Check out my new ‘Policy Watch’ for the Washington Institute: “A Year Since Baghuz, the Islamic State Is Neither Defeated nor Resurging (Yet)”

A lot has happened for the Islamic State since it lost its last sliver of territory in Baghuz, Syria, a year ago this week. Most notable was the death of its first self-declared caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who was killed in a U.S. Special Forces raid in Barisha, Syria, last October. IS subsequently announced his successor as Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Quraishi, and thus far, there have been no signs of any disruption in its activities as a result of this transition. Indeed, despite the U.S. government’s boisterous pronouncements that IS was defeated after the fall of Baghuz, the organization remains active.

Yet it is also too early to state that IS has rebounded. Rather, it is surviving and waiting for the right moments to take advantage—and not necessarily in the same manner it did in 2004-2006 (when it first became relevant) or 2012-2014 (when it resurfaced after major defeats in Iraq). Even so, many of the underlying sectarian and governance dynamics that led to its reemergence eight years ago persist in both Iraq and Syria.

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New video message from The Islamic State: “Desist – It Is Better For You #2 – Wilāyat al-‘Irāq, Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn”

Click here for the first part in this video series.


To inquire about a translation for this video message for a fee email: [email protected]

New video message from The Islamic State: “They Will Not Harm You Except For [Some] Annoyance – – Wilāyat al-‘Irāq, Dijlah”

New video message from al-‘Irāqīyah News Channel: “The Yazidi Women Āshwāq Ḥajī Ḥamīd Stands Up To Islamic State Terrorist Who Raped Her”

New video message from The Islamic State: “Fate of the Criminals – Wilāyat al-‘Irāq, Shamāl Baghdād”


Source: Telegram

To inquire about a translation for this video message for a fee email: [email protected]

The Islamic State’s Bayat Campaign

In the aftermath of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s death, I noted that the Islamic State (IS) was likely to start a bayat campaign for its new Caliph Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi. Beginning November 2, IS’s official Telegram channels began posting such bayat.

There are two main reasons for this: 1. pledges are leader-specific rather than group-specific and thus need to be renewed with each succession and 2. it is a way to legitimize al-Qurashi’s rule and create a media event so that the group can promote itself as it transitions to a new phase.

The first reason is also something that IS pointed to when it began to overtly feud with al-Qaeda (AQ) in 2013, by saying that following Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi’s death, his successor Abu Hamzah al-Muhajir gave baya to the newly created Islamic State of Iraq’s leader Abu ‘Umar al-Baghdadi and even after Abu ‘Umar was killed, when Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi took over in 2010 and then Usamah Bin Laden was killed in 2011, Abu Bakr never publicly gave baya to Ayman al-Zawahiri, even if al-Zawahiri claims he gave it to him privately. Therefore, from the perspective of IS this whole process is not trivial, but important for legitimacy of its leadership and to potentially weed out any insubordination before it manifests into something larger as it already did in the past vis-a-vis AQ.

This post will be updated with the latest official pledges.

November 2, 2019:

Wilāyat Saynā’


November 3, 2019:

Wilāyat al-Ṣūmāl

November 4, 2019:

Wilāyat Bākistān

Wilāyat al-Yaman – al-Bayḍā’

November 5, 2019:

Wilāyat al-Shām – Ḥawrān

Wilāyat Khurāsān

November 6, 2019:


November 7, 2019:

Wilāyat Gharb Ifrīqīyyah – Nījīrīā

Wilāyat al-Shām – Ḥimṣ

Wilāyat al-Shām – al-Khayr

Wilāyat al-Shām – al-Raqqah

Wilāyat Sharq Asīā

Wilāyat Wasaṭ Ifrīqīyyah

November 8:

Wilāyat al-Shām – Ḥimṣ

November 9:

Wilāyat Sharq Asīā

Wilāyat Gharb Ifrīqīyyah – Mālī and Būrkīnāfāsū

Wilāyat al-Shām – al-Barakah

November 12, 2019:

Wilāyat al-Shām – Ḥalab

November 14, 2019:

Wilāyat al-‘Irāq – Shamāl Baghdād

November 15, 2019:

Wilāyat Lībīyā

November 16, 2019:

Wilāyat al-‘Irāq – Dijlah

November 17, 2019: 

Wilāyat al-‘Irāq – Diyālā‎

November 18, 2019: 

Wilāyat al-‘Irāq – Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn

November 19, 2019: 

Wilāyat al-‘Irāq – Karkūk

November 22, 2019: 

Wilāyat Sharq Asīā – Indūnīsīyā

November 29, 2019:


New video message from The Islamic State: “And The [Best] Outcome Is For The Righteous – Wilāyat al-‘Irāq”

For prior parts in this video series see: Wilāyat al-Shām, al-BinghālWilāyat al-YamanWilāyat Wasaṭ IfrīqīyyahWilāyat al-ṢūmālTūnisWilāyat TurkīyāWilāyat LībīyāAzerbaijanWilāyat KhurāsānWilāyat al-QawqāzWilāyat Sharq AsīāWilāyat Saynā’, and Wilāyat Gharb Ifrīqīyyah. The title of this release is in reference to a part of Qur’anic verses 7:128, 11:49, and 28:83.


Source: Telegram

To inquire about a translation for this video message for a fee email: [email protected]

New video message from The Islamic State: “Then They Will Be Overcome – Wilāyat al-‘Irāq, al-Fallūjah”

8:36. Here it is in full: “Indeed, those who disbelieve spend their wealth to avert [people] from the way of God. So they will spend it; then it will be for them a [source of] regret; then they will be overcome. And those who have disbelieved – unto Hell they will be gathered.”


To inquire about a translation for this video message for a fee email: [email protected]