In the story of ISIS, the terror organization began as a part of the group known as Al Qaeda in Iraq. Al Qaeda had separate operations in Syria and Iraq from 2003 during the invasion of the United States until 2014 when a splinter group from the group stationed in Iraq would go into Syria.
The splinter group would go on to merge with the group of Al Qaeda that was stationed in Syria to form the new terror group.
ISIS would later take over major cities in Syria amongst the terror and confusion of the Syrian Civil War and eventually become a self-governed state. ISIS would later consider itself the “Islamic Caliphate” and would also try to forge relations between other radical Muslim groups such as Hoko Haram from Afghanistan to Africa that are self-proclaimed governments according to Tewfik Cassis of The Week.
Dr. Gregory Aldous, a history professor at the University of Pittsburgh, adds his insight on the significance of Baghdadi proclaiming himself a caliph and the territory that he controlled a caliphate.
“Well historically, you are supposed to have a ‘caliph’ in the Muslim community which was the symbol of unity amongst the community,” Dr. Aldous said. “He was the guy that is supposed rules of Islam are being carried out, protected, and organized military operations to uphold old Muslim traditions.
The terror group would also go on to capture territories in Iraq such as the city of Mosul and areas around the southern border of Baghdad.
Later on, in the lifespan of ISIS, the terror group would go on to spread their radical Islamic message over several social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube through radical propaganda to gain new members overtime. They use YouTube videos with high production values, juxtapose tough looking fighters with kittens while goofing around, and making jihad look fun and enticing for the online audience according to Mike Rogers of the NY Daily News.
“With social media, you are going to appeal to a younger audience,” Aldous said. “When you’re young, it is easier to the world in black and white rather than when you are older.”
The willing followers of ISIS are sent down either Iraq or Syria through smuggling them through various airports through ISIS recruiters or are sent information on how to build bombs to act in their home country. The issue of ISIS propaganda across the web also brings up people who are inspired by the media and cause terror acts on their own accord.