An offshoot of al-Qaeda has declared the areas it has captured in Iraq and Syria an Islamic state, or caliphate.

To mark its declaration the group, formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, shortened its name to Islamic State.

It has proclaimed its leader, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, as head of that state, and the Caliph for Muslims everywhere.

A statement released online said: “...it is incumbent upon all Muslims to pledge allegiance to the Khalifah Ibrahim and support him. The legality of all emirates, groups, states, and organisations, becomes null by the expansion of the caliphate's authority and arrival of its troops to their areas.”

The Iraqi government said the group has become a threat to all countries. 

So how much of a challenge is the Islamic State to Iraq, Gulf Arab states, the West and al-Qaeda itself?

Presenter: Sami Zeidan

Guests: 

Khaled Al Maeena - editor-at-large at the Saudi Gazette.

Bilal Abdul Kareem - a journalist and filmmaker who has filmed armed groups fighting in Syria.

Douglas Ollivant - a senior national security fellow with the New America Foundation, and former Iraq director on the National Security Council. 

Source: Al Jazeera