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Tolentino, Kyle Osbert Lim March 6, 2019

2016-00029 GS 197

Rise of ISIS

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria is a phenomenon so terrible and shocking. In essence, it
commits mass atrocities and launches terror attacks abroad. The history of ISIS dates back to 1979, when
the Soviet Union invades Afghanistan to intervene in support of the Afghan communist government in its
conflict with anti-communist Muslim guerillas. Young men from the Middle East flocked to join the rebels.
Among them are Saudi Arabian, Osama Bin Laden, who would later form Al Qaeda and Jordanian, Abu
Musab Al-Zarqawi, who would form ISIS. The Soviets withdraw in 1989 and these Arab rebels return home.
Bin Laden continues to grow Al-Qaeda into a global network while Zarqawi forms his own group but it
wasn’t too successful. In 1996, both of them return to Afghanistan, now ruled by the Taliban. And on
September 11, 2011, Al-Qaeda attacks America through the 9/11 bombings. This prompts the US to invade
Afghanistan where Bin Laden hides in Pakistan while Zarqawi flees to a remote place in Iraq. By 2003, US
invades Iraq; they topple down the rule of Saddam Hussein and disbands the Iraqi army. A lot of Sunni
Iraqi soldiers join the insurgency. Jihadist groups then flood in to fight where Zarqawi is among them.
Zarqawi’s group becomes Iraq’s most ruthless; he attacks Shia, Iraq’s majority, sparking a Sunni-Shia civil
war. Meanwhile Al-Qaeda isolated and weakened attempts to form an alliance with Zarqawi’s group and
forms the Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI). Certainly, AQI exploited Sunni resentment against the Shiites. AQI
recruited Sunni fighters to its cause trying to establish Sunni Islamic control of the previously Shiite-
dominated country. After Zarqawi was killed in a US airstrike in 2006, Egyptian Abu Ayyub al-Masri took
over and announced the creation of the Islamic State in Iraq (ISI). By 2010, however, Masri was killed in a
US-Iraq operation. This opened the door to a new leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. By 2011, United States
withdraw from Iraq. That same year, the Arab Spring spreads across the Middle East. Also in 2011, the
Syrian Civil War took place (Assad V.S. Rebels). In early 2012, Baghdadi sends a top deputy to start a new
Al-Qaeda branch in Syria to fight along the rebels in Syria, known as Jabhat al Nusra. In addition, Baghdadi
attacks a series of prisons in Iraq; he frees former jihadists and recruits new ones, growing stronger and
stronger. In April 2013, he announces that he will be taking control of all al-Qaeda-allied forces in Syria
and Iraq. His group expands to Syria, and becomes known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Al-
Qaeda, however, rejects the Baghdadi’s move and in 2014, al-Qaeda renounces its ties to ISIS. ISIS,
however, grows powerful in Syria partly because Assad tolerates its rise which he does because it divides
his enemies within Syria and foreign powers are too focused on containing ISIS. By June 2014, ISIS has
built an army and launched an invasion in Iraq. The Iraqi army, weakened by corruption, folds with little
fight. Within days, ISIS controls a third of Iraq and a big part of Syria. Today, although the ISIS has largely
weakened, it still remains a threat as it is capable of terrorist attacks as seen in Paris bombings, etc.