What is the ‘Islamic State’ (ISIS)

“We declare Fallujah as an Islamic state, and we call on you to be on our side! We are here to defend you from the army of Maliki and the Iranian Safavids!” – Islamic State fighter (then Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) on the podium at the declaration of statehood in Fallujah, January 3rd 2014.

The Islamic State is not only a terrorist group. It is a political and military organization that holds a radical interpretation of Islam as a political philosophy and seeks to impose that worldview by force on Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Expelled from al-Qaeda for being too extreme, the Islamic State claims to be the legitimate ruler of all Sunni Muslims worldwide. They have established what they regard as a state which includes large swaths of territory in Syria and Iraq, governed from Raqqa in Syria.

It advances a number of theological opinions to support its claims. Its adherents hold that they are merely practicing Islam fully, pronouncing those who disagree with them takfir (heretics). This designation is used as religious justification for killing the Islamic State’s opponents, typically slaughtering them wholesale.

Originally founded by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and known as Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), what is now the Islamic State participated in the Iraq War fighting against American forces after the fall of Saddam Hussein. In 2013 they joined the Syrian Civil War, but rather than focus on defeating the regime of Bashar al- Assad, they focused on building their Islamic state.

On June 29, 2014, the Islamic State declared the establishment of an Islamic caliphate with its leader being Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the caliph.

To read more about the Islamic State, click here.

Source: Clarion Project

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