The Movement that Seeks a State

Though much ink has already been spilled regarding the Islamic State’s theology, it is important to place this group within the wider movement of political Islam that emphasizes Salafism. Salafism has a lengthy history, and has been mustered to support nationalistic insurgencies as well as transnational terrorist networks well before the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. While the tenets of Salafism are deceptively simple, the implementation of these ideas varies greatly.

To call this simply a religious matter neglects the clear manipulation of religion by some Salafist movements for political purposes. At the same time, to ignore the theological undertones in these movements risks missing key insights. The Islamic State is merely the latest network to appropriate Salafism. Prior to the Arab Spring, Al Qaeda was the most widely known Salafist group advocating anti-establishment upheaval. But it too, was not the first militant Salafist organization or movement. As the the Islamic State will not be the last. Analyzing the ideological underpinnings of these movements is vital to anticipating future challenges and opportunities. While militant Salafism is expanding in the region, there is also an expansion of Iranian supported Shia militias. These trends present a staggering risk for conflict, a fact that Western policymakers seem to want to ignore.

A Baseline of Understanding

Salafism is a religiously based sociopolitical movement that has generated numerous interpretations despite its apparently simple call to live like the first generation of Muslims. Salafists traditionally have been of the “quietist” variety, a term used by Joas Wagemakers to describe the movement’s focus onda’wah, or proselytizing. This quiet focus was adopted because of a perception that society was not yet prepared to return to the idealized sociopolitical practices of Prophet Muhammad’s and his followers. Quietist Salafists have also tended to support Muslim rulers, even autocrats with secular leanings.[1]This support stems from the belief that excommunication, takfir, of a fellow Muslim was such a serious matter that it should only be undertaken when absolutely certain. It was more prudent to point out a sinful act instead of accuse a fellow Muslim of infidelity.[2] These interpretations within Salafism were convenient for Muslim heads of state, providing flexibility with policy as long as some deference was provided to faith.

Sayyid Qutb (Wikicommons)

Sayyid Qutb (Wikicommons)

In response to repression and the perceived failings of secular statecraft, prominent Salafists started to challenge this apolitical interpretation. One of the most influential voices in this was Sayyid Qutb, who argued that Muslim rulers should be opposed, perhaps violently, because they were following secular forms of governance. He referenced back to Ibn Taymiyya, an important scholar during the Mongol era, who justified fighting Mongol invaders in the Arab world because these invaders maintained heretical practices despite converting to Islam. Using any form of worship or governance that was not expressly part of early Islamic teachings is considered by more radical Salafists to be a violation of the unity of God, as the sole spiritual and legal authority.[3] According to Qutb, referencing Ibn Taymiyya, it was acceptable to excommunicate Muslim leaders who replaced God’s legal authority with secular institutions. These ideas were seized upon by fellow Egyptian Ayman al-Zawahiri and the leadership of Al Qaeda. A similar interpretation of excommunication was developed by Ibn Wahhab, who was and remains influential in Saudi Arabia. His focus on apostasy further detailed practices that could also be considered heretical including prayer to saints or the adulation of shrines.[4] Quintan Wiktorowicz speculates that during the anti-Soviet conflict in Afghanistan, these two interpretations of apostasy were shared by Egyptian and Saudi militants, producing the theological beliefs of Al Qaeda.[5] Ibn Taymiyya’s interpretation of God’s sole authority in spiritual and political matters was influential in the anti-colonial rebellions of the nineteenth century in Pashtun lands as well. From these fighters and their theological interpretations, one can draw a direct link to the Deobandi school in Afghanistan and Pakistan as well as the writings of Qutb.[6]

Bin Laden’s command center in Pakistan (Wikicommons)

Bin Laden’s command center in Pakistan (Wikicommons)

Salafist militants have also differed over launching defensive versus offensive operations, the targeting of civilians, and the acceptability of suicide attacks. Different groups have referenced different teachings or historical incidents to justify the applicability of their tactics and strategies. As a result of different emphasis on sources, there is a degree of interpretive flexibility in Salafist militancy.[7] Defensive jihad can be waged by a group without full authority over a territory or a people. Offensive jihad, on the other hand, requires the authority of a Caliph.[8] Al Qaeda has interpreted Salafism as justifying attacks against the secular regimes in the Islamic world as well as their enablers — the often cited near and far enemies. While Al Qaeda has an expansive view of acceptable civilian targets, the group has also been critical of too much violence directed against Muslims by militant Salafists.[9] Zawahiri advised the emir of Al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, to minimize casualties among the faithful and build an emirate which could one day potentially become a Caliphate. In Zawahiri’s interpretation of Salafism, targeting Shia was a mistake because the majority of them were innocents merely practicing the faith they had known all their lives. Ultimately, the Caliphate would be critical to uniting all Muslims under one authority and taking offensive actions against neighboring regimes as well as Israel.[10] The fissures between Zarqawi and Al Qaeda that played out during the US occupation of Iraq have ruptured once again. The organization that evolved from Zarqawi’s bloodthirsty rebellion has declared itself a Caliphate and as such demanded the obedience of the entire Muslim world.

Salafists are also learning that they need to find ways of developing popular support in order to increase the chance of success for these projects.

It is important to note before discussing this split in greater detail that militant Salafists are essentially arguing over the implementation of common principles. These factions do not object to the effort toward building Salafist states.[11] Opponents of the so-called Caliphate of the Islamic State argue that it lacks sufficient territory or clerical support to make such a bold declaration. There have been other state-building projects within the broader Salafist movement. No matter the fate of the so-called Islamic State, militant Salafists will continue to strive for the establishment of a state in the future. Salafists are also learning that they need to find ways of developing popular support in order to increase the chance of success for these projects.[12] Some quietists have broken with the apolitical nature of their interpretations and participated in elections. Setbacks for these democratic-Salafists, such as in Egypt, have encouraged more militant interpretations.

The differences between Al Qaeda’s and the Islamic State’s interpretations hinge largely on the scope of takfir. This and other differences have emerged among bin Laden’s network, but at times these differing groups have managed to work together as well. Western analysts must remember this when studying the latest trends within this movement. Zarqawi received funding from bin Laden and approval to open a training camp in Afghanistan. Zarqawi focused on the near enemy at a time when Al Qaeda targeted the far enemy. There have been numerous reports of some differences between the two, but the exact differences may never be known to us. Al Qaeda declared autocrats and institutions to be apostate, while Zarqawi was convinced that the Muslim world needed to be purged, bloodily, of apostate peoples.[13] Zarqawi’s training camps in Afghanistan included many former prisoners from Jordan.[14] His ideological severity seems more like the beliefs held by Abu Musab al-Suri, who thought that Al Qaeda camps lacked sufficient theological training in the late 1980s and early 1990s.[15] Suri, much like Zarqawi, operated in a semi-independent affiliation with Al Qaeda.[16] Al Qaeda saw itself as an anti-establishment Salafist vanguard, whereas Zarqawi saw his organization as fighting for a new establishment.[17]

Abu Musab al-Suri had links to the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria, which rebelled against the Alawite regime and was mercilessly squashed in the 1980s. Suri was trained in Egypt and in Iraq for the fight against Syrian President Hafez al-Assad. Even one of his Iraqi trainers had a direct link to Sayyid Qutb.[18] After the near destruction of the Syrian wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, Suri went to work with a radical propagandist, Abu Qatada. Qatada advocated the killing of rivals and their family members during the bloody conflict in Algeria, the same fight which gave members of Al Qaeda pause for the amount of Muslim bloodshed.[19] Qatada appears to have had ties with Zarqawi as well, as he provided the letter of introduction for Zarqawi in order to schedule a meeting with bin Laden.[20] In Afghanistan, Suri’s reputation was that of an extremist even among the militants. He killed individuals who wished to leave his group and advocated a wide interpretation of takfir, similar to the beliefs held by Zarqawi.[21] At least one follower of Suri, Amer Azizi, joined Zarqawi’s network in Iraq.[22]

Mugshot of Abu Bakr al Baghdadi (Wikicommons)

Mugshot of Abu Bakr al Baghdadi (Wikicommons)

During the US invasion and occupation of Iraq, Zarqawi came to be one of the most infamous insurgent-terrorist commanders of the conflict. His network, which was merged eventually with the overall Al Qaeda organization, remains active in Iraq and Syria but has undergone a number of changes. The current leader of this network, now calling itself the Islamic State, was declared a Caliph last year. A decade before that title was claimed, he was a Sunni insurgent in an American run jail.[23] Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, now the so-called Caliph, was a key figure in the jail because he seemed to be able to maintain the peace among different factions, according to a fellow prisoner interviewed by The Guardian.[24] Baghdadi appears to have used his role as a “fixer” in the prison to build a greater power base. He held a PhD is Islamic studies and claimed descent from the Quraysh tribe, the same tribe as the Prophet Muhammad.[25] Prisoners developed more expansive networks in the massive jail and taught one another improved tactics.

A Caliphate Born in Prison

According to a secular Kurd who was a high-ranking member of Iraq’s Interior Ministry, the insurgency was significantly aided by the Syrian government in an attempt to discredit the US. As the insurgency faltered during the Sunni Awakening in 2008, Syrian officials met with the Salafists and coordinated with exiled Iraqi Ba’athist officials. Their machinations were introduced to the country when a series of massive bombings took place in Baghdad in the summer of 2009. Baghdadi rose to lead the descendent organization of Al Qaeda in Iraq in 2010 upon the death of Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, who relied upon the Qurayshi PhD as a courier.[26] Two subsequent events would drastically impact the stability of the region. The US military withdrew from Iraq, leaving Nouri al-Maliki with significant control over the country’s fate, and the Arab Spring encouraged a largely Sunni rebellion against Bashar al-Assad, Hafez’s son.

Prior to the revolt against Bashar al-Assad, Salafism did not have many adherents in Syria. The fighting in the 1980s against the first Assad resulted in many deaths and the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria was ostracized.[27] A marginalized segment of the Sunni population would find Salafism appealing as the uprising spread in the wake of the Arab Spring. This segment was not closely tied to pro-government clerics, and was searching for an ideological justification for fighting back against the government’s increasingly brutal crackdown on dissidents. These presented opportunities for the first Salafist militant groups in the country, including Jabhat al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham. More moderate members of the opposition were hoping to replicate the “Libyan model,” seeking international assistance in toppling the autocrat. When that assistance failed to materialize, Salafism and militancy were available as an alternative.[28] Jabhat al-Nusra was initially criticized for its use of violence, but soon adapted to gain more popular support among the opposition movements. Al Qaeda linked clerics endorsed this faction as the best Salafist militant group as well.[29] Jabhat al-Nusra seemed to be following Al Qaeda’s methodology by supporting other radical groups within a broader movement governed by consensus.[30] As Jabhat al-Nusra gained prominence, the Islamic State of Iraq announced that it was the force behind the group and attempted to assert control over the organization.[31]

At the end of 2013 and in the beginning of 2014, other rebel groups began to attack the Islamic State in western Syria, forcing the group to focus on the eastern part of the country adjacent to Iraq.[32] At the same time, the Syrian regime also began to focus more on the rivals to the Islamic State, providing an opportunity for Baghdadi’s group to consolidate in the East.[33] The Islamic State went so far as to kill the leader of Jabhat al-Nusra in Raqqa in December 2013.[34] In an attempt to unify Salafist groups in Syria, Zawahiri designated a long-time Al Qaeda associate as a mediator in the dispute. Abu Khalid al-Suri had a lengthy career with Salafist militancy and spent much of that time with Abu Musab al-Suri. As their noms de guerre indicate, both men were from Syria. Abu Khalid was a top commander in Ahrar al-Sham and may have been viewed by Zawahiri as a potential honest broker in the dispute.

The Islamic State’s history in Iraq demonstrates a willingness to assassinate rivals in order to consolidate power.

As Aron Lund points out, Abu Khalid had a more “nuanced” relationship with Al Qaeda than some reports indicate. His long affiliation with Abu Musab, including a stint rebelling against Hafez al-Assad in the 1980s, indicates that he was in fact not a part of Al Qaeda but would have worked alongside the group on numerous occasions. Both Abu Khalid and Abu Musab had ties with the Madrid 2004 bombing cell. His role in Ahrar al-Sham, and potentially his ties to Al Qaeda, had been minimized with an alternate nom de guerre prior to his designation as a mediator among militants.[35] Nonetheless, Abu Khalid was a bona fide Salafist militant and terrorist committed to a largely compatible interpretation of Salafism as that held by Al Qaeda. He along with another commander were killed in early 2014. Ahrar al-Sham has accused the Islamic State of orchestrating the attacks, although there has been no claim of responsibility. The Islamic State’s history in Iraq demonstrates a willingness to assassinate rivals in order to consolidate power.

Finding Allies

Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) have long had a dubious relationship with Shia militias.[36] These militias, long supported by Iran, were responsible for death squads that killed thousands of Sunnis during the US occupation.[37] As the US withdrew from Iraq, Maliki sought to monopolize control of the security establishment. Politically motivated prosecutions were leveled against prominent Sunni officials in the government, forcing some to flee.[38] The government also would not integrate the militias from the Sunni Awakening, which had fought against Al Qaeda in Iraq, into the state’s security apparatus. However, even some of the most terrible Shia militias were integrated into the government’s security forces. Demonstrations were held in response to these policies in Sunni regions of Iraq. In the spring of 2013, government forces killed demonstrators in Hawija. Sunni politicians that remained involved with the central government immediately lost standing within their communities. Increasing sectarian violence in 2013 provided an opportunity for the Islamic State to reassert its control in Sunni areas of Iraq.[39] Initially, the Islamic State would work with other insurgent groups, but after government forces were routed the Islamic State would consolidate power either by expelling rivals or killing them.[40]

By establishing a Caliphate, the Islamic State was attempting to demand obedience from all Muslims in the world.

As the conflict in Iraq escalated, Maliki portrayed the clash in sectarian terms, even going so far as to suggest that the direction of the qibla shift from Mecca to Karbala.[41] This statement is impossible to overemphasize. The Prime Minister of Iraq was advocating a shift in the focus of daily prayer to an important city in Shia Islam. The Islamic State, with a unified territory along the borders of Syria and Iraq, asserted that it was now a Caliphate. By establishing a Caliphate, the Islamic State was attempting to demand obedience from all Muslims in the world. The Caliphate likely was also a strategically timed declaration in the ongoing conflict within Salafist militant groups as well as a way to continue attracting recruits. Increasingly radicalized actions and rhetoric within the region have also likely influenced this decision. This state-building project had been tried by the followers of Zarqawi before.

Some within the Islamic State thought claim of statehood in 2006 was too premature, attempting to overcome battlefield weakness with a proclamation they were not yet ready to realize.[42] The Islamic State gained a significant infusion of fighters after the declaration of a Caliphate.[43] The group has also emphasized the provision of social services within territory it controls, indicating that the group has learned from its first state-building efforts in 2006 and 2007.[44] The Islamic State is also trying to recruit and utilize more skilled individuals as it takes over state institutions in areas it controls.[45] The Islamic State invests the most resources in strategically important areas where it believes it can maintain control.

The Islamic State uses its extreme interpretations of takfir and Salafism to justify the group’s brutality. New recruits are quizzed in theology, but not all recruits join the group for religious reasons.[46] Sharia training is part of the organizations indoctrination process, and those that question the brutality of the group are re-educated in the specific interpretations the group has derived from religion and history.[47] More senior members of the organization focus on strategic works from militant Islam including Abu Bakr Naji’sManagement of Savagery. Naji viewed politics as essential to the militant movement, and stressed the need to communicate Sharia-based justifications through propaganda. He wrote that this was the means through which a movement could build a state.[48]

The Islamic State stresses particularly “arcane” episodes from the earliest days of Islam, often using obscure punishments that are then broadcast by its extensive propaganda machine.[49] Hassan Hassan has noted that if a Salafist were to seek out explanations for such brutality, supporters of the Islamic State would be more willing to discuss the underlying logic and the particular episodes the group is seeking to emulate. In a way, the Islamic State projects its shared ideological history on all militant Salafists with the most brutal version of the movement. It dares these militants to accept the logic of the so-called Caliphate, which would necessitate joining the movement. While graphic punishments are a means of terrifying the population into obeying the Caliphate, they also serve as a propaganda message to Salafists around the world, demonstrating that the punishments and the system of governance from the first generation of Islam are once again in place.[50]

Abu Khalid al-Suri, who was likely assassinated in early 2014 by the Islamic State, is one example of so-called Afghan Arabs, militants who participated in the anti-Soviet conflict, operating in Syria.[51] The older generation of militants making their way to Syria may have presented the Islamic State with a challenge to their vision of exclusive political authority. The Islamic State also recently released an issue of Dabiq, its occasional online magazine, which accused Al Qaeda of deviating from Salafism with its embrace of Deobandi Islam and the Taliban. The article, with the title “Al Qaeda of Waziristan,” was written by an apparent former member of Al Qaeda, accused fighters in Asia of practices that would seem questionable to some militant Salafists. The publication also accused Al Qaeda of sending adherents to Syria in order to assert control over the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra. In this issue ofDabiq, the sixth edition from the terrorist group, bin Laden’s hesitation to declare Muslim leaders apostates is also referenced.[52] Interestingly, in this issue of Dabiq it is Zarqawi who convinces bin Laden to declare the rulers of Saudi Arabia and their armies to be apostates. In some versions of this story, it was Abu Musab al-Suri who advocated declaring the Saudi royal family apostates a decade before this alleged discussion.[53] The former Al Qaeda militant also includes the rulers of Muslim autocracies and their entire armies to be apostates. This is an expansive version of takfir including potentially hundreds of thousands of Muslims as targets for excommunication and death, something Al Qaeda has always sought to avoid but the Islamic State seems willing to attempt.

The Situation as it Stands

While the Islamic State has increasingly been attacked by Western and regional powers, it is unlikely that the Sunni insurgencies in both Syria and Iraq will end peacefully in the near future. Another version of the Sunni Awakening is unlikely while Iraqi politics remain sectarian and polarized, and while Iraqi Security Forces operate alongside Shia militias as they have done in 2014 and 2015.[54] The newest Interior Minister in Iraq is a member of the Badr Organization, a group led by Hadi Al-Amiri. Amiri is a former death squad commander who had a fondness for drilling Sunni skulls. Badr had sought to place Amiri in this important security post, but settled on a compromise.[55] It is doubtful that this compromise will engender much optimism from the Sunni community. The Islamic State represents a joining of the Syrian and Iraqi conflict among Sunnis and at the same time this has occurred among Shia militants. Shia militants from Syria have traveled to fight the Islamic State and other Sunni factions in Iraq.[56] Iran has been deeply involved in supporting Shia militias as has Lebanese Hezbollah. The Islamic State’s broad interpretation of takfir and their willingness to kill innocent Shia encourages extremism among the Shia communities of Iraq and Syria. A vicious cycle of sectarian violence appears to be prevailing in the region.

Salafism has appealed to opposition groups across a broad stretch of the Islamic world. In the North Caucasus much like in Syria, Salafism emerged as a unifying force even though it had little previous influence in the region. In that region of the world, local Islamic authorities were also seen as corrupt and beholden to the regime, with Salafism offering a sociopolitical order and a unifying ideology to replace those in power. Also as in Syria, repression from the ruling elites and an influx of Salafist-terrorists hardened the rebellion into one with extremist religious overtones.[57] Now, fighters from the North Caucasus as well as Afghanistan and Pakistan have joined their Arab coreligionists to fight the autocrats of the Middle East.

Despite Salafism’s apparent simple sociopolitical program, there have been three main interpretation within the Salafists movement: Quietist, Democratic, and Militant. Quietists have focused on preparing society for a return to an idealized form of governance. The democratic-Salafists, sought to gain power through elections. With the fall of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, this segment of the movement has hit a significant setback. However, the involvement with elections indicates that innovation within Salafism can occur. More ominously, however, militant Salafists are also innovating new methods of state-building as well as broader definitions of excommunication. Understanding the ideology behind these movements is critical to addressing potential challenges to peace and stability. It should also be noted that Salafist militancy seems to be more radicalized, especially with Iran gaining greater influence in the Middle East. As Quintan Wiktorowicz has observed, there has been an “erosion of critical restraints used to limit warfare and violence in classical Islam” that helped Islam to reach its highest cultural contributions.[58] The militant factions within the movement have attempted state-building and this is likely to continue. Prominent thinkers in this movement have studied successful insurgencies from around the world as well.[59] The autocrats of the Middle East now face a significant challenge against the legitimacy and integrity of their states. There is a danger that the militant faction of Salafism will improve upon state-building and create further challenges for us all.

Chris Zeitz is a veteran of military intelligence within the U.S. Army who served one year in Afghanistan. While in the Army, he also attended the Defense Language School in Monterey and studied Modern Standard Arabic. He is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Diplomacy from Norwich University. The opinions expressed are his alone and do not reflect those of the U.S. Army, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.

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[1] Waagemakers, J. (2015, January 27). “Jihadi — Salafi Views of the Islamic State,” Monkey Cage Blog of the Washington Post, Accessed from:

[2] Wiktorowicz, Q. (2005). “A Genealogy of Radical Islam,” Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, 28, p. 77.

[3] Wiktorowicz, p. 78–80.

[4] Wiktorowicz,, p. 81

[5] Wiktorowicz,, p. 83

[6] Wiktorowicz, p. 78; Roy, O. (1990). Islam and Resistance in Afghanistan. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p. 56–67

[7] Wiktorowicz,, p. 76

[8] Wiktorowicz,, p. 83–84

[9] Wiktorowicz,, p. 89

[10] Wright, L. (2006, September 11). “The Master Plan: For the New Theorists of Jihad, Al Qaeda Is Just the Beginning,” The New Yorker, Accessed from:

[11] Wagemakers, J.

[12] Wagemakers, J.

[13] Zelin, A. (2014). “The War between ISIS and al-Qaeda for Supremacy of the Global Jihadist Movement,” The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, p. 2–3 Accessed from:; Wright

[14] Zelin, p. 2

[15] Wright

[16] Cruickshank, P. & Hage Ali, M. (2007). “Abu Musab Al Suri: Architect of the New Al Qaeda,” Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, 30, p. 2

[17] al-‘Ubaiydi, M., Lahoud, N., Milton, D. & Price, B. (2014) “The Group that Calls Itself a State: Under-standing the Evolution and Challenges of the Islamic State, Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, p. 3 Accessed from:

[18] Cruickshank & Hage Ali, p. 3

[19] Cruickshank & Hage Ali, p. 4

[20] Lister, C. (2014), “Profiling the Islamic State,” Brookings Doha Center Analysis Paper, p. 6 Accessed from:

[21] Cruickshank & Hage Ali, p. 7

[22] Cruickshank & Hage Ali, p. 9–11

[23] Chulov, M. (2014, December 11). “ISIS: The Inside Story,” The Guardian, Accessed from: February 9, 2015.

[24] Chulov

[25] Chulov

[26] Chulov

[27] International Crisis Group. (2012, October 12), “Tentative Jihad: Syria’s Fundamentalist Opposition,” Middle East Report No. 131, p. 4. Accessed from:; Schanzer, J. & Tahiroglu, M. (2014). “Bordering on Terrorism: Turkey’s Syria Policy and the Rise of the Islamic State,” p. 8–9 Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Accessed from:

[28] ICG p. 1–7

[29] ICG, p. 11–13

[30] Caris, C. & Reynolds, S. (2014). “ISIS Governance in Syria,” Middle East Security Report No. 22, Institute for the Study of War, p. 10 Accessed from:

[31] al-‘Ubaiydi, M., Lahoud, N., Milton, D. & Price, B. p. 16; Lister, p. 13

[32] al-‘Ubaiydi, M., Lahoud, N., Milton, D. & Price, B. p. 21; Lister, p. 13–14

[33] al-‘Ubaiydi, M., Lahoud, N., Milton, D. & Price, B. p. 24–25

[34] al-‘Ubaiydi, M., Lahoud, N., Milton, D. & Price, B. p. 17

[35] Lund, A. (2014, February 24) “Who and What Was Abu Khalid al-Suri Part I,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Accessed from:

[36] al-‘Ubaiydi, M., Lahoud, N., Milton, D. & Price, B. p. 22–71

[37] Morris, L. (2014, October 18). “Appointment of Iraq’s New Interior Minister Opens Door to Militia and Iranian Influence,” Washington Post, Accessed from:

[38] Visser, R. (2014). “Iraq’s New Government and the Question of Sunni Inclusion,” CTC Sentinel, 7 (9), p. 14–16.

[39] Adnan, S. & Reese, A. (2014). “Beyond the Islamic Insurgency: Iraq’s Sunni Insurgency,” Middle East Security Report No. 24, Institute for the Study of War, p. 4, 10–13 Accessed from:

[40] Adnan, S. & Reese, A. p. 16–17

[41] al-‘Ubaiydi, M., Lahoud, N., Milton, D. & Price, B. p. 23

[42] al-‘Ubaiydi, M., Lahoud, N., Milton, D. & Price, B. p. 19

[43] al-‘Ubaiydi, M., Lahoud, N., Milton, D. & Price, B. p. 43

[44] al-‘Ubaiydi, M., Lahoud, N., Milton, D. & Price, B. p. 65–67

[45] al-‘Ubaiydi, M., Lahoud, N., Milton, D. & Price, B. p. 75

[46] Hassan, H. (2015, January 24). “The Secret World of ISIS Training Camps — Ruled by Sacred Texts and the Sword,” The Guardian, Accessed from:

[47] Hassan, H

[48] Wright, L. (2006, September 11). “The Master Plan: For the New Theorists of Jihad, Al Qaeda Is Just the Beginning,” The New Yorker, Accessed from:

[49] Hassan, H

[50] al-‘Ubaiydi, M., Lahoud, N., Milton, D. & Price, B. p. 70

[51] Lund, A. (2014, February 25) “Who and What Was Abu Khalid al-Suri Part II,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Accessed from:

[52] Joscelyn, T. (2015, January 5). “The Islamic State’s Curious Cover Story,” Long War Journal, Accessed from:

[53] Cruickshank, P. & Hage Ali, M. p. 2

[54] al-‘Ubaiydi, M., Lahoud, N., Milton, D. & Price, B., p. 79

[55] Morris, L. (2014, October 18). “Appointment of Iraq’s New Interior Minister Opens Door to Militia and Iranian Influence,” Washington Post, Accessed from:

[56] Smyth, P. (2015). “The Shiite Jihad in Syria and Its Regional Effects,” Policy Focus 138, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, p. 2 Accessed from:

[57] Souleimanov, E. (2011). “The Caucasus Emirate: Genealogy of an Islamist Insurgency,” Middle East Policy, 18 (4), p. 159–162

[58] Wiktorowicz,, p. 94

[59] Ryan, M. (2013, September 22). “What Al Qaeda Learned from Mao,” The Boston Globe, Accessed from: