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The Rise of ISIS

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It’s right to revile Isis for its sickeningly brutal modus operandi, but it’s also necessary to understand how it became so pervasive. This exemplary piece of journalism from Martin Smith tracks the emergence of Isis from the day after US troops left Iraq in 2011 and tells a few home truths.

Smith speaks to key figures in the Iraq and US administrations, and while former Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki is held to account for his purge of Sunnis, senior US officials reveal their unease that President Obama did nothing to rein in Maliki or provide aid to pro-Western Syrian rebels – which ultimately proved the key wellspring for the growth of Isis.


Journalist Martin Smith documents the terror group's ascent, as he draws on interviews with Iraqi politicians and American military leaders to explain how ISIS developed.

Cast & Crew

Reporter Martin Smith


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