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Hot Topics: Terrorism in the Middle East

The various forms of radical Islamist terrorist groups in the Middle East

Alphabet Soup Explained

al-Qaeda (AQ) - a radical Islamist terrorist group whose origins stem from the Soviet war in Afghanistan

ISIS and ISIL - ISIS and ISIL are the same group translated slightly differently (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria or Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant), ISIS is a radical Islamist terrorist group that splintered from al-Qaeda and is based in Syria

IS - (Islamic State) a radical Islamist terrorist group formed from ISIS/ISIL but broadening its geographic area worldwide, claims authority over all jihadist groups

ISIS-K - a regional ISIS affiliate group, based in Afghanistan and Pakistan, led by two former Taliban members; also known as ISIS - Khorasan

JNIM - an al-Qaeda affiliate group in Mali and other nearby parts of West Africa. The acronym stands for Jamaat Nasr al Islam wa al-Mulsimin

Background on Groups


al-Qaeda & ISIS 20 Years After 9/11Wilson Center

al-Qaeda's ResurrectionCouncil on Foreign Relations

al-Qaeda Stanford University

al-Qaeda Core: a short history - Foreign Policy

al-Qaeda Organization & the Islamic State Organization - Strategic Studies Institute

Persistent Threat: The Evolution of Al Qa'ida & Other Salafi Jihadists - RAND


The Islamic State and U.S. PolicyCongressional Research Service

Islamic State of Iraq and Ash-Sham (ISIS) - National Counterterrorism Center

Islamic State of Iraq and The Levant (ISIL) - National Counterterrorism Center

ISIS Fast Facts - CNN

Timeline: Rise & Spread of the Islamic State - Wilson Center


Islamic State - Council on Foreign Relations

Islamic State - RAND 

Islamic State: Mapping Militant Organizations - Stanford University

What is ISIS-K? - CBS 

What is ISIS-K? - The Washington Post

What we know about ISIS-K - NPR


Afghan Taliban - National CounterTerrorism Center

Afghanistan: Rise of the TalibanNPR (Podcast)

The Taliban in Afghanistan - Council on Foreign Relations

Two Years under the Taliban - U.S. Institute of Peace

Who are the Taliban?BBC

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