Islamic State (IS) which was formerly known as Islamic State in Iraq and Levant (ISIL) or Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) but most common name used by people and media is ISIS. It is an jihadi Islamic state in the middle east which is unrecognized by no country and no organization in the world, it proclaim itself as a caliphate and it claims to an have religious authority over all Muslims around the globe and encouraging them to travel to live in their controlled land.
It is designated as a terrorist organization by many Middle Eastern and western governments like USA, UK, Canada, Australia, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and United Nation.
Islamic State follows the same Ideology like Al Qaeda which is the Jihadist Ideology and the seeking to establish an Islamic State or Global Caliphate to rule all over the Muslim world and wants to implement an extreme practice of Sharia law.
In October 2004, a group was formed as the “Organization of Monotheism and Jihad” by Abu Musab Al Zarqawi then after few months later of its creation the group swore it’s oath of allegiance to the leader of Al Qaeda Osama bin Laden which changed the group’s name to “Organization of Jihad’s Base in the Country of the Two Rivers”. Later they increased their operations against US military until it became one of the most powerful insurgency groups in Iraq and began to spread its influence in many areas across Iraq.
In January 2006, Abu Musab Al Zarqawi came out in video announcing the creation of “Mujahideen Shura Council” which also included other small jihadist groups and the new named group is led by Abdullah Rashid Al Baghdadi. After the death of Abu Musab Al Zarqawi in the same month the group elected Abu Hamza Al Muhajir to be the leader of the group then at the end of 2006 the group was re-named as “Islamic State of Iraq” under the leadership of Abu Omar Al Baghdadi.
In April 2010, the American and Iraqi forces in a joint operation killed Abu Omar Al Baghdadi and Abu Hamza Al Muhajir after that they elected Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi to be the new leader of the group.
In March 2011, major protests began in Syria against the regime of Bashar Assad then in the following month violence between demonstrators and Syrian police and Shabiha lead to an armed conflict.
In August 2011, Abu Bakr Baghdadi began sending Syrian and Iraqi fighters from Islamic State of Iraq who are experienced in guerrilla warfare across the border into Syria to establish a Jihadist group inside the country. Led by a Syrian Jihadist known as Abu Muhammad Al Joulani, the group began to recruit Syrian and foreign fighters and establish cells throughout Syria.
In January 2012, the group announced its formation as Nusra Front which rapidly expanded into a capable fighting force with a level of popular support among Syrian opposition supporters and rebel groups in Syria.
In April 2013, Abu Bakr Baghdadi released an audio statement in which he announced that Al-Nusra Front had been created, financed and supported by the Islamic State of Iraq. Then Baghdadi declared that the two groups were merging under the new name “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria”. The leader of Nusra Front Abu Muhammad al-Joulani, issued a statement denying the merger and complaining that neither he nor anyone else in Al Nusra's leadership had been consulted about it.
In June 2013, Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri addressed to both leaders, in which he ruled against the merger and appointed an emissary to oversee relations between them and put an end to tensions between Nusra Front and Islamic State of Iraq where he also called Abu Bakr Baghdadi to return to Iraq and leave all the Jihadi duties to Nusra front in Syria but in the same month Abu Bakr Baghdadi released an audio message rejecting Zawahiri's ruling and declaring that the merger was going ahead.
In October 2013, Al Qaeda released a statement disbanding Islamic State in Iraq and Syria from its affiliated groups.
In December 2013, Iraqi Sunni tribes rebelled against the Shia led government in Baghdad because of it's discrimination to the Sunni people which lead to a conflict in Anbar province between Sunni insurgents and Iraqi Security forces backed by Shia Militia, this conflict allowed IS fighters to go in Iraq and expand its influence.
In January 2014, ISIS fighters tortured and killed doctor Hussein Suleiman and they were responsible for killing other Syrian rebel commanders which caused many protest against ISIS but some of the protests were fired by ISIS fighters. Many Syrian rebel groups like FSA, SFR, Islamic Front and Army of Mujahedeen declared war on ISIS and attacked all their positions and bases in Aleppo, Idlib, Damascus Suburbs and Deir Zour.
In February 2014, tensions started to rise between Nusra Front and Islamic State in Iraq and Syria but this tension developed into open war between especially when Islamic State in Iraq and Syria fighters killed many Nusra commanders like Abu Mohammed Al Ansari and his family in Idilb.
In May 2014, Al Qaeda Leader Ayman Al Zawahiri ordered Nusra Front to stop fighting with ISIS and to concentrate its fighting on the Syrian regime troops but the fighting between Nusra Front and ISIS continued.
In June 2014, ISIS announced the establishment of a Caliphate and Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi was named as its Caliph, Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) was re-named as “Islamic State” (IS) and called the Muslims around the world to pledge their allegiance to the new caliph.
Finances and Resources
In the beginning Islamic State finance was based on private donations from individuals who live in Iraq and Gulf States but later it developed its activities to gain more income like kidnappings and extortion rackets. All these activities were needed a large amount of money to recruit new members and to conduct attacks.
In 2013 IS fighters captured most of Deir Zour and the villages around it from the north and killed many Syrian rebel fighters then later they captured the oil and gas fields and started to smuggle the oil barrels to Iraq and some were sold to the Syrian regime at a cheap price which is worth around $50 a barrel.
Islamic State’s greatest financial success was when they captured the Iraqi city of Mosul in June 2014 alongside other Iraqi Sunni insurgents, they looted £240 million from Mosul central bank and other banks in the city they also stole gold bullions from the banks as well. Later they captured five oilfields which provided them with an extra income of £1.8 million per day with much oil barrels been smuggled across the Iraqi border to Iran and Turkey.
They earn up to £5 million a month from extortion to local business, they also make around £40 million out of kidnappings and taking hostages of important individuals or foreigners which is believed to be worth 3 - 25 million on each hostage.
IS pays a good salary to its fighters compared to other professional armies in the region like Iraqi security forces and Syrian Arab Army. A local fighter [Syrian or Iraqi] gets $400 monthly, a foreign fighter gets $800 monthly and a civil administrator will get $200 monthly, they also offer other financial benefits like $100 for a child and $150 monthly for a wife that also includes a car and a house but this is only foreign fighters.
Before capturing Mosul they had around £515 million then afterwards after capturing Mosul and looting its banks their cash was added up to £1.5 billion, making them the richest Jihadi or terrorist organization in the world.
The number of IS fighters in Syria are around 30,000 fighters most of them are Syrians from Raqqa and Aleppo who got forced to join or they voluntarily joined them for financial or for ideological reasons, in Iraq they have another 10,000 fighters most of IS fighters are Iraqis most of them are from Al Anbar province. But some estimate the number of IS to be high as 50,000 fighters.
The group also have many foreigners who are fighting on his ranks most of them are from Europe, Caucasus, China and Arab countries, most of them enter to Syria from Turkish borders. Most of the fighters have the experience in combat since they were fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan and Chechnya.
IS has many different types of weapons and armours most of them are captured from the Iraqi Army and the Syrian Army. Most common weapons they use are AK-47, AKM assault rifles, PK Machine guns, RPG-7 and AT-4 Spigot, including Technical vehicles, T-55 tanks, T-72 tanks and ZU-23-2 Anti-aircraft. Later when they captured Mosul they captured Iraqi Army weapons which are US made weapons like M16 assault rifle, Stinger surface to air missiles, Humvees and M1117 Armored vehicles but they are reports saying that they have few captured UH-60 Blackhawk Helicopters.
The group is headed and run by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, with a cabinet of advisers and ministers. There are two deputy leaders, Abu Muslim al-Turkmani for Iraq and Abu Ali al-Anbari for Syria, and 12 local governors in Iraq and Syria. Beneath the leaders are councils on finance, leadership, military matters, legal matters—including decisions on executions—foreign fighters' assistance, security, intelligence and media. In addition, a Shura council has the task of ensuring that all decisions made by the governors and councils comply with the group's interpretation of sharia.
IS leadership / isisstutdygroup
Internet is used for many reasons like to publicise its actions and to recruit new members through Facebook, Twitter and Youtube. Islamic State fighters use social media to promote their actions online, mass killings, crucification and beheadings are posted as videos and photographs and sometimes having selfies next to their beheaded opponents.
Islamic State are also known for using effective propaganda where they establish their own media production so they could produce CDs, DVDs, posters, magazines and films to spread their propaganda online and all of their materials are published in many languages like Arabic, English, French, Russian and German so they could attract young jihadists especially from the western world.
They use Islamic verses from Quran and Sunnah of the prophet just to justify their brutal actions and the legitimate authority over people they rule but most of the Islamic references are wrongly used and misinterpreted. Islamic State is also known for producing jihadi chants and songs since its creation in 2004 in Iraq when they are fighting US forces and Iraqi Shia militants.
The IS members are also being encouraged to upload videos onto other sites other than YouTube. IS appears to have already turned to VKontakte, which is second largest social network site in Europe, which is popular among Russian speakers in Eastern Europe and Russia.
IS Magazine “Dabiq” / twitter
IS Expansion inside Syria
IS fighters fought intelligently and subtlety also one the tactics which they used is lying, treachery and deception, but the intelligence of IS appears in its military strategy followed by fighting but the strength of this group is not large comparing it to Syrian rebels and Syrian regime. They established a strategy which will help them avoid wastage of resources, losses of men and vehicles and to do that they expanded into Syrian rebel territories and stopped fighting with Syrian Regime for nearly a year.
IS achieved this expansion by many malicious methods like sneaking through into the rebel held territory and avoids clashes with strong Syrian rebel groups. Exploit the tolerant psyches of the Syrian rebels and Co-operating with small Syrian rebel groups then betraying them by killing them because they are not fighting under the banner of monotheism.
The general strategy followed by the IS to occupy Syria is expanding into Syrian rebel areas and to avoid clash with the Syrian regime troops because this is the easiest and quickest way for them to gain new territories so they could build their Islamic State.
Syrian Rebel groups thought that IS would help them by investing its military force on battling Syrian army troops in the Syrian regime territories but the opposite has happened, IS left fighting the Syrian regime and turned to fight the Syrian rebels instead and capturing their territories.
Exploit the chaos that arose in some liberated areas from the Syrian regime, and to act as a saviour by helping the civilians by saving them from criminal gangs, but Syrian rebel factions that failed to provide security to the people and failed to deter criminal gangs of thieves and bandits in some areas because they are busy fighting Syrian regime which is supported by Shiite militia.
IS fighters carry the idea of fighting Apostates and infidels so they fight any opponent that is not following their rule or ideology where either they are from different race or religion. According to ISIS classification of opponents they believe that Syrian rebels or “apostates” is more important than fighting the Syrian regime troops or “infidels” like the IS fighters like to call them because they believe that the Syrian rebels are created by the west to destroy ISIS and their dream of building an Islamic State.
Territories controlled by Islamic State
In 2006 Islamic State of Iraq which was known at that time released a video claiming the authority over many areas in Iraq which was Baghdad, Anbar, Diyala, Kirkuk, Salah Al Din, Nineveh and parts of Babil.
During the Syrian conflict the group entered to Syria in 2013 then announced the formation of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and claimed new areas to its claimed territories which some of them are under Islamic State control and gave them new names like Al Barakah (Hasakah Governorate), Al Kheir (Deir Zour Governorate), Al Badiya (Homs Governorate), Halab (Aleppo Governorate), Damascus (Damascus Governorate), Hama (Hama Governorate), Idlib (Idlib Governorate) and Coast (Latakia Governorate). Raqqah is declared to be the capital of the Islamic State and all those Governorates are called Wilaya which means provinces in Arabic language. Islamic State has also expanded it's influence into Libya, Algeria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Yemen.
Islamic State plans to expand its caliphate that would include Asia, Middle East, Caucasus, North Africa, Iberia and Balkans.
Yazidi Massacre 2014
On 3 August 2014, Islamic State fighters launched an attack on Sinjar which is Kurdish controlled town and its home to the Yazidi minority and IS fighters later captured it from the Kurdish Peshmerga forces. IS fighters later committed a massacre against the Yazidi minorities just because of their faith as they were labelled as devil worshippers by IS fighters since they believed in an ancient religion with some elements from Islam, Christianity and Zoroastrianism.
According to official sources IS fighters killed more 600 Yazidis and caused around 50,000 others to flee to nearby mount of Sinjar but IS fighters continued to chase them and also besieged the mount of Sinjar which caused dozens of them to die of starvation and dehydration.
IS fighters have taken hundreds of Yazidi women some reports say that they captured around 500 women and young girls they were either married off to IS fighters to service them as wives and others were sold as sex slaves in slavery markets in Mosul and Raqqa. Yazidi men who refused to convert to Islam were executed by IS fighters which many of them did refuse and the punishment was death.
On 8 August 2014, USA sent F/A 18 jets and MQ-9 drones to bomb IS targets around the mount of Sinjar most of them were IS convoys and artillery units, while UK and France dropped aid of food and water to the Yazidi people who were on the Sinjar Mountain. After days of US bombings of IS targets and Kurdish Peshmerga forces attacking on the ground they have managed to lift IS siege on the mount of Sinjar allowing thousands of Yazidis to escape, most of them want to northern Syria for refugee which is under Kurdish YPG control and the rest fled to Turkey.
Massacre of Sheitaat tribe 2014
When Islamic State captured the rebel held area of Deir Zour they started to discriminate its people and tribes, in July 2014 the Sunni Arab tribe of Sheitaat who are around 70,000 members rebelled against the Islamic State rule in the city and killing dozens of their fighters but their rebellion was crushed and by IS and put their rebellion to an end in less than two weeks.
The leader of the Sheitaat tribe, Sheikh Rafaa Aakla Al Raju posted a video on Youtube calling on other tribes to join him in fight over IS fighters and warning them that if IS are finished with his tribe they will go and attack other tribes, but unfortunately other tribes did not join him in his fight against IS fighters.
IS fighters labelled the Sheitaat tribe as apostates and they needed to be punished for their rebellion, so on 18 August ISIS fighters executed 700 men and imprisoning 1,400 others in IS prisons some of the men were executed by IS firing squads and others were beheaded.
Houses that belonged to members who participated in the rebellion were demolished by IS fighters and the properties and belongings of those people were robbed by IS fighters and sent to them to Raqqa to be sold, these stolen belongings were called as spoils of war.
During November 2014, Islamic State has carried out mass killings against the Sunni Arab tribe of Albu Nimr who opposed IS in Anbar province, Iraqi Government refused to send arms to Albu Nimr tribe to fight against IS as they promised to do but they have abandoned them. Albu Nimr is one of the Sunni Arab tribes that are loyal to the Iraqi Government and it has played an important role in fighting against al-Qaeda and its allies in Anbar province since 2007. The death toll among Albu Nimr reached more than 600 and many hundreds were injured.
Christian exodus from Mosul 2014
Thousands of Iraqi Christian families fled from Mosul and villages nearby after Islamic State and other Sunni insurgents captured it, IS gave the Christian families them ultimatum either to pay a special tax, convert to Islam or leave the city those who don't obey will face execution. This is the first time ever Mosul is empty of Christians.
Iraqi Christians that were forced to flee from their homes are Assyrians, Armenians and Chaldean communities. Iraq’s largest Christian city was emptied from its Christian native population and they choose to flee from the discrimination of IS fighters most reports suggest that 100,000 Iraqi Christians fled to Kurdistan and to its capital Erbil and to other cities like Dohuk.
Treatment of Civilians and Minorities
Shia mosques and Christian churches have been attacked and destroyed by IS fighters in many places that are under their control and the Armenian Catholic Church of the Martyrs in Raqqa converted in the IS headquarters.
IS fighters took full control of cities and people’s lives like imposing strict Sharia law, thieves have had their hands chopped off, opponents unable to flee have been crucified or beheaded, music has been banned, smoking is forbidden, women wear the full veil (Burqa) and there have been reports of people being stoned to death. Even goats have had their genitals covered up. Residents can see public executions that are done by IS fighters to the local people like crucifying, beheading and shootings.
Islamic State formed a battalion called “Al Khansa”, this battalion consists of women that are wives to the IS fighters and it was formed to chase and prosecute the women that are not following the rules that was set by Islamic State, they are also assisted to go and find wives for IS foreign jihadist by forcing Syrian mothers to give up their grownup daughters for IS fighters to marry them and if their parents refuse they will face death. According to Syrian activists most Syrian girls that married IS fighters by force most of them are brutally beaten by their husbands which made some of them to escape and commit suicide.
They also banned the sale of alcohol, they closed down cafes where boys and girls sit together, and they banned theatre, cinema, bright colours on clothes, and forced women to wear Islamic dress.
Islamic State made their own educational curriculum for Syrian students in Raqqa, allowing them only to study Islamic related subjects and banning many other subjects like Philosophy and Chemistry claiming that these subjects do not fit in with the laws of god which is not true at all. Discriminating the minorities like Yazidis and Shiites are seen as infidels worth killing by Islamic State fighters.
Proclamation of the Caliphate
On June 29, Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) changed its name to the Islamic State (IS) and announced the establishment of a Caliphate, which geographically would include Iraq and Syria, and in theory covers the global Muslim population. They called upon Muslims all over the globe to pledge allegiance to their Caliph Ibrahim Abu Bakr Baghdadi.The establishment of a caliphate has been heavily criticized by Middle Eastern governments and other Islamist groups.
Chairman of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, Yusuf Al Qaradawi stated: "The declaration issued by the Islamic State is void under sharia and has dangerous consequences for the Sunnis in Iraq and for the revolt in Syria, only be given by the entire Muslim nation, not by a single group.”
Iraqi Scholars Committee, Khalid Al Mulla stated “ISIS's aim is to control Iraq's economic resources in the northern and western parts of the country and to exploit them to finance terrorist groups all over the world and the caliphate is illegitimate and ill-intentioned.”
Al Monitor - Syrian Girls are forced to marry ISIS fighters (English) - [http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/05/syria-girls-marriage-isis-raqqa.html]
Eldorar - ISIS expansion in Syria (Arabic) - [http://eldorar.com/node/40237]
Al Araby - ISIS sell oil to Assad regime (Arabic) - [http://www.alaraby.co.uk/economy/a37d6ef8-86e9-4554-85d4-c6b6be2110a5]
Al Arabiya - ISIS ban chemistry and philosophy (English)- [http://english.alarabiya.net/en/perspective/features/2014/08/16/ISIS-calls-for-an-Islamic-curriculum-in-Syria-s-Raqa.html]
Daily mail - ISIS domination of the islamic world (English) - [http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2674736/ISIS-militants-declare-formation-caliphate-Syria-Iraq-demand-Muslims-world-swear-allegiance.html]
Daily mail - Yazidi women captured by ISIS fighters (English)- [http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2719698/President-Obama-authorises-airstrikes-Iraq-defend-civilians-Islamic-militants-swarming-country.html]
Daily mail - Christians flee from Mosul (English) - [http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/ap/article-2698181/Under-threat-Iraqs-Christians-flee-city-Mosul.html]
Guardian - ISIS richest terrorist organization in the world (English)- [http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jun/15/iraq-isis-arrest-jihadists-wealth-power]
Telegraph - ISIS strength and finance (English)- [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iraq/11052919/How-Isil-is-funded-trained-and-operating-in-Iraq-and-Syria.html]
Al Jazeera - Baghdadi’s vision of a caliphate (English) - [http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2014/07/baghdadi-vision-new-caliphate-20147184858247981.html]
Al Jazeera - ISIS has 50,000 fighters (English)- [http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2014/08/islamic-state-50000-fighters-syria-2014819184258421392.html]
Eldorar- List of Muslim Associations condemn ISIS (Arabic) -[http://eldorar.com/node/56282]
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