Iraq declares “emergency” as ISIS, an al Qaeda breakaway faction, captures key city of Mosul. What is ISIS and why is it important?

Joel C. Rosenberg's Blog

Al-Qaeda breakaway group -- ISIS -- captures key Iraqi city of Mosul. (graphic: NYT Al-Qaeda breakaway group — ISIS — captures key Iraqi city of Mosul. (graphic: NYT

(Washington, D.C.) — The Iraqi government has declared a “state of emergency” after losing control of one of its major cities — Mosul (ancient Ninevah) — to a Sunni insurgent group that is a breakaway faction of al Qaeda.

The group is commonly referred to as “ISIS” (pronounced “EYE-sis”), which stands for the “Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham.” Al Sham refers to the “Levant,” or the region of Lebanon, Syria, Israel, and Jordan.

ISIS wants to wage violent jihad in order to establish an Islamic caliphate or kingdom in the entire region.

It is currently recruiting foreign jihadist fighters to wage jihad in Syria to topple Bashar al-Assad’s regime. ISIS is also fighting to bring down the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Iraq. Ideally, its leaders would like to topple…

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