The Islamic State, ‘Daish’, ISIS, and ISIL—all names for the growing Islamic jihadist organisation that emerged from the sectarian violent chaos that was post-2003 invaded Iraq.

Islamic State (IS) is the first jihadist group that have fully embraced the modern world, whilst attempting to encompass the destruction of the West. They have created incredibly slick, powerful and terrifying videos that show their clear intent to create an Islamic caliphate and rid the world of non-believers.

IS has employed Twitter, Facebook and other social media outlets to spread their message of hatred and intolerance and have been incredibly successful in attracting wealthy sponsors, and willing soldiers for their cause.

After joining with several other Sunni militant groups, the Islamic State of Iraq was formed in 2006, led by current leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (after the death of al-Zarqawi in June 2006).

The group spread to Syria in 2011 during the Syrian civil war, fighting there as the al-Nusra Front.  In 2013, these two connected groups officially merged to become the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Whilst their counterpart organisations in Syria fought, Islamic State fighters took control of large areas of territory in Iraq and established swathes of controlled zones that were brutally policed and enforced according to Sharia (Muslim law).

By June of 2014, the Iraqi government had lost control of the situation, and Jordanian and Saudi Arabian troops were stationed on their borders with the increasingly unstable Iraq. In August 2014, IS fighter had captured major northern Iraqi cities and advanced on Baghdad.

October 2014 saw the spread of the group’s ideology to Libya, where more than a thousand Libyan militants pledged themselves to the group. This globalisation of the Islamic State membership is becoming more and more common. In Nigeria, Boko Haram pledged themselves to the Islamic State in March 2015, and Somalia-based Al-Shabab may do the same in the near future.

At the current moment, Islamic State fighters and their associated groups, is holding territory and conducting operations in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Lebanon, Turkey, Philippines, Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, Gaza, Chechnya, Dagestan, Yemen, Pakistan and Algeria.

The Islamic State represents a powerful threat to Middle Eastern peace and stability, as well as a growing global threat. The recent attack in Tunisia that left 30 British citizens and several Tunisian locals dead shows, that whilst they are vying for control of Iraq, they aim to expand their reach as far as they can.

 – Joe Thorpe, Correspondent (Politics)

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