ISIS - Militant Jihadist Movement in the Middle East


ISIS stands for Islamic State in Iraq and Levant. It is a radical Islamist group that aims at controlling an own independent state, reaching from Iraq to Lebanon. The movement evolved out of various militant jihadist groups that are followers of the Sunni Islam religion. It grew out of the Iraqi al-Qaeda cell in 2013 but is said to be even more extreme than its predecessors. ISIS originally focused its actions on the Assad regime in Syria, but in the past year has been spreading to Iraq.

Although 60% of Iraqis are Shias, Sunnis were in power throughout the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein. In previous years, Sunnis have been facing widespread discrimination from a Shia controlled government.

Well-equipped ISIS fighters attack Iraqi soldiers and other targets in the region. They control a large part of Iraq and have been marching on to seize Bagdad.

Up to now, ISIS soldiers have been responsible for killing thousands of civilians and kidnapping journalists. They focus on the murder of Shia Muslims as well as Christians. Soldiers carry out beheadings and executions, strictly following Islamic law. The rebel group sets up a black and white flag over the areas that have been captured. It controls courts, schools and other services in places it has conquered.

Areas of the Caliphate that ISIS wants to create

Caliphate that ISIS wants to create

ISIS operates from Syria and is thought to have up to 10 000 soldiers, with more and more rebels joining every day.

The leader of ISIS is Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who was the head of al- Qaeda in Iraq.  ISIS claims that it has also hired jihadist fighters from western countries. The proclaimed aim of ISIS is to create a caliphate throughout the Middle East and Northern Africa.

For western governments, especially the United States, ISIS is spreading more chaos to one of the most unstable areas of the Middle East. After the withdrawal of American soldiers from Iraq, ISIS has moved into a military vacuum that has evolved there.

ISIS gets most of its money from wealthy citizens in the Gulf region who have supported the group’s fight against Syrian president al-Assad. It also controls oil fields in eastern Syria and the northern part of Iraq.

Jihadist fighters of ISIS

Jihadist fighters of ISIS



Related Topics



  • aim = goal, intention, wish
  • although = while
  • beheading = to kill a person by cutting off their head
  • caliphate = a single Islamic state led by a religious and political leader
  • capture = to take control of a place with an army
  • civilian = a person who is not a soldier and does not fight for a country in a war
  • conquer = to take control of a region
  • discrimination = treating a group of people badly, differently than others
  • especially = above all
  • evolve = grow
  • face = deal with
  • head = leader
  • hire = here: to pay someone to fight for a movement
  • throughout = in all of
  • independent = free
  • jihadist = people who believe in a holy Islamic war
  • law = set of rules in a country or religion
  • Levant = old name for the area at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea , including Syria, Lebanon, Israel and parts of Turkey
  • movement = group of people who have the same ideas and believe in the same things
  • originally = at first
  • predecessor = here: the people who had control before today’s leaders came to power
  • previous = earlier
  • proclaim = announce, declare officially
  • reach = to spread from one place to another
  • seize = take control of
  • service = daily jobs
  • strict = exact
  • target = object of attack
  • unstable = unsteady , not safe
  • vacuum = space, emptiness
  • various = different kinds of
  • wealthy = rich
  • well-equipped = here: with modern weapons
  • widespread = very common
  • withdrawal = to pull back