In Iraq’s western desert near the Syrian border, in a landscape of sand and rock, a signpost announces that you are entering al Qaeda’s Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

A short video of the sign was broadcast on jihadi websites last month and reflects a long-held goal of al Qaeda fighters to establish an Islamic emirate.

ISIL insurgents have increased attacks on strategic targets in parts of western Iraq in the past three months in a bid to make their putative state a reality, security officials and analysts say. […]