The Islamic State

The Islamic State: A Brief Introduction

Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 100
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  • Book Info
    The Islamic State
    Book Description:

    An authoritative guide to the rise of the Islamic State and its senior leadership

    How did the Islamic State grow from regional terrorist group to a brutal multinational bureaucratic machine? What are its goals? How can it be stopped?In 2014, the Islamic State seemingly appeared out of nowhere, routing Iraqi forces, conquering Iraq's second-largest city, boldly announcing the establishment of a caliphate, and declaring itself the Islamic State (IS). Today, IS controls thousands of square miles and is attempting to govern millions of people.

    In this definitive guide to the Islamic State and its senior leadership, Charles R. Lister traces its roots from the release of its notorious father figure, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, from a Jordanian prison and the group's formation in Afghanistan in the late-1990s, and finally to its stunning maturation in Iraq and Syria.

    The West knows IS through its unrelenting propaganda war. Behind the deft use of social media and the slick videos of despicable acts is what amounts to a proto-state. Lister shares details of IS's sophisticated revenue machine, attempts at governing, and its formidable military.

    With IS knocking on the doors of Lebanon, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia, Lister's portrait helps us understand what to expect next and recommends a course of action to defeat IS, extinguish extremism, and encourage a tolerant Islam across the Middle East.

    Foreword by Ahmed Rashid

    eISBN: 978-0-8157-2668-5
    Subjects: Political Science, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-xvi)
    Ahmed Rashid

    The greatest possible threat to stability in the Middle East and the wider Muslim world in the modern era has been the unrelenting conquests and destruction of borders by the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), later declared as the Islamic State (IS). As an inspirational force it has been equally successful in mobilizing young Muslims worldwide. Not since Arab Muslim armies spread out to conquer the world in the aftermath of the death of the Prophet Muhammad in the seventh century have we witnessed such a powerful force that has combined brilliant military and political strategy along with...

  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  5. Introduction: More than a Terrorist Organization
    (pp. 1-4)

    The threat posed by Sunni jihadis has been evolving for at least the past two decades. While the late 1980s and 1990s witnessed the emergence of the notoriously transnationally minded al-Qaeda organization, the 2005–10 period saw al-Qaeda’s regionally dispersed affiliates focused on establishing local bases of operations and acquiring and consolidating territorial control from which to launch more expansive attacks on the “near enemy,” meaning local governments. Although terrorist plots against Western targets have continued to emerge, the principal threat to Western interests today lies in the Middle East’s increasing instability, which jihadi groups have exploited for their own...

  6. 1 “Lasting and Expanding”
    (pp. 5-24)

    Over the years, members of IS and its various predecessor organizations have frequently been heard proclaimingbaqiya wa tatamadad,or “lasting and expanding.” This slogan concisely sums up the fundamental modus operandi of the IS organization, the roots of which date back to at least 1999, when its notorious father figure, Ahmad Fadl al-Nazal al-Khalayleh (Abu Musab al-Zarqawi) was released from prison in Jordan. Since then, IS and its predecessor factions have by and large met this simple objective, despite military challenges by the U.S.-led invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq.

    Zarqawi was released from Jordan’s al-Sawwaqa prison...

  7. 2 The Emerging Islamic State
    (pp. 25-50)

    Since 1999, IS and its antecedents have consistently worked on creating the necessary conditions for establishing an Islamic state. Although the group’s initial roots lie in Jordan and Afghanistan, the vast majority of its operational history relates to Iraq and now, increasingly, Syria.

    After a first attempt at state building in Iraq in the mid-2000s, followed by further efforts across northern Syria in 2013, IS appeared closer in 2014 to achieving its ultimate objective, international strikes notwithstanding. The scale and geographic spread of its operations, the extent of its territorial control and influence, its improved policy of governance, its vast...

  8. 3 Degrading and Destroying the Islamic State
    (pp. 51-74)

    In the words of Brett McGurk, then U.S. State Department deputy assistant secretary for Iraq and Iran, the Islamic State is “worse than al-Qaeda” and “is no longer a terrorist organization . . . it is a full-blown army.”¹ Indeed, as has been outlined throughout this book, IS is now in possession of a great deal of weaponry, operates like a tight military organization filled with dedicated recruits, and has proved capable of fighting as a light infantry force backed by heavy weapons. It has expanded considerably in recent years through a deliberate and methodical strategy of stoking sectarian conflict,...

  9. Appendix: Who’s Who in the Islamic State Senior Leadership
    (pp. 75-86)
  10. Notes
    (pp. 87-102)
  11. Index
    (pp. 103-110)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 111-111)