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ISIS Risks Everything to Declare a Caliphate

JM Berger JM Berger

After months of gaining territory, weapons, and cash, ISIS is putting its global credibility on the line in a play that could backfire spectacularly.

On Sunday morning, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS, or ISIL, if you must) pronounced the reformation of the caliphate—the historical Islamic state that once stretched over much of the modern-day Muslim world—with ISIS emir Abu Bakr al Baghdadi as the man in charge.
It’s arguably the boldest move yet by the group, which renamed itself simply The Islamic State. But if ISIS isn’t careful, this could be the moment when all of its gains in Iraq and Syria are squandered; when would-be allies are alienated; and when the group’s critics within the jihadi community were proven right all along.
In the statement—released in Arabic, English, German, French, and Russian—ISIS claimed that it…

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