Understanding the Islamic State—A Review Essay

Daniel Byman
2016 International Security  
Politicians and pundits alike appeared shocked when the Islamic State conquered vast swathes of Iraq in 2014, punctuating its prowess with highly publicized beheadings, systematized sexual slavery, mass killings of religious minorities, and other atrocities. Although the Islamic State changes its name regularly, the group is by no means new: its predecessor organization emerged after the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq and quickly assumed an important role in the overall insurgency. The apparent
more » ... -led success in beating it back by the end of the decade, however, led U.S. leaders to assume that the group was moribund, and it ceased to be a priority. 1 This neglect continued even after the civil war in Syria
doi:10.1162/isec_r_00235 fatcat:chpk3pvmfveyxfmv6aqoc4izta