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IS growing in numbers, money

The Islamic State is gaining in influence while those opposing it search in vain for ways to counter the extremist organization.
Fighters of al-Qaeda linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant carry their weapons during a parade at the Syrian town of Tel Abyad, near the border with Turkey January 2, 2014. Picture taken January 2, 2014. REUTERS/Yaser Al-Khodor (SYRIA - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT) - RTX170UI

The Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the attacks against Shiites in Qatif and Damman, Saudi Arabia, on May 22 and 29, respectively. To date, some 35 armed militant groups are thought to have pledged allegiance to IS around the world, including Ansar al-Sharia in Libya, al-Mourabitoun in Mali and Boko Haram in Nigeria. With more than 25,000 foreign fighters having flocked to Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen, according to UN calculations, gauging IS’ strength has sparked debate among analysts and world powers.

Iraqi military strategist Hisham al-Hashimi told Al-Monitor, “It is not hard for IS to be present in these countries, because, in the case of Saudi Arabia, for example, they go there for the hajj.” He added, “IS is good at branding itself,” asserting that its use of social media is unprecedented.

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