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Daesh / Daash
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)
Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS)
Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS)

Syria’s army declared victory over Islamic State on 09 November 2017, saying its capture of the jihadists’ last town in the country marked the collapse of their project in the region. Syrian government forces said they had recaptured the border town of Albu Kamal, the last major Islamic State stronghold in eastern Syria. Iraqi government forces recaptured the town of al Qaim, their side of the border crossing with Syria, several days earlier. The army and its allies, including Lebanon's pro-Iranian Hezbollah militia, were involved in the effort to drive IS out of Albu Kamal.

Hundreds of Islamic State militants were allowed to evacuate the town [with their families, and hostages] after bitter fighting and were being pursued by government forces as they dispersed in several directions. Syrian state TV showed government forces firing long range artillery at Islamic State militants fleeing into the desert. It was not clear how many IS fighters were in Albu Kamal before the Syrian army recaptured it.

Now that the Iraqis and Syrians have connected at Albu Kamal, it means that the road has become wide open from Tehran to Beirut, and that represents a major victory for Iran in the Middle East.

  • Iraq Civil War
  • Syria Revolution

  • The al-Zarqawi Network
  • Iraq Insurgency
  • Jaysh Muhammad
  • Jabhat al-Nusra

  • Ezzet [Izzat] Ibrahim Al-Douri
  • Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi
  • Abu Alaa al-Afari

  • Inherent Resolve - US Intervention
  • Islamic State Apocalyptic
  • Islamic Apocalyptic

  • Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
  • ISIL - Background
  • ISIL - Early History
  • ISIL - 2014
  • ISIL - Activities
  • Daash - Spectacular Attacks
  • Daash - Spectacular Attacks -
  • ISIL - WMD
  • ISIL - Funding and Strength
  • ISIL - Oil Income
  • ISIL - Other Funding
  • ISIL - Major Armaments
  • ISIL - Foreign Fighters -
          From Zero to Hero
  • ISIL - Fighting Strength
  • Daesh is on Drugs
  • ISIL - Public Support
  • ISIL - Mapping
  • ISIL - Name
  • 1 Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) Philippines
    2 Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT) Bangladesh
    3 Ansar al-Khilafah Philippines
    4 Ansar al-Shari'ah Brigade Philippines
    5 Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters [BIFF] Philippines
    6 Imarat Kavkaz (IK) Russia / Caucasus
    7 Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan Uzbekistan
    8 Islamic State in Afghanistan Afghanistan
    9 Islamic State in Algeria Algeria
    10 Islamic State in Egypt Egypt
    11 ISIL Europe / Belgium Europe / Belgium
    12 Islamic State in Indonesia Indonesia
    13 Islamic State in Libya Libya
    14 Islamic State Libya Province (Derna) Libya
    15 Islamic State Puntland Puntland, Somalia
    16 Islamic Youth Shura Council Libya
    17 Jabha East Africa Somalia
    18 Jund Al-Khilafa Algeria
    19 Jund al-Khilafah Tunisia
    20 M'arakat al-Ansar Philippines
    21 Mujahideen of the Arabian Peninsula Saudi Arabia
    22 Tehreek-e-Khilafat Pakistan
    23 Mujahideen of Kairouan Tunisia
    24 Mourabitounes Mali
    25 Wilayat Najd Saudi Arabia
    26 Wilayat San'a Yemen
    27 Wilayat Sinai Egypt Sinai
    28 Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) Pakistan
    29 Khalifa Islamiyah Mindanao (KIM) Philippines
    30 UN Secretary-General reported 29 January 2016 "As of 15 December 2015, 34 groups from all around the world had reportedly pledged allegiance to ISIL. Moreover, in view of its territorial claims of more “provinces", it is expected that ISIL affiliates will increase in number and that its membership will grow in 2016."


    Islamic State of Iraq and al-ShamFormer military officers and intelligence officials loyal to Hussein’s Ba'ath Party have been key participants in the Sunni insurgency, forming a common cause with Islamic State militants. The Islamic State rallied Sunni Muslims in western and northern Iraq by promoting itself as their defender against Iraq’s Shiite-led government and security forces. By mid-2014 it ruled an area larger than the United Kingdom.

    The Ba’ath had a long history of underground activity as well as a past pattern of infiltrating key institutions and then attempting to seize power by illegal means. The revival of Ba’athism through conspiracy and intrigue therefore seemed a realistic danger in 2003. The possibility that such a backlash could lead to a serious Sunni military challenge to the new Iraq was apparently dismissed on the grounds that such “deadenders" were a marginalized force and would not be able to establish a popular rather than a conspiratorial movement within Iraqi society.

    The ability of senior Ba’ath leaders to obtain and provide funding to the insurgency was particularly important in helping to organize it into an effective force able to include unemployed and desperate Iraqis willing to strike at US forces for money. Ba’ath funding for such efforts appears to have been drawn from a variety of sources. Some Ba’ath leaders had significant reserves of cash within Iraq when the invasion occurred. This group included many mid-level Ba’athist officials as well as more senior leaders. Others had access to funds in foreign banks, particularly in Syria.

    By mid-2016 what seemed to be a fraying proto-state is actually an enemy force that is fanning out, sacrificing territory and battles now so it can wreak havoc on its home turf in years to come. The warning signs for the strategic shift by IS had been visible for months, showing up in the way its fighters retreated from former strongholds and in the way it appears to be setting up its defense of Mosul, the group’s capital in Iraq. While IS fighters there were expected to battle to the very end, the group’s best and most effective forces most likely will not be among them.

    In early 2014 Obama told The New Yorker that he considered ISIS to be al-Qaeda’s weaker partner. “If a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant," the president said.

    A DIA report, written in August 2012, states "The deterioration of the situation has dire consequences on the Iraqi situation... This creates the ideal atmosphere for AQI [al Qaeda Iraq] to return to its old pockets in Mosul and Ramadi, and will provide a renewed momentum under the presumption of unifying the jihad among Sunni Iraq and Syria, and the rest of the Sunnis in the Arab world against what it considers one enemy, the dissenters. ISI could also declare an Islamic state through its union with other terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria, which will create grave danger in regards to unifying Iraq and the protection of its territory.

    The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant [ISIL] declared itself an "Islamic caliphate" on 29 June 2014, led by Caliph Ibrahim. This came as many of the world's estimated 1.6 billion Muslims started observing the holy month of Ramadan. ISIL spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani said the caliphate will extend from the northern Syrian city of Aleppo to Diyala Province in Iraq. He described the establishment of the caliphate as "the dream in all the Muslims" and "the hope of all jihadists." They removed 'Iraq and the Levant' from their name and urged other radical Sunni groups to pledge their allegiance. ISIL announced that it should now be called 'The Islamic State' and declared its chief, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, as "the caliph" of the new state and "leader for Muslims everywhere," the radical Sunni militant group said in an audio recording distributed online on Sunday. This is the first time since the fall of the Ottoman Empire in 1923 that a Caliph – which meant a political successor to Prophet Muhammad – had been declared.

    The State Department’s Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iraq and Iran, Brett McGurk, described ISIL as "a full-blown army" and "worse than al-Qaida" - with a potential reach far beyond the Middle East.In testimony on 24 July 2014 he said “ISIL is able to funnel 30 to 50 suicide bombers a month into Iraq. We assess these are almost all foreign fighters" he said. "It would be very easy for ISIL to decide to funnel that cadre of dedicated suicide bombers - global jihadists - into other capitals around the region, or Europe, or, worse, here [in the United States]."

    A former CIA officer warned 04 September 2014 that sleeper cells of the ISIL terror group were already in the United States and capable of launching an attack on the homeland. “The people who collect tactical intelligence on the ground, day-to-day – and this isn’t Washington – but people collecting this stuff say they’re here, ISIS is here, they’re capable of striking," Bob Baer told CNN. Baer said that some American citizens who had been to Syria to fight alongside ISIL were now back in the United States by crossing the Mexican border. US intelligence agents were aware of some people they suspect of being ISIL members and were working to gather evidence to arrest them, Baer said, adding that there are concerns about “the unknown.... They don’t know what their plans and intentions are. But it’s a definite concern... They’re waiting to get enough intelligence to actually run them in... “And then there’s the unknown, of how many people have come back they’re not even aware of."

    The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant aims to establish an Islamic state in the regions it controls in eastern Syria and western Iraq. It aims to control at least the Sunni part of Iraq, and much of Syria and Lebanon. The emergence of a radical jihadist state in the heart of the Arab world would threaten the US, and American allies in the Middle East and Europe. In the long term the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant wants to be a global power, and, with the resources it is acquiring, the West and its allies face a difficult job to stop it.

    A statement attributed to Al-Qaida posted 03 February 2014 on websites frequently used by al-Qaida announced it was severing ties with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL [the authenticity of the statement could not be independently verified]. The move was seen as an attempt to redirect the Islamist effort towards unseating President Bashar al-Assad rather than waste resources in fighting other rebels. ISIL has fought battles with other Islamist insurgents and secular rebel groups, often triggered by disputes over authority and territory. Several secular and Islamist groups announced a campaign in January 2014 against ISIL.

    In Syria they restored land taken by the President Bashir al-Assad regime to the tribes people. They allowed them to run their businesses. They married into families. So they enhanced their position locally.

    ISIL continued to gain strength from the struggle in Syria resulting in an overflow of recruits, sophisticated munitions and other resources to the fight in Iraq. The threat that ISIL is presenting is not just a threat to Iraq or the stability of Iraq, but it is a threat to the region. The states of Iraq and Syria are not able to control major population centers and have lost control of huge countryside areas. This meant that ISIL control territory, border crossing points, oil resources, mineral resources, and trade income. They have a base in the middle of the Middle East, and can organize and carry out their goals in larger parts of the Middle East.

    When it was revealed in December 2015 that the "Islamic State" has a new smartphone app the news fit perfectly into the well-established perception of the group as that of an Internet juggernaut. Particularly compared to its original, al Qaeda, best known for intermittent audio or video recordings in Arabic from its leaders, the "Islamic State" with its steady content stream on social media truly updated terrorist propaganda for the 21st century.

    But Cristina Archetti, a political communications scholar at the University of Oslo and author of "Understanding Terrorism in the Age of Global Media" counters: "There is far too much hype at the moment about social media." This overblown focus on technology obscures the more important question why some people are attracted and embrace radical messages. "Extremism is not a virus one becomes infected by stumbling on some messages on social media," said Archetti. "It is a deliberate choice."

    As the UN noted in January 2016 [S/2016/92]"Islamic Youth Shura Council and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant-Libya Province (Derna) in Libya, the Mujahideen of Kairouan and Jund al-Khilafah in Tunisia, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Tehreek-e-Khilafat in Pakistan and Ansar al-Khilafah in the Philippines, are sufficiently attracted by its underlying ideology to pledge allegiance to its so-called caliphate and self-proclaimed caliph.... As of 15 December 2015, 34 groups from all around the world had reportedly pledged allegiance to ISIL. Moreover, in view of its territorial claims of more “provinces", it is expected that ISIL affiliates will increase in number and that its membership will grow in 2016. This is a matter of considerable concern, since these groups appear to be emulating ISIL’s tactics and carrying out attacks on its behalf."

    By June 2016 US officials were touting progress against IS,saying the terror group "is at its weakest point" since rapidly advancing across Syria and Iraqi in 2014. Military officials also pointed to an IS fighting force visibly on its heels in its self-declared caliphate, having lost 50 percent of the terrain it once held in Iraq and upwards of 20 percent of what it once controlled in Syria. “There is no way you can look at ISIL today and look at the geographic territory they control, look at their leadership, look at their ability to communicate and judge they are in a better position today then they were a year ago," Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook told reporters 16 June 2016. Defense Department officials also pointed to diminishing financial resources and low morale among the IS ranks, highlighting reports of some IS leaders stealing gold and trying to flee.

    Jihad on the Outside, Baath on the Inside

    One reason Daesh [Isis] was so successful was because many of their founding members, including the top strategist, were part of Saddam Hussein’s professional security apparatus. Former Iraqi intelligence officers gave the organization a “religious face" in 2010. “We will appoint the smartest ones as Sharia sheiks... We will train them for a while and then dispatch them," the ISIS mastermind Haji Bakr, whose real name was Samir Abd Muhammad al-Khlifawi, noted. “Brothers" would be selected in each town to marry the daughters of the most influential families, in order to "ensure penetration of these families without their knowledge." Haji Bakr, the strategic head of ISIS, was killed in a firefight in 2014, but left behind information regarding a trove of blueprints for ISIS intelligence services’ structure and plans of a takeover of large parts of Syrian territory.

    Hamza Hendawi and Qassim Abdul-Zahra of the Associated Press reported 08 August 2015 that "the Islamic State group's top command is dominated by former officers from Saddam's military and intelligence agencies, according to senior Iraqi officers on the front lines of the fight against the group, as well as top intelligence officials, including the chief of a key counterterrorism intelligence unit."

    Patrick Skinner, a former CIA case officer who served in Iraq, said Saddam-era military and intelligence officers were a "necessary ingredient" in the Islamic State group's battlefield successes in 2014. "Their military successes last year were not terror, they were military successes," said Skinner, now director of special projects for The Soufan Group, a private strategic intelligence services firm.

    It was backed by former military officers and other members of Saddam Hussein's regime -- including the Naqshabandi Army led by Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, the former regime's number two leader who eluded US and Iraqi forces ever since the 2003 US-led invasion. The reinvigorated Ba'athist Party, known as the Jaysh Rijal al-Tariqah al-Naqshabandia (JRTN), clings to Baathist ideology and often mix it with Islamic sufi ideology. JRTN and the ISIL worked together in Fallujah, where they have been battling government troops since January 2014. In conjunction with ISIL they were able to take Mosul. Overwhelmingly a majority of the fighters under the ISIL banner were Iraqi.

    Liz Sly, writing in Washington Post on 04 April 2015 "Abu Hamza, a former Syrian rebel, agreed to join the Islamic State ... he found himself being supervised by an Iraqi emir and receiving orders from shadowy Iraqis who moved in and out of the battlefield in Syria. When Abu Hamza disagreed with fellow commanders at an Islamic State meeting last year, he said, he was placed under arrest on the orders of a masked Iraqi man who had sat silently through the proceedings, listening and taking notes....

    "Abu Hamza ... never discovered the Iraqis’ real identities, which were cloaked by code names or simply not revealed. All of the men, however, were former Iraqi officers who had served under Saddam Hussein, including the masked man, who had once worked for an Iraqi intelligence agency and now belonged to the Islamic State’s own shadowy security service...

    "Even with the influx of thousands of foreign fighters, almost all of the leaders of the Islamic State are former Iraqi officers, including the members of its shadowy military and security committees, and the majority of its emirs and princes..."

    Shiv Malik, writing 7 December 2015 in The Guardian, reports on "documents obtained by the Guardian, it builds up a picture of a group that, although sworn to a founding principle of brutal violence, is equally set on more mundane matters such as health, education, commerce, communications and jobs. In short, it is building a state.... The statecraft manual recommends a department for administering the military camps, a complex arrangement that, as described, goes well beyond the capabilities of al-Qaida in Afghanistan during the time it plotted the 9/11 attacks"

    Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham SITE (Search for International Terrorist Entities) reported 23 January 2007 that the Islamic State of Iraq issued a document titled: “The Legality of the Flag in Islam," which contains the image of its flag and information to its symbolism, today, Tuesday, January 23, 2007. Text on the flag reading, “No God, but Allah, and Muhammad is Allah’s Messenger," are the words contained on the flag of the Prophet Muhammad that he carried into battle and handed to generations of bearers. The Islamic State provides evidence and legitimacy for this banner from Islamic scholars, and goes into detail regarding opinions of the flag’s material, title, and significance. According to the group the circular shape matches the ring stamp of the Prophet found on many scripts, and the order of the words are to indicate the supremacy of Allah over the Messenger.

    This flag, the group prays, is to be the flag for all Muslims, especially the people of Iraq. The Islamic State of Iraq was established to protect the Sunni Iraqi people and defend Islam, by the Pact of the Scented People. It is composed of a variety of insurgency groups, including the Mujahideen Shura Council in Iraq, Conquering Army [Jeish al-Fatiheen], Army Squad of the Prophet Muhammad [Jund al-Sahaba], Brigades of al-Tawhid Wal Sunnah, and Sunni tribes. It claims a presence in the governorates of Baghdad, Anbar, Diyala, Kirkuk, Salah al-Din, Ninawa, and parts of Babel and Wasit, and is headed by the Emir of the Believers, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi.

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