January 28, 2021

Jabhat al-Nusra and the Druze of Idlib Province

While most analysis of the Druze in Syria focuses on their positions in Suwayda province- where they constitute the majority of the population- as well as Jabal al-Sheikh in Damascus/Quneitra provinces, it should be remembered that there is also a Druze community in the Jabal al-Samaq area of Idlib province, more widely known as Jabal al-Zawiya. This community consists of numerous villages, whose names can be found here. Unlike their co-religionists in the south, these Druze have no capacity … [Read more...]

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

Parts I and II of this series looked at the system of education and other public services implemented by IS in Ninawa province. What then of religious life and public morality under Shari'a? Diwan al-Hisba The Diwan al-Hisba has IS' "Islamic police" under its wing and is responsible for the enforcement of public morality. It is one of the more familiar departments of IS administration: for example, if someone is caught in possession of alcohol, cigarettes or drugs, then that person is to … [Read more...]

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

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

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

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...]

Four Jews Killed in Paris Attack Buried in Israel

Under a cloudless Jerusalem sky, a crowd of thousands gathered at the cemetery at Givat Shaul on Tuesday, to bury the four Jews murdered at the Hyper Cacher in Paris. Yoav Hattab, Yohan Cohen, Philippe Braham, and Francois-Michel Saada were laid to rest in Har Hamenuhot, on the approach to Jerusalem from the west. The families chose to make their funerals an act of defiance, firmly remembering that these lives were robbed by an Islamist murderer, because the four men were Jewish. The form this … [Read more...]

Reflections on the Murders in Paris

The Islamic world is currently in the midst of a great historic convulsion. This process is giving birth to political trends and movements of a murderously violent nature. These movements offer a supposed escape route from the humiliation felt at the profound societal failure of the Arab and to a slightly lesser extent the broader Muslim world. The escape is by way of the most violent and intolerant historic trends of Islam, into a mythologized and imagined past. The route to this old-new … [Read more...]

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

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...]

Doha Descending

Amid rumors of Mashaal’s expulsion, Doha trying to regain alliance with Egypt, Saudi Arabia It is still not clear whether reports in Turkish newspaper Aydinlik concerning the expulsion by Qatar of Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal are accurate. Hamas officials have indignantly denied that their leader is shortly set to quit his Doha home. But certainly, Mashaal’s expulsion would fit with the broader pattern of recent events. Recent months have witnessed a number of acts by Qatar … [Read more...]

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

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...]