(New York Post) They call themselves the Army of God (Jund Allah) and claim to be fighting to unite mankind under the banner of Islam as “the only true faith.” To achieve that goal, they believe they should revive the Islamic Caliphate, the theocratic empire developed after the death of Prophet Mohammed in 632 AD.
Adepts of the caliphate movement are present throughout the world, including the United States, under different labels. In many places, from the Philippines to Nigeria, passing by Thailand, India, Afghanistan and Syria, they have taken up arms to capture a chunk of territory as the embryo of their dream empire.
In recent months, a branch of the movement, known as Da'esh or the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has been capturing territory in Syria. Last week, it used its Syrian base as a springboard for conquest in Iraq, ending up in control of the western parts of Mosul, the country's third-largest city, as well as parts of Saddam Hussein's native town of Tikrit.
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The group's Syrian possessions include the city of al-Raqqah. That is of some symbolic importance, because for more than 100 years al-Raqqah was capital of one of the greatest caliphates. If Da'esh manages to hang on to its Syrian and Iraqi possessions, it could expand its conquests by annexing parts of Jordan and Lebanon.