How the Islamic State grew more powerful

Professor Anna Dimitrova

Ms Dimitrova has a Post-Doctoral research in Political Studies at the CNRS (Paris), Holder of the AUF (Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie) and the FMSH (Foundation House of Human Sciences) Post-doctoral Grant. She is specialist on US foreign policy and doctrines, transatlantic relations, conflict and political risk assessment, and globalization debates.

I was lucky to be student in her class during my first year at ESCE. She is a hardworking professor, aware of political events and global conflicts. For Mrs Dimitrova, “being a teacher is both a vocation and a passion”. She love this job because it allows her to “convey and share with [her] students the concepts and knowledge on topics of international news to help them better understand the world around us. ”

In her class we studied conflicts in the Middle East and that is why I was able to interview on the news in the Middle East and specifically the Islamic State and Al Qaeda although “it is not [her] specialty. ”

Capture d’écran 2015-06-26 à 19.22.53

Members of Islamic State in Syria

Pauline Hofmann – AFP

The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant is the child of the terrible Iraq war. Founded in 2004 during the US occupation, the movement has become so radicalized that even Al-Qaeda is far away. Today, its fighters are threatening to burst the boundaries of the region by proclaiming an “Islamic caliphate” in June 2014 in Iraq and Syria.

According to Anna Dimitrova, we must remember three key dates in the formation and evolution of the Islamic State: October 15, 2006, date of the establishment of the Islamic State of Iraq. Then, in April 2013, the extension of the EII in Syria becomes the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. Finally, June 29, 2014 where the movement takes the name of Islamic State (IS) when he announces the restoration of the caliphate.

The jihadists “want no longer Western presence in Muslim lands and Sunnis who implement a policy of “confessional cleansing” which aims to exclude Christians of the East, but also Kurds and Shia Muslims of the territories they control. ”

For a long time the Islamic State was equated with al Qaeda. The two organizations have the same objectives but differ on how to achieve it. Islamic State was born from the split with the old organization of Osama bin Laden. On 9 April 2013, was born the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant or Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham, better known by its Arabic acronym “Isis” in English. On 29 June 2014, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed himself caliph, the successor of the prophet and took the name of Ibrahim. In fact, linked to al-Qaeda, the real creation Daech was in 2006 when the organization with other groups formed the Islamic State of Iraq.

Although they have common ideologies but for Mrs. Dimitrova Islamic State and al-Qaeda have two differences: “generational and political.” First, the reference experiment al-Qaeda remains that of the Afghan jihad against the Russians in the 1980’s and the fight against the West. For supporters of IE, the reference more recent is that of the jihad in Iraq against the US invasion in 2003. So there is a “generational difference between Islamic State and al-Qaeda”. Second, there are political differences. Supporters of Islamic State prefer directly establish a caliphate on the conquered territory and the establishment of Sharia. Al-Qaeda’s main target the West.

The strategy to counter the Islamic State

US President Barack Obama have minimised the defeat of Ramadi, calling it “tactical setback” but for Anna Dimitrova, “the strategy of bombing the jihadists positions on the pitch, but without ground intervention does not seem very efficient”. However, the sending of ground forces is not possible. But some US officials want a deployment of advisors within the battalions to direct air strikes or Special Forces for targeted actions. The solution to be then “rely more on militias in Iraq and Syria.” However, the Shiite fighters are often hostile to the coalition and some are accused of killing the Sunni population in the liberated areas.

The heads of coalition member states will meet in Paris on Tuesday. The countries of the international coalition led by the United States need to discuss their goals and means against the jihadist group. With over 4,000 air raids in ten months, “the States will have to review their strategy to counter the advance of the Islamic State.”

Interview by Nicolas Crocy

Israel: The Spoiled Child of The International Community

“A new beginning is possible for both countries, but the dialog has to be the base in order to make this happend”

MADRID-Mohammed Amrou is the current Consul of Palestine in Spain. His function is developed within the consular section in Madrid as a diplomatic mission. This is because Palestine has not been yet recognized by Spain as a State, but in November (2014) from the Congress was urged the government to this recognition and to open negotiations for this appointment. Thus, his main function is the documentation and civil registries, but mostly it comes to Palestinian refugees here in Spain due to the fact of the Palestine-Israel conflict, which is taking place since over half a century.

The relationship between Palestine and Spain are fruitful and positive. According to Mohamed, from Arafat’s speech on November 74, the relationship with the homeland of Adolfo Suarez, at that time, began to grow. The PLO doors opened here in Spain (1981) and after opening a general delegation, which grew into a diplomatic mission, where this consul exercises his function.

Notably, despite everything that is said in the media, Mr. Amrou argues that Spain cooperates economic and voluntarily in Palestine. It also highlights the fact of the existence of a commission for cultural exchange as well as a favourable political relationship between the two ministries.

Now if you ask Mohamed about the role of the UN, the reaction is different. Referring to Resolution 242 of 1967, which says “Withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict”, the answer is pretty sharp, because he claims that: “the International Community is the main responsible for the fact that this resolution had not been accomplished”.

According to the diplomat, Israel has never respected what is imposed, since nobody seems to care about them to do it. He also noted other measures, which Israel has turned deaf ears: the construction of the separation wall (2004) and the clause of the sea. He also highlighted the Madrid Conference of 81, in which a solution was promoted. Israel should return to Palestine the occupied territory and in exchange a ceasefire would be established and then, the peace talks could begin in order to finish with the conflict.

Referring to Israel as “the spoiled child of the international community”, highlights the fact that the country of Reuven Rivlin is always rewarded for its settlement policies and the racial separation wall, rather than curb their isolationist measures.

Mainly he refers to the role of the US, a natural ally of Israel because of the oilfields and economic interests in the area. According to Mohamed: “US has not played the role of  loyal arbitrator in the current conflict“. Moreover, he remarks the fact that US did not support any peace initiatives undertaken by the Arab countries, like the measure of 2002.

Introducing us to a current issue such as terrorism, his position becomes much harder, “using religious terminology to justify its actions is hateful, since this is a military matter”. He does not admit that “Jewish State” was the name given, because many other religious communities live in this country and this name would be a clear supremacy of the Jewish religion over other.

To talk about terrorist groups, he traced back to the beginnings of Al-Qaeda with Osama Bin Ladem and Arab Afghans and the role of friend who played the American continent, since according to Mohammed: “the United States was to blame because of the creation of this groups and failure of its politics in the area, in addition to its clear funding to these groups”. He remarks the United States bad move, since although the main reason for the birth and nurture of these groups was fighting the Soviets, now the superpower cannot control the situation and is spreading.

Moreover, if we talk of religious fanaticism, which is currently developing, not only in areas of conflict, but also in Europe, the guilty is the international Community. Mohammed does not understand these migratory movements of young people to war for the Holy Land and clearly defends his position against the Jihadist movement.

If you ask him about a solution to this radicalism, his response is clear “if the conflict ends, these young people return to their homes”, but the executioner to him continue being the International Community and its hobby of ignore  this important subject. Moreover, he also highlights the fact that some countries finance these groups in order to create bilateral relations between them and improve the economy of their own countries at the expense of arms sales.

Finally, looking for a resolution to the conflict his words are: “you cannot make a policy of apartheid as in South Africa with the Palestinian people at the expense of creating a Jewish state.” He argues that in Palestine have always coexisted many communities without any apparent problems. Given the refusal of Israel to return the occupied territory and the non-action by the international community; Mohamed argues that the best solution would be the creation of a binational state in which could coexist peacefully these communities. Moreover, he considers that these religions (Jewish and Muslim) are not so different and that after the resolution of the conflict, these communities will be able to live without bitterness and build a lasting multicultural system in the area.

Mohammed Amrou, interviewed by Alba Cascales.

Mohammed Amrou and me.

A Spring That Lasts Longer Than Three Months

An interview with Luz Gómez García by Ana Miguélez García

Sometimes is important to have opinions that are not obeyed to follow any kind of established idea or government. The vision of Luz Gómez García about the situation of Muslim and Arab societies in Middle East could help us to understand in a better way the situation and culture of these collectives.

First of all, if we want to understand the current situation of this region it is necessary to turn back a few years ago, the start of the liberation revolutions in the Middle East and North of Africa: the Arab Spring.

For Luz Gomez, professor of Arab and Islamic Studies in Universidad Autónoma de Madrid and writer about Middle East current affairs in the Spanish newspaper El País, the Arab Spring could achieve some kind of changes of these countries, but the mistake that Western societies may have done is the fact of thinking that this Spring will last short-term and, it is not just one season, as she said.

Secondly, after the spread of these revolutionary movements, it is important to look the current situation of the countries in this region. An important success of these movements is Tunisia. However, there are lots of differences between this country and others of the region despite its cultural similarities with the area. As Luz Gómez said, “Tunisian society is smaller than in other countries, it has social movements well structured (student movements, women movements, trade unions)”. That is why in this country the success of the riots was easier than in others. Nevertheless, the ease of its success is not only based on domestic policy, the International relations and geopolitics took an important role; Europe interests were not as threaten with the “democratic experiment” in this part as in others (like Gulf Powers or Egypt), as our interviewee explained. Luz Gómez tell about this “experiment” in this Powers minds as the “Exception that proves the rule” in difficulties of Arab countries way to democratic systems.

Connecting the situation in Tunisia with the rest of the region after the movement that named the Arab Spring, it is important to know and take into account the position of Western countries in it. According to Luz Gómez, it is necessary to distinguish in Western two different interests, the one defended by the US and the other defended by the EU, but in general, both parts prefer to let the dictatorships and oppressor regimes rule this region for protecting their own interests (the US has not call the Coup d’état in Egypt as one and the immigrants situation in the Mediterranean Sea). An interesting statement made by my interviewee was: “Until the neighbour at the South of the Mediterranean do not be prosper, democratic and free; Europe will not be prosper, democratic and free”.

Consecutively, one of the most heard and important movements in the Arab Spring was the one in Egypt, which ended with a Coup d’état against the democratic elected president Morsi, member of the Muslim Brotherhood. Here is were I wanted to ask Luz Gómez the meaning and differences of democracy for Arabs societies, but the truth is, as Luz said, the concept of democracy always have been under revision. An example that the interviewee gave us was a century ago when women were not allowed to vote in Europe, but this form of government was called Democracy.

It is in here where the word Democracy and what represents came up in the matter of culture and protection of human rights in Muslim societies, concretely women rights. The main idea that is prevailing in Western societies against this religious culture that is carried as a way of living is the existence of the Hiyab (veil that women carry to cover their hair). But an interesting prospective given by Luz Gómez related to this issue are the reasons of why these women carry the veil. “Sometimes, for westerner people is hard to understand that it (the veil) could be a default sign, in the measure that breaks out with the Western standards that have as a main objective to please NGOs or governments policies that forbid were the veil”. Also, “these women are not interested in removed their veil when organizations and governments are not working in raise the number of proteins that children should have”, this perspective of Luz Gómez have helped me to have a more opened minded about the necessities of these societies and our western concerns about them.

For ending the interview, we also spoke about one of the most important issues that concern the entire world nowadays, the fundamentalist terrorist groups in the Middle East. As Luz Gómez said, it is important to know that ISIS is not the only terrorist group, it is just the newest one (before existed Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, the Mujahidin…). All these groups started with the US policy of arming different groups for being to oppose the regimes of different zones. But once the Afghanistan war ends, the groups that were armed by the CIA and the Pakistani ISI cannot be stopped and controlled.

Here is were Luz Gómez wants to emphasize, International Politics have had an important role in the raise of these groups and not only in this problem about terrorist group, the world is connected, and the interests of the powerful countries will, most of the times, determinate the role and conditions of the others. That is why maybe we should focus our forces in building an international society in which Human Rights and real democracies are above of Interests.

A hard worker in the Middle East.

Ramón Ramirez has been working in Qatar for three years and a half, in the company Qatar Airways as a pilot, he mostly rides on middle or high distance routes, traveling mainly to Europe and Asia, Ramón lives in Doha (Qatar) and has a wife and two children.

So, we first started asking him about how his life is, and if passing from living in Spain to a place with such a different culture was difficult or not, he argued that for him the change wasn’t so much of a big deal, since he had leaved the 3 previous years in Nigeria, he also stated, that passing from Lagos to Qatar has been of great advantage for him, and he has won in every sense. He says: “The difference between Nigeria, one of the worst African countries and Qatar is very significant , I left winning in every way, in Nigeria , there were conditions like malalaria , etc .. that after all , can complicate your life . In Nigeria , I was alone, without family and sons , so the fact of going to Qatar and to take my family with me has been pretty good on a personal level.

But it hasn’t been a path of roses, and several of his colleagues have left, since they couldn’t handle some of the country’s aspects, that can make life completely different from an european point of view.  Regarding the labour conditions that they have in a middle eastern country in comparison with Europe, he states that they are very different, having no syndicates, no workers associations, and there is a lack of places you can ask help for if you’re in this kind of trouble.

So, passing to the aspect of how is it for an european to create a family in a country with such different conditions, such as culture, religion, etc…, he says that it is not easy at all, he needed a great period of adaptation, and

it has been hard sometimes. He is grateful that his kids are able to live in other countries, and get an international perspective of what live is, getting to relate with people from other cultures, and learn the values of respect in a completely globalized world. The hardest aspect for him in the terms of cultural differences, is the one related to the role of the women, he explains: “The ones that definitely pass it worst when adapting themselves to this countries are women,  it’s not nice to come back from a long trip, and having your wife telling you that in your absence se has felt intimidated by wearing a dress that was “too short”, this happens sometimes.”

The last question of this first part, which is mainly focused on a personal level,  is the one of asking him, where does he see himself in 10 years time. He responded that almost 100% in Doha, since he doesn’t see no company in Spain which can offer him similar conditions regarding his salary, his family accommodations, etc. He looks quite happy with his life in the Middle  East, but he also points out the difficulty of  being already 6 and a half years out of his native Madrid (Spain), not seeing some of his family members.

And,  passing to an economic aspect of his country, we asked Ramón about some topics that are of common interest worldwide, regarding the region where he lives, the Middle East.

First of all, we talked about the image that europeans have about Qatar, to what he answered that its absolutely wrong, claiming that every time he returns to Spain on a holiday, he gets asked about either terrorism , or how much money is he earning, since here, according to him, we have the impression that everyone that goes to Qatar is becoming a millionaire. But life is not that easy, even if the salaries are much higher than in Spanish companies, the life in Doha is very expensive, a single-bedroom flat in the center of Doha can cost up to 2.500 Euros per month.

Finally, the question was if the enormous presence of the energies, such as oil and natural gas have a great impact in the country’s economy, to which he responded, absolutely yes, and he set a very good example: “A liter of fuel here costs 0.26$, while in Spain its 1.48$, so filling up my car here costs me about 18 Euros, while in Madrid it will cost me 104 Euros approximately.” So, obviously, there is a great impact regarding energies in our daily life here.

In the end,, by talking to a person like Ramón, we were able to acquire a much bigger perspective of what the day to day life in this countries consists of, and how the life of an expatriate is in the Middle East.

Jaime Furci Estrella.

An Unstable Region of the World For a New Iraq

By Gonzalo Montes Luaces   June 1, 2015

The Prime Secretary of the Embassy of Iraq speaks about the current situation of his country.

MADRID- Mr. Auday Al-Saoudi is the Prime Secretary for political and economic issues of the Iraq Embassy in Madrid. The main reason which I interviewing him it is because I feel a great interest in the region of the Middle East but specially Iraq. A country that after the harsh dictatorship that all the iraqis lived, they are trying to create a new country, with ambition and capacitie but the current events do not allow it. I learn that Iraq desires to become a country as any other one of the region. They are tired of the continous conflicts and problems that they live each day. They have a great ambition to be one day an strong country and they have very good ideas and plans to realize it.

These last weeks the iraqi forces have committed important and big actions against ISIS. Some examples such as “Iraqi forces kill Syrian ISIS commander of Wilayat al-karma in al-karma district” or “43 ISIS elements killed, injured in aerial bombing western Anbar”, says Interior Ministry Iraqi and “police forces kill suicide bomber who snuck into baghdad with refugees”. Regarding the effectiveness and power wich the Iraq Government has proved, the intervention of the international community it could be unecessary.

Mr. Al-Saoudi said during an interview in her office “the intervention of the international community is necessary because it is not just a national problem, it suposses a threat for all the international community”.  In Spain  there are 50 foreign yihadist fighters  in some important cities -he can not especifie more- and France have suffered the consequences of its brutality 5 months ago. So, the help of any country it is “important not just for us but for the world too”, says the prime secretary. He also affirm that even it woukd be better if the international community could help more. They are helping a lot with intelligence matters, training their army forces, aerial attacks etc. but they need more.

After one leading with this national and international threat,  this could be a “good” pretext and situation that maybe will unite the country. Before starting this conflict, Iraq had a part of the population against the government and cases of violence in some regions of the country, but now it seems the population are unite and even more each day passes. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has confirmed the deployment of a convoy with Shia muslim militia and Iraqi forces set out from a base near Ramadi on Saturday who are seeking to retake the capital of the western province of Anbar, an action that proves this possible unification.  Concerning this, the Prime Secretary mentioned since the conflict started all the country understood that there is a common enemy, and this unification becomes in more power. That is the reason of some of the victories against ISIS.

“Not only the shia muslim are attacking and making an alliance with the Government but everyone, shias, sunis, civilian people.”, specifies Mr. Al- Saoudi. These last ones help with information and giving to the army some if tjeir establishments to take rest.

According with past wars and conflicts that the middle east and specially Iraq have suffered among all these last decades, the Iraq Goverment should know if they have a plan of short or long duration to combat, win and end this war. The diplomat said that there is a plan to defeat them-he cannot gives more information-. A plan that pretends to end with this terrible episode in the next months. In the last month important victories have taking part to reach this goal. They have retaken Tikrit, Mosul and Ramadi, these three cities are the most important cities after Bagdad. He emphasized that the Government fight “for the freedom of the people, it is the only thing that matters”.

The actual events that are occurring nowadays with the contribution and help of Iran forces against ISIS, as the battle to retake Tikrit sending Shiite militias fighting on their side, have proved the strong relation between those two countries. The start of new conversations between Mr. President Barack Obama and Iran, few weeks ago, concerning the issue of the nuclear program, a new stage in the diplomatic history of Iran-USA, it will suppose interests for Iraq. Mr. Al-Saoudi says that he “supports the conversations” and the main goal of his country is to leave in peace, they desire it. He thinks that this conversations could accelerate that wish. This nuclear program not only will join Iran with the rest of the world, but also the region of the Middle East. He insists that the new vision of Iraq has as objective “a diplomacy policy with every country, but above all with his neighbors such as Iran.”

The Iraq Government has demonstrated that his main objective for the future is to create a completely new country. It must have a projection or a plan to reach this goal. The Prime Secretary affirms that this plan of Iraq for the future consists in three important aspects. The first one is to open all the embassies around the world, those embassies that were open before Sadam’s regime. At the present they now have 68 embassies in the world but this number is going to increase each year pass. The second objective is to have good relations, and to have an important role in the region and the international community. The third point but not less important is to send national companies to other countries, open the country to multinational companies, invest in the oil to increase the production. Nowadays, the production of oil is 3 million barrels a day, the main goal is to reach in 2020 a production of 9 million barrels a day.

Mr. Auday Al-Saoudi assures again that the only purpose of Iraq is “to leave in peace” and create “a formal State”.

UN’s Decision on Yemen Offers No Solutions

“Two thousand people have been killed and there is more than half a million displaced people, since March.” Yemen is the poorest country in the region and one of the poorest countries in the entire world. The conflict between Rebel forces and loyalist fighters still continues, but the increasing of these confrontations between those two groups have increased since the UN peace talks have been indefinitely postponed.

Hopes for a political solution to the conflict since March fade as violence continues in Yemen’s third city, Taez

A decision making which is correlated with the decision of the exiled president Hadi, who demands Al Houthis withdraws from cities before being allowed to participate. The problem in this difficult aspect is that this decision which has been made by the UN has restarted the attacks. The violence continues in Yemen’s third city, Taez where Shia Houthi rebels bombarded several districts with rocket and tank fire.

“There’s a real massacre going on in Taez, the city that spearheaded the revolt” against former president Ali Abdullah Saleh who now supports the Houthis, one resident said.

The real threat is that with each day pass, the struggle in Yemen becomes more and more difficult to resolve and reach the peace. That decision to postponed peace talks, in Geneva on 28 May, suppose the increasing of civilian people dead, displaced persons, the increasing of famine and the destabilization of this poor country that it will last many years until it recovers all their economical, demographical and political loss. Yemen is not an influential country and it has no power in the international community, as we have seen there is a coalition of nine countries to fight against the Houtis rebels but the truth is that the only country that has intervened in this issue it has been Saudi Arabia. The main reason of this intervention is because it makes border with this country and this could be a threat for its own interests and national security. But it seems that the UN and the exiled president do not see what it is really happening. In recent months Yemen has descended into conflicts between several different groups, pushing the country “to the edge of civil war”, according to the UN’s special adviser.

Map by Louis Martin-Vézian and Evan Centanni.

Yemen is in the grip of its most severe crisis in years, as competing forces fight for control of the country. The Houthis are an opposed group to al-Qaeda who has had a great influence and power in these last years in the Arabian Peninsula. So, as the Houthis are fighting also with Yemen´s al-Qaeda to gain ground and they have reached important victories such as the significant stretches of ground in Radaa, a district in al-Bayda governorate and a traditional stronghold of al-Qaeda in Yemen.

Al Jazeera’s Hashem Ahelbarra, who is a roving Middle East correspondent for Al Jazeera said: “The Houthis say they will continue their fight until al-Qaeda is defeated or evicted from these areas.”

The Houthis say they will continue their fight until al-Qaeda is defeated in its strongholds [EPA]

At this point my dears readers I leave you a question that whoever at home, in his cars, offices etc. can answer as you think and want. The poorest intervention and implication not just of the Arabs countries that can be affected for this conflict but the international community too, could be explained for the positive aspects that the slaughter between the Houthis and al-Qaeda members represent? Taking into account that al-Qaeda has practically no more power and influence after the defeats against this rebel group.


“Fifty prisoners and twelve Iraqi policemen were killed during an escape on Friday night in the prison of Al Khalis, near Baghdad. Some of them during the hunt of dozens of prisoners who tried to escape.”

Iraqi officials argued that the jihadists of the Islamic State (ISIS) were the heads of the organized escape. “ISIS is responsible for these deaths and the escape of some of its members who were detained”, said the mayor of the city.

Earlier in the day, the spokesman of the Interior Ministry gave a meeting with the journalists explaining the current situation and the death of thirty six guards and inmates. The news agency AMAQ, near of the Islamic State, also reports that the jihadi movement is behind this operation. The activists that were equipped with explosives entered in the prison to release thirty detainees and after all of this, they were able to reach the armory. In addition, shiite militiamen attacked the prison and sixty jihadists were killed during the fighting.

On Saturday, the terrorist group said in a statement in their forums that “they have led an attack which concludes to the release of over 30 prisoners”, exalting the chant of a sentiment of proud.

The inmates began to fight between them and the guards intervened. Then, the prisoners attacked the guards, took their weapons and they mutinied after looting the armoury of the prison. The authorities imposed a night curfew in Al Khalis and searching home by home in order to find the fugitives.

“The lack of information is the main explanation for this escape. If we had had information, this would not have happened,” said the mayor of Al Khalis, Uday al-Khadrane. According to this piece of news, 42 prisoners escaped, meanwhile 35 were killed in the conflict. Also six members of the security forces and three civilians, who came to help, were killed. Some of the 88 prisoners were held, including a significant number of dangerous terrorists during the attack.


Civilians and security forces inspect the scene of a car bomb explosion in Karrada neighborhood

Some of the 300 men were convicted because of acts of terrorism and they were serving their sentence in the prison of Al Khalis, 80 km northeast of the Iraqi capital. The head of the security services in the province of Diyala, said: “I am not able to tell if there were important prisoners among them who succeeded to escape”.

Those prisoners had been transferred there a year ago from a Diyala prison, the provincial capital, according with the testimony of Mr. Khadrane. At the time of the transfer, Mr. Khadrane opposed to the project because of the location of the cells. They were too close to the main road and were an easy target, but the authorities did not listen to him. “What happened is dangerous, because Al Khalis is known to be a stable and safe city but clandestine cells develop in safe places, out of control ” concluded the Mayor referring to other jihadist groups like Al-Qaeda or ISIS.

The breakouts are common in the country, especially over the last two years. In July 2013, coordinated assaults against two important prisons near Baghdad had enabled more than 500 inmates to escape, marking a turning point in the rise of ISIS. This organization controls large parts of Iraq. Rapid offensives by the terrorist group in June 2014 resulted in further escapes that allowed EI recruit hundreds of former Sunni prisoners, including in the cities of Tikrit and Mosul, in northern Iraq .