The Islamic State has grown beyond its original home in Syria and Iraq, extending its operations into other parts of the Middle East and North Africa by establishing alliances and absorbing other terrorist groups. Data from IHS Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Center reveals how the group has claimed responsibility for carrying out attacks across the region. The map below reflects a year of Islamic State attacks following the capture of Mosul, one of Iraq’s most important cities. Since then, the militant group has carried out many attacks including a suicide bombing in Abha, Saudi Arabia, a beheading in Egypt, and most recently, a blast in Baghdad Thursday that left at least 60 dead.
Attacks linked to the Islamic State, from June 29, 2014, to June 20, 2015
The size of circles corresponds to the number of noncombatant casualties in attacks. Data for attacks by Boko Haram is unavailable.
Injuries and deaths
Injuries, no deaths
No noncombatant injuries or deaths
Oct. 11, 2014
UNITED STATESUNITED STATES
Islamic StateIslamic State
Gharb al-AfriqiyaGharb al-Afriqiya
Note: Attacks in Paris and Garland, Tex., are not shown on the map because they are considered to be inspired by — but not carried out by — the Islamic State.
How the Islamic State’s footprint grew, month by month
The majority of attacks carried out by the Islamic State have occurred in Syria and Iraq, where the group’s campaign began. The militants’ territory there is divided into 20 wilayat, or provinces, which form the core of its operational presence. Groups in other countries frequently pledge allegiance to the Islamic State but are not always accepted. In some cases, the Islamic State leadership formally declares some of these regions as part of its caliphate.
In November, the Islamic State leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, announced the establishment of eight new wilayat in Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Algeria. It was the first time the Islamic State formally had claimed territory outside Syria and Iraq after the group was formed in February 2014. Of the eight new provinces, only the three in Libya successfully control territory.
In January, the Islamic State formed a new wilayah straddling the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, an area that historically has been the core of al-Qaeda’s operations. This is seen as a further sign that the Islamic State is challenging al-Qaeda after previously declaring a wilayah in Yemen, home to al-Qaeda’s most active wing. In addition, the Islamic State announced a new wilayah in Russia’s North Caucasus region, splintering the territory of an al-Qaeda group that has operated in the region since 2007. Perhaps the most notable inclusion in the caliphate is Boko Haram, which pledged allegiance to the group in March. This gives the Islamic State a chance to maintain a presence across a wide arc of North and West Africa, and increases the chances of groups in the Islamic State’s North African wilayat collaborating with Boko Haram, according to Matthew Henman, manager of IHS Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Center. “There are already reports of Boko Haram militants having fought alongside local Islamic State militants in Derna recently,” he said, referring to the city in Libya.
Notable attacks outside Syria and Iraq
After its separation from al-Qaeda in early 2014, the Islamic State focused on expanding its territory only in Syria and Iraq. The group caught the world’s attention when it took over Mosul, one of Iraq’s largest cities, more than five months after it split with al-Qaeda. In November, the Islamic State started claiming responsibility for attacks outside Syria and Iraq. The first of many high-profile attacks it carried out or claimed to have inspired outside its region came in January 2015, when gunmen attacked tourists in Tunisia. Since then, attacks claimed by the Islamic State have increased rapidly.
AUG. 8, 2015
Abha, Saudi Arabia. 15 killed
A 21-year-old suicide bomber carried out the attack at a mosque. An audio recording from the Islamic State just before the bombing said that Saudi Arabia would not “enjoy peace” due to its involvement with the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq and Syria. Read more.
JUNE 26, 2015
Kuwait City, Kuwait. 27 killed
A suicide bomber from Islamic State affiliate Najd Province killed 27 people and wounded dozens more in the first terrorist attack in Kuwait in more than 20 years. The victims had just finished prayers at a mosque in a residential neighborhood when the bomber entered and detonated his device. Read more.
JUNE 26, 2015
Sousse, Tunisia. 38 killed
A gunman opened fire on beachgoers at a resort frequented by Europeans in what is widely seen as a campaign to devastate Tunisia’s tourism industry. Many of the dead and injured were from Britain. Read more.
JUNE 20, 2015
Sanaa, Yemen. 2 killed
A car bomb at a mosque in Sanaa’s Old City killed two people and wounded at least six. The Islamic State said the bombing at the Qabat al-Mahdi mosque was aimed at Shiite Houthis, who seized control of Sanaa in September 2014. Read more.
JUNE 17, 2015
Sanaa, Yemen. 4 killed
Several suicide car bombings killed four people and injured dozens on the eve of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Read more.
MAY 22, 2015
Qadeeh, Saudi Arabia. 21 killed
The Islamic State’s first acknowledged attack in Saudi Arabia killed at least 21 people and wounded 123 in a suicide bombing at a Shiite mosque in the village of Qadeeh. Worshipers were celebrating the birth of a 7th-century Shiite saint. Read more.
MAY 20, 2015
Sirte, Libya. 23 killed
Islamic State fighters launched a multi-pronged attack on Libyan militias. It was unclear who fared better. The Islamic State said it seized vehicles, weapons and a military base from the militias, but the militias claimed victory and said they killed at least 23 Islamic State fighters. Read more.
MAY 5, 2015
Garland, Tex.. None
Two gunmen, including a man once suspected of seeking to join Islamist militants in Somalia, opened fire on police blocking their way to a cartoon exhibit and contest depicting the prophet Muhammad. U.S. officials suspect that the gunmen were inspired by the Islamic State rather than directed by it; still it is the first U.S. attack claimed by the group. The attack failed and only the gunmen were killed. Read more.
APRIL 18, 2015
Jalalabad, Afghanistan. 34 killed
A suicide bomber detonated an explosive vest outside a bank, where government workers waited in line to pick up their salaries. At least 34 people were killed and 125 injured. If the attack was carried out by the Islamic State, it would represent its farthest civilian target to date outside the Middle East and North Africa. Read more.
APRIL 13, 2015
Tripoli, Libya. 2 killed
The day before a bomb explosion damaged the Moroccan Embassy, two guards were killed in gunfire at the South Korean Embassy. The Islamic State gave no reason for the attacks. Read more.
APRIL 2, 2015
Sinai Peninsula, Egypt. 17 killed
Fifteen soldiers and two civilians died when militants simultaneously attacked five Army checkpoints across the Sinai Peninsula with grenade launchers and assault rifles. Read more.
MARCH 21, 2015
Sanaa, Yemen. 137 killed
Four suicide bombers detonated their explosives at two mosques in Sanaa, killed at least 137 people and wounded more than 300. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has carried out similar attacks in Yemen but denied the mosque bombings. Read more.
MARCH 18, 2015
Tunis. 22 killed
Two Tunisian gunmen stormed Bardo National Museum and killed a security officer and 21 tourists from countries including Italy, Spain, Britain, Japan and Colombia. Dozens more were injured. Police killed the gunmen. This was the first time the Islamic State claimed to have an operation in Tunisia. Read more.
FEB. 15, 2015
Libya. 21 killed
A video released by the Islamic State in Libya appeared to show fighters beheading Egyptian Coptic Christians on a beach in Libya. Twenty of the 21 victims were identified by the Coptic Church as members who had been taken hostage in December and January in the coastal city of Sirte. Read more.
JAN. 29, 2015
Sinai Peninsula, Egypt. 27 killed
Four attacks killed at least 27 people within a few hours in the North Sinai and Suez provinces. Most of the dead were killed in the bombing of a military base and hotel in el-Arish. An Army officer died at one of two attacks at checkpoints, and a police officer was killed by a roadside bomb. Read more.
JAN. 27, 2015
Tripoli, Libya. 10 killed
Five Libyan security guards and five foreigners, including an American contractor, were killed when masked gunmen opened fire in the lobby of the Corinthia Hotel and a car bomb exploded at the gate. The Tripoli branch of the Islamic State claimed responsibility. Read more.
JAN. 7, 2015
Paris. 17 killed
Two brothers attack the offices of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, killing 10 people inside and two police officers outside. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula claimed responsibility. The next day, a man claiming to act in the name of the Islamic State killed a police officer at a traffic stop, and the day after that he shot four hostages at a kosher supermarket. The three gunmen claimed to be working together; all were killed. Read more.
JAN. 5, 2015
Arar, Saudi Arabia. 3 killed
Four militants, one wearing a suicide vest, killed three guards in an attack at Iraq’s border with Saudi Arabia. It marked the first time the Islamic State directly attacked the Saudi military, and it was the closest it came to breaching the border since it declared a caliphate in June 2014.