Get the facts on the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has had a presence in the Middle East since 1999. They became ISI, the Islamic State of Iraq, in 2006; ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, after absorbing Al-Qaeda in Syria in 2013; and are currently call themselves the Islamic State as of 2014. The goal of ISIS is to establish an Islamic caliphate, which encompasses Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
Abu Bakr al Baghdadi has been the leader of ISIS since 2010. In 2003, al Baghdadi founded an extremist militant group and was subsequently captured by forces during the war in Iraq. He was held in a U.S. insurgent camp in Iraq from 2005 to2009. Following his release, he returned to the organization, rose to power and declared himself the caliph, or leader of the caliphate, in June 2014.
ISIS uses weapons stolen from military and police bases and finances from taking over oil fields and selling the oil on the black market and holding hostages for ransom.
Last June, ISIS took control of numerous cities, such as Mosul and Tikrit, Iraq. On June 29, 2014, they announced the creation of the Islamic State.
Their main source of power rests in Raqqa in eastern Syria where they control half of Syria’s oil. They also control the city Aleppo in Syria. Their sphere of influence rests in Syria and Iraq.
ISIS has committed many human rights violations including kidnappings, beheadings, mass executions, forced displacements, and rapes. Sarah Leah Whitson, the director of the Middle East and North Africa division of Human Rights Watch, said in Feb. 2015, “The Iraqi government urgently needs to move beyond window-dressing reforms so that it can win back public trust, confront the growing disaster that ISIS is unfolding in Iraq, and save Iraqis from an endless cycle of horrors.”
The United States, along with Middle Eastern countries Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Bahrain and Qatar are retaliating against ISIS using airstrikes to destroy ISIS supply lines. The airstrikes are targeted at the city of Raqqa, an ISIS stronghold. The Jordanian government has vowed to continue retaliating against ISIS.
After a Jordanian pilot was buried alive by ISIS. In addition, over 40 countries, including the Great Britain, France, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the Netherlands, have rallied against ISIS.
Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2015, President Obama asked Congress to declare war on ISIS. The joint resolution would allow the President to make a campaign against ISIS for three years from the day it is authorized. This resolution, if passed, would not authorize a large scale ground combat operation such as in Iraq and Afghanistan. House Republicans have stated that this resolution limits the President’s power during war and does not fully allow us to combat the threat of ISIS.