ISIS announces formation of Caliphate, rebrands as ‘Islamic State’

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.

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  • Daniel Lopez says:

    Wow, they sure go through a few names.
    First it was Tawhid Wal Jihad… then Al-Qaeda in Iraq… then Islamic State of Iraq… then Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant…now it’s The Islamic State.
    That’s 5 names in 12 years.

  • Arjuna says:

    One can’t but shudder in horror at the psychopathic levels and types of violence that these animals espouse. I cannot believe this statement was written in 2014. It seems like something out of the Dark Ages. As people say: Iraq is going to get worse before it gets worse. The words speak for themselves.
    And say to them, “We spilled rivers of our blood to water the seeds of the khilāfah, laid its foundation with our skulls, and built its tower over our corpses. We were patient for years in the face of being killed,
    imprisoned, having our bones broken and our limbs severed…
    We took it forcibly at the point of a blade.
    We brought it back conquered and compelled.
    We established it in defiance of many.
    And the people’s necks were violently struck,
    With bombings, explosions, and destruction…
    Having greedily drunk the blood of kufr.”
    Drinking blood is probably literal, given the cannibalism videos I have seen from Syria. I fear this is not going to end well for the whole world. People this crazy have human rabies and must be exterminated. Where is the Orcon Man?
    “Patient for years” in the face of being imprisoned is very accurate. The global rash of jailbreaks are the most effective element of the enemy strategy in my view. They gain strength from adversity, and springing the hardest, most dedicated fighters from jail, brimming with operational zeal, is as good as it gets for them.
    What are we doing? Retreating, blaming our Allies for our defeats and trading five enemy leaders for one Sad Sack deserter. Bad, bad, bad, bad, bad. We don’t deserve to win, yet.

  • The Truth Hurts says:

    Bush invaded Iraq and destabilized the region. We can thank Bush for ISIS.
    ISIS was originally known as “ISI” for the “Islamic State of Iraq” and was formed in 2003 following Bush’s invasion. The additional “S” was added during the Syrian civil war.

  • J.C.B. says:

    I expect silence from Al-Qaida central, push-back from conventional Muslims–each wedded to his own version of Islamic status quo, and delirious enthusiasm from idealist jihadists and their hyper-puritanical co-religionists.
    If this Islamic State continues its string of successes–and ultimately takes Baghdad for any length of time, I expect that millions more Muslims will embrace IS and its Khalifah Ibrahim

  • Henri says:

    Huge gamble, Al-Baghdadi will be in AQ Sights going forward, he just made Zawahiri cry for attention.

  • Joy says:

    ISIS most likely will get broken apart eventually. ISIS by itself is not the worst that has happend. The worst is that ISIS has managed to seed a concept of a Islamic khilafah where the religion will be practiced pure and to an islamic mind be an all powerful entity.
    people might have their differences with ISIS but by now millions would have had an exposure to the idea of in reality recreating an islamic khilafah back again. this is now moved out of heing a romantic Idea to being an actual existing reality.
    This has been one persistant belief/romanticisation in the muslim mind that the period when the muslims had the highest Political power in the world was the times of their califs and that power came out practicing pure islam. And that they can reset their current lousy power equation in the world stage by recreating their past self of an islamic supremacy.
    This entire islamic jihad has never been about the religion but about gaining dominant political power and where it can’ t be owing to it being against a too strong an opposition to be able to do a ‘having the demonstable capacity to sock into them’ .
    Of course gaining an over arching power over the islamic world too have been a fundamental motive and objective.
    An islamic califate serves both objective beautifully.
    And for millions of islamic loonies who have fantasized about this for too long now for them the seed has hit the soil.
    Al qaeda is going to start sounding county league and so very benign.


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