BAGHDAD, IRAQ (Worthy News)– Sunni jihadists pushed in a lightening offensive from northern Iraq and seized Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit, just 80 miles north of Baghdad.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), an organization al Qaeda deemed too radical and unpredictable, overran Tikrit with 60 vehicles full of armed jihadists, and now occupies the provincial government headquarters raising its ISIS black flag.
Over the past two days, ISIS has captured the cities of Tikrit and Mosul, as a plan "to conquer the entire state and cleanse it from the apostates" according to its Twitter account.
ISIS now controls a swathe of territory from Syria to Iraq opening a corridor that enables the group to flow fighters and weapons across the region. Its stated goal is to establish an "Islamic emirate in the Levant."
After seizing Mosul, it places the jihadist organization in prime position to launch attacks against the Mosul Dam along the Tigris River, formerly known as the Saddam Dam, the largest dam in Iraq. Central Iraq is heavily dependent on Tigris water, and if ISIS maintains control of the region, then they will sit between the river's main reservoir and its customers in the South.
Earlier in March, ISIS had seized a dam along the Euphrates river, closed all its gates, and flooded the ground around the city of Fallujah to impede Iraqi security forces from taking back the city, which ISIS continues to occupy.
The terrorist group is threatening the city of Baiji, home to Iraq's largest petroleum refinery, that can process up to 300,000 barrels of oil per day.
Earlier in the day, jihadists raided the Turkish consulate in Mosul, kidnapped the head of the diplomatic mission along with 24 of its staff members.
ISIS captured army bases, banks, and government offices in Mosul. The jihadists were able to seize 500 billion dinars ($430m), huge stores of American weapons, ammunition and vehicles, including six Black Hawk helicopters.
The terrorist organization released hundred of inmates from several prisons in the area.
It is estimated that over 500,000 people have fled Mosul in terror.
Just over a year ago, in April 2013, the organization announced the expansion of its operations from Iraq into Syria. By changing its name from the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) and adding the words "and al-Sham" translated as "the Levant" or "Greater Syria," it signified its quest to expand its operations.
Earlier this year al-Qaeda's leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, issued a statement dissociating itself from ISIS, accusing the organization of 'forbidden bloodshed' directed at fellow fighters, and cut ties with the group after ISIS attempted to bolster its strength by merging with other rebels in Syria.
"We weren't informed about its creation, nor counselled. Nor are we satisfied with it: rather we ordered it to stop…nor is al-Qaeda responsible for its actions and behavior," al-Zawahiri said.
ISIS is known for its brutality as it commonly beheads and crucifies those who stand in opposition, as one newspaper headlined, "ISIS Militia Beheading their way to Baghdad."
The leader of the jihadist group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has a bounty of $10 million dollars on his head.