting mechanism from the field that can relay tactics and directives up and down the line. They are well-financed, and they have big sources of manpower, not just the foreign fighters, but also prisoner escapees."
According to the Institute for the Study of War, ISIS's annual reports reveal a metrics-driven military command, which is "a strong indication of a unified, coherent leadership structure that commands from the top down". Middle East Forum's Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi said, "They are highly skilled in urban guerrilla warfare while the new Iraqi Army simply lacks tactical competence." Seasoned observers point to systemic corruption within the Iraq Army, it being little more than a system of patronage, and have attributed to this its spectacular collapse as ISIS and its allies took over large swaths of Iraq in June 2014. On 21 August 2014, in response to a question asking whether ISIS posed a similar threat to al-Qaeda prior to the September 11th attacks United States Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel stated: "(ISIS) is as sophisticated and well-funded as any group that we have seen. They're beyond just a terrorist group".
Hillary Clinton stated: "The failure to help build up a credible fighting force of the people who were the originators of the protests against Assad—there were Islamists, there were secularists, there was everything in the middle—the failure to do that left a big vacuum, which the jihadists have now filled."
ISIS runs a soft-power program in the areas under its control in Iraq and Syria, which includes social services, religious lectures and da'wah—proselytizing—to local populations. It also performs civil tasks such as repairing roads and maintaining the electricity supply.
The group is also known for its effective use of propaganda. In November 2006, shortly after the creation of the Islamic State of Iraq, the group established the al-Furqan Institute for Media Production, which produced CDs, DVDs, posters, pamphlets, and web-related propaganda products. ISIS's main media outlet is the I'tisaam Media Foundation, which was formed in March 2013 and distributes through the Global Islamic Media Front (GIMF). In 2014, ISIS established the Al Hayat Media Center, which targets a Western audience and produces material in English, German, Russian and French. In 2014 it also launched the Ajnad Media Foundation, which releases jihadist audio chants.
In July 2014, ISIS began publishing a digital magazine called Dabiq in multiple languages, including English. According to the magazine, its name is taken from the town in northern Syria, which is mentioned in a hadithabout Armageddon. Harleen K. Gambhir, of the Institute for the Study of War, found that while al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula's Inspire magazine focused on encouraging its readers to carry out lone-wolf attacks on the West, Dabiq is more concerned with establishing the religious legitimacy of ISIS and its self-proclaimed caliphate, and encouraging Muslims to emigrate there.
ISIS's use of social media has been described by one expert as "probably more sophisticated than [that of] most US companies". It regularly takes advantage of social media, particularly Twitter, to distribute its message by organizing hashtag campaigns, encouraging Tweets on popular hashtags, and utilizing software applications that enable ISIS propaganda to be distributed to its supporters' accounts. Another comment is that "ISIS puts more emphasis on social media than other jihadi groups. ... They have a very coordinated social media presence." Although ISIS's social media feeds on Twitter are regularly shut down, it frequently recreates them, maintaining a strong online presence. The group has attempted to branch out into alternate social media sites, such as Quitter, Friendica and Diaspora; Quitter and Friendica, however, almost immediately removed ISIS's presence from their sites.
Egyptian and Lebanese media and politicians, as well as Facebook users, have spread the false claim that in her book Hard Choices Hillary Clinton stated that she created ISIS. Fake quotes supposedly from Hard Choices have been used to support this false claim.
A pivotal moment occurred on 19 August 2014, when militants posted a propaganda video of the beheading of US photojournalist James Foley on the Internet; it claimed that the killing had been carried out in revenge for the US bombing of ISIS targets. The video promised that a second captured US journalist Steven Sotloff would be killed next if the airstrikes continued.
A study of 200 documents—personal letters, expense reports and membership rosters—captured from Al-Qaeda in Iraq and the Islamic State of Iraq was carried out by the RAND Corporation in 2014. It found that from 2005 until 2010, outside donations amounted to only 5% of the group’s operating budgets, with the rest being raised within Iraq. In the time-period studied, cells were required to send up to 20% of the income generated from kidnapping, extortion rackets and other activities to the next level of the group's leadership. Higher-ranking commanders would then redistribute the funds to provincial or local cells that were in difficulties or needed money to conduct attacks. The records show that the Islamic State of Iraq was dependent on members from Mosul for cash, which the leadership used to provide additional funds to struggling militants in Diyala, Salahuddin and Baghdad.
In mid-2014, Iraqi intelligence extracted information from an ISIS operative which revealed that the organization had assets worth US$2 billion, making it the richest jihadist group in the world. About three quarters of this sum is said to be represented by assets seized after the group captured Mosul in June 2014; this includes possibly up to US$429 million looted from Mosul's central bank, along with additional millions and a large quantity of gold bullion stolen from a number of other banks in Mosul. However, doubt was later cast on whether ISIS was able to retrieve anywhere near that sum from the central bank, and even on whether the bank robberies had actually occurred.
ISIS has routinely practised extortion, by demanding money from truck drivers and threatening to blow up businesses, for example. Robbing banks and gold shops has been another source of income. The group is widely reported as receiving funding from private donors in the Gulf states, and both Iran and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki have accused Saudi Arabia and Qatar of funding ISIS, although there is reportedly no evidence that this is the case.
The group is also believed to receive considerable funds from its operations in Eastern Syria, where it has commandeered oilfields and engages in smuggling out raw materials and archaeological artifacts. ISIS also generates revenue from producing crude oil and selling electric power in northern Syria. Some of this electricity is reportedly sold back to the Syrian government.
Since 2012, ISIS has produced annual reports giving numerical information on its operations, somewhat in the style of corporate reports, seemingly in a bid to encourage potential donors.
The most common weapons used against US and other Coalition forces during the Iraq insurgency were those taken from Saddam Hussein’s weapon stockpiles around the country, these included AKM variant assault rifles, PK machine guns and RPG-7s. ISIS has been able to strengthen its military capability by capturing large quantities and varieties of weaponry during the Syrian Civil War and Post-U.S. Iraq insurgency. These weapons seizures have improved the group's capacity to carry out successful subsequent operations and obtain more equipment. Weaponry that ISIS has reportedly captured and employed include SA-7 andStinger surface-to-air missiles, M79 Osa, HJ-8 and AT-4 Spigot anti-tank weapons, Type 59 field guns and M198 howitzers, Humvees, T-54/55 and T-72 main battle tanks, M1117 armoured cars, truck mounted DShK guns, ZU-23-2 anti-aircraft guns, BM-21 Grad multiple rocket launchers and at least one Scud missile.
When ISIS captured Mosul Airport in June 2014, it seized a number of UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters and cargo planes that were stationed there. However, according to Peter Beaumont of The Guardian, it seemed unlikely that ISIS would be able to deploy them.
ISIS captured nuclear materials from Mosul University in July 2014. In a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Iraq's UN Ambassador Mohamed Ali Alhakim said that the materials had been kept at the university and "can be used in manufacturing weapons of mass destruction". Nuclear experts regarded the threat as insignificant. International Atomic Energy Agency spokeswoman Gill Tudor said that the seized materials were "low grade and would not present a significant safety, security or nuclear proliferation risk".