Islamic State

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Islamic State

(IS), Sunni Islamic militant group committed to the establishment of an Islamic caliphatecaliphate
, the rulership of Islam; caliph , the spiritual head and temporal ruler of the Islamic state. In principle, Islam is theocratic: when Muhammad died, a caliph [Arab.,=successor] was chosen to rule in his place.
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 that would unite Muslims in a transnational, strict-fundamentalist Islamic state. IS is mainly active in Iraq and Syria, but has stated a goal of extending its reach to other countries in the E Mediterranean. Its origins lie in Al-Tawhid wa al-Jihad, founded after the U.S. invasion of Iraq (2003) and headed by Abu Musab al-ZarqawiZarqawi, Abu Musab al-
, nom de guerre of Ahmad Fadhil Nazzar al-Khalaylah, 1966–2006, Islamic terrorist leader, b. Jordan. Becoming a militant Islamist in his early 20s after several years as a mostly petty criminal, he traveled to Afghanistan in 1989 to join the
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. The group mounted terror attacks, including videotaped beheadings and suicide bombings, against U.S. forces and Shiites in Iraq and also conducted attacks in Jordan. In 2004 Zarqawi publicly aligned with Al QaedaAl Qaeda
or Al Qaida
[Arab.,=the base], Sunni Islamic terrorist organization with the stated goals of uniting all Muslims and establishing a transnational, strict-fundamentalist Islamic state.
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, and the group became known as Al Qaeda in Iraq. Zarqawi was killed in 2006. The Islamic State in Iraq was then formed by the group and other militant Sunni Islamists, but U.S.-led operations weakened it. In 2010 Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi became its leader. He revived its terrorist activities and turned it into a significant military force whose members included former officers from Saddam HusseinHussein, Saddam
, 1937–2006, Iraqi political leader. A member of the Ba'ath party, he fled Iraq after participating (1959) in an assassination attempt on the country's prime minister; in Egypt he attended law school.
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's army.

The group expanded into Syria after the outbreak (2011) of civil war, seized significant territory there, and renamed itself (2013) the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL); it was also known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). In 2014 it seized significant territory in N Iraq, routing poorly led Iraqi forces and securing large quantities of arms. The group also broke with Al Qaeda, renamed itself the Islamic State, and proclaimed a caliphate headed by Baghdadi. Within territory it controls, the group's tactics since its resurgence have been especially brutal, including videotaped beheadings, the slaughtering of captured enemy forces and of civilians regarded as infidels, forced conversions and enslavements, and the destruction of mosques, churches, and shrines, archaeological ruins, and artifacts and books it considers un-Islamic. IS has also been accused of using chemical weapons several times.

A number of Islamic militant groups formerly aligned with Al Qaeda realigned with IS, and IS's successes led to an influx of foreign Muslims into its ranks. Boko HaramBoko Haram
[Western education is sinful], Nigerian Islamic fundamentalist militia, officially Jama'atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda'awati Wal-Jihad [people committed to the propagation of the Prophet's teachings and jihad]. It arose (c.
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 and some former Pakistani Taliban in Afghanistan allied themselves with IS in 2015, and that year IS also established a presence in Surt (Sirte), Libya, and claimed responsibility for a series of terror attacks in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and other countries. At the same time, the group's successes in Iraq led to air strikes by the United States against IS forces beginning in Aug., 2014, at first in Iraq, but later in Syria as well, and the subsequent creation of an informal international military coalition to defeat IS. IS has since suffered significant setbacks in parts of N Syria and N and central Iraq (including the loss of Mosul), but it also has conducted or inspired an increased number of terror attacks around the world and in parts of Iraq not under its control. Since late 2015 terrorists associated with IS have bombed a Russian charter plane over the Sinai peninsula and mounted deadly terror attacks in Beirut, Paris, Brussels, and elsewhere.


See studies by J. Stern and J. M. Berger (2015), J. Warrick (2015), M. Weiss and H. Hassan (2015), and F. A. Gerges (2016).

References in periodicals archive ?
The military said the air force bombed a location where Baghdadi was planning to meet Islamic States commanders.
The Iraqi air force struck a convoy of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in western Anbar province close to the Syrian border on Sunday, a military statement said.
However, Islamic states as we know them today have largely failed in creating political systems that respect such ideas.
Farid Esack is another Muslim scholar, from South Africa, who argues against an Islamic state in today's world: if Islam's message is to fight for oppressed communities, then Islamic states as we currently know them are anything but Islamic.
The "Journal of Islamic State Practices in International Law" is designed to focus on issues concerning and involving Islamic states from the perspective of international law, including all states that are members of the Organization of Islamic Conference.
ElectronicPublications (Stockport, UK), a producer of electronic journals, newsletters and books for the legal, medical, science and engineering fields, has begun the publication of two new legal journals including "Journal of Philosophy of International Law" and "Journal of Islamic State Practices in International Law.
As American fundamentalist Christians have done with the Bible, extremist Muslims have interpreted the Koran as condemning homosexual acts, justifying the persecution of gays in many Islamic states.
While Hirsi Ali's film will focus on homosexuality in Islamic states, it might also indirectly shed light on hypocrisy in the United States.
Islamic states criticize the West for employing double standards and using human rights selectively as a political tool.
But the Islamic states must be ready to acknowledge the possibility that their interpretation of the Qur'an may not be the divine one, and accept the validity of non-Qur'anic wisdom.
For example, Foda often addressed al-Ghazali, sarcastically, as "'ustazana al-jalil wa shaykhana al-fadil" (our venerable master and eminent shaykh), asking: "Which of the contemporary Islamic states, Iran or the Sudan, would you want us to take as a model?
We have striking evidence obtained from Yazidis fleeing Sinjar and some who escaped death, and also crime scene images that show indisputably that the gangs of the Islamic States have executed at least 500 Yazidis after seizing Sinjar," Sudani said in a telephone interview, in his first remarks to the media on the issue.

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