ISIS and ISIL are combined as part of the Islamic State which has become one of the main jihadist groups fighting government forces in Iraq and Syria and encouraging terrorist attacks attacking hotels, mosques, busy city streets and other civilian targets around the world.
ISIS and ISIL
What does ISIS stand for? Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
ISIS is an off-shoot of Al-Qaeda, an international, radical Islamic group, once led by by Osama Bin Laden, that emerged when they fought against the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Al Qaeda consists of Sunni Muslims who practice Wahhabism, an ultraconservative, extreme form of Islam, the religion of the Muslims.
The Al-Qaeda group demanded a return to traditional Muslim laws and conventions, the strict interpretation of the Koran (Quaran) the Islamic sacred book and encouraged new jihads (holy wars). In Ayman al-Zawahiri became the official leader of Al Qaeda following the death of Osama bin Laden on May 2, 2011.
When was ISIS formed? The faction that would become known as ISIS began to emerge in 2003, following the US-led 2003 Invasion of Iraq and the "shock and awe" bombing campaign which led to the Iraq War.
A Jordanian called Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (20 October 1966 - 7 June 2006), a militant Islamist who had run a paramilitary training camp for Jihadists in Afghanistan, pledged his allegiance to Al-Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden and formed Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), which became a major force in the Muslim uprising.
The AQI created an an umbrella organization uniting eight Sunni factions called the Islamic State in Iraq (ISI). Its goals were to expel the US from Iraq, turn Iraq into a Sunni Islamic state or caliphate and extend its program to neighboring countries.
Sunni Arab tribesmen opposed the goals extremism of ISI and created the Sahwa (Awakening) councils and established a US-funded militia. The combined forces of the militia and the US troop surge weakened the ISI (Islamic State in Iraq)
In 2010 Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, known as Caliph Ibrahim, led the resurgence of the ISI and began rebuilding its capabilities and directing numerous attacks in Iraq.
ISIS: The ISI (Islamic State in Iraq) then joined the rebellion against President Bashar al-Assad in Syria setting up the al-Nusra Front and became known as ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
ISIL: In April 2013 Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi announced the merger of his forces in Iraq and Syria and the creation of ISIL, the "Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant". This name reflected the new goal of territorial ownership of all of Iraq and the Levant (Syria and Lebanon)
The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) affirmed the group's allegiance to Al-Qaeda and its leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.
ISIS forces scored a great victory when it took control of the central city of Falluja in Iraq (30 December 2013 – 4 January 2014) aided by former Saddam Hussein loyalists. Falluja was one of the first Iraqi cities to fall out of the control of the Iraqi Government. By May 2015 the city of Ramadi in central Iraq had been completely captured by ISIS / ISIL forces.
ISIL swept through much of northern and eastern Syria and increased ISIL's control of Syria to at least 50%. In May 2015 they captured the city of Palmyra in Syria's Homs province, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Concerns began to grow that the ISIL destruction of Palmyra would encourage the United States to force Iraq into increase cooperation with Syria.
The Capture of Mosul: In June 2014 ISIS fighters overran the northern city of Mosul in Iraq. Mosul was garrisoned by 2 Divisions of the Iraqi Army. The capture of Mosul allowed them to equip itself with state of the art military technology, that the US government had given to the Iraqi military, and loot billions of dollars from the Bank of Mosul.
Islamic State: ISIS capitalized on its victory in Mosul and consolidated its hold over dozens of towns and cities in Iraq. The taking of Mosul allowed ISIS and ISIL to create a caliphate, rename itself the Islamic State and to claim absolute authority over all of the world’s Muslims. Refer to Islamic State (IS).
In 2014 the Islamic State covertly invaded Syria and the Levant and began participating in the ongoing Syrian Civil War
In March 2015 Islamic State destroyed Assyrian archaeological sites of Nimrud in Mespotamia.and at Hatra in northern Iraq
In September 2015, Ayman al-Zawahiri, leader of Al Qaeda, urged the Islamic State to stop fighting in Syria and to unite with all other jihadists against western and Middle East alliances.
Forces loyal to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi rejected the idea and helped ISIL, now the Islamic State (IS), to remain in Syria. Its ranks began to swell quickly and every victory brought even more fanatical fighters to the organization.
October 2014: Radical militants gained control of the Eastern Libyan coastal city of Derna, making Derna in Libya the first city outside Syria and Iraq to become part of the "Islamic State Caliphate".
The rival group has since been disavowed by Al-Qaeda. The Islamic State (IS), still also referred to as ISIS or ISIL has become one of the main jihadist groups fighting government forces in Iraq and Syria and encouraging terrorist attacks around the world attacking hotels, mosques, busy city streets and other civilian targets, many in non-Western countries.
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