ISIS has successfully taken control of a significant portion of the Iraq, Jordan and Syria. Turkey has still yet to close their borders, making a gateway for ISIS militants to move through the area. ISIS and Al-Qaeda are one in the same. Prior to 2014, ISIS and Al-Qaeda were fundamentally the same group sharing the same interests. When ISIS defied Al-Qaeda's leader, Ayman Al-Zawahiri to back off of Syria and kill fewer civilians in Syria, the two militant groups split and now compete to gain control of Islamic Extremist groups around the world. ISIS is working towards emirate that straddles Syria and Iraq.
Through out history there has been growing tensions between Sunni and Shite Muslims in Iraq. ISIS is capitalizing on the tensions between the Muslim groups and successfully gaining control of Iraq.
ISIS successfully uses social media to gain fighters from around the world and is a cash rich militant group. In Syria, ISIS has gained control of oil fields and sells the oil back to the Syrian government to help fund their Jihad.
The map below highlights ISIS's 5 year expansion plan.
Countries like Iraq and Syria are very for easy for ISIS to infiltrate as they can move freely into the countries since Desert Storm. A person can drive through the border with very few questions or inspections entering in from the bordering countries of Syria, Jordan and Turkey.
Every year thousands of Muslims make the holy journey to the city of Mecca in Syria to complete Hajj. Hajj is required by every Muslim to make the journey at least once in their life, if they physically capable of making the journey. Muslims from all over the world travel into Syria to make the trip to Hajj making Syria easy access for militant groups to freely travel into Syria.
We are now entering year 2 of the 5 year expansion plan. In 1 year ISIS has successfully straddled Iraq and Syria and proven to be successful in strong arming the militant groups and cities in Iraq and Syria and there is more to come.