The organization known today simply as the “Islamic State” has historical and ideological roots that go beyond the territories it now controls. These deep roots give ISIL confidence that it will succeed but give others reason that it will fail. Mixing a puritan religious and political discourse, ISIL managed to dominate all other armed opposition groups in conflict zones (Somalia, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Libya) and has inspired individuals in many other countries (Pakistan, France, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Tunisia) to carry out brutal attacks in its name. An attempt will be made to place the rise and future of ISIL in religious, historical, and political contexts.
Ahmed E. Souaiaia is an Associate Professor of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies with join appointments in Religious Studies, History, International Studies, and College of Law at the University of Iowa. He is the author of a number of books, articles, and essays.