December 27, 2020

The Story of Shami Witness

Those of you reading this post will probably know by now of the latest viral story to hit social media: namely, the revelation of the true identity of the most prominent Islamic State (IS) fanboy on Twitter by the pseudonym of 'Shami Witness.' Originally using the name 'El Saltador' (Spanish for 'the jumper': a Western cultural reference that escapes my recall), he emerged on the Twitter scene around the beginning of 2013. At that time, he would often try to engage certain, more prominent … [Read more...]

A Jaysh al-Mujahideen Amir’s Testimony on Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

I have written many times before on Jaysh al-Mujahideen, the Salafi, anti-Shi'a insurgent group in Iraq aspiring to overthrow the central government but also a noted rival of the Islamic State (IS), having issued a lengthy condemnation of IS in January 2014 (the mere preface of which I translated and analyzed) andclashed with IS for control of al-Karma in August culminating in Jaysh al-Mujahideen's withdrawal from the town. One of the focuses of Jaysh al-Mujahideen's criticisms of IS is that … [Read more...]

The Islamic State (IS) and Pledges of Allegiance: The Case of Jamaat Ansar al-Islam

With the rise of IS, it is of interest to examine how IS has secured pledges of allegiance (bay'ah) from other groups both on the domestic front (i.e. within Iraq and Syria) and abroad (e.g. in Gaza-Sinai and Libya). I would argue that the case of Jamaat Ansar al-Islam ('The Group of the Supporters/Partisans of Islam') offers instructive insight not only into the factors that lead to pledges of allegiance but also the means of interpreting the available evidence. To recall, Jamaat Ansar … [Read more...]

“The Cheers Surge”- Nasheed Plagiarised by the Islamic State (IS)

I have remarked elsewhere that IS' creation of Ajnad Media Foundation in summer 2013 with the production of a plethora of unique songs (e.g. 'Close ranks and pledge bay'ah [allegiance] to Baghdadi', 'My Ummah, Dawn Has Appeared/Loomed', and 'I am not content with a life of humiliation') helped to give the group a unique identity vis-a-vis other jihadi groups, particularly al-Qa'ida, from which, it was clear, what was then ISIS had de facto broken off following on from Baghdadi's refusal to … [Read more...]

“Oh Soldiers of Righteousness, Rise up!”- Islamic State Nasheed from Ajnad Media

The following nasheed from the Islamic State was released at the beginning of June 2014 (i.e. when the group was still just the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham; unsurprising in light of explicit reference to Bilad al-Sham). There is also anticipation of subsequent propaganda themes like 'kasr al-hudud' ('breaking of the borders') that came with the group's rapid advances in Iraq that meant genuine contiguous territory spanning the Iraq-Syria border. The nasheed has subsequently been … [Read more...]

“The Shari’a of Our Lord”- Nasheed from the Islamic State’s Ajnad Media

Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi

This nasheed from the Islamic State, with its benign tone, emphasizes the supposed peace, security and ideal nature of life under the group's rule. For example, it was featured in an Islamic State video from Rutba in Anbar province as part of a showcase of the Islamic State's offering of public services. The Shari'a of Our Lord is a light, By which we rise above the stars, By which we live a life without humiliation, A life of security and peace. Our state has arisen on Islam in its true … [Read more...]

Islamic State: Suicide Bombing in Arbil Statement: Translation and Analysis

The statement translated by me below concerns the recent Islamic State [IS] suicide bombing conducted in the heart of Arbil, around 14 months after a previous assault by IS' predecessor the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham [ISIS]. Some points to note: 1. That IS would use a Kurdish member to carry out this attack comes as no surprise. Featuring Kurds within the group's ranks- to be directed at Kurdish rivals and counteract allegations of ethnic supremacism- has been a part of IS[IS] messaging … [Read more...]

The Factions of Kobani (Ayn al-Arab)

Media attention has somewhat focused away from the city of Kobani as the intense wave of coalition airstrikes against the Islamic State (IS) first helped to slow down the group's advance into Kobani. That said, the Democratic Union Party (PYD)'s project of an autonomous canton centred Kobani has been destroyed, and IS, in spite of the setbacks, still remains within the southern and eastern parts of the city (specifically in the latter, the industrial quarter), which IS has renamed Ayn al-Islam. … [Read more...]

Islamic State: ‘Wilayat al-Barqa’ Operations Statement: Translation & Analysis

Intro and Analysis As a companion to my post on the emergence of the Islamic State's 'Wilayat al-Barqa' ('Cyrenaica Province') in eastern Libya (mostly in the city of Derna, to be specific), here is a translation of a new Wilayat al-Barqa statement on military operations against its rivals in the Tobruq-based government's army and Heftar's forces (government-aligned). As far as the dating goes, these claimed operations seem highly questionable (typo error? Cf. spelling errors in the … [Read more...]

The Emergence of the Islamic State’s ‘Cyrenaica Province’ (Wilayat al-Barqa) in Libya

As has been noted previously, in his new speech put out by al-Furqan Media, the Islamic State's leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi explicitly acknowledged the recent series of pledges of allegiance to him from Sinai, Libya, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Algeria, with the creation of new 'wilayat' ('provinces') therein. I had also noted that the most realistic prospects of this declaration translating to tangible results on the ground- that is, in terms of actually building the trappings of a state on the … [Read more...]