The Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham, the jihadist group that spans both Iraq and Syria, is no more. Today, the group, which controls vast areas of the two countries, announced the formation of the Caliphate, changed its name to the Islamic State, and named Abu Bakr al Baghdadi (a.k.a. Abu Du’a) as its caliph. Baghdadi is now to be referred to as “khalifah Ibrahim.”
You can read the full text of the announcement, here. The lengthy statement largely defends the Islamic State’s decision to announce the formation of the Caliphate, a controversial move that is sure to send shockwaves throughout the jihadist world. Below is a short excerpt from the announcement:
Therefore, the shūrā (consultation) council of the Islamic State studied this matter after the Islamic State – by Allah’s grace – gained the essentials necessary for khilāfah, which the Muslims are sinful for if they do not try to establish. In light of the fact that the Islamic State has no shar’ī (legal) constraint or excuse that can justify delaying or neglecting the establishment of the khilāfah such that it would not be sinful, the Islamic State – represented by ahlul-halli-wal-‘aqd (its people of authority), consisting of its senior figures, leaders, and the shūrā council – resolved to announce the establishment of the Islamic khilāfah, the appointment of a khalīfah for the Muslims, and the pledge of allegiance to the shaykh (sheikh), the mujāhid, the scholar who practices what he preaches, the worshipper, the leader, the warrior, the reviver, descendent from the family of the Prophet, the slave of Allah, Ibrāhīm Ibn ‘Awwād Ibn Ibrāhīm Ibn ‘Alī Ibn Muhammad al-Badrī al-Hāshimī al-Husaynī al-Qurashī by lineage, as-Sāmurrā’ī by birth and upbringing, al-Baghdādī by residence and scholarship. And he has accepted the bay’ah (pledge of allegiance). Thus, he is the imam and khalīfah for the Muslims everywhere. Accordingly, the “Iraq and Shām” in the name of the Islamic State is henceforth removed from all official deliberations and communications, and the official name is the Islamic State from the date of this declaration.
We clarify to the Muslims that with this declaration of khilāfah, it is incumbent upon all Muslims to pledge allegiance to the khalīfah Ibrāhīm and support him (may Allah preserve him). The legality of all emirates, groups, states, and organizations, becomes null by the expansion of the khilāfah’s authority and arrival of its troops to their areas. Imam Ahmad (may Allah have mercy upon him) said, as reported by ‘Abdūs Ibn Mālik al-‘Attār, “It is not permissible for anyone who believes in Allah to sleep without considering as his leader whoever conquers them by the sword until he becomes khalīfah and is called Amīrul-Mu’minīn (the leader of the believers), whether this leader is righteous or sinful.”
News of the formation of the Islamic State is being celebrated on pro-ISIS Twitter feeds. In the Islamic State-held city of Raqqah in Syria, jihadists reportedly celebrated in the center of the city:
In addition to the announcement of the establishment of the Islamic State, the jihadist group released videos, including one titled “Breaking of the borders,” which featured Islamic State military commander Omar al Shishani (the Chechen) and Abu Muhammad al ‘Adnani, the group’s official spokesman. The two men celebrate the capture of a base on the border as well as the confiscation of a large amount of military equipment.
In a second video, titled “The End of Sykes-Picot,” a Chilean member of the Islamic State discusses the destruction of the border between Iraq and Syria. He speaks in English, and raises the flag of the Islamic State over the outpost.
The videos are of a piece to herald the establishment of the Islamic State.
Al Qaeda has yet to respond to the announcement by its erstwhile branch. Al Qaeda disowned the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham after it attempted to take over the jihad in Syria and overrule the Al Nusrah Front, which was established by ISIS and al Qaeda.
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.