ISIS was founded in 1999 by the Jordanian extremist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Within 5 years, al-Zarqawi’s new group chose to associate themselves with Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda. They are Islamic extremists, Islamists or Jihadists, closely linked to the concept of Jihad or “struggle.” Prior to ISIS, various similar groups, such as the Taliban, Boko Haram, al-Qaeda, Hamas and Hezbollah historically “ruled the news” … but ISIS is truly in a league of its own.
“ISIS” stands for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and is also known as “ISIL” or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Originally affiliated with al-Qaeda, by the end of June 2014, ISIS renamed itself the “Islamic State” as it proclaimed the creation of a global caliphate. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, their leader since 2010, declared that he was the new caliph, and, as such, was now ruling all Muslims … apart from the fact that the caliphate has been far from welcome by many Muslim countries.
Also in 2014, al-Qaeda officially dissociated itself from ISIS, and, the new group became a self-sustained entity with al-Qaeda refusing to be held responsible for ISIS’ actions which they deemed to be “too extreme” in many instances. While ISIS is still described as a terrorist organization, they are also recognized as a militia that is highly trained in guerrilla warfare, and, with exceptional organizational skills from a military standpoint.
ISIS follows a very extreme form of Islam known as Salafism, which promotes violence and bloodshed in order to establish and maintain hegemony through a very strict adherence to the Qur’an and Shari’a law, and, adheres to an apocalyptic theology and believes that the Mhadior “guided one” will soon arrive and redeem Islam. ISIS has declared jihad against all infidels … to include Westerners, Christians, Jews and even other “Muslims” who do not pledge allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as the new caliph.
In brief, ISIS represents a brand of Islam that recognizes literally no boundaries to its violence, and, continues to attract members from various countries around the world who travel to the Middle East in order to be trained, then returning to their respective countries in order to attack their own societies. Their violent beheadings, rapes and live burnings have been successfully designed to intimidate and almost paralyze the world into an inability to respond appropriately. Additionally, they are very astute in using the social networks and the Internet in order to spread their propaganda of terror, as well as recruit fighters all over the world.