ISIS: Where did they come from and how powerful are they?

ISIS, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, is discussed daily by the news media and politicians. ISIS is blamed for various events in the Middle East and around the world; various politicians are blamed for the rise of ISIS, or for it’s continued existence; ISIS, or the need to fight ISIS, is used as an excuse or justification for various actions.

The problem with all of these proclamations is that the politicians, journalists and pundits seem to assume a deep public understanding about who ISIS is, their history, where they came from, what they want and how they are faring in their war. This does not seem to be the case, in fact ISIS seems to be a frequent subject of conspiracy theory, fake news and propaganda. (Have a look at the Snopes archive for examples.)

The following list of short videos, articles and other web resources should answer most basic questions about ISIS, their origins and status so that people can have a clear understanding of the group, its history and its current role in the world.


What ISIS Really Wants (the Atlantic March, 2015)
To Defeat ISIS We Need to Understand ISIS (12 part multimedia playlist from the Big Think)
ISIS, A History: How the world's worst terror group came to be (Vox November, 2015)
What Politicians Don't Get About the Islamic State (Politico, Sept/Oct, 2016)
Islamic State group: the full story (BBC, June 2016)

See also:
Snopes archive of ISIS related stories
ISIS archives at