May 2, 2016

The Archivist: Unseen Islamic State Military Commanders Manual: Qualities and Manners of the Mujahid Commander

Islamic State Military Commanders Manual: Qualities and Manners of the Mujahid Commander

Islamic State
Camps Administration

Qualities and manners of the mujahid commander
Appendix on military missions

Not be sold or distributed

In keeping with its statehood image, the Islamic State (IS) seeks to present its fighting forces as akin to an organized military, with a bureaucratic department known as the Diwan al-Jund (Soldiers Department) as part of the system of Diwans to cover various aspects of state governance since the declaration of the Caliphate. To be sure, there is still a considerable degree of obscurity as to the nature of organization of the military. From thedocumentary evidence, names of various battalions … [Read more...]

Defections from Harakat al-Muthanna in Deraa: Translation & Analysis

Katibat al-Murabitun statement

In my analysis on the infighting in Deraa province for Jihadology, I noted that although Harakat al-Muthanna al-Islamiya (the Islamic Muthanna Movement- HMI) is actively at war with rebel factions in the western Deraa countryside and is cooperating with the Islamic State [IS]-linked Liwa Shuhada' al-Yarmouk (Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade- LSY) in this regard, there have been no indications of infighting further east between the Deraa al-Balad (southern Deraa city) HMI contingent and rebel forces, as … [Read more...]

Analysis: The Retaking of Palmyra from the Islamic State

Temple of Bel complex in the background and the agora on left center in Palmyra, Syria, April 2010 (Source: Bernard Gagnon).

The retaking of the ancient city of Palmyra from the Islamic State (ISIS) by the Syrian regime backed with intense Russian airpower is predictably being hailed as a victory over terrorism. Symbolically, of course, the recapture of Palmyra allows for the regime and Russia to portray themselves as the defenders of civilization over barbarism, as ISIS had destroyed some of the most archaeological sites in the area last year. But what do the events tell us about Russia's broader approach towards … [Read more...]

The Fitna in Deraa and the Islamic State Angle

Syrian army checkpoint in Douma, Syria, January 2012 (Credit: Elizabeth Arrott/VOA)

International attention has justifiably focused on the recent Islamic State [IS] attacks in Brussels, but at the same time within Syria the most intense round of infighting among rebel factions in the southern province of Deraa has broken out. This fighting is said to be tied to the existence of IS cells and affiliates in Deraa, though IS itself has not said anything about the events on its official media channels, and to date there is no wilayat Deraa('Deraa province') declared in the area. So … [Read more...]

The First Connections Between Liwa Shuhada’ al-Yarmouk and Islamic State

Shari'i official and jihadist veteran Abu Muhammad al-Masalama (left) with al-Khal (a nickname meaning 'The Uncle')- also known by his real name Muhammad al-Baridi (Abu Ali al-Baridi)(right)

Readers of this blog will be familiar by now with the outline of the story of Liwa Shuhada' al-Yarmouk (the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade) in the Yarmouk Valley/Basin in southwest Deraa province bordering the Golan Heights. An FSA-brand brigade that first emerged in the summer of 2012, the group maintained formal FSA affiliations into the summer of 2014, as it was a member of the Southern Front and signed onto a statement affirming democratic values. Subsequently, some changes emerged in the group's … [Read more...]

Recent Local Developments in Azaz

"North Media Foundation" emblem

The town of Azaz in north Aleppo countryside near the border of Turkey emerged to the forefront of attention to the Syrian civil war in the weeks preceding the 'truce'/reduction in hostilities as the Kurdish YPG-dominated 'Syrian Democratic Forces' (SDF) attempted to take the remainder of rebel-held north Aleppo countryside, taking advantage of the regime and its allies' cutting off Aleppo city from the border by breaking the sieges of the Shi'a villages of Nubl and Zahara'. The SDF seized … [Read more...]

Liwa Shuhada’ al-Yarmouk Appoints a New Leader

March 7, 2016, Yarmouk Martyr Brigades statement on appointment of new leader.

After the assassination of its first leader al-Khal in mid-November 2015, the pro-Islamic State (IS) Liwa Shuhada' al-Yarmouk (Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade) based in southwest Deraa province along the border with the Golan Heights appointed Abu Obeida Qahtan as new leader. Qahtan, of Palestinian Syrian origin, is a jihadi veteran and apparently among the founders of Liwa Shuhada' al-Yarmouk. His presence in the group is also rather exceptional in that he is originally from the Yarmouk camp in … [Read more...]

Islamic State Treatise on the Syrian Education System: Full Text, Translation & Analysis

Islamic State
Al-Buhuth and al-'Eftaa Committee

Message of clarification on the statement of the ruling on the education system in the Nusayri government.

This small treatise, written by the al-Buhuth and al-'Eftaa Committee (Research and Fatwa Issuing Committee) that forms one of the key government departments of the Islamic State [IS], is an important historical text in the reform of the education system under IS rule. Having seized large swathes of contiguous territory spanning the borders of Iraq and Syria and officially declared itself to be the Caliphate, IS set up a Diwan al-Ta'aleem (Education Ministry) under the leadership of Dhu … [Read more...]

Harakat al-Hawiya al-Arabiya al-Druziya: Defending Druze Identity in Suwayda’

Emblem of Harakat al-Hawiya al-Arabiya al-Druziya, using the familiar colours associated with the Druze sect.

Emblem of Harakat al-Hawiya al-Arabiya al-Druziya, using the familiar colours associated with the Druze sect. Although the Druze originate from a sect within Shi'i Islam, the religious movement evolved over time such that the Druze identity is deemed separate from that of the Shi'a. The same has been true of the Alawites, though as is well known, a number of efforts have been made in the recent past to bring the Alawites into the fold of mainstream Shi'i Islam, such as Musa Sadr's fatwa in 1974 … [Read more...]

Dissent in the Islamic State’s Yemen Affiliates: Documents, Translation & Analysis

Dissent against the wali [governor] of Yemen

Of all the places where the Islamic State (IS) has declared official affiliates outside of Iraq and Syria in the form of 'wilayas' ('provinces'), Yemen arguably represented one of the most attractive prospects for expansion: a chaotic environment, Sunni-Shi'a sectarian polarisation inflamed by the Houthi expansion from the north of the country that had captured the capital San'a, and the chance to undermine al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Though Yemen was officially declared as an IS … [Read more...]