November 27, 2015

The Paris Attacks Reflect Intelligence Failure — Not a Change in ISIS Strategy

Fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) marching in Raqqa, Syria.

The recent attacks in Paris carried out by the Islamic State have led to widespread speculation about a possible shift in strategy on the part of ISIS. Taken in conjunction with the downing of a Russian passenger plane over the Sinai and the bombings in the predominantly Shia Dahiyeh suburbs of Beirut, it is argued that ISIS is lashing out at the "far enemy" as it comes under pressure on the home fronts in Iraq and Syria, such as its recent loss of control of Sinjar, a town that formed part of … [Read more...]

Has Assad’s New Offensive Changed Syria’s Front Lines?

Saraya al-Khorasani announcing via Facebook its involvement in operations to break the sieges of Nubl and Zahara. Interestingly, this post was subsequently removed from the group's Facebook pages.

Backed by heavy Russian airstrikes, government forces and allied militias fighting to support Bashar al-Assad have launched a series of coordinated ground offensives across northwestern Syria since the beginning of October. The hope is to regain territory lost to rebels over the past year and to shore up areas vital to Assad's survival. But while state-run Syrian and Russian media highlight success after success, the results may not be as promising as Assad and his backers would have liked. The … [Read more...]

“Be with God”- New Nasheed from the Islamic State

Islamic State nashid

As always, translation below. Suggestions for revisions welcome. To listen to the original, see here. Be with God, pure, and worry not. Everything is heading to disappearance. Live modestly in content, submitting, Free from every grave matter [chorus]. Indeed the rope of God, oh, this is strong, Reinforced of fibres and of the strongest cords. If you reach it, it is arrival for the servant. So seize the opportunity and have the fortune of that union. [chorus] If you desire glory … [Read more...]

The Archivist: “Go Forth, Lightly and Heavily Armed”: New Mobilization Calls By the Islamic State in Aleppo Province

Islamic State Aleppo mobilization

Introduction: Context and Analysis With the intensification of Russia's overt intervention inside Syria, regime forces and allied militias have launched multiple offensives in the north of Syria. One of these offensives is taking place in Aleppo province and has three primary aims: to expand the line of control to the southwest of Aleppo city, to attempt (again) to complete the encirclement of Aleppo city and break the rebel sieges of the Shi'a villages of Nubl and Zahara' to the northwest of … [Read more...]

This Is Our Aqeeda and This Is Our Manhaj: Islam 101 According to the Islamic State

This is our Aqeeda and This is our Manhaj: Islam 101 according to the Islamic State

The Islamic State- previously ISIS- has published numerous da'wa pamphlets over the past two years on matters of religious doctrine and practice, primarily in the name of its al-Himma Library. This pamphlet- on aqeeda ('creed/doctrine') and manhaj ('ideological program/direction')-is one of the most basic outlines of Islamic State ideology available from the Islamic State itself. I have translated it in full at the request of Shiraz Maher. I have also included commentary mainly in the … [Read more...]

Rijal al-Karama after Sheikh Abu Fahad Waheed al-Bal’ous’ Assassination

Sheikh Hanawi [just left of centre] at a reception commemorating Bal'ous on 9 October with other mashayakh and Rijal al-Karama.

On 4 September, the Druze sheikh Abu Fahad Waheed al-Bal'ous and a number of his associates within his Rijal al-Karama ('Men of Dignity') militia were assassinated in bomb attacks in Suwayda. Bal'ous- a very popular figure on Druze social media- had advocated a 'third-way' line that called for reform within the existing regime system in Suwayda province rather than revolution. This agenda focused on anti-corruption as well as prioritising local defence over forced conscription into regime … [Read more...]

Jund al-Aqsa Withdraws from Jaysh al-Fatah

Jund al-Aqsa General Command No. 7/427/1

Jund al-Aqsa- a jihadi group founded in 2013 and officially independent but in practice closer to Jabhat al-Nusra with several al-Qa'ida operatives in its senior ranks- has recently fallen into controversies regarding its relationship with the Jaysh al-Fatah ('Army of Conquest') coalition in Idlib province in which it has played a key role since the spring of this year. Arguably the main issue has been suspicion regarding the group's sentiment towards the Islamic State. Though Jaysh al-Fatah … [Read more...]

Unseen Islamic State Treatise on Calendars: Full Text, Translation & Analysis

Islamic State
Al-Buhuth wa al-Eftaa' Committee

Ruling on working by Miladi dating

Al-Buhuth wa al-Eftaa' Committee

First Printing
1436 AH

This treatise of the Diwan al-Buhuth wa al-Eftaa' (Research & Fatwa-Issuing Department), previously unseen in the outside world, concerns the question of whether one can use 'Miladi' dating, best known in its current and most widely used form as the Gregorian calendar. In short, the conclusion is that the Islamic State must ultimately erase all traces of Miladi dating as it is a system of dating associated with the disbelievers, in particular the Christians. On the basis of the principle … [Read more...]

Talking to the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade

An FSA fighter engaged in a shootout in Aleppo, Syria (November 2012).

It is by now well established that Liwa Shuhada' al-Yarmouk ('The Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade'), a one-time member of the Free Syrian Army Southern Front coalition, has become pro-Islamic State (ISIS) in orientation, using the ISIS flag in its logo and echoing ISIS discourse in its statements. Controlling a contiguous area of towns and villages in the Yarmouk Valley in south-western Deraa province, aspects of Liwa Shuhada' al-Yarmouk governance have begun to mimic ISIS administration. But the … [Read more...]

Condemning Russian Intervention: Rebel Unity?

Russian T-72B3 tank

(Photo: "T-72B3 - TankBiathlon2013-09" by Vitaly V. Kuzmin - Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons -

In a joint statement released on 5 October, 41 Syrian rebel factions condemned the "Russian military aggression against the Syrian people," describing it as a "genuine occupation of the land even if some sides claim that it was done on official request from the Assad regime." The statement added that the Russian airstrikes in Homs province, which left "approximately 50 martyrs from the civilians," should be considered Russia's first war crime in Syria. The statement went on to describe "any … [Read more...]