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The rise of Isis: Terror group now controls an area the size of Britain, expert claims - Middle East. Matthew Olsen, a senior US counter-terrorism official, said the Islamic State, also known as Isis, was “an extremely dangerous organisation operating in a chaotic part of the world” and saw itself “as the new leader of the global Jihadist movement”.

The rise of Isis: Terror group now controls an area the size of Britain, expert claims - Middle East

Isis began in Syria during the rebellion against President Bashar Assad, but took huge swathes of northern Iraq earlier this year. Mr Olsen said Isis had expanded quickly partly because of the weakness of the governments of Syria and Iraq. “[Isis] threatens to outpace al-Qa’ida as the dominant voice of influence in the global extremist movement,” he said, according to the Daily Telegraph. As the beheading of a second American journalist places a renewed focus on Isis, the monstrous rise of the terrorist group is becoming slowly uncovered as Iraqi and Western forces continue to unearth information about its lucrative sources of revenue, which have fuelled its spread across Iraq and Syria.

Read more: Comment: 'I was nearly an American jihadi' What ISIS Really Wants. What is the Islamic State?

What ISIS Really Wants

Where did it come from, and what are its intentions? The simplicity of these questions can be deceiving, and few Western leaders seem to know the answers. In December, The New York Times published confidential comments by Major General Michael K. Nagata, the Special Operations commander for the United States in the Middle East, admitting that he had hardly begun figuring out the Islamic State’s appeal.

“We have not defeated the idea,” he said. The group seized Mosul, Iraq, last June, and already rules an area larger than the United Kingdom. Our ignorance of the Islamic State is in some ways understandable: It is a hermit kingdom; few have gone there and returned. The Islamic State, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), follows a distinctive variety of Islam whose beliefs about the path to the Day of Judgment matter to its strategy, and can help the West know its enemy and predict its behavior.

But Adnani was not merely talking trash. I. ISIS Fast Facts. Facts:Started as an al Qaeda splinter group.

ISIS Fast Facts

ISIS aims to create an Islamic state called a caliphate across Iraq, Syria and beyond. The group is implementing Sharia Law, rooted in eighth century Islam, to establish a society that mirrors the region's ancient past. ISIS is known for killing dozens of people at a time and carrying out public executions, crucifixions and other acts. ISIS uses modern tools like social media to promote reactionary politics and religious fundamentalism. Fighters are destroying holy sites and valuable antiquities even as their leaders propagate a return to the early days of Islam. In 2014, ISIS controlled more than 34,000 square miles in Syria and Iraq, from the Mediterranean coast to south of Baghdad. ISIS is believed to be holding 3,500 people as slaves, according to a 2016 United Nations report.

ISIS's strategy for revenue includes oil production and smuggling, taxes, ransoms from kidnappings, selling stolen artifacts, extortion and controlling crops. Is ISIS a Threat to the U.S.? Born from an especially brutal al Qaeda faction, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has grown from relative obscurity in recent years to overshadow its extremist patrons.

Is ISIS a Threat to the U.S.?

It now terrorizes large swaths of Syria and Iraq, has become the target of the largest U.S. military operation in Iraq in years and, with the public, cold-blooded execution of multiple Westerners, dominates headlines the world over. Where Did ISIS Come From? While extremist groups are generally amorphous organizations, ISIS can trace its history directly back to the Sunni terrorist organization al Qaeda, specifically the Iraq faction, al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI). AQI, led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, was responsible for scores of bombings, kidnappings and beheadings in Iraq following the U.S. invasion there. After al-Zarqawi was killed in 2006 by an American airstrike, leadership of the group eventually fell to an experienced Iraqi fighter, Abu Du’a, better known as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. ISIS' army of 7-footers? Experts say video of Copt beheadings manipulated.

Now Playing Experts say ISIS beheading video may be a hoax Video of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians being marched along a Libyan beach before being beheaded by black-clad members of ISIS is hard for any civilized person to watch, but experts who made it through the sickening, five-minute clip told FoxNews.com Friday they came to the same conclusion: The footage was faked.

ISIS' army of 7-footers? Experts say video of Copt beheadings manipulated

No one holds out hope the victims, mostly poor fishermen who had gone to Libya to scratch out a living, are still alive. But several anomalies in the video, which was posted online Feb. 15, indicated to trained eyes that at least some of the production was done on "green screen" with background added later, perhaps to disguise the real location of the atrocity.

A day after the clip went viral, Egyptian warplanes struck hard at an eastern port city near Tripoli, where the video appeared to have been shot. Other technical giveaways: The sound of the ocean is likely a well-known audio track.