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Islamic State

Salafi jihadist militant Islamist group / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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The Islamic State (IS),[147] also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL; /ˈsɪl/), Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS; /ˈsɪs/),[148][149] and by its Arabic acronym Da'ish[150][151] or Daesh (داعش, Dāʿish, IPA: [ˈdaːʕɪʃ]),[152] is a transnational militant Islamist terrorist group and former unrecognized quasi-state that follows the Salafi jihadist branch of Sunni Islam.[153] It was founded by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in 1999 and gained global prominence in 2014, when it captured a large amount of Iraqi territory,[154][155][156] and took advantage of the civil war in Syria to take control of chunks of territory in Eastern Syria.[157][158][159] By the end of 2015, it held an area estimated to contain eight to twelve million people stretching from western Iraq to eastern Syria,[102][103][160] where it enforced its interpretation of Islamic law, administered an annual budget of more than US$1 billion and had more than 30,000 fighters under its command.[161] By 2019 it had lost the last of its Middle Eastern territories and returned to insurgency in the regions it once controlled, operating from remote hideouts, and continuing its propaganda efforts.[162][163]

Quick facts: Islamic State, Also known as, Founder, Leader...
Islamic State
الدولة الإسلامية
ad-Dawlah al-Islāmiyah
Also known asIS, ISIS, ISIL, Daesh
FounderAbu Musab al-Zarqawi [2]
Dates of operation

Unorganized cells

HeadquartersUnknown (March 2019 – present)
Active regionsMap – refer to following caption
IS territory, in grey, at the time of its greatest territorial extent (May 2015)[45]
Map legend
  •   Islamic State
  •   Syrian government
  •   Lebanese government
  •   Iraqi Kurdistan forces
  • Note: Iraq and Syria contain large desert areas with sparse populations. These areas are mapped as under the control of forces holding roads and towns within them.
Sloganbaqiya wa tatamadad (Remaining and Expanding)
StatusTerrorist Organization
List of combatant numbers
  • Inside Syria and Iraq:
    • 5,000–10,000[96] (UN Security Council 2019 report)
    • 28,600–31,600[97] (2016 US Defense Department estimate)
    • 200,000[98][99] (2015 claim by Iraqi Kurdistan Chief of Staff)
    • 100,000[100][99] (2015 Jihadist claim)
    • 35,000–100,000[101] (at peak, US State Department estimate)
  • Outside Syria and Iraq: 32,600–57,900 (See Military activity of ISIL for more detailed estimates.)
  • Estimated total: 61,200–257,900
Civilian population
  • In 2015 (near max extent): 8–12 million[102][103]
  • In 2022 (ISWAP): 800,000[104]
Part ofFlag_of_Jihad.svg al-Qaeda (2004–2014)
AlliesSee section
Battles and wars

Primary target of


From 2003 to 2013, the group pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda (mostly under the name "Islamic State of Iraq") and participated in the Iraqi insurgency against the United States and its allies. The group changed its name again to "Islamic State of Iraq and Levant" for about a year,[164][165] before proclaiming itself to be a worldwide caliphate,[166][167] called simply the Islamic State (الدولة الإسلامية, ad-Dawlah al-Islāmiyah).[168] As a caliphate, it demanded the religious, political, and military obedience of Muslims worldwide,[169] despite the rejection of its legitimacy by mainstream Muslims and its statehood by the United Nations and various governments.[170]

For the next few years the Iraqi Armed Forces and the Syrian Democratic Forces beat back "the Islamic State" and degraded its financial and military infrastructure,[171] assisted by advisors, weapons, training, supplies and airstrikes by the American-led coalition,[172] and later by Russian airstrikes, bombings, cruise missile attacks and scorched-earth tactics across Syria, which focused mostly on razing opposition strongholds rather than IS bases.[173] By March 2019, IS lost one of its last significant territories in the Middle East.

Designated a terrorist organisation by the United Nations and others, the group was known for its massive human rights abuses:[174] genocide against Yazidis and Christians on a historic scale, systematic persecution of Shia Muslims;[31][175][176] its videos of beheadings (and other kinds of executions)[177] of soldiers, journalists, and aid workers; as well as its destruction of cultural heritage sites.[178]