The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (alternatively translated as Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) abbreviated as ISIL or ISIS, is an active Jihadist militant group and unrecognized state in Iraq and Syria influenced by the Wahhabi movement. The self proclaimed independent state claims the territory of Iraq and Syria, implied future claims intended over more of the Levant (e.g. Lebanon). It was established in the early years of the Iraq War and pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda in 2004. The group was composed of and supported by a variety of Sunny Muslim groups, including its predecessor organisation, the Mujahideen Shura Council, Al-Qaeda in Iraq, Jaysh al-Fatiheen, Jund al-Sahaba, Katbiyan Ansar Al-Tawhid wal Sunnah, Jeish al-Taiifa al-Mansoura. It aimed to establish a caliphate in the Sunni majority regions of Iraq, later expanding this to include Syria. In April 2013, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi annonced that Islamic state of Iraq had merged with Jabhat al-Nusra, an armed Islamist group in Syria. Ayman al-Zawahiri, the group’s global chief, disagreed with the decision and ruled that the ISI and al-Nusra should operate as separate entities. But, Bagadadi insisted that he Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant will remain. In February 2014, after an eight-month power struggle, al-Qaeda cut all ties to ISIL.
The ISIS mobilise resources through extortion, such as demanding money from truck drivers and threatening to blow up businesses. Robbing banks and gold shops are other means. During the battle of Mosul in June 2014, ISIS allegedly looted $429 USD million from Mosul’s central bank along with a large quantity of gold bullion. According to one estimate, with $429 million, ISIS could pay 60,000 fighters around $600 a month for a year. The group receives funding via private and government donations from the Gulf states – Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
ISIS has fewer than 10,000 fighters. But it forced the retreat of the better-armed Iraqi army forces many times its size. Their incredible success on the battlefield of the small band of fanatics has attracted a lot of attention on the group. The success does not belong to ISIS alone because they weren’t acting alone. It wasn’t having God on their side that let ISIS conquer Mosul and Tikrit. It was the other Sunni insurgent groups that were there alongside them, unacknowledged partners in the coalition. Those groups have deep organizational roots and were instrumental in the takeover but have been largely overshadowed by ISIS. There is a broad coalition of Sunni groups—both nationalist and Islamist—who had been plotting against Iraq’s Shia government for years before ISIS’s rise provided the chance to strike. ISIS and its partners are unnatural allies. Maintaining their unity was the key to their early success.
With fewer than 10,000 fighters ISIS forced the retreat of the better-armed Iraqi army forces many times its size. Their incredible success on the battlefield has fed into a growing lore about the group: the small band of fanatics that can take down a country. The truth is more basic and it’s something ISIS doesn’t want to admit—they weren’t acting alone.
ISIS, soon after gaining control of cities is imposing newer laws over the people of the cities. They include restriction on women (dress code for them and movement restrictions), and abolition of alcohol, drugs and cigarettes. ISIS has ordered destruction of shrines and graves, ban on carrying flags other than that of Islamic state, and guns. Special places have been opened for soldiers, police and Kafir institutions to repent and death for those who are not repentent. Death is through decapitation, cricifications and other barbaric methods. Mass executions and tortoure is common generating fear and terror among the enemies.
The Shias, and other Muslim denominations along with non-Islams are targetted by ISIS fighters. Sunni identity is the real strenght behind the sucess of ISIS. Mosques, Islamic scholars, and Sunni proponents have strengthened the Sunni identity among ISIL fighters, justifying the methods of resource mobilization and elinimating the opponents in a consistent way aligning with the core principles of Islam.
Non Sunnis, Western countries, and others are surprised once again, by the expansion of Sunni regime in middle east.