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Understanding ISIS

The militant Islamist group ISIS now controls large parts of Syria and Iraq – as its leader declares a new caliphate. We’ll take a closer look at ISIS and its Islamic State vision.

This undated image posted by the Raqqa Media Center, a Syrian opposition group, on Monday, June 30, 2014, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, shows fighters from the al-Qaida linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) during a parade in Raqqa, Syria. (AP)

This undated image posted by the Raqqa Media Center, a Syrian opposition group, on Monday, June 30, 2014, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, shows fighters from the al-Qaida linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) during a parade in Raqqa, Syria. (AP)

Until they came bursting into Mosul last month with black flags and pick-up trucks, ISIS was – to most Americans – just part of a chaotic jumble of fighters in Syria.  The next thing we knew, they had taken over a huge swath of Iraq, declared themselves the Islamic State, and announced a new caliphate in the heart of the Middle East.  This weekend the self-proclaimed caliph of the caliphate – Abu Bakr al Baghdadi – purportedly stepped out of the shadows and spoke to the world.  They’re too brutal for al Qaeda.  They literally crucify.  And right now they rule.  This hour On Point:  ISIS and the Islamic State.

— Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Rania Abouzeid, independent journalist covering the Middle East. (@Raniaab)

Thanassis Cambanis, fellow at the Century Foundation. Internationalist columnist for the Boston Globe. Author of “A Privilege To Die” and the upcoming book “Once Upon A Revolution.” (@tcambanis)

From Tom’s Reading List

Boston Globe: The surprising appeal of ISIS — “ISIS’s support comes from a direct appeal to Sunni Muslims as a religious and political constituency. It has made clear that it expects people under its power to take an active role in establishing a new Islamic state. And it has enlisted them in a project to assert the power of their religious community over the Shia, who currently dominate the territory from Iran to Lebanon.”

POLITICO Magazine: The Jihad Next Door — “The Syrian revolution—and the hesitant, confused international reaction to it—paved the way for the resurrection of a militant Islam that would turn vast regions of Iraq and Syria into borderless jihadi strongholds and inch closer to redrawing the map of the Middle East—in practical terms if not on paper.

New York Times: The Caliphate Fantasy — “Even in the more moderate model espoused by the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist dream of transnational theocratic rule appeals to a dwindling number of Arabs. Only last week, Moroccan women showed their contempt for the conservative prime minister, Abdelilah Benkirane, by converging on Parliament armed with frying pans after he’d argued that women should stay in the home.”

Watch A Purported Video Message From Islamic State Leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

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