July 4, 2015

The Islamic State One Year After the Caliphate Declaration

isis in anbar

As we pass the one-year anniversary since the announcement of ISIS's so-called "caliphate" demanding the allegiance of the world's Muslims and ultimately sovereignty over the entire world, much of the commentary has been far too ephemeral. The media has had a tendency to take whatever comes out immediately in the news -- such as the attack today in Sinai claimed by ISIS and its threat to Hamas in Gaza -- as indicative of long-term trends. This is true both on the ISIS home fronts in Iraq … [Read more...]

Islamic State Training Camp Textbook: Part II

Extract of required reading Muqarrar fi al-Tawhid textbook for all Islamic State training camp recruits.

Following on from my post featuring the first lesson of the required reading Muqarrar fi al-Tawhid textbook for all Islamic State training camp recruits, below is my translation of the second lesson from that book. The three principles Which every Muslim and Muslim woman must learn. Knowledge vs. ignorance: definitively realizing what something is. Principles: plural of principle, and as a word: the foundation and basis of something. As a technical term: that on which something else is … [Read more...]

Islamic State Training Camp Textbook: Excerpt and Analysis

Islamic State training camp textbook excerpt

As mentioned in my previous post on Islamic State [IS] training camps and military divisions, the work Muqarrar fi al-Tawhid (Course/Stipulations in Tawhid [Monotheism]) is a book written by IS cleric Turki Binali- issued in the name of the Diwan al-Eftaa wa al-Buhuth that also deals with IS fatwas- and is the key textbook for Shari'a education for recruits to the training camps, who must memorize and understand the book. Below is a translation of the first lesson in the book. Note in … [Read more...]

Islamic State Training Camps and Military Divisions

Omar Fawaz

Though much news coverage of Islamic State (IS) focuses on developments on the battlefronts between IS and its enemies in parallel with ephemeral assessments claiming IS is either winning or losing, little is known about the training camp processes and the army-like divisions. This post, translating and analyzing the testimony of a pro-IS source in Mosul called Omar Fawaz, aims to remedy this deficiency. Several points speak in favour of this source's reliability, beginning with the fact he … [Read more...]

The Massacre of Druze Villagers in Qalb Lawza, Idlib Province

Muhammad Sharif Aqfali (Abu Aymenn)

On 10 June, a number of people in the village of Qalb Lawza- one of a collection of Druze villages in the Jabal al-Summaq region of Idlib province- were massacred in a confrontation with members of Jabhat al-Nusra, which dominates the area. Below are the names of those killed as a result of this clash. As is apparent from the family and middle names, many of these individuals appear to be close relatives of each other. 1. Sheikh Nadim Faris Shaheen 2. Sheikh Rasheed Sa'ad 3. Milad An'am … [Read more...]

Enemy of My enemy: Re-evaluating the Islamic State’s Relationship with the Ba’athist JRTN

A composite of images released by Baathist insurgent group Jaish Rijaal al-Tariqa al-Naqshabandiyya (JRTN) in 2014. (IHS Jane's/JTIC)

Introduction Since the full-blown revival of Iraq's Sunni insurgency at the beginning of 2014, there has been much misunderstanding of the relationship between the Islamic State and insurgents of Baathist orientation, principally represented by the Jaish Rijaal al-Tariqa al-Naqshabandiyya (JRTN). Much of the discourse on this subject attempts to tie the JRTN to the Islamic State, arguing that a so-called 'alliance of convenience' between the two groups has been key to the Islamic State's … [Read more...]

Jamaat Ansar al-Islam: Fighting in North Aleppo Countryside: Translation and Analysis

Jamaat Ansar al-Islam claims to find Masonic symbols on Alawite homes in the village of Ishtabraq near Jisr al-Shughur in Idlib

Jamaat Ansar al-Islam's (JAI) surviving Syria branch has unsurprisingly issued a statement denouncing its long-standing rival the Islamic State (IS) for its latest offensive in north Aleppo countryside on rebel-held towns and villages pushing towards the town of Azaz near the Bab al-Salama border crossing. JAI is primarily based in Aleppo and Idlib provinces, participating in the recent rebel offensives in the latter province that culminated in the capture of Idlib city, Jisr al-Shughur and … [Read more...]

New Salafi Jihadi Group in Gaza: The Sheikh Omar Hadid Brigade

Sheikh Omar Hadid Brigade

A new group in Gaza calling itself the Sheikh Omar Hadid Brigade claimed credit for rocket attacks on Ashdod in late May. Omar Hadid was a key figure in the early years of Iraq's insurgency, aligned with al-Qa'ida in Iraq leader Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi. Indeed, his name was already being used in Islamic State of Iraq material in 2006. The use of this name, along with the fact that the brigade's video release uses two Islamic State nasheeds ("I am not content with a life of humiliation" and "We … [Read more...]

“We have the Swords”- Nasheed from Islamic State’s Ajnad Media

The ISIS-run Osama bin Laden Mosque in Tel Abyad, Raqqa Province. ISIS also runs at least one school and training camp each named after OBL.

One of the "darker" nasheeds of the Islamic State, similar in tone to "We have come as soldiers for God": We have the raging, smiling [gleaming] swords, We have the cry of truth when the clash takes place. We are the defiant, raging lions, Breaking iron with strong determination, Breaking iron with strong determination. When war comes with the melody of bullets, We descend on disbelief, desiring retaliation. They nourish death: for there is no escape, While we nourish guidance from … [Read more...]

Interview with the leader of Harakat al-Nujaba: Translation and Analysis

Harakat Hizballah al-Nujaba (HHN: The Movement of the Party of God of the Outstanding)

Harakat Hizballah al-Nujaba (HHN: The Movement of the Party of God of the Outstanding) is one of the major new Shi'a political and militant organizations to have emerged in Iraq, first coming to the fore in 2013 with its deployments to Syria in the form of multiple front groups, such as the Liwa Ammar ibn Yasir. Like Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq, Kata'ib Hezbollah and the Badr Organization, the group openly identifies with Iran ideologically, regularly featuring the portrait of Iranian Supreme Leader … [Read more...]