A Brief History of “ISIS”
Islamic State (English) or ad-Dawla al-Islāmiyya (Arabic in the Latin alphabet) or الدولة الإسلامية (Arabic) is what they now call their “Caliphate”. Islamic State sees themselves as the global Caliphate not as a mere terrorist group. They see themselves as the leaders of true Islam (whatever that means) and desire to be the empire of the global Ummah.
Before they entered Syria from Iraq they were “Islamic State in Iraq” (ISI) and before that they were known in the international press as “al Qaeda in Iraq” which was the primary Sunni militant group responsible for the majority of Iraqi civilian deaths and killings of US and Iraqi troops after the fall of Saddam Hussein.
“Al Qaeda in Iraq” was what Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s Jama’at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad (founded in 1999) became when he pledged allegiance to al Qaeda in 2004. Al Qaeda and al Qaeda in Iraq had a very uneasy relationship as al Qaeda “central” (Bin Laden and Zawahiri) opposed the brutal attacks on so many fellow Muslims that Zarqawi saw fit to kill for supporting the new Iraqi democracy or “the US occupation” or for being Shia rather than Sunni.
In January 2006 Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s Jama’at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad (“al Qaeda in Iraq”) joined with other Sunni militant groups to form the Mujahideen Shura Council (MSC). In June 2006 Zarqawi was killed by US bombs in a targeted assassination.
In October 2006 the group declared themselves to be the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) and the leadership was taken up by an Islamic scholar with both a Masters and PhD in Islamic studies whose birth name was Ibrahim Awad Ibrahim al-Badri but who went by many aliases as a jihadist leader, most well known in the international press as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
in 2011 al-Nusra Front (the al Qaeda branch in Syria) was led by al-Baghdadi and he sought to merge it with his Islamic State in Iraq (ISI)/Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/ISIS) group which al Qaeda opposed. This led to the split of the two groups and since that time al Nusra and ISIS have been not only at war with the Syrian government and anti-government Syrian rebels but with each other as well.
Finally in 2014 ISIS/ISIL/EIIL declared themselves to not only be advocates for a new global Caliphate but to be that Caliphate and declared Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to be the Caliph. This means they see themselves as the ONLY legitimate rulers of the entirety of the Islamic world.