In the previous part we have seen how Al-Qaeda came into power and why Osama bin Laden declared a holy war on the western world, USA particularly. The Iraq war and the Syrian Civil war were the reason ISIS spread to those countries, the turbulence made those countries to focus less on internal issues.
Al-Qaeda, Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), Islamic State of Iraq and Syria/Levant (ISIS/ISIL), Islamic State (IS) are the names evolved along with the increasing territory and power of this organisation. Let’s see how these names are evolved and how it became an International Organisation.
Zarqawi’s Allegiance To Osama:
A Jordanian national named Abu Musab al-Zarqawi established an organisation called Jama’at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad (an organisation on monotheism and Jihad) in 1999 in Jordan. He also went to Afghanistan to support the Mujahideen in the Soviet-Afghan war but by the time he went there, the Soviet Union is retreating from Afghanistan and he became a reporter for an Islamist newsletter.
In March 2003 the combined forces of USA, Australia, Poland and UK invaded Iraq to disarm weapons of mass destruction, to end Saddam Hussein’s support for terrorism and ensure Iraqi people with liberty. Zarqawi opposed the entry of western countries to Muslim world and resisted by decentralising Jama’at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad.
In October 2004 Zarqawi had pledged his allegiance to Osama bin laden’s al-Qaeda, which is a major step for Zarqawi. This coalition group came to be known as Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) (officially known as Tanzim Qaidat al-Jihad fi Bilad al-Rafidayn).
In January 2006, AQI and five other groups formed an umbrella organisation called Mujahideen Shura Council (MJC) to combat US and Iraqi forces and in October 2006 they merged to form the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI). This group commonly came to be called as Al-Qaeda in Iraq because AQI took the responsibility of continuing attacks through the new council.
Succession After Zarqawi’s Death:
Al Zarqawi was succeeded by Abu Ayyub al-Masri after his death. The leader of ISI, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi and Al-Masri were assassinated during a military operation in a safe house. Abu Omar al-Baghdadi was succeeded by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
In 2011, the U.S. State Department offered a reward of US$10 million for Baghdadi and increased it to $25 million in 2017 for information on his whereabouts to find him dead or alive. He was well known for his videos of beheadings and other types of executions, crimes against humanity, car bombings and sex slavery.
The Syrian Civil War:
The Syrian civil war helped Al-Baghdadi to spread his power in Syria and in April 2013, he renamed ISI as Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL or ISIS). It was in June 2014 that ISIL declared the establishment of a worldwide caliphate. Al-Baghdadi named himself as its caliph and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant was renamed the Islamic State (IS).
The evolution of ISIS from al-Qaeda didn’t come without a struggle. Greater minds of Osama bin Laden, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, etc were put into action to make it an International organisation. The Iraq war (2003) and the Syrian Civil war benefitted Al-Qaeda to become IS and spread terrorism throughout the world.
Moreover, it is believed that many Muslim countries are funding ISIS, either directly or indirectly. The ideologies of both Saudi Arabian monarch and ISIS are said to be favoured to Sunni Islamic state and to get rid of the persecution of Shia Muslims. So it is believed that the monarch is funding ISIS to spread Sunni ideology.
Also, the educational institutions in Saudi Arabia and many Muslim countries impart students with hatred towards Shia sect of Islam and other religions (Christianity mostly).