This chapter provides a brief regional profile of the key players involved in what has become a human tragedy for millions of Muslims and for an increasing number of people outside the Middle East area. It presents the structural beginnings of the Islamic State movement from al-Qaeda Central to the militant jihadists that have morphed into Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). ISIL is primarily a fundamentalist and extreme Sunni jihadist brand that incites the real or imagined hatreds between Sunni and Shia. ISIL has clearly evolved from its earlier, more limited ambitions in Iraq. The eastern Syrian town of Ar Raqqa and surrounding region were used as a base and launching pad for the militants' advance through northern Iraq. ISIL's rise has as much to do with the charismatic leadership first of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and then of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as it does with some of the deep-seated mistrust and open conflict between Sunni and Shia.