The Archivist: A Tribute to Jihadology – The Islamic State Police in Wilayat Halab

For prior parts in The Archivist series you can view an archive of it all here. And for his older series see: Musings of an Iraqi Brasenostril on Jihad.

A Tribute to Jihadology – The Islamic State Police in Wilayat Halab

By Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi

There are few specialists in the realm of jihadism studies who can claim to have not relied on Jihadology at some point in the course of their research. Over ten years, the website has grown to be the Internet’s most important repository for primary jihadist source material. At a time when social media sites are cracking down more vigorously than ever on dissemination of jihadist videos and writings, Jihadology proves the vital resource for those of us who simply lack the time to trawl through and save all of those materials on our computers.

I first came to notice Jihadology in late 2012, partly on account of my curiosity at the time about jihadist anashid. At the time I was an undergraduate student at Oxford University and had not yet become deeply involved in primary research on jihadism, but that rapidly changed as the Syrian civil war continued to develop and the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) was announced in April 2013. Soon I began rigorously looking for all the primary materials I could find on ISIS’ evolution in Syria. I had the privilege of coming to write a column for Jihadology that primarily focused on ISIS in Iraq and Syria. After ISIS officially declared itself the Caliphate, my research angle shifted somewhat away from the group’s official propaganda and began examining internal administrative documents that emerged in the open source realm, which I started to compile in an archive on my own site. As I began to procure my own collections of Islamic State documents primarily coming out of Syria, I started a new column on Jihadology under the title of The Archivist in order to feature some of those documents with select analysis.

Throughout my years of research, I have always admired Aaron Zelin’s philosophy underpinning Jihadology: that is, making source materials available for other researchers to use. This philosophy partly drove my own approach in showcasing administrative documents with translation (my other inspiration lay in the handbooks of Latin and Greek epigraphic materials that were most useful to me in my undergraduate studies in Classics with Oriental Studies). I have also shared Aaron’s philosophy in other realms, such as making primary interviews I have conducted accessible in raw format on my site, as well as the original texts in my Arabic translations of excerpts from Old English and Gothic writings.

Though the era of completely open access to the primary source materials on Jihadology has now come to an end for security reasons, the site continue to remain accessible to those with genuine research purposes. If all Jihadologists were like Aaron in their approach to archiving primary materials and assisting fellow researchers in finding those materials, the field would be certainly be much healthier and happier!

So, in short, without wishing to prolong this panegyric, here is for many more decades of success for Jihadology! Or, as I might say in Latin to Aaron: Deus te benedicat! Et nunc et semper prospere geras!

To commemorate the tenth anniversary of the site, I have decided to feature some exclusive documents with translation on the structure of the Islamic State’s ‘General Police’ as it existed in Wilayat Halab (‘Aleppo province’). It would appear that the ‘General Police’ was the reconstituted ‘Islamic Police’. Regrettably, some of the pages of the original publication appear to be missing from the surviving copy I have. Nonetheless, I showcase some of these documents to illustrate (though in a very partial sense) how the Islamic State organized its police apparatus in the later stages of its territorial control in a region of Syria. Note that in the translation, any parenthetical insertions in square brackets are my own.

Islamic State
Wilayat Halab [Aleppo province]
General Police

[NB: this heading is on all the pages].

Means and framework of operation in the General Police

Work assigned in the General Police

Amir of the General Police: he is the official before God responsible for tracking and overseeing and supervising the divisions of the police in Wilayat Halab and conveying the orders from the wali.

Amir of the Special Police: he is the official before God responsible for tracking, overseeing and supervising the divisions of the military police in the wilaya and conveying the orders from the amir of the general police in the wilaya.

Amir of the Police in the Sector: he is the official before God responsible for tracking and overseeing all of the stations in the sector and conveying the orders from the amir of the sector and the amir of the police in the wilaya to all the stations in the sector.

Amir of the Police in the Station: he is the official before God responsible for arranging and organizing the station he is entrusted with by the amir of the police in the sector.

Amir of the Intelligence: he is the official responsible before God for gathering the information in terms of security and criminal matters and referring them to the amir of the general police.

Amir of the Security of the Routes: he is the official responsible before God for making clear the presence of the Islamic State and managing security in the areas that are behind the ribat [frontline manning] lines.

Note: in the event that there occurs a disagreement between the amir of the general police and the amir of the sector, the orders of the amir of the sector are to be implemented until referral of the matter to the wali [provincial governor].

Note: the checkpoints should be affiliated either with the sector or the amir of the police in the wilaya, and that will vary.

The checkpoints are divided into:

a) Firm checkpoints: their number is 8 brothers and they are the officials before God responsible for recording entry and exit from and to the sector or wilaya over the course of 24 hours and they are situated at the main entry to the wilaya and sector. They also track the wanted people and catch them if they try to pass through the checkpoint, prevent smuggling of people to outside the lands of the Dawla [Islamic State], and arrest the slackers from the soldiers of the Dawla and hand them over to the military police. Also the amir of the firm checkpoints is the amir and official responsible for the flying checkpoints.

b) Flying checkpoints: their number is 6 brothers from the inhabitants of the area, their work being in undefined places and times. They also arrest those who try to flee from the firm checkpoint and they are affiliated with the firm checkpoint. Their amir is one and their base is one.

Specimen of work of the patrols [for the police stations]:

Name of the brother who is the amir of the patrol:
Date: / /1438

Daytime patrol:
Nighttime patrol:
Inside the area:
Outside the area:

Type of issue:

People smuggling:
Traffic accident:
Internet without license:
Opening fire:
Besides that:

Patrol sent by:

Amir of the area:
Amir of the police:
Judge’s clerk:
Guest houses:
Amnis [security personnel]:


To all the stations, we ask you to comply with the specimen of the work of the patrols because they will be the basis in preparing the weekly report and monthly report and the report must be precise in this manner:

. Number of daytime and nighttime patrols
. Number of patrols outside or inside the area
. Number of types of cases.
. Number of patrols sent by whom
. Notes
. Requests and needs

Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi is an independent analyst and a doctoral candidate at Swansea University, where he focuses on the role of historical narratives in Islamic State propaganda. His public media work focuses primarily on the Islamic State, Iraq, and Syria, and he has been cited in numerous outlets for his insights, including the New York Times, Washington Post, Agence France-Presse, and the Associated Press. His website is

The Archivist: Media Fitna in the Islamic State

NOTE: For prior parts in The Archivist series you can view an archive of it all here. And for his older series see: Musings of an Iraqi Brasenostril on Jihad.

Media Fitna in the Islamic State
By Aymenn al-Tamimi
The Islamic State has two main types of media departments that come under its media administration: central media institutions such as al-Furqan Media and al-Hayat Media, and the provincial media offices.The latter category includes areas of formally declared ‘provinces’ (e.g. Raqqa province in Syria and Diyala province in Iraq) and areas where the Islamic State operates on the ground but has not declared a ‘province’ (e.g. Somalia). In addition to these institutions, we have Amaq News Agency, which covers services provision and civilian life in Islamic State territories, military operations and even Islamic State terrorist attacks around the world, but has not been formally acknowledged to be a part of the Islamic State’s media apparatus. In origin, Amaq News Agency is the foremost example of what was envisioned as an ‘auxiliary’ media agency for the Islamic State.
The internal documents I have obtained concern problems in media production in Raqqa province and disagreements between media departments. For example, in the first document, the Delegated Committee (the higher governing body of the Islamic State) reprimands the wali (provincial governor) of Raqqa for supposed shortcomings in media coverage of events. The Delegated Committee also asks the wali to get on with the issuing of Mawkab al-Nur (‘Procession [/Convoy] of Light’).
Those who track Islamic State propaganda will recognize Mawkab al-Nur as the name of a nasheed released by Ajnad Media and the name of a series embodied in two videos from the Ninawa provincial media office, the first released in January of this year and the second in April. The first issue displays operations against Iraqi forces in the battle for Mosul, including multiple suicide bombings from an aerial point of view and armed clashes. The second issue is similar in nature, and touches on themes like fathers following their sons in the path of carrying out ‘martyrdom’ operations (suicide bombings): for instance, one father who ends up becoming a suicide bomber in the Mosul operations narrates how two of his sons had previously carried out suicide bombings in Baghdad.
Despite the letter from the Delegated Committee on 22 April, the fourth document in this post illustrates that the matter of issuing Mawkab al-Nur for Raqqa province remained an unresolved problem as of 5 May, with the document noting the existence of an ongoing dispute as of that date between al-Furqan Media and Amaq News Agency in Raqqa province. In fact, to date, no video has come out from Raqqa province under the title of Mawkab al-Nur, though there have been other video series issued from Raqqa province in recent months like “The Fertile Nation” and “Dust of The War.”
Many of the problems discussed in these documents seem to be traced to the appointment of Abu al-Hassan al-Iraqi as head of the Raqqa province media office, but three media workers in the province- all Syrian in origin- are named for having produced suspect video clips that show sensitive military positions, with requests made to the relevant parties to subject the three men to verification procedures. Unfortunately, I have no further documentation to shed light on the ultimate fate of the three media workers.
Two other points of interest stand out in the documents. First, the fourth document in this post is the only internal one I know of so far that mentions Amaq News Agency by name. Second, the third and fourth documents mention a certain Rayan Mash’al (aka Bara’ Kadek). His name came to prominence at the end of May 2017 when his brother announced on Facebook that he had been killed in a coalition airstrike on al-Mayadeen in Deir az-Zor province. Originally from Aleppo, Rayan Mash’al was said to have been one of the founders of Amaq News Agency, having previously been involved with Aleppo News Network.

Old photo of Rayan Mash’al posted by his brother.

Rayan Mash’al in a clip posted by Aleppo News Network in September 2013.
Below are the documents translated, with any small explanatory clarifications in square brackets.

Islamic State
Delegated Committee

No. N 12/72
Date: 25 Rajab 1438 AH/22 April 2017 CE
In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
The brother, the wali of Raqqa (may God protect him):
Please highlight the ongoing battles in the north of the wilaya and comply with the issuing of Mawkab al-Nur that your media was obliged to produce in its series in cooperation with the other media centres in the Islamic State.
We have seen a shortcoming in your offices’ undertaking and neglect in covering the ongoing events in the wilaya, including:
– The battles against the Kurdish apostates.
– The establishment of 7 Shari’i hudud punishments that the brothers in the realm of Hisba carried out.
– An inghimasi operation in Ayn Issa in which the soldiers of the Caliphate killed 40 apostates and took 5 prisoners.
– Initiatives of the Diwan al-Khidamat in Wilayat al-Raqqa for which the Diwan spent a sum of 30,000,000 Syrian pounds [c. $54500-60000].
And this is what has come to us concerning the shortcoming of your offices, and that you consider that there is no equivalence between them and the other offices in the wilayas of Iraq and al-Sham.
And know that we are before a great trust: whoso disdains it, the fruit of his jihad goes in vain. And who so slackens from supporting his brothers in assignments that have been entrusted to him, has betrayed God and His Messenger.
Please deal with the matter quickly and inform us with an outline.
Wa as-salam alaykum wa rahmat Allah

Islamic State
Delegated Committee


Islamic State
Diwan al-Amn al-Aam

Wilayat al-Raqqa
Date: 29 Rajab 1438 AH [26 April 2017 CE]
In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
We in the security office in Wilayat al-Raqqa have briefed the Delegated Committee in a letter in which we clarified that Abu al-Hassan al-Iraqi did not comply with the plans that the office put in place for the course of work of the media office.
And during the display of clips recorded in the wilaya and its countryside areas, it became clear to us that the recorded videos show the first manufacturing factory in the old city and the recording is with you as no. 032.
Some of the clips also showed the boundaries of the old enclosure in Raqqa city on which the fighters of the Islamic State have built fortifications and coverings for snipers within the plan put in place to defend the city.
And during the display of clips to the military commander Abu Muhammad al-Khorasani, the security office with us was entrusted to destroy the clips or delay their issue until the military commander considers it permissible to publish them or use them as photographic material or as an archive for issues.
Therefore, we have confiscated the clip as a ‘trust’ with us, and have issued a summons for three of the correspondents in Wilayat al-Raqqa’s media office, and they are:
– Abu al-Khayr al-Raqqawi
– Abu Safa’ al-Ansari
– al-Hussein al-Shaheed
And we are waiting for the wali’s authorization to undertake a verification process with them and carry out the appropriate procedures in that case.
Abu al-Hikm al-Raqqawi
Security office/Eastern sector for Wilayat al-Raqqa

Islamic State
Diwan al-Amn al-Aam

Islamic State
Amni Aam official- Wilayat al-Raqqa

Islamic State
Markaz al-Amn al-Aam

Wilayat al-Raqqa
In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
To the brother Abu Ali al-Afari [name suggests he is from Tel Afar] the official for tracking the media offices in the Islamic State:
We ask you for authorization to carry out a verification process with the media workers:
– Abu al-Khayr al-Raqqawi: born in Raqqa in 1399 AH [1978-9 CE], his father is Ali al-Bashir. He joined the Islamic State in 1435 AH after abandoning work with the Sahwat.
– Abu Safa’ al-Ansari: born in Aleppo in 1401 AH [1980-1 CE], his father is Aymenn al-Sayegh.

The Archivist: The Islamic State’s Security Apparatus Structure in the Provinces

NOTE: For prior parts in The Archivist series you can view an archive of it all here. And for his older series see: Musings of an Iraqi Brasenostril on Jihad.

The Islamic State’s Security Apparatus Structure in the Provinces
By Aymenn al-Tamimi


Like any state-like governance project, it is hardly surprising that the Islamic State (IS) should have bureaucracy dedicated to the maintenance of internal security in the territories under its control. This field of responsibility falls broadly under the Diwan al-Amn al-Aam (Public Security Department), one of a series of diwans set up by IS in the wake of its Caliphate declaration in June 2014. Little, however, has come to light regarding the internal structure of IS’ security apparatus. The exclusive IS documents discussed in this piece, obtained by Syrian rebels from the former north Aleppo IS stronghold of al-Bab, should help to illuminate this issue in much more depth than ever before. The documents raise a number of questions relating to our understanding of IS, which will be explored as part of this analysis.

Centralized control vs. Provincial autonomy

As mentioned in the introduction, the Diwan al-Amn al-Aam is one of a number of diwans set up as part of the Caliphate system of IS, arguably representing the most sophisticated stage of governance that has ever existed on the ground for a jihadist organization controlling territory. IS territory has been divided into a number of wilayas (‘provinces’), with each province under the stead of a governor (wali). Within IS documents, the wilayas in Iraq and Syria seem to be broadly classified into two halves: the eastern wilayas and western wilayas, the former presumably referring to Iraqi provinces and the latter to Syrian provinces. The documents explicitly refer to the western wilayas in defining the security centre of a given province. The concept of the security centre in a province though is also found in many documents from Iraq such as the wilayas of Ninawa and Fallujah.[1]

Each province should have more local departments of the various diwans of IS, such as offices for services, education, and public security. These departments should exist both at the wider provincial level (e.g. the central education office for a given wilaya) and sub-provincial level (e.g. the education office in a sector of a wilaya). The diagram below should help the reader visualize this broad framework for public security in a sample wilaya X with sample sectors A, B and C.

One of the most important questions for any researcher looking into IS is how far there is centralized control of administration and bureaucratic functioning. Is there a system in which central ministries- the greater diwans– exert tight control over the policies, functioning and composition of their provincial and sub-provincial offices, or are the more local institutions more or less left to their own devices in terms of day to day management and appointments of officials and personnel with only some very general policy dictates and guidelines from the central ministries? The concept of decentralization, for instance, has been espoused by Iraqi researcher Hisham al-Hashimi, who told Niqash that “each offshoot of the IS group has a lot of autonomy.”[2] In these documents, an impression of a high degree of autonomy might arise at first sight when one notices that the organizational connection of the amir of the security centre is described as being with the provincial governor. One should compare with a document found in Fallujah that mentions the formation of a number of Diwans (i.e. sub-departments) within the wilaya that should be connected with the wali, his deputy or the general administration official of the province.[3]

Yet the documents under consideration indicate that the central Diwan al-Amn al-Aam decides not only on the general policies, but also the internal system of organization, with which the provincial administration must comply. Further, while the amir of the public security centre in a given province must be mutually agreed upon by the provincial governor and the greater Diwan (with the higher body of the Delegated Committee intervening in the event of a disagreement), the amir of the public security centre cannot simply appoint whosoever he likes for the positions of his deputy, heads of the administrative divisions in the centre and heads of the sectors. The appointments must all be submitted to the greater Diwan for approval (with the position of deputy also being submitted to the provincial governor). Similarly, transfers and removals for these officials cannot be done without the greater Diwan’s approval. The central Diwan can also issue orders for arrest and tracking that the provincial security centre must comply with, and has a right to order for cases (presumably of a much more serious type) to be transferred to it by the provincial security centre. Regular central oversight is another notable aspect of these documents, with the provincial security centre required to submit monthly reports to the greater Diwan. Meanwhile, the provincial administration is barred from redistributing certain equipment handed to the provincial security centre by the greater Diwan, as well as electronic devices in the security centre. In events of military crisis where mobilization of administrative personnel is required, limits are placed on the provincial administration as to the proportion of security personnel that can be mobilized (20%).

In short, going by these documents, it can hardly be said that the greater Diwan adopts a policy of laissez-faire towards provincial and sub-provincial affiliates.

A Ba’athist Hand?

It has become a common theme to attribute the rise of IS since 2010-2011 and its apparent success for a time to the role of former officers from the military and intelligence services of Iraq’s Ba’athist regime.[4] It may thus be tempting to look at the security structures outlined in these documents, be impressed by the apparent sophistication, and then attribute this supposed sophistication to former Ba’athist officer influence. Superficially, one may want to compare the structures with the intelligence services under Saddam Hussein and try to find parallels.

In reality though, this narrative is only intuitive, rather than supported by evidence. The concept of an internal security apparatus is actually well established in jihadist organizations. In its cabinets of ministries declared in 2007 and 2009, IS’ predecessor- the Islamic State of Iraq- counted a public security department among its ministries.[5] In a similar vein, the concept of a security committee features in traditional frameworks for the al-Qa’ida organization, and a security committee was also a part of Ansar al-Islam’s emirate project

The Archivist: Unseen Islamic State Training Camp Contract

NOTE: For prior parts in The Archivist series you can view an archive of it all here. And for his older series see: Musings of an Iraqi Brasenostril on Jihad.

Unseen Islamic State Training Camp Contract
By Aymenn al-Tamimi
The management of training camps for the Islamic State (IS) falls under an administrative body called Idarat al-Mu’askarat (“Camps Administration”). This body will naturally be linked to the Diwan al-Jund (“Department of Soldiers”), one of a series of diwans drawn up and established for the declaration of the Caliphate.
Some details of the functioning of the training camps exist in testimony outside of internal documentary evidence. For example, Omar Fawaz, a pro-IS activist based in Mosul who abandoned media work, distinguished in postings he put in 2015 between training camp courses for the muhajireen (i.e. foreign fighters), which according to him can last 90 days or more, and training camp courses for the ansar (ï.e. local Syrians and Iraqis) that last 30-50 days. He also noted distinctions as regards the ages of recruits: those between the ages of 5 and 15 are classed as ashbal (“cubs”) while those aged 15 and above are classed as adults.
Training camp routines in their current form appear to consist of combinations of sessions of physical training, combat training and Shari’i study. Some of the internal textbooks used to teach training camp recruits about Islam have come to public light, most notably the Muqarrar fi al-Tawheed (“Course in Tawheed”), which I have translated in full here. These books are issued by the Diwan al-‘Iftaa wa al-Buhuth (a diwan that issues fatwas and investigates religious matters, publishing studies and pamphlets).
The document that is the focus of this piece and was obtained amid the current Turkish-backed Euphrates Shield rebel push on the IS stronghold of al-Bab in north Aleppo countryside helps shed some further light on the functioning of the training camps. Note that the document- a contract for agreement to enter a training camp- dates from the time before the declaration of the Caliphate, and thus has the label of the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham. The document is also useful in this context in illustrating the existence of the Idarat al-Mu’askarat prior to the establishment of the Caliphate, illustrating that the foundations of present IS administration as we know it did not spring out of nowhere, but rather the groundwork was laid in significant part by real control of territory in Syria over the course of 2013 and the first half of 2014.
Of more specific note are some of the terms of the contract. For example, a recruit must have a written tazkiya (vouching for someone) from the amir of the area in order to enter the training camp. It is important to point out here that tazkiya exists on multiple levels within IS. The concept is foremost associated with the initial recruitment of someone into the ranks of IS. In the fighter files that were leaked last year to multiple media outlets, the files notably take the form of questionnaires under the title of Bayanat Mujahid (“Statements [/Data] of a Mujahid”). These files- which date in considerable part from the pre-Caliphate era and came under a bureaucratic department known as the “General Administration for the Borders” (the predecessor body to the Hijra Committee that partly deals with new arrivals to IS territory)-include the question of whether someone has tazkiya. In contrast, the tazkiya that we see in this training camp contract can be thought of as an example of what we might call internal tazkiya. On the basis of other internal documents (namely, Abu al-Faruq al-Masri’s dissenting work al-Manhaj al-Sayasi wa al-Tandhimi lil-Dawlat al-Islamiya), this concept also exists in other areas of IS administration such as the Hisba and Zakat departments, where recruiting new personnel should involve tazkiya from persons who have competencies in the same fields of expertise/vocation as these recruits.
Another term of interest is the requirement for the recruit after tazkiya to undergo a Shari’i course for a month before being accepted into the camp. This does not necessarily mean that there is no Shari’i study in the camp itself. However, it is notable from later specimens I have of Bayanat Mujahid forms that a distinction is made between a Dawra Shari’ia (“Shari’i course”) and a Dawra ‘Askariya (“military course”). These documents clearly follow the Caliphate declaration and come under the label of personnel data and human resources. Observe a sample document below (Figure 1)- also obtained amid the offensive on al-Bab- featuring part of a Bayanat Mujahid form from Aleppo province (Wilayat Halab) for one Abu Obeida al-Shami. In the section entitled “joining and courses,” we see he had a Shari’i course in Manbij lasting 20 days, and a military course in al-Bab for 10 days. The former has an entry for the amir of the Shari’i course, while the latter has an entry for the amir of the camp.
Figure 1: Part of the
Bayanat Mujahid form for Abu Obeida al-Shami
In total, the Dawra Shari’ia and Dawra ‘Askariya entries in these forms I have from the al-Bab area mostly seem to add up to around 30 days or slightly more. Perhaps when Omar Fawaz wrote of the training camp course times for local fighters, he was adding these entries together. From the contract, the total time of the Shari’i course and time in the camp add up to 3 months (a month of the Shari’i course and 2 months in the camp), which equates to training camp times for the muhajireen as per Omar Fawaz’s testimony. In this case though the signatory is a local fighter, as borne out in his Ansari kunya. Could it be that the contract reflects an earlier set of circumstances in which there was a greater influx of muhajireen? Are the contract conditions localized for Aleppo province? A degree of speculation comes in here on account of insufficient quantities of documentary evidence.
Finally, note the reference to ijazat in the contract, with the stipulation that ijazat are not to be granted during the time one is in the camp. Ijazat are leave permits granted to personnel for a variety of reasons (e.g. to see one’s family) and they are among the most common IS documents that turn up when left behind by retreating IS forces. For samples of these leave permits, see my raw archives of IS documents.
Below is the training camp contract, with full translation and explanatory notes in square brackets.
Figure 2: Training camp contract

In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham
Wilayat Halab [Aleppo province]
Idarat al-Mu’askarat
Date: 25 Rabi’ al-Awal 1435 AH [appears to be an error: confusion with handwritten CE date at end of contract]
Conditions to enter the camp
1. The trainee is only to be accepted with written tazkiya from the amir of the area and he is responsible for it.
2. The brother given tazkiya must be subjected to an indoor Shari’i course for a month after tazkiya. He cannot be accepted in the camp without it.
3. There are no ijazat during the time one is in the camp, whose period is 2 months.
4. There are no connections in the camp and every brother must hand over his phone on entering the camp.
5. Observe Islamic ethics and the internal system for the camp.
6. Any violation of these conditions will mean the brother is subjected to a Shari’i court.
I have read the above conditions and agree to them. I bear responsibility for any violation on my part.
Name: Abu al-Obeida al-Ansari
Signature: Abu al-Obeida
Date: 25 March 2014 CE
Idarat al-Mu’askarat

The Archivist: Unseen Islamic State Regulations for the Mosul Operations

NOTE: For prior parts in The Archivist series you can view an archive of it all here. And for his older series see: Musings of an Iraqi Brasenostril on Jihad.

Unseen Islamic State Regulations for the Mosul Operations
By Aymenn al-Tamimi
The unseen documents displayed and translated below were obtained in the north Aleppo countryside from a refugee who is originally from the Tel Afar area and had resided in Mosul. Since the launching of the military campaign by Iraqi forces whose main goal is to retake Mosul, thousands of Iraqi Sunni Turkmen from the Tel Afar area have fled to the north Aleppo countryside, partly in fear of the primarily Shi’a Popular Mobilization (Hashd Sha’abi) units that are leading the drive to retake Tel Afar. The Hashd Sha’abi focus on Tel Afar is hardly surprising given that many Iraqi Shi’a Turkmen previously resided in Tel Afar and are eager to reclaim their homes taken from them by the Islamic State in its conquests of the summer of 2014.
The route to the north Aleppo countryside is long and arduous involving smuggling through the desert regions, but may offer the best hope of getting to Turkey, where the Iraqi Turkmen have linguistic and cultural affinities. Turkey is still maintaining a tight border with Syria though, and no entry to Turkey has occurred yet. Perhaps Turkey wishes to keep them in the north Aleppo countryside- where a special camp exists for these refugees to the east of Azaz town– as part of its wider “Euphrates Shield” proxy project.
The documents date to 20 Muharram 1438 AH (c. 21 October 2016 CE, going by the Islamic State’s calendar), around the beginning of the launching of the present campaign by Iraqi forces. The documents concern regulations put in place in light of the military operations. Many of these regulations are of course not surprising. For example, regulation no. 6 (note that the numbering is slightly erroneous in the documents) is clearly intended to avert potential targets for coalition airstrikes near hospitals, assets the Islamic State considers vital in particular for treatment of fighters. The military operations and state of emergency also provide no excuse for violating Islamic State regulations on Islamic morality.
Even so, the regulations and themes in these documents show a reality quite different from Islamic State propaganda on the Mosul operations that has partly focused on displaying the apparent normality of life in Mosul despite the military campaign to retake the city (e.g. see some examples collected by ICSR colleague Charlie Winter here). Particular concerns focus on price hikes in commodities as the city was likely expected to come under some sort of siege, as well as concern about people fleeing Islamic State territory, something that has been a thorn in the Islamic State’s side as it dents the proclaimed Caliphate’s image of being the true protector and home of Muslims.
Finally, some interesting side points emerge in these documents. In particular, subject of whether the Islamic State’s currency, much hyped in propaganda, has actually been functioning on the ground has long been a matter of interest. These documents show that the Islamic State’s currency is now in circulation, though its use is strictly to be confined to the borders of Islamic State territory.

Islamic State
Wilayat Ninawa

Diwan al-Qada and the Islamic police in Mosul

20 Muharram 1438 AH
Brothers who are citizens of the Islamic State may God protect you:
In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful, and prayers and peace be upon the one sent with the sword as a mercy to the worlds. As for what follows:
The Muslim is the fortress of the religion, whether a mujahid or ordinary citizen, whether under allegiance or supporting the Islamic Caliphate, and all the Muslims dwelling in the land of the Caliphate have what the mujahideen have, and upon them is what is upon them from the Caliph until the last and final man among them.
Not one of you will be unaware of the size of the Crusader conspiracy in all its forms against the Islamic State, east and west, from Aleppo to Mosul. For the paths of kufr have gathered under one banner and one objective: to lower the banner, tear out the Qur’an, smash the hudud, and sow corruption so that no other foundation can arise for Islam.
But no, by God, they have failed, lost and their appointment is Hellfire in this world and the Hereafter, for God will not go back on His promise and it is He who gave victory to Muhammad in his message, so how can He not support the Ummah of Muhammad?
Indeed among the reasons for victory over the enemy is organizing the internal house for the Ummah in the event of wars and hardships, for dispersion, degradation and waste are one of the reasons for the loss of the Muslims when they divide, fight each other, and malice, egotism, narcissism and hatred of the Muslim brother spread among them.
Therefore, your brothers in the Islamic State have begun a campaign aiming to reach the streets, mosques and markets of Mosul city calling on the people to keep to the faith, patience, confronting the self and the enemy, and fortifying the heart before the enclosures.
As it is necessary to organize matters of the city so that its fronts should be stable, the Islamic police apparatus in the city of Mosul has undertaken to notify the Muslim populace of principal matters to be adhered to without violation, because that is a cause of chaos and bringing out hypocrisy in the chests of the believers.
1. It is forbidden to use phone apparatuses near military and security checkpoints and war and civil bases of the Dawla under penalty of Shari’i reckoning.
2. It is forbidden to pass into military points and fighting fronts around the city except the one who has licensing from the public security apparatus.
4. It is forbidden to operate xenon gas lights during emergencies.
5. It is forbidden to disturb public security like firing gunshots during celebrations, funerals and quarrels under penalty of Shari’i reckoning with no leniency in ruling in view of the public interest.
6. It is forbidden to park and gather in front of the hospitals, intentionally or unintentionally, under penalty of Shari’i inquiry.
7. It is forbidden to purchase [/acquire] heavy weaponry whose caliber exceeds 7.62
8. It is forbidden to breach Shari’i dress and exploit states of emergency, as well as smoke and do condemned acts under penalty of doubling the Shari’i penalty that requires the Muslim to comply with the commands of his religion and his code of conduct, and comply even more during tribulation.
9. All caught swindling the Muslims in their food, drink and other things or doubling price and hoarding commodities will be exposed to Shari’i trial that may lead to confiscating the goods or shop that harms the Muslims.
10. All are forbidden to depart the borders of the wilaya to seek refuge. Exempted from that are critical cases like leaving for medical treatment and something besides that.
If the Muslims were to stand together as one man, their enemy would not be able to accomplish anything against them, and the states of kufr would not be able to mobilise their numbers and media in the war against the Dawla on the grounds of defending freedoms and civilians.
For the corruption sowed by these people is spreading through the entire Islamic abode, weakening the determination of the people of Islam and weakening their might. Besides that, whoever gets out a Muslim from the land of Islam to the abode of kufr ‘as a refugee’: that entails the strongest punishment with God and corrupting his religion, and his world is as of the one who has gone out by himself.
The Almighty has said:
“Those taken in death by the angels wronging themselves. They said: ‘In what state were you?’ They said: ‘We were oppressed in the land.’ They said: ‘Was not the earth of God wide enough for you to migrate in it?’ For these people, their place of refuge is Hellfire, and evil it is as a destination. But the oppressed from the men, women and children who cannot devise a way and are not guided, perhaps God will forgive them, and indeed God is forgiving, merciful” (al-Nisa 98-99) [Qur’an 4:98-99].
So if you consider such a person in whose refuge is Hellfire, what are you to think of the one who has got the Muslims out of their land!!
For to these people no obligation or mercy is due in the law of God, and they will be tried per the ruling on those who sow corruption in the land because they have planted corruption on God’s earth. The Almighty has said:
“And among the people are those who say: ‘We believe in God and the Last Day.’ But they do not really believe. They seek to deceive God and those who believe, but they only deceive themselves, and they do not realize it. In their hearts is a disease, and God has increased their disease. For them is a painful torment in what they have disbelieved. And if it is said to them: ‘Do not sow corruption in the land.’

The Archivist: Stories of the Mujahideen: Women of the Islamic State

NOTE: For prior parts in The Archivist series you can view an archive of it all here. And for his older series see: Musings of an Iraqi Brasenostril on Jihad.

Stories of the Mujahideen: Women of the Islamic State
By Aymenn al-Tamimi
The previous post in The Archivist series looked at the internally distributed series of documents entitled Qisas al-Mujahideen (‘Stories of the Mujahideen’), which tell stories of particular individuals in the Islamic State (IS). One of the figures covered in these series was Dr. Iman Mustafa al-Bagha, a Syrian female Islamic scholar who has worked in IS’ Diwan al-Iftaa’ wa al-Buhuth (‘Fatwa Issuing and Research Department’) and organization of women’s hisba (Islamic morality enforcement) teams in the various provinces of IS. Her activities were characterized as jihad, with the biography of her emphasizing that she was continuing in this jihad despite the loss of her son Abu al-Hassan al-Dimashqi.
This post looks further at the women covered in Qisas al-Mujahideen. These particular stories point to roles beyond hisba and Islamic jurisprudence. Indeed, IS even appears to allow for an actual military role for women, as mention is made of a female suicide bomber who targeted a Kurdish YPG base in the Kobani area (in IS discourse: Ayn al-Islam). Female suicide bombers are not publicised in IS’ official propaganda, where certain suicide bombing operations are publicised with the name of the suicide bomber in the form of a kunya and sometimes a photo of the bomber. Perhaps one reason female suicide bombers are not publicised is that it is not possible, by IS standards on women’s modesty, to show their faces in the propaganda.
In the context of military roles, a particular case of interest here is that of Umm Fatima al-Rusiya, who is said to have participated in an operation in Grozny after giving her allegiance to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The operation in question was actually claimed by the Caucasus Emirate. However, the operation also came at a time when North Caucasian jihadis and leaders began pledging allegiance to Baghdadi and going public with their pledges, thereby defecting from the Caucasus Emirate. Some, it seems, may have kept their pledges and/or IS sympathies private for a time in the hope that the Caucasus Emirate’s overall leader at the time, who was subsequently killed in April 2015, would declare allegiance to IS. Ultimately he did not do so.
Also of note in the internal documents here is the role women can play in providing food for fighters. Indeed, every IS brigade (liwa) is supposed to have a team of cooks and kitchen staff that constitute the matbakh (‘kitchen’) for the IS brigade. For a sample food schedule for an IS battalion (katiba, which on the basis of documentary evidence appears to be a subordinate part of a liwa), see Specimen 18U in my archives of IS documents.
Unsupported by the evidence, in contrast, is any notion of ‘sex jihad’ (jihad al-nikah). Some have attempted to draw attention to internal IS documents under the title of aqd nikahas proof of institutionalised ‘sex jihad’. In fact, these documents are no more than simple marriage contracts.
Below are the documents with translation, including parenthetical notes in square brackets for explanation of some terms.
Umm Khalid al-Wahjani (released under the series as part of Akhbar al-Khilafa)
Among the women who have been an example for the granddaughters of al-Khansa’: a mother of three martyrs- by God’s permission- from the girls and four martyrs from the boys.
Umm Khalid Khansa’ is from the Arab Maghreb, and migrated along with her family fleeing obedience to the taghut [idolatrous tyranny/tyrant] and the decay that Maghrebi society had attained at the hand of its tawagheet from the kings and heads of the Arab states, which have wiped out the identity of the Arab Muslims and made them forget their religion, noble language, and acts of worship and customs of their conquering ancestors.
Her first husband was killed in the battle of the conquest of Mennagh military airport north of Aleppo as he was in the first ranks, so we reckon him as a martyr with God and God is his reckoner.
As for her three daughters, two of them were killed in Crusader coalition bombing on the Aisha Umm al-Mu’mineen centre to teach the Qur’an in Wilayat al-Kheir. As for the third, she carried out a martyrdom operation in a base for the YPG party apostates in Ayn al-Islam.
Three of her sons were killed in blessed martyrdom operations, the first of whom was Abu Mu’adh who blew up a rigged vehicle in a gathering of the Rafidite [derogatory for Shi’i] Hashd Sha’abi in Baiji. Following him was his brother Abu Talha and with him a group of soldiers of the Dawla carrying out an inghimasi [commando] raid into the ranks of the Rafidites after the martyrdom operation, during which the mujahideen managed to kill dozens of the Rafidites.
As for their third brother Abu Muslim, he drove a truck rigged with explosives with which to strike the fortresses of the Nusayris at the gates of Deir az-Zor military airport in Wilayat al-Kheir.
And their fourth brother Abu A’isha led a group of the Dawla’s soldiers in the Mahin mountains in Wilayat Homs, launching an inghimasi raid into the ranks of the Nusayris, leaving dozens of them killed and wounded, and he blew up his belt in a base of the apostates of the Syrian regime army.
Umm Khalid married one of the mujahideen of the Dawla from the muhajireen, and she is one of the sisters who work in the women’s hisba apparatus in Raqqa, spending her time advising the daughters of the Muslims and applying God’s law in Wilayat al-Raqqa.
Umm Fatima al-Rusiya (released under the Diwan al-Da’wa wa al-Masajid)
She is the mother of three martyrs who died in battles against the Russian invasions of the land of the Muslims in all of Chechnya and Afghanistan. She says having lost all her sons:
‘By God I wish I had 30 sons, so I should have them go forth to the fields of jihad and every one of them should be killed in one of the lands of Islam defending the Ummah.’
Umm Fatima migrated to Afghanistan and remained there teaching women how to raise the Islamic generation that defends its religion, and she established Dar Umm Fatima to teach women the principles of true aqeeda [creed] and how to raise the Islamic generation.
Umm Fatima returned to Chechnya after five years of da’wa [proselytization] and after she lost her three sons. The Russian intelligence arrested her in Grozny, and she spent four years in Grozny prison. After being released, Umm Fatima began making preparations to fulfil the path of her children, and there was the Grozny operation in which she participated after pledging allegiance to the Caliph Ibrahim bin Awwad al-Badri, as she set out with a group of mujahideen to attack a base for the heretic Russian police in Grozny during the country’s preparation for a speech by the taghut Putin in front of the Russian parliament.
The operation led to the killing and wounding of dozens from the ranks of the Russian police that lived for months in recollections of the strikes of the mujahideen in the depth of their abode.
Umm Fatima died during the operation to join the convoy of soldiers of the Caliphate who died defending Islam and the structure of the Caliphate in all regions of the world.
Thus we reckon her and God is her reckoner.
Fatima al-Shami (released under the Diwan al-Da’wa wa al-Masajid)
The intifada of al-Sham arose with an instinctive spirit that tried to make its banner the banner of Islam, and its methodology that of the Prophetic methodology and the Caliphate. But the Satans of the West insisted on turning it to banners of ignorance [/blindness] and seeking help in the West and Crusaders.
Fatima al-Shami is a mother of a thirty year-old whose three children and husband were killed by the Nusayris in a massacre in the Damascus countryside.
She swore not to return to her life until the fall of the Nusayri regime, and she enlisted to fight the Nusayris with some of the battalions in Damascus countryside, but it did not take long before she left their ranks and in a question to her about the reason, she responded:
‘I did not enlist to serve these people: my enlistment was to fight the oppressors and criminals, and not to serve the offices of the leaders of the factions that have concluded truces with the Nusayris and abandoned fighting them. By God I see massacres afflicting our people and every day there is a mother like me losing her children, but they are silent and concluding truces with the criminal regime to fight the Dawla.’
Fatima joined the ranks of the Islamic State, and worked in its kitchens that prepare food for the mujahideen on the fighting fronts.
And she was transferred as they were the most difficult of places for the sisters to work in, from the Damascus countryside to Fallujah and after that to Wilayat al-Kheir.
She participated in the women’s hisba in Wilayat al-Kheir until she died in a Crusader coalition strike in the town’s countryside while she was commanding what is right and forbidding what is wrong, accompanied by her sisters.
And a pledge remains upon us oh Fatima, that we will not return to our abodes before bringing down the Nusayri regime and the rest of the systems of kufr, and that God’s law should rule among His servants.
Thus we reckon her and God is her reckoner.

The Archivist: Stories of the Mujahideen: Unseen Islamic State Biographies of Outstanding Members

NOTE: For prior parts in The Archivist series you can view an archive of it all here. And for his older series see: Musings of an Iraqi Brasenostril on Jihad.

Stories of the Mujahideen: Unseen Islamic State Biographies of Outstanding Members
By Aymenn al-Tamimi

That the Islamic State (IS) in da’wa (religious outreach) is well-known and much of it is publicized online through IS propaganda, but there are still many IS works that remain unpublished on the Internet and distributed on the ground only. One such da’wa series is called qisas al-mujahideen (‘Stories of the Mujahideen’). This series has been distributed under the heading of Akhbar al-Khilafa (‘News of the Caliphate’), which also includes IS news announcements published online, and more formally with the mark of the Diwan al-Da’wa wa al-Masajid (‘Da’wa and Mosques Department’), one of the series of formal diwans created following the announcement of the Caliphate.
Livesofmujahideen Livesofmujahideen2
Indeed, the Diwan al-Da’wa wa al-Masajid issued a document (above) outlining that the qisat al-mujahid (‘story of the mujahid’- singular of qisas al-mujahideen) is a “series from the activities of the Diwan al-Da’wa wa al-Masajid shedding light on pictures of the mujahideen whom God selected as we reckon them, and they departed to the abode of truth after they knew the truth and worked by it. And they participated in establishing the Islamic State, all according to what God brought. For among them are those who did so by their speech and tongue, and those by their sword, and those who brought these people all together.”
As the document explains, the primary target audiences of these qisas al-mujahideen are the IS fighters, for they constitute “a da’wa series strengthening the resolve of the mujahid as a soldier of the Caliphate, increasing his strength, and strengthening his resolve and determination.”
Interestingly, the production of the series in this context is partly tied to the losses experienced by IS on the ground, pushing back against the idea that these losses constitute the final defeat of IS, emphasizing that one must strive even in the hardest of circumstances for IS:
“For however strong the trials and tribulations become, and however much the force of kufr intensifies and the Islamic State retreats in the fields of the land, it [the Islamic State] has arisen from nothingness on the land, and its reliance has been fear of God and His victory. And strong mujahideen have borne it even as they did not expect one day that God would open the door of conquest at their hands, but rather they placed their bodies as wood for the passing of the generations of the Caliphate subsequently, for God supported them, strengthened them, raised their prestige, and through them terrorized the enemies of the religion. The Islamic State arises on the creed of the soldier of the Caliphate who works and strives in the darkest of circumstances relying on God and being certain that there is no granter of victory but He.”
The document concludes with a call for IS fighters to heed the example of these mujahideen: “So be firm, our brothers in the Islamic State, and let there be for you from the qisas al-mujahideen a sign and proof that God is with the truthful, even if they are few.”
Unsurprisingly, some of the stories related in qisas al-mujahideen refer to important figures within IS, though they are not generally known to the outside world. For example, Abu Yahya al-Anbari and Abu Jihad al-Urduni, personalities featured in this series who reputedly contributed to the development of IS administration, do not appear in public discussions of personalities in IS, at least under these names. Perhaps even more interesting is that the series profiles women as well as men. Though not necessarily out fighting on the frontlines, the women are presented as waging jihad through providing support for the fighters and contributing to the building of the IS project, rather than just staying at home and having children. The case I have selected here for viewing- Dr. Iman Mustafa al-Bagha- is one well-known in the Arabic press (indeed, part of the IS biography of her appears to have plagiarized some of the al-Quds al-Arabi article linked to). According to the biography, she has notably helped contribute to studies of the Diwan al-‘Iftaa’ wa al-Buhuth (Fatwa Issuing and Research Department), a body most commonly associated with the Bahraini cleric Turki Binali.
Below is a sample of the qisas al-mujahideen documents that I have obtained, with explanatory notes in square brackets where applicable.
Abu Yahya al-Anbari

From the sheikhs of the Islamic Resistance that inflicted their expeditions as massacres on the heads of the Crusaders in all corners of the world.
Abu Yahya was an octogenarian man, of strong physique, sound voice and fierce address.
He led a group of the mujahideen from the Arabian Peninsula to Afghanistan to confront the Soviet invasion that was supported by the Communist government in it in the year 1400 AH [1979-1980 CE], and he inflicted massacres on the Russians and their allies.
Then he returned to Iraq to wage war against the Rafidites in 1405 AH [1984-1985 CE: referring to the Iran-Iraq War], and he led a squadron of tanks. According to Abu Yahya’s words:
‘I waged the Iraq war even as I did not believe that the Iraqi army was an Islamic army, but rather on the basis of the need that was pressing upon the global jihad: i.e. our need for cadres and skills of experience waging the wars of the armies of the regimes, getting to know their secrets and plans, the wars of attrition, and the secret relations of the states.’
Abu Yahya attained high ranks in the Iraqi army when he was given the rank of a brigadier in the 11th infantry division.
Abu Yahya returned to Afghanistan, leaving behind him the positions and temptations of the Iraqi army, as he had attained the skills of experience that he needed regarding the war of the armies and their organization.
And he began organizing the ranks of the mujahideen in that corner of the Muslims’ abode, which was witnessing a war between the mujahideen and the factions of kufr from the Shi’a and others besides them who went by the guidance of the collaborationist government.
Abu Yahya remained in matters of organization and tracking until the establishment of the Taliban of Afghanistan. He was among the pillars of organization in the movement in the year 1415 AH [1994-1995 CE].
But because of the non-Shari’i politics that the Taliban movement adopted, Abu Yahya al-Anbari abandoned it and worked on teaching and qualifying students of Shari’i knowledge in Afghanistan, and he had a big role in establishing the Shari’i schools and jihadi institutes.
Sheikh Abu Yahya al-Anbari gave bay’a [allegiance] to the al-Qa’ida organization in Afghanistan for two years, and after that he worked assiduously on organizing small groups under his leadership, as when he established the groups of Jund al-Tawheed on the borders between Afghanistan and Pakistan, and coordinated with Baytullah Mahsoud the commander in the Taliban of Pakistan, and they waged battles against the Pakistani army on the length of the artificial borders between the two lands.
Abu Yahya returned to Iraq after a period of tribulation to surpass the pursuit of the security apparatus in moving about between the two lands, and he entered Iraq in the year 1425 AH [2004-2005 CE]. And he established with the rest of the mujahideen the Majlis Shura al-Mujahideen, as there migrated with Abu Yahya up to 100 of the truthful mujahideen.
Abu Yahya gave bay’a to the Islamic State that the Majlis Shura al-Mujahideen announced, which included the cream of the crop of the mujahideen in Iraq.
And Abu Yahya was a director for the office of organization in the Diwan al-Khilafa [appears to refer to the period of Islamic State of Iraq 2006-2010 CE. If so, it suggests clear Caliphate designs in the time of Abu Omar al-Baghdadi].
The Crusader alliance forces arrested him in 1429 AH [2008-2009 CE], but he managed to escape from their prison after challenging a number of American soldiers so that God might free him from their torture, together with seven of the brothers.
Abu Yahya joined the retinue of the Islamic State in Bilad al-Sham in the beginning of the year 1434 AH [c. November 2012 CE, when Islamic State of Iraq began pushing behind the scenes for formal expansion into Syria by trying to secure the subsuming of Jabhat al-Nusra], and he witnessed the announcement of the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham, and he tried to mend the rift that occurred with the Jowlani front that abandoned the Islamic State and renounced its allegiance.
Al-Anbari put forth the series of arrangement of the Diwans and centers and sent them to Majlis al-Shura, which built the organizational framework for the Diwans upon that and upon the consultations of the supporting brothers.
Abu Yahya died through the treachery of the apostates against the Islamic State while on the Aleppo-al-Bab road, leaving behind him a big mark and legacy that still lives on till today in the hearts of the mujahideen.
Thus we reckon him and God is his reckoner.
Abu Jihad al-Urduni

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

NOTE: For prior parts in The Archivist series you can view an archive of it all here. And for his older series see: Musings of an Iraqi Brasenostril on Jihad.

The Archivist: Unseen Islamic State Military Commanders Manual: Qualities and Manners of the Mujahid Commander
By Aymenn al-Tamimi

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 the documentary evidence, names of various battalions have emerged such as the Yarmouk Battalion, the Furqan Brigade, the al-Qa’qaa’ battalion, the al-Sadiq Special Battalion. From the battalion names that are known, it would appear that they are wilaya [province] or region specific. For instance, the al-Qa’qaa’ battalion seems to be a specific product of the ‘Idad al-Fatiheen institute in the town of al-Bab.

In addition, there are also divisions of units explicitly defined according to capabilities such as sniper attacks and air defence, as well as operatives who may be defined as istishhadiyun [‘martyrdom operatives’- i.e. suicide bombers] and inghimasiyun [commandos]. Shari’i officials may also have a role to play in providing spiritual and moral direction before and after battles as well as during times when there are no battles. More broadly, a special-forces division exists by the name of Jaysh al-Khilafa/Jaysh Dabiq (the Caliphate Army/Dabiq Army) that operates across IS territory as circumstances require. It is also responsible for the dispatching of operatives abroad, undoubtedly to areas like Libya where IS has cultivated official wilayas and developed an administration resembling its bureaucratic model in Iraq and Syria.

More a relic of the past are foreign fighter battalions that had a high social media profile in the ISIS era (Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham: April 2013-June 2014) such as the Katibat al-Battar al-Libi. These battalions notably dropped off the radar after the official Caliphate declaration, as the policy is to try to integrate muhajireen and ansar into the same fighting units, or failing that, at least integrate muhajireen of multiple nationalities rather than have foreign fighter battalions based around single nationalities or ethnicities.

Coming under the Diwan al-Jund is the Idarat al-Mu’askarat (Camps Administration), which, as its name suggests, is responsible for oversight of the military camps established by IS. For example, in coordination with the Diwan al-‘Eftaa wa al-Buhuth (Fatwa Issuing and Research Department), the Idarat al-Mu’askarat issues the basic theology manuals for training camp recruits, such as the Course in Tawheed (Muqarrar fi al-Tawheed) and Course in Fiqh (Muqarrar fi al-Fiqh).

This text in question, intended as a manual for military commanders, is also a product of the Idarat al-Mu’askarat. The majority of its contents is in the form of religious guidance with additional sections emphasizing bodily preparation and largely common sense advice for commanders, but a special appendix on the conduct of military missions is attached at the end. Considering that the latter sort of information is highly sensitive, it is hardly surprising that the cover of this text has been stamped with the label ‘not to be sold or distributed.’ Reference is also made in the text to an appendix on the security (amni) department of IS bureaucracy, but it is not included here.

Among the interesting pieces of information that emerge in the appendix set out here are the nature of relations between provincial governors [walis] and military commanders, the procedures for the arranging of a suicide bombing operation, the fact that the work of security officials should generally not be known by military officials, and the procedures regarding leave permits for soldiers. Furthermore, one should note that the positions of military amir and security amir in each wilaya defined in the appendix are separate. This is one line of evidence pointing to the forged nature of the purported IS document, marked as the wilaya of Ninawa, signed by the supposed ‘military and security official’ and promoted as genuine by the American anti-IS campaign spokesman Col. Steve Warren back in December 2015. The document in question is likely the work of Shi’a militia propagandists, as it portrayed all acts of destruction of property and abuses against civilians as IS-ordered atrocities designed to be blamed on Iraqi forces.

In terms of the religious guidance content of the book, it is generally unremarkable apart from the fact that it largely appears to have been plagiarised from an earlier work called “Jihad in the path of God,” of which the fourth subsection of the first chapter is entitled “Qualities of the mujahideen in the path of God” (also see here). Specifically, all the sections from pages 3-12 seem to have been lifted almost verbatim from this subsection, apart from some very minor modifications and abridgements (e.g. unlike the original, Sayyid Qutb, who is cited, is not mentioned by name in the text below but is rather just referred to as ‘one of the predecessors’). The work “Jihad in the path of God” was written by one Abdullah al-Ahdal, also known by his full name Abdullah Qadri al-Ahdal. Born in around 1356 AH [c. 1937-8] in the Abs district of northwest Yemen, he went to study at the Islamic University in Medina and graduated in 1385 AH [c. 1965-6], subsequently going on to obtain a doctorate at the Shari’a College in Imam Muhammad bin Sa’ud Islamic University in Riyadh in 1402 CE [c. 1981-2]. His PhD thesis was the work “Jihad in the path of God,” which has gone through two printings.

As for the section on bodily preparation, this part too appears to have been plagiarised from elsewhere (cf. here).

Below is the text of the manual with translation in full.
Islamic State
Camps Administration

The Archivist: "Until Our Hearts Submit To The Shari’a" – Da’wa Pamphlet From Jabhat al-Nusra

NOTE: For prior parts in The Archivist series you can view an archive of it all here. And for his older series see: Musings of an Iraqi Brasenostril on Jihad.

“Until Our Hearts Submit To The Shari’a”- Da’wa Pamphlet From Jabhat al-Nusra
By Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi

Like the Islamic State, Syria’s al-Qa’ida affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra has its own department responsible for the distribution of da’wa [religious outreach] literature. This department of Jabhat al-Nusra is called the Maktab al-Da’wa wa al-Irshad (Da’wa and Guidance Office). However, whereas the Islamic State has unsurprisingly made many of the da’wa pamphlets it has produced via its al-Himma Library available online since 2013 as part of its strategy of flooding the Internet with propaganda and heavily encouraging foreign recruitment, Jabhat al-Nusra has not done so, preferring to focus its materials on local distribution.

Therefore, publications distributed by the Maktab al-Da’wa wa al-Irshad must be obtained from the ground. Not all of the publications that can be acquired from the office are original Jabhat al-Nusra works. In keeping with the group’s ideological alignment, the Maktab al-Da’wa wa al-Irshad also distributes works by figures like Abu Mus’ab al-Souri, a jihadi ideologue well-known for pushing the gradualist strategy to build jihadi influence in societies, and Abu Qatada, a Palestinian-Jordanian cleric who stands out today as a leading al-Qa’ida-aligned intellectual heavyweight in the Islamic State-al-Qa’ida schism of today’s global jihad.

A 2004 work by Abu Mus’ab al-Souri on the Algerian jihad of the 1990s obtained by a local contact for this author from a Maktab al-Da’wa wa al-Irshad branch in Idlib province. Souri was critical of the extreme tactics of the Armed Islamic Group (GIA) and in this work he also wished to disavow “the evil role that some of the supporters of that jihad played in London during the period 1994-1996”- referring to cheerleading for the GIA back then by some jihadists (including Abu Qatada).

The pamphlet below- obtained from the Maktab al-Da’wa wa al-Irshad the branch in Hureitan in the north Aleppo countryside- is actually plagiarised from Dr. Iyad Qunaibi, an Islamist preacher in Jordan. The pamphlet fits in with the idea of a more gradualist approach to implementing Islamic law in society, with the title emphasizing the need for people’s hearts to submit willingly to the Shari’a, rather than mere outward compliance that leaves room for nifaq (hypocrisy). Also of note is the pamphlet’s point that the hudud (harsh punishments for serious crimes like cutting off the hand for theft and executing adulterers) should only be applied in rare and exceptional cases in a society under the Shari’a system, likely an implicit contrast with the Islamic State that makes a show of implementation of hudud in its propaganda as one aspect of its supposed ideal society. Occasionally, the Jabhat al-Nusra judiciary in the form of the Dar al-Qada in Hureitan has implemented hudud punishments, though that has only been made public knowledge through Dar al-Qada documents on the cases, rather than high quality photos and videos that are the norm of Islamic State propaganda. It should also be noted, as Sam Heller points out, that the Dar al-Qada in Hureitan enjoys the clear backing of other factions in the area, which fits in with the conception of willing acceptance of the Shari’a as advocated in this pamphlet.

The pamphlet is translated in full with occasional explanatory notes.

Until our hearts submit to the Shari’a

Da’wa and Irshad Office
Jabhat al-Nusra

Until our hearts submit to the Shari’a

We may disagree or agree with a program here or there that says it is “applying” Shari’a, but our aim here is not supporting any of the human programs or disavowing them, but rather that we should continue loving the Shari’a of God and not reckon for a moment that it is no longer just for our time, or doubt its justice or mercy. And whoever disparages “applying it,” his sin is upon himself, and it is not reckoned against the Shari’a of God.

Our aim here is that we should continue loving the Shari’a, longing to realize it, striving for that, being honoured through it, and that we should meet God with a heart sincerely amenable to the Shari’a that He has approved for us.

The Shari’a that we speak of is the Shari’a of the Compassionate, the Merciful, the Benevolent, the Mild, who says: “Does He who created not know, while He is the Pleasant, the Knower?” (al-Mulk 14)- [Qur’an 67:14].

It is what its Revealer- the Exalted- commands: “Justice, ihsan and giving to relatives, while forbidding immorality, the condemned and oppression. He warns you, perhaps you will remember” (al-Nahl 90)- [Qur’an 16:90].

It is what God Almighty has revealed to lighten the burden on His servants, for He knows of their weakness. For He has said: “God wants to lighten your burden, for man has been created weak”- (al-Nisa’ 28)- [Qur’an 4:28].

The Shari’a that we speak of is not something rulers “apply” on those ruled, as though we are not in conversation with it, and as though it is thrown on us from above our heads! But rather the Muslims “establish it” in their lives, in all that is possible, for it is their cause, spirit and that by which they draw near to God, and they strive for it to be established on the level of rule and for there to be a state for it.

The Shari’a is that which orders the father to be merciful to his children, and the children to be respectful of their parents and attend to their mothers’ feet, and the ruler to be gentle with his subjects and establish justice on himself before establishing it on them.

It is that in which the Ummah becomes one body and is freed from the chains of the global system that oppresses it, humiliates it and plunders its resources.

It is that in whose state the affair of the Muslim individual is dignified in a way in which the affair of

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

NOTE: For prior parts in The Archivist series you can view an archive of it all here. And for his older series see: Musings of an Iraqi Brasenostril on Jihad.

“Go Forth, Lightly and Heavily Armed”: New Mobilization Calls by the Islamic State in Aleppo Province
By Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi
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 Aleppo city, and finally to push eastwards against the Islamic State [IS] and break IS’ long-standing siege of Kweiris military airbase.

The question of the Iranian involvement in the new Aleppo offensives is the subject of some debate. Though there have been reports of deployments of thousands of Iranian ground troops, it should be noted that such a move does not suit Iranian modus operandi in Syria, which prefers to rely on proxies to supply the bulk of manpower under elite Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps supervision. Note the following post from the main Facebook page for Quwat al-Ridha (native Syrian Hezbollah primarily recruiting from the Shi’a in Homs province) on 18 October, which leaves no doubt as to who the main ground commander of the new Aleppo operations is:

“Kweiris airbase, in front of the Commander Qasim Suleimani’s eye. The plans have been put in place, the equipment and munitions have been prepared, and the soldiers have entered the operation stage. The leader of the Quds Force, General Qasim Suleimani, is beginning his path to liberate and break the siege of the legendary airbase, Kweiris airbase. And participating in this operation are Quwat al-Ridha from Homs al-Abiya, Quwat al-Nujaba’ [Harakat al-Nujaba’, an Iraqi Shi’a militia], the Iranian Revolutionary Guards forces and forces from the Syrian Arab Army, under air-cover from the Russian Bear. My friends in Kweiris airbase, Suleimani is coming for you.”

Besides Harakat al-Nujaba’, which has been a long-established player on the Aleppo fronts, an official from Kata’ib Hezbollah– another Iraqi proxy of Iran- claimed to the Washington Post that 1000 fighters have been sent as part of Suleimani’s Aleppo offensive. Newer, more obscure Iraqi militias that have been advertising recruitment to fight in Syria in recent months may also be supplying manpower to the Aleppo area. The Assad Allah al-Ghalib Forces, an Iraqi Shi’a militia that initially operated in the Damascus area as part of Liwa Abu al-Fadl al-Abbas, also appears to have a presence in the Aleppo area.

The combination of manpower boosts and Russian air support helped score gains against both rebels and IS, but as shown by the unseen documents I have obtained, IS has responded to the eastward push by launching new mobilization calls within Aleppo province (Wilayat Halab), including the opening of new training camps. Linked to these mobilization calls has been the launch of IS counter-offensives that are threatening to cut regime supply lines to Aleppo city, including ongoing clashes in the vicinity of the regime stronghold of al-Safira and IS assaults further southward along the Khanaser-Athariya road heading into Hama province.  

Previously, the last major mobilization call that produced results for IS took place in late April, with an internal directive issued by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi throughout the Syrian provinces to reinforce the fighting fronts in Salah ad-Din and Anbar provinces [archive: Specimen 3E], with particular emphasis on recruitment of suicide bombers and commandoes. Some weeks later, the mobilization call took the form of an official al-Furqan Media speech from Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The aims of IS were clear: continue the stalemate in Baiji in northern Salah ad-Din province and pin down Iraqi forces, while intensifying the assaults on Ramadi, where Shi’a militia deployments were very limited, in a bid to take control of the city. After all, as the provincial capital of Anbar province, Ramadi undoubtedly has greater value than Baiji, where the oil refinery and town infrastructure have largely been destroyed.

In the overall analysis, one should not overstate the IS capacity to mobilize and launch new offensives. It is impossible to commit with the same degree of intensity on every front where IS faces enemy forces. That said, for Aleppo province at least, IS’ enemies- rebels and regime forces- do not have the ability to pose a serious threat to IS’ main strongholds. With the rebels in particular, disorganization in the ranks (witness the case of the Shami Front and its multiple fractures) and a two-way war have meant that the overall trend is that IS has pushed ever further westward, though it is unlikely that the international coalition will allow IS to reclaim its one-time ‘Emirate of Azaz.’

Among the specimen documents of the new mobilization call are the first documents I have seen from an IS “Shari’a Committee” since the declaration of the Caliphate. The Aleppo province Shari’a Committee may be a provincial manifestation of IS’ greater Shari’a Council. On this analytical reading, the Diwan al-‘Eftaa wa al-Buhuth (fatwa issuing and research department: also Diwan al-Buhuth wa al-‘Eftaa) in Aleppo province may be a subset of the Aleppo province Shari’a Committee, just as the greater Diwan al-‘Eftaa wa al-Buhuth is reportedly a subset of the greater Shari’a Council.

Perhaps in support of this reading, one can note that based on the dates given, the mobilization call from the Aleppo province Shari’a Committee comes first (1 Muharram 1437 AH) and then further details- including specifics on locations- are given by the Diwan al-‘Eftaa wa al-Buhuth statements, one of which is dated 6 Muharram 1437 AH.