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The Rise Of ISIS

In the late ‘90s, there was a group of very dangerous Islamic radicals in Jordan. They were such a threat that the country had reopened an abandoned prison in the middle of the desert as a way to isolate them from spreading ideas to other prisoners.

There is a tradition in Jordan of a nationwide amnesty of prisoners with every new king, and King Abdullah II followed suit in 1999. The amnesty released many of those radicals, including Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a hardened street thug with impeccable leadership qualities and aspirations of an ultra-conservative caliphate in the Middle East.

Zarqawi rose in power and established the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. A few actions from the United States spurred the growth of ISIS, even as leadership changed following Zarqawi’s death.

Host Frank Stasio talks with Washington Post reporter Joby Warrick, about his new book, “Black Flags” (Doubleday/2015), that looks at the rise of Zarqawi and ISIS.

Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.
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