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Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS)

Near East (North Africa and the Middle East)

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The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) emerged from the remnants of al-Qa’ida in Iraq (AQI). The group adopted the moniker ISIS to express its regional ambitions as it expanded operations to include the Syrian conflict. ISIS was led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who declared the establishment of an Islamic caliphate in June 2014. He was killed on October 27, 2019 during a U.S. military operation to capture him. ISIS exploited the conflict in Syria and sectarian tensions in Iraq, which allowed it to gain control of territory in both countries. In 2019, the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS —consisting of several partner nations and international institutions —liberated all territory controlled by ISIS in Syria and Iraq. Efforts against the group in Iraq, Syria, and other countries continue.

In November 2015, ISIS carried out a series of coordinated attacks in Paris that killed nearly 130 people, including an American, and wounded more than 350 others. In March 2016, ISIS directed two simultaneous attacks in Brussels that killed 32 people, including four U.S. citizens, and injured more than 250 people. In June 2016, a gunman who pledged allegiance to ISIS killed 49 individuals and injured 53 others at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. In July 2016, ISIS claimed an attack in which a terrorist driving a cargo truck attacked a crowd in Nice, France during Bastille Day celebrations, resulting in 86 deaths, including three U.S. citizens. In January 2019, ISIS claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing of a restaurant in Manbij, Syria, that killed 19 people, including four Americans. On Easter Sunday 2019 in Sri Lanka, more than 250 people were killed, including five U.S. citizens, when ISIS-inspired terrorists carried out coordinated suicide bombings at multiple churches and hotels.

On December 17, 2004, the U.S. Department of State designated AQI (now known as ISIS) as a Foreign Terrorist Organization under section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as amended. Previously, on October 15, 2004, the Department of State designated AQI as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist pursuant to Executive Order 13224, as amended. As a result, all of ISIS’s property, and interests in property, subject to U.S. jurisdiction are blocked, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in any transactions with ISIS. It is a crime to knowingly provide, or to attempt or conspire to provide, material support or resources to ISIS.


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