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Saturday, 26 July 2014

Who is ISIS?

A picture of supporters of ISIS
Over the last few months all of the media reporting on Iraq have focused on the terrorist group ISIS which stands for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria; alternatively translated to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Their extremist views and actions which range from public beheadings and bombings which have thrown northern Iraq into disarray, caused the US to reconsider sending troops back into Iraq and have alienated the Muslims worldwide. Muslim leaders have denounced their extremist interpretation of the Koran and even the terrorist group al-Qaeda have denounced this group.
The flag of ISIS
How were they formed?- The group was founded under the name of JTJ in 2003 but became what it is today in 2006 under the name ISI, (Islamic State in Iraq), to fight the US coalition and the Shiite government. They were extremist Sunni Muslims who opposed the US backing a Shia government after the overthrowing of Saddam Hussein. Many members of ISI were loyal to al-Qaeda and hence adopted their style and unfortunately targeted many civilians while under the leadership of Jordanian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi who in 2006 ordered the killings of Shia Muslims. They became one of the groups which openly started to fight the US lead coalition and were responsible for multiple bombings and kidnappings. ISI was largely focused in the capital Baghdad with it controlling the Dora neighborhood until June 2007. Until the Arab Spring they claimed responsibility for many attacks and bombings in Baghdad including the bombing of the Mansour Hotel which killed 13 including six Sunni Sheikhs in retaliation of the rape a Sunni woman by Iraqi police.

Post-Arab Spring- They supported the Egyptian protests stating that 'the doors of martyrdom had opened' and hoped it would encourage extremists in Gaza would follow their extremist views. During the Syrian Civil War the group expanded into Syria on the 9th April 2013 where they renamed themselves ISIS. Quickly they became a force to be reckoned with in Syria getting a large power base in Aleppo. With the US leaving Iraq in 2013/2014 they became more militant and declared an Islamic state in Fallujah in Northern Iraq. They became the dominant force in Iraq after defeating the Syrian army in 2013 and in May 2014 killing and crucifying several people. The following month they captured Mosul and easily defeated the Iraqi army who were both deterred by the group's extremism and having no loyalty to the corrupt Shiite government. On the 11th of June they captured another major city, Tikrit, and started heading towards Baghdad which prompted Obama to request US$500 million from Congress to fund and train moderate Syrian rebels to fight ISIS and the Iraqi government buying Sukhoi fighter jets from Russia and Belarus. ISIS has however brought together the US and Iran who both fear their growing strength in the area.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi: the current leader
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi- In the man pictured above, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is the head of ISIS where in 2010 he was the head of Iraq's branch of al-Qaeda which joined the ISI. He quickly became the organisations head but other than that little is known about him. It is known that he was born in 1971 and that he was prisoner of the Americans in the Bocca Camp between 2005 and 2009. On the 29th June he declared a new caliphate with him as caliph.

ISIS is currently one of the biggest threats to Iraq and Syria as well as anyone who disagrees with them. The UN has recently said that they are responsible for many war crimes including public executions and female genital mutilation. However only time will tell about what will happen. 

Please leave any comments and suggestions for future posts.

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