BAGHDAD , June 30 (UPI) -- The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria has announced the establishment of a caliphate, or new Islamic state, in Syrian and Iraqi territories now under the jihadist militant group's control.
ISIS broadcast the creation of the caliphate in an Internet statement Sunday. It proclaimed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi -- the group's leader now identified as "Caliph Ibrahim" -- as caliph; the term refers to successors of the Prophet Muhammad and leader of the world's Muslims.
The statement called on Muslims to "pledge allegiance" to the caliph and "reject democracy and other garbage from the West."
Caliphs have directed and defended their territories in the Middle East and in North Africa since Muhammad's death in 632, but no widely-recognized caliphate has existed since 1924, when the protocol was abolished after the decline of the Ottoman Empire. The term "caliphate" is loaded with historical significance for Muslims who have anticipated an Islamic state organized without respect for national borders imposed upon the Middle East by Western countries.
Recognition of what amounts to a new country would alter the map of the Middle East. Thus far no nation has formally recognized the caliphate.
The ISIS statement said the caliphate -- to be known as the "Islamic State" -- would extend from the city of Aleppo, in northern Syria, to eastern Iraq's Diyala province.