Jihad in Iraq

A brutal armed group seized control of parts of Iraq last week. Who are they? And will it lead to the break-up of the country? Simon Wilson reports.

What is Isis?

Isis is the world’s most extreme, brutal and currently successful group of Sunni jihadist militants, whose very name – the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham – points to its self-confidence and ambition.

Unlike al-Qaeda, which has no explicit territorial ambitions, Isis’s aim is to create a vast Sunni caliphate: the ‘al-Sham’ part of the name is a historically loaded term that can mean simply ‘the Levant’ [...]

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