Articles sur Understanding Islamic State

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Iraqi security forces detain a boy after removing a suicide vest from him in Kirkuk, Iraq. REUTERS/Ako Rasheed

How the Islamic State recruits and coerces children

A young boy is strapped with explosives and sent to detonate himself and those around him at a school. An expert on terrorism explains how and why children become embroiled in militant conflicts.
In seeking to understand the roots of Islamic State, we’ve tried to spread the net wide, but make no claim to being comprehensive or having the final word. Reuters/Stringer; David Wise/Flickr; Reuters/Stringer; EPA/Sanjeev Gupta; Reuters/Fadi Al-Assaad; Royal Geographical Society/Wikimedia Commons; Reuters/Stringer; AAP/Asmaa Abdelatif; Reuters/Stringer

How can we understand the origins of Islamic State?

Our series on understanding Islamic State attempts to catalogue many of the forces and events that can arguably have played a part in creating the conditions necessary for these jihadists to emerge.
Without the perfect-storm conditions of post-invasion insurgency, this most potent expression of al-Qaedaism yet would never have risen to dominate both the Middle East and the world in the way that it does. Reuters/Stringer

Out of the ashes of Afghanistan and Iraq: the rise and rise of Islamic State

The final article of our series on the historical roots of Islamic State examines the role recent Western intervention in the Middle East played in the group's inexorable rise.
The century since the first world war is littered with the broken promises of Muslim rulers to bring about a transition to more representative forms of government. AAP/Asmaa Abdelatif

How the political crises of the modern Muslim world created the climate for Islamic State

The rise of Islamic State and its declaration of the caliphate can be read as part of a wider story that has unfolded since the formation of modern nation states in the Muslim world.
Map of the Sykes–Picot Agreement showing Eastern Turkey in Asia, Syria and Western Persia, and areas of control and influence agreed between the British and the French in May 1916. Royal Geographical Society via Wikimedia Commons

The post-colonial caliphate: Islamic State and the memory of Sykes-Picot

The leaders of Islamic State do not see their caliphate as an exercise in theocracy for its own sake, but as an attempt at post-colonial emancipation.
The Crusades evoke a romantic image of medieval knights, chivalry, romance and religious high-mindedness. David Wise/Flickr

Did the Crusades lead to Islamic State?

Representing even the Crusades as wars between Christians and Muslims is a gross oversimplification and a misreading of history.
Islam is a rich and varied religion. EPA/Sanjeev Gupta

Why is Islam so different in different countries?

Since Islam is predicated on law, variations in the interpretation of that law – along with geography and distinct legal schools – have all contributed to differences in the religion.
A flag-waving Islamic State fighter takes part in a military parade along the streets of Syria’s northern Raqqa province. Reuters/Stringer

Understanding Islamic State: where does it come from and what does it want?

How far back in history does one have to go to find the roots of the so-called Islamic State? The first article in our series on the genesis of the terrorist outfit considers some fundamentals.

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