This image made from video posted on a militant website July 5, 2014, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, purports to show the leader of the Islamic State group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, delivering a sermon at a mosque in Iraq. / AP
The Islamic State has brutally targeted men, women and children based on ethnic and religious affiliations. The group is responsible for beheading American journalist James Foley.
What is the Islamic State?
The Islamic State is a group of Sunni militants with roots in al-Qaeda in Iraq. But the group's tactics are so extreme that Al Qaeda disavowed the Islamic State earlier this year.
How did the organization come to power?
The Islamic State has exploited tensions between Sunni and Shiite Muslims and found support after the U.S. occupation of Iraq and the three-year civil war in Syria.
Why are there different names for the Islamic State?
The Islamic State has been referred to as ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) or ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant).
The Associated Press was using ISIL because ISIS "suggests incorrectly that the group's aspirations are limited to these two present-day countries," according to a blog post by the wire service. However, when the militant group declared it had changed its name to the Islamic State, AP followed suit.
What is the Islamic State's goal?
The group believes in the strict enforcement of Sharia law. Members of the Islamic State have carried out "widespread ethnic and religious cleansing," according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, in a statement.
The Islamic State has targeted Christians, Turkmen, Shabaks and Yazidis.
Who leads the group?
How is the Islamic State funded?
Ransom from kidnappings, robberies and oil sales are some of the ways the organization funds its operations, reports NBC News.
The organization has collects money from wealthy individuals who are paying off members to buy protection, reports The Wall Street Journal.
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Read the original story: Islamic State: What you need to know