The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria has dropped "of Iraq and Syria" from its name because as far as it is concerned, there is no "Iraq" or "Syria"—just an Islamic caliphate stretching from Aleppo to eastern Iraq. The militant group has declared a new Islamic state with its chief, Abu Omar al Bachief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, as caliph and "leader for Muslims everywhere," the BBC reports. The group says al-Baghdadi will now be known as "Caliph Ibrahim"—and all Muslims must pledge allegiance to him as their new ruler and "reject democracy and other garbage from the West."
Counterrorism expert Charles Lister tells NPR that the declaration of a state amounts to a declaration of war against of one ISIS' many foes: al-Qaeda. Organizations will declare allegiance to one or the other of the competing entities in the days to come, he predicts, leaving "two competing international jihadist representatives—al-Qaeda, with a now more locally-focused and gradual approach to success; and the Islamic State, with a hunger for rapid results and total hostility for competition." But it's not clear how long ISIS will be able to hold the territory it has conquered: In Iraq, security forces have launched a push to reclaim Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit from the rebels and fighting there is still raging, residents tell Reuters. And at the Iraq-Syria border ISIS is doing its best to erase, Syrian activists tell the AP that ISIS-linked rebel factions are battling with an al-Qaeda breakaway group for control of a border crossing. (Read more Islamic State of Iraq and Syria stories.)