A member loyal to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) waves an ISIL flag in Raqqa June 29, 2014.
Reuters

ISIS Explained: your questions answered

Updated

With the U.S. and allied nations now heavily involved in airstrikes against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, you may have a lot of unanswered questions about exactly who this terrorist organization is. 

To help, The Last Word web team sat down with Middle East expert and frequent show guest Laith Alkhouri, an analyst with Flashpoint Global Partners, to get his take on these pressing questions.

     

1. What is the ultimate goal of ISIS?

The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, 9/30/14, 5:43 PM ET

ISIS Explained: What is their ultimate goal?

In part one of The Last Word’s ISIS Explained series, Laith Alkhouri discusses what the terror group wants above all.

     

2. What is a caliphate?

The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, 10/1/14, 4:46 PM ET

ISIS Explained: What is a caliphate?

In part two of The Last Word’s ISIS Explained series, Laith Alkhouri discusses what a “caliphate” is and its significance to ISIS.

     

3. Why are there so many names for the same group?

The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, 10/2/14, 4:38 PM ET

ISIS Explained: Why so many names?

In part three of The Last Word’s ISIS Explained series, Laith Alkhouri clears up the confusion about “ISIS,” “ISIL” and “The Islamic State”.

     

4. Khorasan vs. ISIS: what’s the difference?

The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, 10/3/14, 3:26 PM ET

ISIS Explained: Khorasan vs. ISIS

In part four of The Last Word’s ISIS Explained series, Laith Alkhouri discusses the difference between the Khorasan group and ISIS.

     

5. Why bomb ISIS-controlled oil refineries?

The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, 10/6/14, 5:23 PM ET

ISIS Explained: Why bomb ISIS oil refineries?

In part five of The Last Word’s ISIS Explained series, Laith Alkhouri explains the strategic purpose in US forces bombing ISIS-held oil refineries.

     

6. What causes radicalization?

The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, 10/7/14, 5:12 PM ET

ISIS Explained: The causes of radicalization

In part six of The Last Word’s ISIS Explained series, Laith Alkhouri explains how the U.S. can better identify individuals who are becoming radicalized online.

     

7. Who is Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi?

The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, 10/14/14, 5:46 PM ET

ISIS Explained: Who is Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi?

In part seven of The Last Word series, ISIS Explained, Laith Alkhouri explains how dangerous the leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, really is.

Iraq, ISIS, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and Syria

ISIS Explained: your questions answered

Updated