The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, a formerly al-Qaeda–aligned organization known by the acronym ISIS, has been seizing cities in Iraq, carrying out mass killings, and marching toward Baghdad. The Onion breaks down what you need to know about the Sunni Islamist militant group that is suddenly at the forefront of international news:

  • Origin Story: Founded in garage of aspiring jihadist and college dropout Abu Musab al-Zarqawi
  • Common Tactics: Catch international community off guard with a series of escalating attacks over the course of three years
  • Battle-Hardenedness: 8.5 out of 10
  • Presence: Iraq, Syria, Turkey, CNN Homepage
  • Greatest Inspiration: Past 1,300 years of sectarian violence in region
  • Preferred Execution Method: Summary
  • Key Recruiting Pitch: Large, supportive alumni network
  • Interpretation Of Quran: Way off
  • Requirements For New Members: Single-minded obsession with pan-national Islamic state; $159 one-time registration fee
  • Ultimate Goal: Improve U.S.–Iran relations by uniting both nations against common enemy
  • Threat Posed: Could undermine stability of Iraq