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For the Record': How Has the Islamic State Done What Al Qaeda Never Could Accomplish?


Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State, has accomplished something that other terror leaders such as Osama bin Laden and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi never did: He has declared a caliphate.

In February 2004, Baghdadi was detained by American forces in Iraq. However, he was considered a low-level operative and was released in December. Ten years later, the caliphate was declared, and Baghdadi took the name “Caliph Ibrahim” and became the leader — a position that experts say bin Laden could never have attained.

Sebastian Gorka, chair of Military Theory at Marine Corps University, says it’s important to understand Baghdadi’s lineage.

“The caliph traditionally can only come from the same tribe as Mohammad, the Quraysh Tribe, the Qurayshi. Bin Laden, a Saudi. His father was a Yemeni; Zawahiri, an Egyptian. No Qurayshis,” Gorka said. "Al-Baghdadi has convinced the world, at least the local population, that he is from the same tribe as Mohammad. This means that he’s ticked every box, and he has done what no other jihadi leader has managed to do."

You can learn more about Baghdadi, the Islamic State and the direct threat to the United States by watching For the Record's “ISIS in America” on-demand at

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