The rise of ISIS – The Express Tribune

August 24, 2014 6:14 PM

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During the worst days of the civil war after the American occupation of Iraq, there was a spate of kidnappings of Western journalists and officials, led by al Qaeda operative Abu Musab al Zarqawi. The frequent beheadings, most notably of American businessman Nicholas Berg, became so notorious that al Qaeda had to issue a message asking to exercise restraint. It is no surprise then, that al Qaeda, of all groups, distanced itself from the depravity of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) endorsing the more ‘moderate’ Nusra Front.

The group had already overrun large parts of north-eastern Syria and northern Iraq; conducted mass executions of Shias; exiled Christians, Yazidis and other minorities; and taken over Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city. It may have launched a full-scale assault on Iraqi Kurdistan, had it not been for...

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