The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), alternatively called the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is a jihadist organisation controlling parts of Iraq and Syria, with claims to be a worldwide caliphate. It started out in 1999 as the Jama’at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad. This organisation had sprung up during the insurgency in Iraq following the 2003 invasion of Iraq by US-led forces. By 2015, it held large swathes of area in western Iraq and eastern Syria, and had over 30000 fighters. The organisation, also called, Islamic State (IS), as a caliphate, claims to have political, religious and military authority of all Muslims in the world. Almost all the Muslim countries reject this. Wherever they have control, a strict interpretation of Sharia law is observed, along with massacres and brutalities for anyone who opposes them. It is accused of gross human rights violation and ethnic cleansing by the UN and Amnesty International. The IS’s stated objectives are to eliminate obstacles to restoring God’s rule on earth and to defend the Umma (Muslim community) against non-believers. Western forces have been involved in an ongoing war with the IS. In 2017, the US military reported that the terrorist organisation now holds less than 2% of the territory it had once captured. The IS is known for its videos of beheadings and executions.
The organisation was founded by a Jordanian named Abu Musab al-Zarqawi under its previous name. Today, the head of the ISIS is Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Many terrorist organisations in different countries have declared their allegiance to ISIS. It is also sometimes referred to as Daesh.