The Origin of ISIS, Its Relation with Al-Qaeda, and Its Expansion

In his recent speech addressing the State of the Union, Present Obama used the term “ISIL” rather than ISIS, IS (Islamic State) or ISI. Even though all these terms refer to the same group, they does not necessarily mean the same thing. The founder of the Islamic State, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi named the group “Jamaat al-Tawhid wa-l-Jihad in 1999, and used the acronym JTJ. In 2004 he changed the name from JTJ to AQI, standing for for Al-Qaeda in Iraq and in 2006 he changed the name of the group again and called it the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI). Later, the group invaded some of the Syrian territories and named the group the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (In the Qur’an al-Sham consists of some of the areas of present day Syria). Therefore, in English the name would be the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) whereas the acronym ISIS drags the whole of Syria into the name. This is why the Obama administration intentionally chose the term ISIL rather than ISIS to avoid the notion that the name of the group is the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

However, recently the group (probably considering the unexpected expansion of the group and the confusion between ISIS vs. ISIL) adopted the name ‘the Islamic State’ (IS). This demonstrated that the Islamic State no longer sees herself as a small group which was growing under the shadows of Al-Qaeda, but ideologically and theologically it is to revive the caliphate like the one Islam enjoyed for centuries up until the fall of the Ottoman Empire at the hand of Western powers.


Posted in Blog, News.