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An al-Qaida breakaway group’s formal declaration of an Islamic caliphate across the stretch of territory it controls in Syria and Iraq sparked celebrations among the group’s followers Monday but condemnation and even ridicule from its rivals and authorities in Baghdad and Damascus. The declaration was a bold move by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, not just announcing their own state governed by Shariah law but also claiming legitimacy as a successor to the first Islamic rule created by the Prophet Muhammad in the Arabian Peninsula 14 centuries ago. In an audio recording Sunday evening, the group proclaimed its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as caliph and demanded all Muslims around the world pledge allegiance to him. The announcement risks straining alliances with other Sunnis in Iraq that have helped the Islamic State achieve its blitz this month, seizing control of a large swath of the country’s north and west.



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