group has also invested heavily in the next generation by inducting
children into their ideology."
9/4/14, "In northeast Syria, Islamic State builds a government," Reuters, Mariam Karouny, Beirut
"In the cities and towns across the desert plains of northeast Syria,
the ultra-hardline al Qaeda offshoot Islamic State has insinuated itself
into nearly every aspect of daily life.
The group famous for its
beheadings, crucifixions and mass executions provides electricity and
water, pays salaries, controls traffic, and runs nearly everything from
bakeries and banks to schools, courts and mosques.
While its merciless battlefield tactics and its imposition of its
austere vision of Islamic law have won the group headlines, residents
say much of its power lies in its efficient and often deeply pragmatic
ability to govern.
Syria’s eastern province of Raqqa provides the
best illustration of their methods. Members hold up the province as an
example of life under the Islamic “caliphate” they hope will one day
stretch from China to Europe....
In interviews conducted remotely, residents, Islamic State fighters
and even activists opposed to the group described how it had built up a
structure similar to a modern government in less than a year under its
chief, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Reuters journalists are unable to visit the area for security reasons....
Islamic State has embedded itself so thoroughly into the fabric of life
in places like Raqqa that it will be all but impossible for U.S.
aircraft - let alone Iraqi, Syrian and Kurdish troops - to uproot them
through force alone....
Within a year, Islamic State had clawed its
way into control, mercilessly eliminating rival insurgents.
critical of the group were killed, disappeared, or escaped to Turkey.
Alcohol was banned. Shops closed by afternoon and streets were empty by
nightfall. Communication with the outside world - including nearby
cities and towns - was allowed only through the Islamic State media
Those rebels and activists who stayed largely “repented”, a
process through which they pledge loyalty to Baghdadi and are forgiven
for their “sins” against the Islamic State, and either kept to their
homes or joined the group’s ranks.
But after the initial
crackdown, the group began setting up services and institutions -
stating clearly that it intended to stay and use the area as a base in
its quest to eradicate national boundaries and establish an Islamic
“We are a state,” one emir, or commander, in the province
told Reuters. “Things are great here because we are ruling based on
Some Sunni Muslims who worked for Assad’s government stayed on after they pledged allegiance to the group.
civilians who do not have any political affiliations have adjusted to
the presence of Islamic State, because people got tired and exhausted,
and also, to be honest, because they are doing institutional work in
Raqqa,” one Raqqa resident opposed to Islamic State told Reuters.
then, the group “has restored and restructured all the institutions
that are related to services,” including a consumer protection office
and the civil judiciary, the resident said.
BRUTALITY AND PRAGMATISM
the past month alone, Islamic State fighters have broadcast images of
themselves beheading U.S. journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff as
well as captive Kurdish and Lebanese soldiers, and machine-gunning
scores of Syrian prisoners wearing nothing but their underwear.
the group’s use of violence has not been entirely indiscriminate. The
group has often traded with businessmen loyal to Assad when it has
suited its interests, for instance.
According to one fighter, a
former Assad employee is now in charge of mills and distributing flour
to bakeries in Raqqa. Employees at the Raqqa dam, which provides the
city with electricity and water, have remained in their posts.
State’s willingness to use former Assad employees displays a pragmatism
residents and activists say has been vital to its success holding onto
territory it has captured.
They have been helped by experts who
have come from countries including in North Africa and Europe. The man
Baghdadi appointed to run and develop Raqqa’s telecoms, for instance, is
a Tunisian with a PhD in the subject who left Tunisia to join the group
and serve “the state”.
Reflecting Islamic State’s assertion that
it is a government - rather than simply a militant group that happens to
govern - Baghdadi has also separated military operations from civilian
administration, assigning fighters only as police and soldiers.
Baghdadi has appointed civilian deputies called walis, an Islamic term
describing an official similar to a minister, to manage institutions and
develop their sectors.
Administrative regions are divided into
waliyehs, or provinces, which sometimes align with existing divisions
but, as with the case of the recently established al-Furat province, can
span national boundaries.
Fighters and employees receive a salary
from a department called the Muslim Financial House, which is something
like a finance ministry and a bank that aims to reduce poverty.
receive housing - including in homes confiscated from local non-Sunnis
or from government employees who fled the area - as well as about $400
to $600 per month, enough to pay for a basic lifestyle in Syria’s poor
One fighter said poor families were given money. A widow may receive $100 for herself and for each child she has, he said.
Prices are also kept low. Traders who manipulate prices are punished, warned and shut down if they are caught again.
group has also imposed Islamic taxes on wealthy traders and families.
“We are only implementing Islam, zakat is an Islamic tax imposed by
God,” said a jihadi in Raqqa.
Analysts estimate that Islamic State
also raises tens of millions of dollars by selling oil from the fields
it controls in Syria and Iraq to Turkish and Iraqi businessmen and by
collecting ransoms for hostages it has taken.
BAGHDADI CALLS THE SHOTS
the heart of the Islamic State system is its leader, Baghdadi, who in
June declared himself “caliph”, or ruler of all the world’s Muslims,
after breaking with al Qaeda.
Residents, fighters and activists
agree Baghdadi is now heavily involved in Raqqa’s administration, and
has the final word on all decisions made by commanders and officials.
Even the prices set for local goods go back to him, local sources say.
say Baghdadi also approves beheadings and other executions and
punishments for criminals convicted by the group’s Islamic courts.
On the battlefield, fighters describe him as a fierce and experienced commander.
Syrian fighter said Baghdadi led major battles, such as one to retake a
Syrian military base known as Division 17 in July, the first in a
series of defeats the group dealt to Syrian government forces in Raqqa
”He does not leave the brothers. In the battle to retake
Division 17 he was also slightly wounded but he is fine now,” the
“He is always moving. He does not stay in one place. He moves between Raqqa, Deir al-Zor and Mosul. He leads the battles.”
NEXT GENERATION JIHAD
Although pragmatism has been a key to the group’s success, ideology is also vital to the group’s rule.
declaring the caliphate and setting up a “state”, Baghdadi aimed to
attract foreign jihadis and experts from abroad. Supporters say
thousands have responded.
At the same time, wealthy Islamists from across the world have sent money to Raqqa to support the caliphate, jihadis say.
to sources in Raqqa, the group maintains three weapons factories mainly
designed to develop missiles. Foreign scientists - including Muslims
from China, fighters claim - are kept in a private location with
”Scientists and men with degrees are joining the State,” said one Arab jihadi.
group has also invested heavily in the next generation by inducting
children into their ideology.
Primary, secondary and university programs
now include more about Islam.
The group also accepts women who want to fight - they are trained about “the real Islam” and the reasons for fighting.
education groups are held in mosques for newly arrived fighters, who,
according to militants in Raqqa, have flocked to Islamic
State-controlled territory in even greater numbers since Baghdadi
declared the “caliphate”.
”Every three days we receive at least
1,000 fighters. The guest houses are flooding with mujahideen. We are
running out of places to receive them,” the Arab jihadi said."
Thursday, September 4, 2014
ISIS has built a modern government in northeast Syria in less than a year, will be all but impossible for US or anyone to uproot them via force alone. Makes $10s of millions selling oil from Syria and Iraq fields to Turkish and Iraqi businessmen-Reuters
Posted by susan at 6:56 AM