The Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL) is a Jihadist group that has founded a self-proclaimed Islamic caliphate in areas in Iraq and Syria. The hard-line militant organization has gained control of territory in the wake of the Syrian uprising and instability in Iraq. The goal of the Islamic State, headed by the reclusive Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is to establish a Sunni nation governed by Sharia law throughout the Levant region. The group employs brutal tactics against those who resist it, and has ruthlessly persecuted ethnic and religious minorities within its territories, including Yazidis, Turkmens, Christians, and Shia Muslims. The Islamic State’s tactics are so extreme that in February, 2014, al-Qaeda cut its ties with the organization. The group’s rapid expansion in the summer of 2014 has drawn international condemnation and galvanized efforts to defeat it.