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  • 2004, in response to the American invasion of Iraq, Abu Musab al Zarqawi establishes

  • al Qaeda in Iraq, calling for all holy Muslim warriors to resist the foreign invaders.

  • The impact is immediate, as veteran al Qaeda operatives begin to train raw recruits from

  • all across the world who flood into Iraq and Afghanistan via neighboring nations.

  • The US responds with a massive manhunt for al Zarqawi and his senior lieutenants, eliminating

  • a number of them over the coming months.

  • June 7th, 2006, closely monitored by US special forces acting on intelligence tips from Jordanian

  • and Iraqi sources, Zarqawi is observed entering a remote farmhouse for a meeting with several

  • of his lieutenants.

  • Seconds later two 500 pound bombs smash into the building.

  • Zarqawi is observed crawling out of the wreckage, severely wounded.

  • US troops arrive in time to load Zarqawi on a stretcher and provide first aid, but he

  • dies an hour later from injuries

  • The strike slows al Qaeda down briefly, and four months later on October 15th, the Islamic

  • State in Iraq is established.

  • Many al Qaeda fighters join under the banner of ISI.

  • Early the next year a massive surge in US combat troops leads to some of the largest

  • post-invasion battles of the campaign, and ISI suffers severe setbacks.

  • One year later, ISI has lost nearly 75% of its members, and the flow of foreign fighters

  • into Iraq at last slows to a trickle.

  • On the ropes, in 2009 ISI receives an unexpected boost when Iraq's Prime Minister begins to

  • target Sunni leadership in an attempt to consolidate political power.

  • Many Sunnis react by allying themselves with various factions opposing Maliki's government,

  • with ISI taking the forefront in the fight against Maliki and his American allies.

  • Seizing the initiative, ISI launches a deadly suicide bombing campaign across Iraq- repeatedly

  • targeting Baghdad markets and killing hundreds.

  • The attacks net ISI many fresh recruits, eager to overthrow a prime minister now seen as

  • a 'Saddam in the making'.

  • The US continues a global offensive against al Qaeda, crippling its ability to conduct

  • terror operations in Iraq and South East Asia.

  • Many warn however that al Qaeda is simply being absorbed into ISI, and that the US's

  • vengeful focus on the terror group responsible for the 9/11 attacks makes for good headlines,

  • but is ignoring the rising threat of other terror groups such as ISI.

  • In April of 2010, a re-focused US military conducts a joint raid with Iraqi security

  • forces to arrest or eliminate Abu Omgar al-Qurashi al-Baghdadi, the current leader of ISI.

  • Friendly forces surround a safe house and storm the complex, killing al-Baghdadi, his

  • son, and ISI's Minister of War Abu Ayyub al-Masri.

  • The arrest of 16 fighters and the seizure of a treasure trove of documents and computers

  • is an intelligence goldmine for US and Iraqi forces.

  • (use photo https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abu_Omar_al-Baghdadi#/media/File:Abu_Omar_al-Baghdadi.jpg)

  • Shortly after the raid, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi is named successor and assumes command of

  • ISI.

  • With the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011, Baghdadi senses a golden opportunity

  • and dispatches operatives to Syria in order to raise and train an army with the purpose

  • of overthrowing the Syrian regime and claiming the country as an independent Islamic state.

  • The Al-Nusra front is established and begins to campaign against both government forces

  • and pro-democracy rebels.

  • The US responds to the Syrian civil war with support for the pro-democracy rebels.

  • However, intelligence operatives warn that it is very difficult to ascertain which anti-government

  • rebel groups are friendly to the US and which are friendly to Baghdadi's Nusra front.

  • In a rush to equip the fledgling rebel movement, many US arms accidentally end up in the hands

  • of ISI operatives.

  • July 2012 marks a year of a reinvigorated ISI campaign in Iraq.

  • With the Syrian civil war acting as a magnet for foreign fighters, many are recruited and

  • redirected into Iraq.

  • ISI begins a year-long campaign of freeing former al Qaeda fighters now imprisoned across

  • the country, The campaign culminates with a raid on the infamous Abu Ghraib prison and

  • the freeing of 500 al Qaeda fighters, swelling ISI's ranks.

  • Simultaneously, Baghdadi moves from Iraq to Syria, announcing the former merger of the

  • Nusra Front and Islamic State in Iraq into the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

  • A small number of die-hard al Qaeda loyalists break off from the fledgling ISIS, but ISIS

  • becomes powerful enough to open up several new fronts in the Syrian civil war.

  • In Iraq, ISIS's 'Breaking the Walls' campaign to free former al Qaeda fighters culminates

  • with attacks on Shi'a communities in a bid to further drive sectarian violence and keep

  • the government and US forces off balance.

  • ISIS fighters now begin a campaign of terror against members of Iraqi's Security Forces,

  • targeting their homes and families, driving many to abandon their posts.

  • ISIS firmly controls several northern and eastern provinces of Iraq, and wide swathes

  • of Syrian territory as well.

  • In December of 2013, ISIS takes Fallujah, the site of two of the US's largest battles

  • against al Qaeda and its supporters in 2003 and 2004.

  • One month later, ISIS brings in the new year by successfully fighting off Syrian forces

  • and seizing Raqqa, proclaiming it the capital of ISIS's new emirate.

  • ISIS now controls vast swathes of eastern Syria, as well as north and east Iraq.

  • A few weeks later, al Qaeda remnants officially break ties with ISIS, seeing their two separate

  • goals as irreconcilable.

  • ISIS wishes to establish a fundamentalist Islamic caliphate, while al Qaeda is still

  • driven to attack the United States and its allies.

  • ISIS offensives in Iraq finally see the group take Mosul, giving them control over virtually

  • all of northern Iraq and securing vital supply lines.

  • ISIS fighters take Badush prison, just northwest of Mosul, and kill nearly 700 Shi'a prisoners.

  • Two days after ISIS' victory in Mosul, Iran security forces are deployed into Iraq to

  • assist Iraqi forces in their campaign against ISIS.

  • Despite being publicly at odds with each other, back channel attempts are made for cooperation

  • between Iran and the US on tackling ISIS, but the efforts lead nowhere.

  • Iranian forces aid Iraqi forces in the recapture of Tikrit, further empowering Iran's influence

  • over Iraq.

  • In late June of 2014, ISIS secures Syria's Deir Ezzor province, giving them free reign

  • to extend badly needed supply lines through Syria and into ISIS territory in Iraq.

  • Eight days later, ISIS rebrands itself as the Islamic State, and declares the establishment

  • of a fundamentalist caliphate extending from Syria into Iraq.

  • Under pressure from the Iraqi government for a month, the US begins airstrikes against

  • ISIS on August 7th.

  • Without follow-on ground forces however the air strikes are largely unsuccessful at slowing

  • down ISIS's rapid spread.

  • By the end of August, ISIS now controls the entire Syrian province of Raqqa.

  • The US responds a month later by extending air strikes into Syria, warning Syrian government

  • forces not to interfere with US air operations.

  • The presence of Russian forces backing the Syrian government complicates the US air war

  • against ISIS.

  • In November, ISIS leaders meet with rival jihadist group rivals, the Jabbhat al Nusra.

  • Despite an attempt to merge the two forces, no such merger occurs- however closer cooperation

  • between the two groups is established.

  • January 26th, 2015- after a four month battle, Kurdish forces with the aid of US and coalition

  • air power and special forces drive out ISIS forces from the border town of Kobani.

  • Turkey remains as unhappy with the border town being in control of Kurdish forces as

  • it was with it being in control of ISIS.

  • In May, ISIS forces defeat Iraqi security forces in Ramadi, placing them less than fifty

  • miles from Baghdad.

  • The US responds with an increase in air strikes, but again, without follow-on ground forces

  • ISIS remains undeterred.

  • Still, the aggressive bombing campaign makes the prospect of pushing to Baghdad an incredibly

  • improbable one for ISIS fighters.

  • The next month, ISIS splinter groups in Yemen claim responsibility for a series of car bombings

  • in the capital.

  • Sensing an opportunity in Yemen similar to that in Syria, ISIS however meets difficulties

  • as both Iran and Saudi Arabia have strong stakes in the country.

  • On the same day as ISIS attacks on the Yemeni capital, Kurdish forces continue their successful

  • campaign to sweep ISIS off the Turkish border, pushing their fighters out of Tal Abyad.

  • Five days later they take the military base of Ain Issa.

  • In September, Russia begins an official air campaign against ISIS- but in reality is heavily

  • targeting US-backed rebels.

  • Despite setbacks along the Turkish border, ISIS influence expands into northwestern Syria

  • as the group takes six villages near Aleppo.

  • Days later, Iraqi forces successfully recapture the Baiji oil refinery, a massive source of

  • revenue for ISIS.

  • On October 22nd, a US special operations soldier is killed conducting a rescue mission of ISIS

  • hostages in northern Iraq.

  • It is the first US casualty in the fight against ISIS.

  • 20 ISIS fighters are killed in the raid, with six more captured.

  • In November, Kurdish forces continue their campaign against ISIS by capturing Sinjar

  • in Iraq.

  • The capture threatens key ISIS supply lines into Syria.

  • With special forces on the ground en masse, the US kills ISIS finance minister Abu Saleh

  • on December 10th in an air strike.

  • The US campaign against ISIS' oil infrastructure is proving devastating for the finances of

  • the group.

  • Three weeks later, Iraqi forces re-take Ramadi with the aid of US air cover.

  • 2016 begins with progress and a reversal for the anti-ISIS coalition.

  • Iraqi forces capture the town of Hit, destroying any hope for an ISIS assault on Baghdad.

  • However, ISIS recaptures several key points along the Turkish border from the Free Syrian

  • Army.

  • Desperate for oil revenues to fund its war, ISIS successfully takes the Shaer gas field

  • from the Syrian government.

  • Meanwhile, in Iraq, ISIS forces are on a steady retreat after a string of Iraqi victories.

  • Iraqi forces with support of US air power and special forces retake Rutbah and advance

  • towards Fallujah, which has become an ISIS stronghold.

  • Simultaneously, the US aids Kurdish forces in an assault on ISIS holdings in north Syria.

  • The group is caught between two pincers and slowly being squeezed to death.

  • In late June, after a fierce battle Iraq retakes Fallujah.

  • Two months later, Egypt kills the leader of the Islamic State in the Sinai Peninsula.

  • From Libya to Iraq, ISIS forces are slowly being squeezed to death as the coalition targets

  • their financial sectors and recruitment networks.

  • From 2016 to 2019, ISIS forces in Iraq and Syria are slowly pushed out of strongholds

  • they have held for years.

  • By spring of 2019, ISIS is no longer considered capable of launching military operations,

  • though many members of the group have gone underground to perpetuate a war of terror

  • across the Middle East.

  • In 2020 ISIS efforts to recruit and train in Africa meet with mixed success, but the

  • group launches a violent offensive of terror across many western African nations.

  • With fresh recruits and the fallout from a global pandemic, ISIS remains poised for a

  • comeback.

  • Now go watch Is It Safe To Live In Syria, or click this other video instead!

2004, in response to the American invasion of Iraq, Abu Musab al Zarqawi establishes

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The Rise and Fall of the Most Radical Group in the World

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    Summer posted on 2021/06/16
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