Recent statements by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, and an alleged new group called the “Soldiers of the Caliphate in the Land of Egypt” has given rise to speculation that ISIS may be seeking to expand beyond Iraq and Syria into new territories such as Egypt. This fear is compounded by the recent arrest of an individual at the Cairo airport, allegedly seeking to travel to Syria for training with ISIS.
Middle East Security Project
Lauren Squires is a Research Analyst at the Institute for the Study of War. Prior to joining ISW, she worked as an analyst in the intelligence community focusing on the Middle East. Before joining the government, Lauren served as an Active Duty Army officer serving on deployments to Kuwait in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Egypt where she was a liaison at the United States Embassy in Cairo. Her professional work has included support for multiple combatant commands, including CENTCOM, AFRICOM, and EUCOM.
The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham’s (ISIS) assault on the city of Mosul on June 10, 2014 demonstrated its formidable military strength. ISIS’s activities across Iraq and Syria also reveal that the organization is engaged in governance programs, ranging from Shari’a courts to aid distribution and law enforcement. These efforts underscore ISIS’s desire to erect a functional Caliphate within the boundaries of its controlled territory. That effort requires political and religious control in addition to military victory, and ISIS has a vision for how the Caliphate will form. ISIS has begun to explain its grand strategy to achieve this end through extensive public outreach, including a digital magazine series entitled Dabiq. This backgrounder will examine the contents of the first issue of Dabiq in detail, explaining the significance of this strategic messaging approach by ISIS in conjunction with the announcement of a Caliphate.