Fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq in Syria parade in Tel Abyad. Reuters
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With Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) fighters, flags and emblems everywhere, there is no mistaking who controls the city of Raqqa.Fighters from ISIS, the jihadist group that is now spearheading an offensive in Iraq, already regard the city that is strategically placed in the Euphrates valley as their "capital," activists say.There is a very structured hierarchy – Iraqi, Saudi and to a lesser extent Tunisian fighters and sheikhs call the shots, while Egyptian, European, Chechen and Syrian extremists are lower down in the ranks.A local described the official leader of Raqqa, Emir Abu Luqman, as ruthless and highly intelligent.Around him are foreign jihadists – Iraqis and Saudis – whom activists say are the main decision-makers.ISIS' top sheikhs, said activist Abu Ibrahim, are Iraqi, Saudi and Tunisian. Analysts say jihadist groups led by ISIS want to establish an Islamic state that would include the Iraqi provinces of Ninevah, Salahuddin, Diyala and Anbar, plus Raqqa and Deir al-Zor.Activists describe life in Raqqa as "extremely difficult" under ISIS.
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