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Published on Sep 3, 2006
Under its former name Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isis), it was formed in April 2013, growing out of al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI). It has since been disavowed by al-Qaeda, but has become one of the main jihadist groups fighting government forces in Syria and Iraq. Its precise size is unclear but it is thought to include thousands of fighters, including many foreign jihadists. The organisation is led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Little is known about him, but it is believed he was born in Samarra, north of Baghdad, in 1971 and joined the insurgency that erupted in Iraq soon after the 2003 US-led invasion. null This rare image of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was released by the Iraqi interior ministry In 2010 he emerged as the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, one of the groups that later became Isis. Baghdadi is regarded as a battlefield commander and tactician, which analysts say makes his group more attractive to young jihadists than al-Qaeda, which is led by Ayman al-Zawahiri, an Islamic theologian.