January 27, 2015

Aspects of Islamic State (IS) Administration in Ninawa Province: Part II

City market in Mosul, Iraq

Part I of this in-depth examination of IS administration in Ninawa province touched on the realm of education, as one can find a large number of IS documents on that matter. This part looks primarily at service aspects of IS governance in Ninawa province. Diwan al-Khidamat The Diwan al-Khidamat ('Services Administration') is officially responsible for provision of basic public services to locals, most notably electricity, sanitation, water and construction work. However, there is a clear … [Read more...]

Aspects of Islamic State (IS) Administration in Ninawa Province: Part I

"Together we cultivate the tree of the Caliphate." A slogan used on IS billboards and murals elsewhere.

A key aspect of IS' self-presentation is its claim to be an actual state (dawla), and not a mere group or organization (jamaat/tanẓim). As part of this presentation, the dawla sets up supposed state administration departments to regulate life in areas under its control. Ninawa province, which remains completely out of Baghdad government control, presents an ample range of purported aspects of IS governance. This series consists of a selection of translated IS documents from Ninawa province … [Read more...]

“The Land of Sinai”- New Islamic State [IS] Nasheed from Ajnad Media

"Wilayat Sinai: By God's permission not a drop of gas will reach the state of Jordan until permitted by the Amir al-Mu'mineen [Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi the proclaimed Caliph]."

Concomitant with the transformation of Jamaat Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis into 'Wilayat Sinai' ('Sinai Province') following the allegiance to IS in November 2014, here comes an official IS nasheed to add further recognition to the extension of the IS provinces. Here is my preliminary translation: "Oh soldiers of God, go forth and defeat the damned kufr [disbelief/disbelievers]. Oh soldiers of God, indeed we have built an edifice of tawheed. We have dwelled in the land of Sinai, we have rejected … [Read more...]

Kata’ib al-Imam al-Gha’ib: Intro and Interview

"Ansar al-Aqeeda: Kata'ib al-Imam al-Gha'ib: Special Force"- featuring above the group's official logo used on banners.

To give a brief introduction, Kata'ib al-Imam al-Gha'ib ('The Absent Imam Battalions'- the 'Absent Imam' referring to Imam al-Mehdi in Shi'a messianism) is one of dozens of Shi'a militias that have emerged as part of the 'Popular Mobilization' (al-Hashad al-Sha'abi) trend in response to the wave of Islamic State [IS] gains in northern and western Iraq in summer 2014. Like a number of militias (e.g. Hezbollah the Mujahideen in Iraq), Kata'ib al-Imam al-Gha'ib- led by a man known as 'Abu Dhir … [Read more...]

The Twitter Wars Between Jamaat Ansar al-Islam Syria’s factions

Jamaat al-Ansar twitter

As I documented in my previous post, Jamaat Ansar al-Islam's Syria branch, whose parent Iraqi branch came to an end in August 2014 after most of its members gave allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) with the remainder quitting the field, appears to have had a two-way split reflected in a war between Twitter accounts. The Syria branch's previous official Twitter account- @ansarulsham- is claiming the dissolution of the group and allegiance to IS following the real example of Iraq, while … [Read more...]

An al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula Leader Claims the Paris Attacks on Twitter

Paris skyline

The data below- a series of tweets by Bakhsaruf al-Danqulah (an AQAP leader active on Twitter)translated by me- seem to point to a growing probability of AQAP involvement behind the recent attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices etc. in Paris. While the media have reported that one of the attackers supposedly claimed to be loyal to the Islamic State, that could just be an attempt to mislead the media with the worst Western nightmare: namely, a supposed coming together of al-Qa'ida and IS to attack … [Read more...]

The History of Jaysh Muhammad in the Azaz Area: Updated Note

"Jaysh Muhammad in Bilad al-Sham": Abu Obayda al-Muhajir.

In my report on Azaz, I had originally put the date of the fitna between Ahmad Obayd, who established the original Liwa Amru ibn al-Aas and Jaysh Muhammad in collaboration with Egyptian foreign fighter Abu Obayda al-Masri (AKA: Abu Obayda al-Muhajir), in November 2013. This now appears to have been a simple confusion in testimony. With similar brand names, the extent of localization etc., a degree of confusion on the ground over the facts is understandable. It actually makes much more sense to … [Read more...]

Jamaat Ansar al-Islam in Syria Joins The Islamic State?

Photo of graduation of a new cohort of children from Qur'an memorization school- a program said to have been done in cooperation with JAI Syria.

As outlined previously on this site and elsewhere in my writings, Jamaat Ansar al-Islam (JAI) is a jihadi group that originated in Iraq and expanded into Syria in 2011 thanks at least in part to the efforts of one Abu Muhammad al-Muhajir (an Iraqi himself who was later killed near Mosul while returning from Syria to Iraq). A rival of the Islamic State (IS) because it did not accept the statehood claims of IS or its previous incarnations, JAI tried to ride the initial rapid wave of … [Read more...]

The Impasse in Iraq (Part 2: The Sunni Side)

Baghdad skyline

The previous post discussed problems on the Shi'a side that hinder a more general Sunni-Shi'a 'reconciliation' in Iraq. Specifically, there is a general reluctance on the Shi'a political spectrum to address basic Sunni grievances on issues such as de-Ba'athification, and the phenomenon of Shi'a militiafication of the security forces has only further sidelined meaningful discussion of reforms to outreach to Sunnis. However, it does not follow that Iraq's impasse is solely the fault of the … [Read more...]

The Islamic State Billboards and Murals of Tel Afar and Mosul

"Together we cultivate the tree of the Caliphate"- IS billboard in Ninawa province. This slogan has also appeared on an IS billboard in Syria.

One of the hallmarks of the Islamic State's (IS) methods of establishing its presence in a locality is through the use of billboards and murals to advertise its propaganda. This was first made apparent in IS' prior incarnation as the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) in which ISIS first appeared in Raqqa in the spring of 2013 and increased its clout through the use of billboards even as it was not the only faction present. Indeed, ISIS only became sole ruler of Raqqa after the outbreak … [Read more...]