The ter­ror ma­chine

A his­tor­i­cally sound ac­count of the ori­gin, growth and reach Is­lamic State of Iraq and Syria. of the


T bor­der with Iran. By the time U.S. Pres­i­dent Ge­orge Bush in­vaded Afghanistan in 2001 in the wake of the 9/11 ter­ror at­tacks, Zar­qawi had built up a force of 3,000.

Af­ter fighting the U.S. forces in Afghanistan for a while, Zar­qawi, through Iran, came over to Iraq where he found a favourable climate as the U.S. had de­stroyed the Ba’athist state there. The Shias, un­til then sup­pressed un­der Sad­dam, gained power, a devel­op­ment that cor­rob­o­rated Zar­qawi’s the­sis that Shias needed to be put down at any cost. Zar­qawi wanted to es­tab­lish a foothold in “Greater Syria” with a view to es­tab­lish­ing a Sharia-ruled state. He “wel­comed” the on­go­ing sec­tar­ian war in Iraq.

Un­like bin Laden, who car­ried out at­tacks from his hide­out with­out seek­ing to con­trol ter­ri­tory, Zar­qawi wanted to carve out ter­ri­to­rial havens. Al­though a U.S. air strike killed Zar­qawi in June 2006, the or­gan­i­sa­tion that he had built up sur­vived.


The next im­por­tant pro­tag­o­nist is Abu Bakr al­bagh­dadi, a “low-level Is­lamic aca­demic” who rose to be the Caliph of the ISIS. His orig­i­nal name was

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