We are aware of what is happening in Iraq at the moment because of 24 hour media, but who is ISIS? The Islamic State of Iraq and al Shams (ISIS) is a militant terrorist group and off-shoot of al-Qaeda. ISIS has its origins in the insurgency against US forces in Iraq and was originally led by Abu Musaib al-Zarqawi. Known then as the Islamic State of Iraq, the group was brought to the brink of collapse by the killing of al-Zarqawi in a US airstrike in June 2006 and the intensive US counterterrorism campaign that seen US forces align with Sunni tribes. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is the current leader of the group, and used the conflict in Syria to revitalise the movement. The chaos in Syria allowed ISIS to hold this territory pretty securely. This isn't just a safe haven, though that matters a great deal. The war gave them a lot of access to heavy weaponry. ISIS also has a funding stream available to them because of local businesses and the oil and gas sector. Syria was a stepping stone and an important one, because of their success there, they have been able to show regional strength leading to a faster recruitment rate. This has helped them recuperate since leaving Al-Qaeda. Right now, the Iraqi government has no answer to the ISIS threat. And a hard look at the reasons behind ISIS' rise and the causes of its current success suggest a grim future for the Iraqi government's efforts to beat back the dangerous militant group. I am from the west, so I do not know everything about the area, the people or their beliefs, but I do believe we in the west must take some of the blame for today's situation.