August 31, 2015

The Archivist: Critical Analysis of the Islamic State’s Health Department

Islamic State (IS) Health Department document: Diwan al-Siha
Medical Sciences University
Caliphate on the Prophetic Methodology
No. 766
Date: 1 Dhu al-Q'ida 1436 AH [16 August 2015]

The Islamic State's [IS] health department (Diwan al-Siha) is probably most familiar to UK readers, who will recognize the 'ISHS' (Islamic State Health Service) branding as a spin-off of the 'NHS' (National Health Service). The ISHS was promoted in an official Raqqa province video featuring two muhajireen medical personnel, the first of whom (originally from Australia) urges Muslim medical personnel from around the world to join IS, saying: "Muslims here are really suffering from not … [Read more...]

The Archivist: 26 Unseen Islamic State Administrative Documents: Overview, Translation & Analysis

Activities of the Islamic State (IS) services office, Manbij, Aleppo

Introduction Of all jihadist groups, the Islamic State [IS] by far has presented the most comprehensive, ostensible bureaucratic structure as part of its claimed state project, embodied foremost in a system of diwans (government departments) since the declaration of the Caliphate in June 2014. The best means to analyse the nuances of this set-up is through looking at documents issued by these departments that have not been officially released in IS' media outlets. Here, numerous shades … [Read more...]

“This Path and These Banners”- Nasheed from the Islamic State

isis in anbar

The Islamic State's videos regularly feature very short nasheeds not released as individual productions by Ajnad Media. One example was covered on this blog here regarding Boko Haram's pledge of allegiance to the Islamic State to become West Africa Province. Below is another of these nasheeds, by no means wholly new but featured most recently in a Ninawa Province video regarding the renewal of allegiance from the tribes of the Ninawa plain. For the focus on Baghdad and Damascus, compare … [Read more...]

Liwa al-Sayyida Ruqayya: Recruiting the Shi’a of Damascus


Emblem of Liwa al-Sayyida Ruqayya: "The Ja'afari Force: The Islamic Resistance in Syria." The rallying call of Shi'a jihadi groups to defend the Sayyida Zainab shrine in the Damascus area is well known, but it is not the only religious symbol used in the justification of shrine defence in Syria. The Damascus area is also home to the shrine of Sayyida Ruqayya, the daughter of Imam Hussein who was taken captive at the Battle of Karbala and died in captivity in Damascus. She is also known as … [Read more...]

Assessing U.S. and Coalition Strategy for Syria and the Islamic State

A F/A-18 Super Hornet taking off from USS Carl Vinson before carrying out strikes on ISIL targets in Syria (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Alex King/Released).

What to do about Syria? How to defeat the Islamic State? Think of all the op-eds and policy papers that aim to provide answers to these questions. But is there actually anything to them? What about the current U.S. approach? To begin with, one can readily agree that the U.S. train-and-equip program for Syrian rebels to fight ISIS has been misguided from the beginning. The notion that such a force can only take on ISIS and not the Assad regime has no credibility among the overwhelming … [Read more...]

“We Have Risen, We Have Risen”- New Nasheed from the Islamic State

Islamic State nashid

My initial translation below. Be sure also to read MEMRI's superb overview today of the most prominent Islamic State nasheeds here. Besides analyzing the poetic metre and language, the translations are more eloquent than my own, and they have made me rethink some of my own prior translations: (Original here). We have risen, we have risen, we have risen, we have risen, As lightning and thunder, as lightning and thunder We have come, we have come, As eagles and lions, as eagles and lions. … [Read more...]

Archive of Jabhat al-Nusra Service Documents

Jabhat al-Nusra Public Administration Services

Just as the Islamic State has its 'Diwan al-Khidamat' (Services Department) dedicated to the realm of public services, so too does Syria's al-Qa'ida affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra have its 'Public Administration for Services.' The archive below of this department's documents will be continually updated, similar to the archives ofIslamic State administrative documents, Jabhat al-Nusra judicial documents and Jabhat al-Nusra billboards and murals. Specimen A: Amnesty for Water Use Violations, … [Read more...]

The New Druze Militia Factions of Suwayda Province

Emblem of Dir al-Watan  ("The Homeland Shield"), pro-Assad Druze militia in Suwayda province.

As the Syria civil war has progressed with both rebels and the Islamic State [IS] encroaching on the territory of Suwayda province from the west and northeast respectively, more distinct militia factions centred on particular personalities have emerged competing for support among the predominantly Druze population: a picture quite different from 1-2 years ago when Druze militias were primarily known by generic brands such as 'Jaysh al-Muwahhideen' or the familiar pro-Assad Popular Committees. … [Read more...]

The Evolution in Islamic State Administration: The Documentary Evidence

Timetable of teaching of the Koran sessions for children in the various mosques of Raqqa, Syria, put out by Islamic State (IS) administrative department Diwan al-Awqaf wa al-Masajid administration responsible for dealing with waqf property endowments, and management of mosques and religious institutions.

The following article appeared in Perspectives on Terrorism Abstract This paper traces the development in Islamic State administration from the establishment of the Islamic State of Iraq in 2006 until the present day. The paper draws on rare primary sources to explain the growing sophistication in the group's governance structures. The current bureaucratic system has reached a level of complexity and professionalism that probably makes the Islamic State sustainable, even under containment, … [Read more...]

Quwat al-Ridha: Syrian Hezbollah

Quwat al-Ridha graphic: "Special Missions school: Quwat al-Ridha: the Islamic Resistance in Syria. Dedication: the men of God in the locality of Umm al-Amad [in Homs province]."

Quwat al-Ridha graphic: "Special Missions school: Quwat al-Ridha: the Islamic Resistance in Syria. Dedication: the men of God in the locality of Umm al-Amad [in Homs province]." The involvement of Hezbollah in the Syrian civil war and its deployments of fighters from Lebanon are basic facts of the conflict. Less explored is the development of Hezbollah as a native Syrian force and brand. At this site, we previously profiled one such group- the National Ideological Resistance– andinterviewed … [Read more...]