The Islamic State of Iraq & the Levant (ISIL)

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, has become one of the most feared terrorist organizations in the world due to their violence and rapid land conquest in Iraq and Syria in 2014.  Learning Life presents the following five facts to give a brief sense of ISIL’s size, origins, beliefs and violent impact, plus the international response to ISIL and its cost thus far.

1) 2004

The year the United States government first recognized ISIL (alternately known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS) as a terrorist organization. The group originated in 1999 as Jama’at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad, and calls for the establishment of an Islamic state or “caliphate” that follows early Islamic beliefs and rejects more recent and moderate ones (as well as those who don’t follow Islam), from Hamas to the Saudi Arabian state.


2) 12,000 fighters from over 50 countries

The estimated number of sympathizers that have traveled from other countries to join ISIL in Iraq and Syria thus far. This includes approximately 100 U.S. citizens.

ISIL has at times joined forces with al-Qaeda and Sunni factions in Iraq, though these groups have also sometimes opposed each other.


3) Over 9,000 dead, and 17,000 wounded

The estimated number of civilian and military casualties from fighting between ISIL and its opponents thus far in 2014, according to the United Nations.


4) Over 60 Countries

The number of countries formally in coalition against ISIL.  Among the members of the coalition are the USA, Australia, France, Germany, Ukraine, Turkey, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates.  Coalition partners are providing troops and/or weapons to fight ISIL, making it harder for foreign fighters to join ISIL, blocking funding to ISIL, providing humanitarian aid, and/or “exposing ISIL’s true nature.”


5) $8 million per day/$776 million total

The cost of “Operation Inherent Resolve” against ISIL in Syria and Iraq from the start of the Operation on August 8, 2014 through November 12, 2014.