This article is about the modern-day terrorist "nation" sometimes known as ISIS. For the mythological goddess, see Isis.


The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, Islamic State (IS), the Caliphate, and by its English language acronyms ISIS and ISIL as well as its Arabic language acronym Daesh, is a Salafi jihadist unrecognized proto-state and militant group that follows a fundamentalist, Wahhabi doctrine of Sunni Islam. ISIS gained global prominence in early 2014 when it drove Iraqi government forces out of key cities in its Western Iraq offensive, followed by its capture of Mosul and the Sinjar massacre.

In Syria, the group conducted ground attacks on both government forces and opposition factions, and by December 2015 it held a large area in western Iraq and eastern Syria containing an estimated 2.8 to 8 million people, where it enforced its interpretation of sharia law. ISIS is now believed to be operational in 18 countries across the world, including Afghanistan and Pakistan, with "aspiring branches" in Mali, Egypt, Somalia, Bangladesh, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

This group has been designated a terrorist organization by the United Nations and many individual countries. ISIL is widely known for its videos of beheadings of both soldiers and civilians, including journalists and aid workers, and its destruction of cultural heritage sites. The United Nations holds ISIL responsible for human rights abuses and war crimes, and Amnesty International has charged the group with ethnic cleansing on a "historic scale" in northern Iraq.

After losing control of Mosul, Iraq in July 2017, ISIS has gone through a series of defeats, including the loss of its claimed capital, Ar-Raqqah in October 2017. Its remaining Syrian territory was recaptured in November, leading Syria and its allies to declare the war against ISIS over. A similar pattern followed in Iraq, with ISIS' final holdings in Iraq falling to the Iraqi Army in November. In December 2017, the Prime Minister of Iraq, Haider al-Abadi, declared the war over. ISIS has since been reduced to pockets of resistance cells within the Middle East. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS since 2013, killed himself by detonating a suicide vest during a raid into the rebel-held Idlib province of Syria conducted by U.S. special forces on 27 October 2019.

United States President Donald Trump's abrupt decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria in advance of Turkey's 9 October 2019 offensive against Kurdish forces there may benefit ISIS in the long run, as Kurdish forces had captured a number of ISIS fighters. With the arrival of the Turkish military, the Kurds no longer have the resources to guard these fighters, and many have been released.

Note on Name[]

The Islamic State is known by a number of names. ISIS is the one Harry Turtledove uses.

ISIS in "Interlibrary Loan"[]

In 2017, ISIS arranged to secure a copy of the Necronomicon from the Special Collections of the library of Miskatonic University, in Arkham, Massachusetts.[1] ISIS took advantage of the interlibrary loan system, coercing one Professor Gamal al-Zubi of Al-Azhar University in Cairo to request Miskatonic's copy.[2] Then, the Iraqi-born, Hafez ibn Abd-al-Rahim traveled to Arkham on a fake Egyptian passport with documents signed by the professor.[3]

Haffez brought the copy ar-Raqqah, Syria, where he delivered it to two men, Khalid and Ibrahim.[4] They invited him to stay and watch while they cast a spell to attack the United States. While the two took precautions by creating a pentagram and several circles on the floor,[5] during the course of the enchantment, each mistranslated the Arabic, using the wrong verb tense. Immediately, some invisible hand erased part of each circle. Slime and tentacles soon overwhelmed and killed the three men,[6] and whatever they'd unleashed destroyed the heart of ar-Raqqah. The world was left to puzzle how this came to be, and attempt to descipher ISIS's claims of glowing eyes and suction disks.[7]


  1. Tales from the Miskatonic University Library, loc. 891, ebook.
  2. Ibid., loc. 916.
  3. Ibid., loc. 891-916.
  4. Ibid., loc. 1020.
  5. Ibid., loc. 1035.
  6. Ibid., loc. 1051.
  7. Ibid., loc. 1051-1065.