ISIS, the extremist Sunni group, not only declared a new caliphate (an Islamic state) on the territory it holds in Iraq and Syria but also the intentions of spreading and gaining control over Muslims across the globe.
Who Are They?
The ISIS seems to have come out of the blue, but it hasn’t really. The group has been around since 2004 and initially composed of members of Islamic terrorist and insurgent groups indigenous to the region.
The group officially pledged allegiance to Osama bin Laden's banned al-Qaeda network in a letter in October 2004. But their conflicts started not soon afterward. As of now, the group stands as an independent entity and are no longer the ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Greater) or the ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) but simply IS or Islamic State.
The group is led by a man named Ibrahim Awwad Ibrahim Ali al-Badri al-Samarrai popularly known as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who claims to be the caliph. A caliph is a successor to the Prophet Mohammed, who died in 632; and there have been none since 1924.
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What Do They Want?
From Al-Qaeda to the Muslim Brotherhood all Sunni Muslim organizations have aimed at restoring the caliphate with the implementation of Shariah; the Islamic code of conduct and governance but none have gotten the success that the ISIS has.
In the statement released, titled This Is the Promise of Allah, they claim, “The time has come for those generations that were drowning in oceans of disgrace, being nursed on the milk of humiliation, and being ruled by the vilest of all people, after their long slumber in the darkness of neglect — the time has come for them to rise.”
What Does It Mean For The Rest Of The World?
Charles Lister, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Doha Centre, thinks it is the biggest event in International Jihad since 9/11.
"The impact of this announcement will be global as Al Qaeda affiliates and independent jihadist groups must now definitively choose to support and join the Islamic State or to oppose it," he feels.
In contrast, Emirati political scientist Abdulkhaleq Abdullah feels the group does not have the legitimacy to have a significant effect on the Gulf region.
Hayder Al-Khoei, a specialist on Iraq at Chatham House, a London think-tank also believes the Caliphate means strengthening of the groups ranks however he also thinks the whole concept is a brilliant publicity stunt by the Islamic State newly renamed from ISIS to recruit fresh blood “If they’re a caliphate now, a lot of people, possibly living in America or Europe — the ones who are already radicalized and inclined to join them, it’s more of an impetus.”
He also feels the younger blood will be excited by the idea of the Caliphate finally becoming a reality and join them in droves.
Al Khoei’s thoughts make sense and if that is the case, it is definitely a cause of concern for the rest of the world because the announcement of Caliphate is also a "declaration of war against the West and al Qaida."
Call it the Jihadi version of Bush’s “If you are not with us; you are against us.”
Eight rebel fighters have been crucified in Syria by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) because they were considered too moderate, a monitoring group said on Sunday.
In the medieval-style caliphate they are planning, borders from the Mediterranean to the Gulf will be erased. What’s more, it deems Shi'ite Muslims to be heretics deserving death.
Around 500 British-linked citizens are already believed to have traveled to the Middle East to fight with the Sunni Muslim group and if more from around the globe join in the "jihad" the world needs to be concerned.