The believer: How Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi became leader of the Islamic State

In this Brookings Essay, William McCants tells the story of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State (a.k.a. ISIS), a group so brutal and hardline that even al-Qaida deemed them too extreme. Baghdadi, an introverted religious scholar with a passion for soccer, now controls large swaths of land in Iraq and Syria.

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