The Islamic State of Iraq (ISIS) is headed by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. He transformed a few small terror cells into the most brutal and lethal terror group on earth. Mercy is not in this man’s vocabulary. Abu Bakr picked up the mantle after Abu Omar al Baghdadi was killed in a joint U.S.-Iraqi operation in 2010.
Al-Qaida in Iraq was under the leadership of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi who, in a 2005 letter to the head of Al-Qaida, Ayman al-Zawahiri, put the aims of Al-Qaida in Iraq into four stages;
- Drive America out of Iraq.
- Create a Caliphate in Iraq.
- Use that as a base to attack other countries.
- Attack Israel.
When both al-Zarqawi and al-Baghdadi were killed by American forces it looked as if Al-Qaida was decimated in Iraq, but Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi reformed a weakening terror group by leading it in battle, honing its fighters’ training and experience in Iraq and Syria, and by using political savvy to link his growing group to local and tribal demands and interests. It became both a fighting force and a social benefactor, winning local hearts and minds along a bloody path of victory. He absorbed the al-Nusra Front terror group in Syria into his ranks, demanding their obedience. Seeing the growing threat, Al-Qaida’s al-Zarqawi, from his hiding place somewhere in Afghanistan or Pakistan, criticized ISIS for not concentrating on Iraq. In response, a confident ISIS hit back, accusing the Al-Qaida chief of “Sheikh Osama (bin Laden) gathered all the mujahedeen with one word, but you divided them and tore them apart.”