As much of the Middle East sinks deeper into division between competing political camps, the Islamic State militant group continues its unhindered march toward a twisted version of a Muslim caliphate. Many thousands have lost their lives, some in the most torturous ways, so that Islamic State may realize its nightmarish dream.

Of course, violence meted out by Islamic State is hardly an anomaly, considering that the group was spawned in a predominantly violent environment. It is difficult to imagine, for example, that, if the Syrian regime and its opposition had sought a political solution from the early days of the uprising, Islamic State would have found a stable foothold for itself in Syria.

It was during the emergence of violence by the Syrian regime that Islamic State, a dark force that neither believes in democracy, civil rights nor coexistence, appeared. The same scenario was repeated in Iraq and a host of other countries. In an article in the Independent newspaper, Patrick Cockburn highlighted seven countries where the influence of Islamic State is great or growing: Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Somalia and northeast Nigeria.