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Lloyd Sealy Library
John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Middle East, Near East and North Africa: ISIS, ISIL or 'The Islamic State'

Guide to resources on the Middle East and North Africa with a focus on the current events in Syria, Egypt, Turkey and elsewhere in the Near and Middle Eastern world. This is a work in progress.

Naming "Islamic State"

The name of the group that has taken over regions within the borders of  Iraq and  Syria has been variously named by their own leaders and those reporting about and responding to them. This group has been known by several acronyms ISIL/"The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant", ISIS/"The Islamic State in Syria and Iraq" or simply IS/"The Islamic State". In September 2014 The French Government began referring to this group by the Arabic 'Daesh' Using the term in quotes "Islamic State" searching for books and articles in library databases is relatively effective. This page also provides other suggested search terms and current subject headings.  At John Jay, we catalog books on ISIS under the subject heading IS (Organization)

See also The Islamic State Archives blog

The ISIS Files  website was released in June 2020

Several experts on the  Islamic State are on twitter, including

Shadi Hamad Mara Revkin   |  Rukmini CallimachiFeisal al-Istrabadi   | Jenan Moussa | Elisabeth Kendall | Aymenn J Al-Taminmi



Books in John Jay Library on Islamic State

Atwan, Abdel Bari (2015) Islamic State: the digital caliphate. (Oakland, California: University of California Press) Stacks - HV6433.I722 I8537 2015

Cockburn, Patrick (2015) The rise of Islamic state: ISIS and the new Sunni revolution. London; New York: Verso. Reserve Room - 3 hour loan - HV6433 .I722 C64 2015

Glass, Charles (2015) Syria burning: ISIS and the death of the Arab Spring.  New York: OR Books [on order, check this link for arrival]

Stern, Jessica (2015) ISIS: the state of terror. New York, N.Y.: Ecco Press. Reserve Room - 3 day loan - HV6432.5 .I75 S74 2015

Warrick, Joby (2015) Black flags : the rise of ISIS. New York: Doubleday [on order, check this link for arrival]

Weiss, Michael (2015) ISIS : inside the army of terror. New York, NY : Regan Arts. [check this link for call number]

Names and Search Terms

Subject Headings for Books: The following subject headings are suggested for finding book in CUNY+

IS (Organization)

Terrorism -- Religious aspects -- Islam.

Keyword Searching for Articles:

The following search terms are suggested for finding articles, Try using Academic Search Complete and/or Criminal Justice Abstracts and/or Military and Government Collection (CUNY Use only).

Islamic State (Organization)

Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant

Islamic State in Iraq and Syria

Islamic State and Syria

Islamic State and Iraq

Islamic State and Terrorism

Islamic State and Extremists

Islamic State AND Intervention

Terrorism -- Religious aspects -- Islam.

Terrorism -- Middle East.

Islamic fundamentalism -- United States.

Radicalism -- Religious aspects -- Islam.

Domestic terrorism -- United States.

Terrorists -- Recruiting -- United States.


related subject headings:

JABHAT al-Nusra (Organization) is a different group operating in Syria, connected to QAIDA (Organization) which has been in operation in other Middle Eastern Countries and from which Islamic State (Organization) is said to have split.

For el Shabaab in Africa use the subject term Shabaab (Organization)

Other Web-Resources

U.S. Department of Defense "Operation Inherent Resolve"(Targeted Operations Against ISIL:Terrorists) Special Report

UNHCR (The United Nations Refugee Agency) Page on Syria, with links to information, statistics and reports

Reports on Islamic State

al-Istrabadi, F and Ganguly, S

U.S. Department of Defense, 15th Lead Inspector General (November 2018) Report to the United States Congress on Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR), the overseas contingency operation to combat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Revkin, M. (2016) Legal Foundations of the Islamic State Brookings Institution.

Fordham University Center on National Security (2016) Case by Case: Report on ISIS Prosecutions in the United States, March 1, 2014 - June 30, 2016.

Ibrahim, Azeem. (2014) The resurgence of al-Qaeda in Syria and Iraq. Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania : Strategic Studies Institute and U.S. Army War College Press, 2014. Has a chapter on 'The Islamic State' direct link to this online report

Mantel, B. (2014, June 27). Assessing the threat from al Qaeda. CQ Researcher, 24, 553-576. (CUNY USE ONLY)

Fact Sheet on the The Evolution of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). National consortium on the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START).

Backgrounder: Islamic State of Syria and Iraq. Council on Foreign Relations.

United States. Congress. House. Committee on Homeland Security. (2015) A global battleground: the fight against Islamist extremism at home and abroad : hearing before the Committee on Homeland Security, House of Representatives, One Hundred Fourteenth Congress, first session, March 24, 2015. Washington : U.S. Government Publishing Office.  available online as text or PDF

Definition of the term "Islamic State"

An excerpt from: Arjomand, S. A. (2012). Islamic State. In M. Juergensmeyer & W. C. Roof (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Global Religion (Vol. 1, pp. 594-595). Los Angeles: SAGE Reference.

"Historically, the form of government established in Muslim regions by the successors of Prophet Muhammad was the caliphate. The ‘Abbāsid Caliphate was overthrown by the Mongols in the mid-13th century. Long before then, however, monarchy or the Sultanate had become the actual form of government in Muslim countries, albeit mostly under the suzerainty of the caliph. After the overthrow of the caliphate, monarchy became the general form of government in the Muslim world. The legitimacy of monarchy was primarily based on justice rather than the Shari'a (Islamic law), though the ruler obviously had to observe the latter. Neither the caliphate nor the sultanate was specifically designated as Islamic, even though they were historic forms taken by Muslim states.

The idea of the Islamic state emerged with the Islamic political ideologies of the third quarter of the 20th century and as the core concept of political Islam. It was adopted in the Persian form of hukumat-e islāmi as the slogan of the Islamic revolutionary movement in Iran in 1978 to 1979. The preamble to the 1979 Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran defined it as an ideological (maktabi) state based on the theory of the vilāyat-e faqih (“mandate of the religious jurist”) as formulated by the leader of the Islamic revolutionary movement, Imam Khomeini. Elsewhere in the Muslim world, the Islamic state was defined by its main projected function of the application of the Shari'a and became the common demand of a variety of Islamist movements in the closing decades of the 20th century."

Read more of this entry in the Gale Virtual Reference Library (CUNY USE ONLY)

Selected Magazine & Newspaper Articles on the 'Islamic State'

Rukmini Callimachi (February 4, 2017) "Not ‘Lone Wolves’ After All: How ISIS Guides World’s Terror Plots From Afar." The New York Times.
Rukimini Callimachi (August 3, 2017) How a Secretive Branch of ISIS Built a Global Network of Killers The New York Times
Lydia Wilson (October 21, 2015) "What I Discovered From Interviewing Imprisoned ISIS Fighters." The Nation.
Graeme Wood (March 2015) "What ISIS Really Wants." The Atlantic.

Online News Sources on ISIS/ISIL

The New York Times A visual guide to the crisis in Iraq and Syria.  has a constantly updated visual guide to the activities of ISIS/ISIL and the world response.  Maps are provided of airstrikes and refugees as well as links to further information.

The Guardian Newspaper (UK) has a webpage that offers "The latest news and comment on the Islamic State (Isis) militant group."

Rare Islamic State visit reveals 'brutal and strong' force. BBC News Website.
Kathy Gilsinan (October 29, 2015, updated November 15, 2015) The Confused Person's Guide to the Syrian Civil War: A brief primer. The Atlantic Magazine

Scholarly Articles on Islamic State - From Academic Search Complete/Criminal Justice Abstracts/Military & Government Collection

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