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. He joined the Islamic State in 1435 AH after being with the Sahwat.

– al-Hussein al-Shaheed: born in Albukamal in 1405 AH [1984-5 CE], his father is Saleh al-Hussein. He joined the Islamic State in 1436 AH and had not worked with anyone before that.

These three filmed suspect video clips including clear scenes of the mujahideen at the points of their ribat [frontline points] and their fortification in Wilayat al-Raqqa, and they have displayed a great shortcoming in undertaking the obligations imposed on them by their amir Abu al-Hassan al-Iraqi.

Abu al-Khayr al-Raqqawi has contact with his family living with the apostates in Tel Abyad and they migrated from the land of the Caliphate 6 months ago after they crossed into the Ayn Issa area without Shari’i permission for departure.

As for Abu Safa’, he abandoned work with the brother Rayan Mash’al following ideological disagreements according to our particular knowledge.

We ask for authorization from you to track the case of these three media workers, and may God reward you best.

Wilayat al-Raqqa- al-Amn al-Aam

2 Sha’aban 1438 AH/28 April 2017 CE

Islamic State
Amni Aam official- Wilayat al-Raqqa

[In handwriting]: To be referred to the media committee in the Diwan al-Amn al-Aam with the necessity of taking into account the office’s current situation.

————————–

Islamic State
Wilayat al-Raqqa

Date: 9 Sha’aban 1438 AH [5 May 2017 CE]
No. 133/1

In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful

To the brother Rayan Mash’al may God protect him.

Please track the ongoing disagreement between al-Furqan Media and ‘Amaq in Wilayat al-Raqqa following which the issuing of Mawkab al-Nur particular to the wilaya came to a halt.

Please provide us with the names of the media workers who have been the main reason for the rift between the two sides that came about following the nomination of Abu al-Hassan al-Iraqi as official for the media office in Wilayat al-Raqqa.

And we will provide you with special authorization to track your work and the accompaniment of one of the security brothers to follow the investigation with you in a media capacity.

Please comply and implement.
Wilayat al-Raqqa office

Islamic State
Wilayat al-Raqqa
Wali’s office

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

Introduction

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 in Iraq prior to the U.S. invasion in 2003.[6] More recently, Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, a jihadist entity comprising former al-Qa’ida affiliate Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, reported on its own security apparatus activities through its Iba’ News Agency, documenting a widespread campaign of arrests and crackdowns on IS terrorist cells in Idlib.[7]

Global jihadist organizations, by nature, are always likely to attract the hostility of many if not most nation states, which normally realize that these groups in the long-run intend to overthrow the modern order of nation states. In addition, rivalries can develop between these groups and with other non-state actors. These jihadist organizations, therefore, need to be especially aware of the risk of infiltration and leaking of sensitive information to their enemies. Having a security apparatus is the logical way of addressing this problem. For IS, the imperative to have an effective security apparatus has been all the more paramount on account of the vast U.S.-led international coalition arrayed against it, and the control of large swaths of territory and important population centres spanning the Iraq and Syria borders.

Even so, it is questionable how successful the IS security apparatus has actually been in counter-espionage/counter-intelligence. It is true that there have been no successful internal revolts in IS territories that have driven the group out of areas under its control. Retaking territory from IS has required forces to enter from outside. Yet such a measure of success for IS primarily comes down to IS’ monopoly on force over would-be armed opponents inside the territories it controls, having disarmed many rivals in conquered areas through imposition of repentance programs, and inspiring terror through brutal executions of accused spies and collaborators with the coalition and other enemies, with some cases broadcast in IS propaganda. On another level, IS has not been able to prevent many senior cadres from being killed in raids and airstrikes intended to target the leadership, suggesting a considerable degree of intelligence penetration and leaking of valuable information to the coalition by locals, the very thing counter-espionage is supposed to stop.

Within the documents, one particular department identified as part of a provincial security centre’s structure is the security of the mujahideen administration, intended to track cases of doctrinal corruption. This issue has in fact been a serious problem for IS, particularly on the issue of takfir (declaring someone/something to be of disbelief in Islam) and how widely it should be applied.[8] In the realm of the use of the Internet, no evidence has yet emerged to show that IS was able to develop software and tools to wiretap and monitor communications by civilians over local Internet networks. Instead, the introduction of measures that gradually banned personal Internet connections in people’s homes suggests a reactive approach that fell short of a technological breakthrough.[9]

In light of these considerable failings, the narrative that former Ba’athists were able to create a highly effective security apparatus in IS seems less convincing once examined more closely. Along with the 13 documents found that detail the security structure was a brief document, in the form of a letter from the greater Diwan al-Amn al-Aam to the amir of the security centre Aleppo wilaya, providing notice on a new framework for the security apparatus. The structures detailed in the 13 documents appear to reflect this new framework, notice of which is dated to June 2016. If the framework for the security apparatus had to be revised, the implication is likewise a reactive approach to security problems facing IS, not a highly successful security apparatus to begin with.

The Future

As IS continues to lose territory, the security apparatus structures as detailed are unlikely to persist, as they are intended for a situation of real territorial control and governance. Instead, there will probably be simplification as the organization reverts more and more to insurgent and terrorist tactics.

Limitations

One must bear in mind what these documents do not tell us as much as what they do tell us. For instance, given that there was a change in the security framework in 2016, no documents have yet turned up that can describe the exact changes that took place. We only seem to have the security structure as described in these documents without a detailed comparison with past models. Did the previous frameworks allow for greater autonomy for the provincial security centres, or did the central Diwan have even more powers over the provincial security centres? Can we say with certainty that the framework in the eastern wilayas was/is exactly the same as the western wilayas, despite similarities noted in the security documents that have turned up from Iraq?

Two documents from May 2016 in my raw archives are intelligence reports from the “intelligence division” of the “general [/public] police” addressed to the overall security official of Aleppo province.[10] Do the “general [/public] police” and its intelligence department as detailed in these documents constitute sub-sections of the security offices in the sectors? What exactly is the relation with the “Islamic police” if any? The documents we are examining in this piece do not shed light on this matter.

These are just some questions relating to the limitations of our findings and the documents under consideration that are worth pondering. We should also note that we do not yet have a detailed outline of the internal structure of the greater Diwan al-Amn al-Aam.

In any case, below are the documents translated in full. Any particular comments will be given in the endnotes.

————————————————-

Letter from the Diwan al-Amn al-Aam to the public security centre head in the Aleppo wilaya



Islamic State
Diwan al-Amn al-Aam

No. 1056
Date: 24 Sha’aban 1436 AH/1 June 2016 CE

In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful

To: Aleppo wilaya
Subject: New framework

Praise be to God alone and prayers and peace be upon the one after whom there is no prophet. As for what follows:

The brother the amir of the Aleppo security centre, may God protect him.
As-salam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuhu
Work on the new framework will begin as soon as the wali reviews it as we have sent him a copy through the official post.
May God reward you best.

Diwan al-Amn al-Aam

Islamic State
Diwan al-Amn al-Aam
The public security official

—————————–

Documents outlining the internal system



The internal system for the security centres in the wilayas.

Index:

Chapter One: General definitions
-Section One: Definitions
Chapter Two: The organizational guide to the security centre
-Section One: Security centres in the wilayas
  -Firstly: Framework of the security centres in the wilayas
  -Secondly: The organizational composition for the security centre in the wilaya
-Section Two: The security offices in the sectors
  -Firstly: The organizational framework for the security offices in the sectors
  -Secondly: The organizational composition for the security offices in the sectors

Chapter Three: The official relations for the Diwan and its centres
-Section One: The official relations for the Diwan
  -Firstly: The Diwan’s relation with the walis
  -Secondly: The Diwan al-Amn’s relation with the security centre in the wilayas
  -Thirdly: The Diwan al-Amn’s relation with the Diwan al-Jund[11]
-Section Two: The official relation for the security centre with the wilaya
  -Firstly: The security centre’s relation with the wali
  -Second: The security centre’s relation with the amirs of the sectors and regions
  -Thirdly: The security centre’s relation with the repentance office



Chapter One: Definitions

The definition of the following technical expressions in this system is given alongside each one:

. Diwan: Diwan al-Amn in the Islamic State.
. Amir of the Diwan: Amir of the Diwan al-Amn
. Centre of the Diwan: Subdivision of the Diwan in the western wilayas in the Islamic State.
. Organizational unit/Administrative unit: group of personnel who undertake identical and defined assignments that independently appear on the organizational framework and exist at the level of a sector, administration, division, branch, far’ or office etc.
. Administration: organizational administrative unit in the Diwan that may comprise a group of divisions or offices.
. Division: organizational administrative unit in the Diwan affiliated with a higher organizational unit than it: the administration. It may comprise a group of branches.
. Branch: organizational administrative unit in the Diwan affiliated with a higher organizational unit than it: the division.
. Far’: a technical term used to indicate the admin units in their different sizes, either in an independent geographic place or for independent activity.
. Office: small organizational unit in the Diwan established in the fields of administrative, officer or oversight jobs; or it is big and for the large part affiliated with the highest administration.
. Organizational framework: the structure that clarifies the administrative divisions of which the Diwan is composed- organized in the form of levels on top of each other- and the authority and responsibility of every division. And it is the structure through which orders and instructions flow from the higher level to the lower level and in which the competency of taking decisions and the centres of authority and responsibility become clear. Also defined as: the official organizational form for the Diwan, which clarifies how the basic organizational and divisional structure has been put in place and how the job positions relate to the higher, lower and horizontal levels in what serves the implementation of the defined missions.
. Job positions framework: The pyramidal structure for job positions in their identical administrative levels quantitatively and qualitatively from the perspective of the specialities and responsibilities within the one organizational unit. Also defined as follows: representation of the distribution of job positions in the organizational framework apparatus (administration, office, division etc.).
. Job position designation: technical term expressing the purpose of the existence of the job position and it is mostly composed of two words: the first word expresses the fundamental speciality and the second the unit speciality that arises from it like accountant of imports and director of financial administration and amir of the general administration for oversight and inspection.
. System of course of work: outline clarifying how the operation of the official party shows the distribution and connection of its activities to realize the missions and aims for which the organizational unit or administrative apparatus was established.

Chapter Two[12]: Organizational guide to the security centre



Section One: Security centres in the wilayas
First: Framework of the security centres in the wilayas



Second: The organizational structure for the security centre in the wilaya:

1.  The amir of the centre

Name of the administrative unit Amir of the centre
Organizational connection The wali
The job position designation for the official of the administrative unit Amir of the security centre in a wilaya
Points of oversight All administrations and offices of the security centre
General aim Oversight of the work of the security apparatus in the wilaya


. Tasks of the amir of the security centre


– Oversight of the works of the administrative units in the centres and works of the offices.
– Oversight of implementing the general security plan within the wilaya according to the policies decided by the Diwan.
– Certifying the balances and budgets for the centre and its offices.
– Submitting to the amir of the Diwan and the wali a candidate for the position of deputy [amir of the centre].
– Submitting to the amir of the Diwan candidates for the positions of amirs of the administrations, divisions and offices.
– Referring monthly reports to the Diwan and wilaya concerning the work of the centre and its offices and their review of the security situation in the wilaya.
– Writing to the wilaya in urgent matters or in the event of administrative problems with the officials.
– Continual inspection and persistent visits to the security offices and quick tracking of the course of their work.
– Continual and lasting contact with the wilaya and Diwan.
– Verifying complaints raised against those affiliated with the security centre or forming internal committees to review them.
– Certifying the implementation plans in the short and medium term.
– Writing to the amir of the Diwan or whoso represents him in mishaps and taking up the directives regarding them.
– Receiving those assigned to the security centre and knowing the extent of the possibility of benefiting from them and directing them.



– Issuing statements for distribution and decisions concerning the security centre.
– Undertaking all the tasks and responsibilities entrusted to him as amir of the security centre in what concerns progress, improvement and development of the centre’s situation in a general, lasting and continual sense.
– Taking all the necessary decisions to ensure compliance with the general authorized policies and ensuring work to realize the strategic goals and develop general outlines of action for the centre.
– Dividing and distributing tasks, responsibilities, powers and job positions according to competency and who is more preferable for the general interest, and that is in accordance with the words of the Prophet (SAWS):  “Whoso has been entrusted with something from the affairs of the Muslims and has appointed a man even as he sees one who is more competent than him for the Muslims, has betrayed God and His Messenger”- narrated by al-Hakim in his Mustadrik.
– Making all the admins, foundations and committees comply with the systems of work authorized by the Diwan and that is to ensure competent, high quality work and that there should be no trace of any of the types of administrative neglect or flabbiness.
– Oversight of the good performance of the workers.
– Investigating problems that hinder the movement of work and putting in place solutions for them and suggesting methods of developing work.
– Regularly meeting the amirs of the administrations, divisions and offices.
– Tracking the extent of the compliance of the administrations, divisions and offices with the plans and programs ensuring the success and development of the work in the centre.
– Issuing implementation notices regarding how to apply the systems of work authorized by the Diwan.

2. Deputy amir of the centre

Name of the administrative unit Deputy amir of the centre
Organizational connection Amir of the centre
Job position designation for the official for the administrative unit Deputy amir of the security centre
Points of oversight All administrations and offices of the security centre
General aim Deputy role of the amir of the centre


. Tasks of the deputy amir of the centre:


– Tracking all the works of the administration units in the centre and the works of the offices.
– Carrying out some of the special tasks of the amir in the event of being entrusted to do them by him and total representation of him in all tasks in the event of his absence.
– Overseeing the files and fields he is entrusted with by the amir of the centre.
– Representing the amir of the centre in overseeing the works of the centre according to the powers delegated to him by the amir.
– Overseeing the course of work of the plans and systems implemented in the security centre and authorized by the Diwan.
– Tracking the extent of the compliance of the administrations, divisions and offices with the plans and programs ensuring the success and development of the work in the centre.
– Undertaking any other tasks entrusted to him by the amir of the centre.

3. Administration of the security of the mujahideen

Name of the administrative unit Administration of the security of the mujahideen
Organizational connection Amir of the centre
Job position designation for the official for the admin unit Amir of the administration of the security of the mujahideen
Points of oversight All divisions affiliated with the administration of the security of the mujahideen
General aim Protecting the security of the mujahideen in the wilaya


Tasks of the administration of the security of the mujahideen:


– Preventive security



– Counter-espionage
– Monitoring suspect and bad members (disappointingly and agitated)
– Following cases of the corruption of doctrines

Note: the administration of the security of the mujahideen works on the level of the centres of the Diwans and committees in the wilaya, and the security of the army in the event that the army is affiliated with the wilaya.

4. Intelligence administration

Name of the administrative unit Intelligence administration
Organizational connection Amir of the centre
Job position designation for the official for the admin unit Amir of the intelligence administration
Points of oversight All divisions affiliated with the intelligence administration
General aim Administration of the intelligence groups and obtaining the desired information in different [types][13]


. Tasks of the intelligence administration:


– Administration of the intelligence groups in its purview.
– Gathering and analyzing information and submitting it to those with the power of decision-making.
– Working on the files that are ordered to be worked on with due process.
– Studying negative phenomena that represent a danger to the security of the Dawla and referring them to be dealt with.[14]
– Catching espionage networks and using all Shari’i means available to uncover them.
– Investigation and studies.

4/a: Information and archive division

Name of the administrative unit Information and archive division
Organizational connection Intelligence administration
Job position designation for the official of the administrative unit Amir of the information and archive division
Points of oversight All divisions affiliated with the information and archive division
General aim Administration of information, analyzing it and preserving it


Tasks of the information and archive division:


– Administration of information, collecting it, analyzing it, preserving it and securing it in accordance with principles.
– Gathering information from the security offices in the sectors.
– Applying means of work put in place by the Diwan.
– Tracking and receiving information from the media, and bringing it together in the form of daily reports.
– Classifying information according to principles that must be dealt with.
– Transferring information to the relevant parties with the writing of a suggestion or notice concerning the extent of the truth of the piece of information and its danger.
– Establishing a secure archive for the wilaya.



5. Verification and prison administration.

Name of the administrative unit Verification and prison administration
Organizational connection Amir of the centre
Job position designation for the official for the administrative unit Amir of the verification and prison administration
Points of oversight All offices affiliated with the verification and prison administration
General aim Undertaking tasks of verification and what concerns it from detention, verification and prosecution


. Tasks of the verification and prison administration:


– Administration of the prisons affiliated with the wilaya.
– Tracking cases of prisoners.
– Sorting and distinguishing cases (non-security cases or those that don’t need detention).[15]
– Undertaking verification in security cases.
– Supplementing the rulings issued by the judges.
– Issuing arrest requests against whoso has been involved in cases in which verification has been done.
– Issuing requests for inspection and tracking.
– Bringing cases against detainees before judges.

6. Technology and informatics administration

Name of administrative unit Technology and informatics administration
Organizational connection Amir of the centre
Job position designation for the official of the administrative unit Amir of the technology and informatics adminiistration
Points of oversight All technology offices affiliated with it
General aim Deal with the electronic devices of detainees and work to stop electronic penetrations for devices that are used (connections, devices and Internet)


. Tasks of the technology and informatics administration:


– Recovery and maintenance division:

– Recovery: restoring and recovering deleted files and data and extracting the hidden and encrypted from them from all electronic devices.
– Maintenance: maintenance of all electronic devices and preparing them for security work, removing tracking devices[16] and repairing broken apparatuses.

– Systems and networks division:

– Working to prepare safe operating systems for electronic devices that are used.
– Securing and protecting devices connected to the Internet through recommending safe programs.
– Applying plans to encrypt and archive sensitive data to protect them from damage and espionage.
– Programing Internet networks and establishing local servers and networks and managing them and securing their connections and encrypting their data.

– Office to regulate connections:

– Regulating Internet connections.
– Issuing Internet licenses to the parties allowed to use it.[17]
– Regulating the selling and buying of Internet apparatuses and its necessities.
– Tracking and monitoring the licensed places and sending regular patrols to monitor the course of work and make sure those licensed are complying with the instructions and conditions.



7. Economic security administration

Name of administrative unit Economic security administration
Organizational connection Amir of the centre
Job position designation for the official of the administration unit Amir of the economic security administration
Points of oversight Economic security administration
General aim Working to preserve economic security


. Tasks of the economic security administration:

– Verification in relevant cases.
– Investigating cases concerning economic security.
– Assuming responsibility for verifying cases of financial corruption and embezzlement and arresting the accused in those cases or placing them under disposition without arrest.
– Monitoring the financial situations of the soldiers of the Dawla, verifying and gathering information about the reasons for the increase of the wealth of a soldier of the Dawla whether it derives from his presence in the Dawla or not.
– Verifying with the suspect from the soldiers of the Dawla in cases of financial corruption deriving from his work or other actions connected with his work.
– Verifying in cases and problems coming from the areas and sectors and taking the necessary procedures in verification, inspection and controlling those problems and cases found, taking hold of them and arresting the one shown to be involved by evidence.
– Cases of forging currency and precious metals through verifying in them and referring the accused either to the ordinary judiciary or the security one according to the quantity of forgery and its type.
– Cases of smuggling antiquities and rikaz resources[18] of which a fifth part belongs to the Dawla and which issues instructions banning their circulation and excavation without the license of the Dawla.
– Cases of hoarding that impact the economic situation of the land and the Muslims’ livelihood.
– Monitoring strategic commodities in the markets and submitting the necessary suggestions to the authorized parties to take the appropriate measures on the matter of their availability, beginning from encouraging the merchants to make them available, and concluding with the Dawla’s importation of them or intervening in the border crossings to pressure the neighbouring systems to exchange them for other commodities coming out of the lands of the Dawla like necessities of agricultural production from fertilizer, pesticides and other goods.

8. Administration of administrative affairs.

Name of administrative unit Administration of administrative affairs
Organizational connection Amir of the centre
Job position designation for the official of the administrative unit Amir of the administration of administrative affairs
Points of oversight All divisions affiliated with the administration
General aim Heeding the administrative and financial needs of the centre


. Tasks of the administration of administrative affairs:

– Administration of the centre’s capabilities according to principles followed.
– Financial works of the administration.
– Administration of human resources.
– Addressing work needs.
– Undertaking all actions that help the centre’s foundational works.



Section Two: Security offices in the sectors

1. Organizational framework for the security offices in the sectors



Notes:

1. Some of the offices may have in them a technology and informatics division according to the need defined by the amir of the security centre.

2. Some of the offices will not have in them an implementation division according to the need defined by the amir of the security centre.

Second: organizational structure for the security offices in the centre.

1. Amir of the security office

Name of the administrative unit Amir of the security office
Organizational connection Amir of the centre
Job position designation for the official for the administrative unit Amir of the security office
Points of oversight All divisions affiliated with the office
General aim Overseeing the security work in the sector


Tasks of the amir of the security office:


– Overseeing the works of the administrative units in the office
– Overseeing the implementation of the general security plan within the office and making use of the policies decided by the Diwan.
– Deciding on the budgets and balances concerning the office.
– Nominating the candidate for deputy amir of the security office to the amir of the centre.
– Referring monthly reports to the centre concerning the office’s work and its review of the security situation in the sector.
– Writing to the centre in urgent matters or in event of administrative problems.
– Continual inspection and persistent visits to security personnel and quick tracking of the course of their work.
– Lasting and continual connection with the centre.
– Receiving those assigned to the office and getting to know the extent of the possibility of benefiting from them and directing them.
– Undertaking all the tasks and responsibilities he is entrusted with as amir of the security office in what ensures the progress, improvement and development of the office’s situation generally and in a lasting and continual sense.
– Making all divisions comply with the systems of work set by the Diwan.
– Monitoring the soundness of the workers’ performance.
– Investigating problems that impede the movement of work and putting in place solutions for them and suggesting methods of developing work.
– Regular meetings with the amirs of the divisions and offices
– Tracking the extent of the compliance of the admins, divisions and offices with the plans and programs that ensure the success and development of work in the centre.
– Issuing arrest orders in urgent matters.



2. Deputy amir of the amir’s office.

Name of administrative unit Deputy amir of the amir’s office
Organizational connection Amir of the security office
Job position designation for the official for the administrative unit Deputy amir of the amir’s office
Points of oversight All divisions affiliated with the office
General aim Role of deputy of the amir of the security office in his tasks


Tasks of the deputy amir of the security office:


– Tracking all works of the administrative units in the office.
– Undertaking some of the amir’s special assignments in the event of being entrusted to undertake them by him and comprehensive representation of him in all missions in the event of his absence.
– Overseeing the files and fields entrusted to him by the amir of the office.
– Overseeing the course of work of the plans and systems implemented in the security centre and authorized by the Diwan.
– Tracking the extent of the compliance of the admins, divisions and offices with the plans and programs ensuring the success and development of work in the office.
– Undertaking any other missions entrusted to him by the amir of the office.

3. Intelligence division

Name of administrative unit Intelligence division
Organizational connection Amir of the security office
Job position designation for the official for the administrative unit Amir of the intelligence division
Points of oversight All offices affiliated with the division
General aim Administration of intelligence groups and obtaining the desired information through different means


Tasks of the intelligence division:


. Administration of the intelligence groups in its purview.
. Gathering, analyzing and referring information.
. Working on files ordered to work on with due process.
. Recruiting eyes.[19]
. Studying negative phenomena that represent a danger to the security of the Dawla and referring them to be dealt with.
. Catching espionage networks and using all available legitimate means to uncover them.
. Inquiry and studies.

3a: Archive and information office

Name of the administrative unit Information and archive office
Organizational connection Amir of the intelligence division
Job position designation for the official of the administrative unit Amir of the information and archive office
Points of oversight Offices affiliated with the division
General aim Administration of information, analyzing it and preserving it


Tasks of the information office


– Admin of information, collecting it, analyzing it, preserving it and securing it according to principles.
– Applying means of work put in place by the Diwan.
– Classifying information according to the principles that must be dealt with.
– Referring information to the specific parties with writing of a suggestion or notice regarding the extent of the truth of the piece of information and its danger.
– Establishing a secure archive for the office.



4. Verification and prison division

Name of administrative unit Verification and prison division
Organizational connection Amir of the security office
Job position designation for the official for the administrative unit Amir of the verification and prison division
Points of oversight Offices affiliated with the division
General aim Undertaking tasks of verification and things related to it from detention, verification and prosecution


Tasks of the verification and prison division


– Admin of prisons affiliated with the security office in the sector.
– Tracking cases of prisoners.
– Sorting and distinguishing cases (non-security cases or not requiring detention).
– Undertaking verification in security cases
– Supplementing the rulings issued by the judges
– Issuing arrest requests against those involved in cases in which verification has been done.
– Issuing inspection and tracking requests
– Bringing cases against detainees before judges.

5. Implementation division

Name of administrative unit Implementation division
Organizational connection Amir of the security office
Job position designation for the official for the administrative unit Amir of the implementation division
Points of oversight
General aim Arrests and assaults


Tasks of the implementation division


– Carrying out the orders of arrest and inspection issued by the authorized parties and what concerns the arrest operation from procedures
– Flying checkpoints.

6. Administrative affairs division

Name of administrative unit Administrative affairs division
Organizational connection Amir of the security office
Job position designation for the official for the admin unit Amir of the administrative affairs division
Points of oversight
General aim Heeding the administrative and financial needs of the office


Tasks of the administrative affairs division:


– Administration of the office’s capabilities according to principles followed
– Financial administration works
– Administration of human resources
– Heeding work needs
– Undertaking all actions that help the foundational works of the office.



Chapter Three[20]: The official relations for the Diwan

Section One: The official relations for the Diwan

First: The Diwan’s relation with the walis

. The Diwan has the right to put in place the general plans and policies for the Diwan and centres and the wilaya must apply them.

. The Diwan has the right to put in place the internal system in its entirety, and put in place the mechanism for modifying it, and the wilaya must comply with applying the internal system entirely.

With regards to appointment:

. The appointment of the amir of the centre is done by agreement between the wali and the Diwan and the Delegated Committee decides if the two don’t agree on a person and the submission of a replacement is put forth in opposition to that person.

. The appointment of the security official and officials of the main administrations in the security centre and the security officials of the sectors is not to be done except after the agreement of the Diwan.

. Concerning the rest of the personnel of the apparatus, the Diwan is to be notified.

With regards to removal:

. The removal of the security official, officials of the main administrations in the security centre and the security officials of the sectors is not to be done except after the Diwan’s agreement. With regards to the rest of the personnel of the apparatus, the Diwan must be notified of the reasons for removal.

. The Diwan has the right to remove one of the workers in the security centre through the wali.

With regards to reassignment (transferring outside the security centre): the one to be reassigned is to be referred to the Diwan by order of the wali with the recommendations for the purpose of verification and knowing the reasons for reassignment and the adoption of the final decision.

With regards to placement:

The wali is to send the personnel to submit to a course in the Diwan which has the decision to accept or not.

. The Diwan may reward any of the workers in the centres

. The Diwan is not to rebuke any of the workers in the centre except through the wali.

. The Diwan can support the centre through additional cash for it to be spent on developing the security and intelligence work and is not in the usual stipulations of spending, provided that a letter is sent to the wali concerning what has been spent for the centre.

. The wilaya may not redistribute the electronic devices (computers, cameras, eavesdropping devices) etc. to outside the security centre because of the negative consequences and risks from it as the devices may have information in them that can be recovered even after being deleted.

. The wilaya has no right to redistribute to outside the security centre cars and pistols handed by the Diwan to the centre as an entrustment.

. The wilaya may not hand over silencers to any of the workers in the wilaya from the security centre and others besides them except after agreement of the Diwan.

Second: the Diwan al-Amn’s relation with the security centres in the wilayas

. The security centre must comply with the system of work and directions issued by the Diwan.
. Lasting and continual exchange of information.
. The centre must refer monthly reports to the Diwan with its review of the centre’s work.
. The security centre must respond to the Diwan’s inquiries.
. The security centre is obliged to implement the orders of arrest, tracking and observation issued by the Diwan.
. The security centre is obliged to implement the Diwan’s order to extend the period of detention of any of the prisoners so long as the period does not exceed at most a week after the decision to release him.
. The security centre has a right to contact and correspond with the Diwan without going through the wali.

. Power of release:

– The Diwan can request for any of the prisoners to be released but the wilaya may refuse on condition of informing the Diwan of the reasons.



. The amir of the centre does not have the right to remove, transfer or reassign officials of the main administrations and security officials of the sectors except after the agreement of the Diwan, and concerning the rest of the workers in the centre, the Diwan is to be notified with statement of reason.

. The Diwan has the right to withdraw and transfer any of the cases and prisoners detained in that case from the security centre to the Diwan.

. Continual connection with the security centres in the wilayas and visiting them on a regular basis and reviewing their work.

. Regularly meeting with the amirs of the centres and directing them.

. Continual oversight and tracking of the work of the security centres.

. Receiving monthly reports from the centres and discussing with them the reports.

Section Two: The official relation of the security centre with the wilaya

Firstly: The relation of the security centre with the wali:

. The security centre in the wilaya is affiliated with the wali administratively and financially.

With regards to transfer:

The wali has the right to transfer any of the security officials inside the centre in coordination with the amir of the centre, except the security official and officials of the main administrations in the security centre and the security officials of the sectors.

. The centre must refer monthly reports to the wilaya with its review of the centre’s work and the wali must safeguard the secrecy of the reports, so no one else must review them without necessity, and he is to destroy them as soon as possible.

Conditions for mobilizing security personnel:

. The wilaya must mobilize the security in the last stage of the stages of mobilization.
. The wilaya must not mobilize the officials of the main administrations and security officials of the sectors.
. In the event of general mobilization there is to be mobilization of an accepted number (20%) in so far as it does not hinder their work in intelligence, implementation, analyzing information, guarding prisons etc.

. The wali has the right to review all security information but may not delegate anyone to review it except his deputy.
. The centre must submit any report the wali demands provided the centre classifies its correspondences like there is a report that only the wali can review so it writes ‘secret’, and so on. And the Diwan puts forth the regulations of the correspondences and the wilaya must comply with it.
. The amir of the centre has the right to transfer, remove or reassign one of the security officials in the centre except the officials of the main administrations and the security officials of the sectors, which must be done only after the agreement of the Diwan.
. The amir of the centre has the right to affiliate new personnel to the security centre according to the regulations of the Diwan al-Amn.
. The wali is the one who defines the means of implementing rulings of death penalty (publicly or secretly) and the place of implementation.
. Only the security apparatus is to oversee the implementation of the rulings of death penalty issued against prisoners in security cases.

Second: the security centre’s relation with the amirs of the sectors and areas:

. The security office in the sector is not affiliated with the amir of the sector in all administrative and financial issues.
. The amir of the sector is not to mobilize, transfer, remove, appoint or rebuke members of the security apparatus in the sector.
. The amir of the sector has the right to monitor and track by himself and does not have the right to delegate anyone with that, and he is to refer his counsels to the amir of the security centre or the wali.
. The amir of the sector has the right to review the prisons by himself and has no right to delegate anyone with that.
. The amir of the sector may inquire about the situation of one of the detainees and the security office in the sector must respond with the available and allowed information.
. The amir of the sector may request a basic security study from the security office.
. The amir of the sector may not request inventories, names or copies from the cases or security information.
. The amir of the sector may raise opposition to the means of security work in his sector to the amir of the sector or the wali but may not obstruct security work.
. The amir of the sector may not issue an order of arrest or release to the security office.


. The amir of the sector and security official of the sector must work together to safeguard the security in the sector.
. The security official of the sector must coordinate with the amir of the sector in the most important cases that concern the sector.

Third: the security centre’s relation with the repentance office

. The repentance security division has the right to enter all repentance centres and review all files of those who repent, verify with them and take all information particular to them.
. There is the right to take a copy of the archive of those who repent.
. It [the security centre] has the right to place a means of securing the information and the office must comply.
. The security centre has the right to arrest suspects from those present in the repentance centres.

Notes

[1] E.g. Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi,“Archive of Islamic State Administrative Documents (continued),” aymennjawad.org (Specimens 17J and 18V), January 11, 2016 (http://www.aymennjawad.org/2016/01/archive-of-islamic-state-administrative-documents-1).

[2] “Newsletters Found in Anbar Indicate How Extremist Group Organizes Itself,” Niqash, June 16, 2016 (http://www.niqash.org/en/articles/security/5294/Newsletters-Found-In-Anbar-Indicate-How-Extremist-Group-Organises-Itself.htm).

[3] Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi,“Archive of Islamic State Administrative Documents (continued),” aymennjawad.org (Specimen 16W), January 11, 2016 (http://www.aymennjawad.org/2016/01/archive-of-islamic-state-administrative-documents-1).

[4] E.g. Liz Sly, “The hidden hand behind the Islamic State militants? Saddam Hussein’s,” Washington Post, April 4, 2015 (https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/the-hidden-hand-behind-the-islamic-state-militants-saddam-husseins/2015/04/04/aa97676c-cc32-11e4-8730-4f473416e759_story.html?utm_term=.c892c1a31f38).

[5] Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi, “The Evolution in Islamic State Administration: The Documentary Evidence,” Perspectives on Terrorism, August 5, 2015 (http://www.aymennjawad.org/17687/the-evolution-in-islamic-state-administration).

[6] Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi, “A Complete History of Jama’at Ansar al-Islam,” aymennjawad.org, December 15, 2015 (http://www.aymennjawad.org/2015/12/a-complete-history-of-jamaat-ansar-al-islam).

[7] “The security office for Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham arrests a cell comprising 7 members of the Dawla organization in Idlib city, bringing the number of khawarij arrested by the Hay’a today to 32 members,” Iba’ News Agency, July 12, 2017 (https://justpaste.it/iba12july2017).

[8] Bryan Price and Muhammad al-‘Ubaydi, “CTC Perspectives: The Islamic State’s Internal Rifts and Social Media Ban,” CTC, June 21, 2017 (https://ctc.usma.edu/posts/ctc-perspectives-the-islamic-states-internal-rifts-and-social-media-ban).

[9] For a sample of the most recent Internet regulations, see e.g. regulations introduced in the Mosul area in July 2016. Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi, “Archive of Islamic State Administrative Documents (continued), aymennjawad.org (Specimens 18V and 18Z), January 11, 2016 (http://www.aymennjawad.org/2016/01/archive-of-islamic-state-administrative-documents-1).

[10] Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi, “Archive of Islamic State Administrative Documents (continued…again),” aymennjawad.org (Specimens 32G and 32O), September 17, 2016 (http://www.aymennjawad.org/2016/09/archive-of-islamic-state-administrative-documents-2).

[11] A section by this title does not turn up in the subsequent pages. Appears to be a clumsy error as there is a section on mobilizing personnel, a matter tied of course to the Diwan al-Jund.

[12] Typo in the original has this marked “Chapter Three.” The error has been corrected in the translation.

[13] Typo in the original. “Types” is the additional word meant here. Added in as a correction.

[14] E.g. From other documents I have obtained, in July 2016 the security centre in Aleppo province submitted a report to the greater Diwan. This report constituted a study of some of the Kurdish villages in Aleppo province and the supposed danger they represent to the Islamic State on account of PKK/SDF loyalties among the populations.

[15] E.g. Mere violations of Islamic morality by civilians- such as smoking cigarettes- will not be considered security cases.

[16] E.g. Removing GPS from phones, a measure introduced early on after the declaration of the Caliphate (December 2014). See Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi, “Archive of Islamic State Administrative Documents,” aymennjawad.org (Specimen X), January 27, 2015 (http://www.aymennjawad.org/2015/01/archive-of-islamic-state-administrative-documents).

[17] This matter has also been regulated at times by the Diwan al-Hisba.

[18] E.g. Precious metals.

[19] i.e. Recruiting spies.

[20] Original text reads Chapter Four. Typo corrected in the translation.

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.

archivisttrainingcampcontract
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.

archivisttrainingcampcontract2
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

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!!

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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.’ They say: ‘But we are doers of good.’ But indeed they are sowers of corruption but do not realize. And when it is said to them: ‘Believe as the people have believed.’ They said: ‘Are we to believe as the fools have believed?’ But they are the fools but they do not know. And when they meet those who have believed, they say: ‘We believe.’ But when they are alone with their evil ones, they say: ‘We are with you. We were only jesting.’ God will mock them and prolong them in their transgression while they wander blindly. They are those who have purchased error with guidance, but their transaction has not profited them and they were not guided. They are as one who has kindled a fire, but when it illuminated what was around him, Go took away their fire and left them in darkness they could not see. Deaf, dumb and blind. They will not return.” (al-Baqara) [Qur’an 2:9-18].

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Therefore with regards to the warning, we make clear that all caught trying to get the Muslims out of their abode to the abode of kufr through non-Shari’i means will have their case referred to the Diwan al-Amn al-Aam that will take the deserved Shari’i punishment against them.

Why so?

Because the one who works to get the Muslims out of their abode is sowing disunity and doubt in the minds of the Muslims, making their willpower grow weak, destroying their blessing and their gathering, and indeed this is exploiting the Muslim and terrorizing him. For the one who sees another who has fled to the land of kufr out of fear of confrontation, his willpower is weakened, his endurance is lost and his faith becomes contemptible [/of little importance].

Then it is that ‘smugglers’ who specialize in that as an occupation are exploiting the Muslims in their wealth, taking from them whatever sum they can or throwing them in the idle of the desert and enemy, meeting their fate, and they exploit the weakness of the families when they take out their women and children.

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Business dealings

– All caught with evidence in which there is no doubt that they have engaged in swindling or increased the price of goods or hoarded them will be referred to the special Shari’i court that has been newly set up by the brothers in Mosul to deter weakening of lives and prevent the greed of the corrupt. And in the event any accusation is proved against him from what has been mentioned, his wealth in which he swindles the Muslims or keeps from them will be confiscated.

– The Bayt al-Mal will define prices of foreign currencies and gold in the event the city market is cut off from its exterior, and the merchants will adopt the announcements of prices from the specified official.

– It is also forbidden to hoard gold, silver, precious metals and different financial documents in the event of demand, and the brothers from the Muslim populace must be bound by the Islamic State currency according to its availability in the market.

– It is forbidden to take the Islamic State’s special currency outside of the borders of the Dawla and whoever must go out with permission granted must go to the Bayt al-Mal to exchange what he has from it.

– It is forbidden to take out goods of ‘necessity’ from foodstuffs, heating goods, manufacturing and agricultural equipment, household furniture and building materials outside the borders of the wilaya under penalty of confiscation for the Bayt al-Mal.

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– It is forbidden to take out vehicles, trucks and motorcycles outside the borders of the wilaya except by permission from the Islamic Hisba.

– It is forbidden to take out, hoard or sell fuels at a price not specified by the Islamic State under penalty of confiscation.

20 Muharram 1438 AH
Wilayat Ninawa
End of document.

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 nikah as 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)

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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.

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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)

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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)

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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.

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


Introduction

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.

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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

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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.

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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

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Born in Jordan in 1383 AH corresponding to 1963 CE.

He migrated to Chechnya in the year 1412 AH [1991-1992 CE] and joined the retinue of mujahideen to resist the Communist Russian aggression that was killing the Muslims in that Islamic land.

Abu Jihad fought and was wounded many times, migrating after that to the Arabian Peninsula and living there for 4 years. Then he moved to Afghanistan and waged jihad there despite the impediment that had struck his foot during the jihad in Chechnya.

Abu Jihad moved to Iraq with the American invasion, and was appointed an amir for the Ibn Taymiyya brigade in the Iraqi Islamic Army, and he was responsible for coordination with Tanzim al-Qa’ida fi Bilad al-Rafidayn at that time, as he sent by his hand the messages of Sheikh Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi to the Islamic factions of Iraq concerning his plan and project to form the Majlis Shura al-Mujahideen that resulted after blessed consultations between the brothers in the factions.

Abu Jihad continued after that to adhere to the Majlis and administrative matters until the complete merger and establishment of the Islamic State of Iraq in the year 1427 AH [October 2006 CE], in which Abu Jihad was appointed as an administrative advisor in the Majlis al-Shura.

The Iraqi forces arrested him in the year 1430 AH [2009-2010 CE], and he and brothers to him managed to escape from the prison after a wide operation by the soldiers of the Islamic State on the prison on 14 Ramadan 1434 AH [the Abu Ghraib prison break in July 2013 CE].

Abu Jihad continued his path in jihad in the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham, and completed his advisory assignments. He also had a broad role and function in organizing the Diwans and offices in the Iraq wilayas.

Abu Jihad departed to His Lord after an air-raid from the coalition alliance in Ninawa in the middle of 1436 AH [c. March-April 2015 CE], in which he was killed along with a number of the administrative brothers.

Thus we reckon him and God is his reckoner.

Salah al-Din al-Omawi (published under Akhbar al-Khilafa)

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Salah al-Din was born into a Christian family in Damascus, raised under the wing of deceit and what the clergymen of the church impose upon them from deceit and beguiling the hearts and minds.

Salah al-Din joined the kafir [disbeliever- non-Islam] militias called the National Defence in Aleppo, and he was responsible for ammo depots in the town of al-Safira.

The soldiers of the Dawla managed to capture him and a group of apostates of the National Defence in an expedition on the peripheries of al-Safira, and he remained in their captivity for three months, during which time God opened his heart to Islam and he desired to memorize the Qur’an and implement it.

Salah al-Din demanded from the prison commander that he should meet the wali of Aleppo, but it was a strange matter for the prison commander who heeded his request after Salah al-Din persisted in his request.

The wali of Aleppo came after a time to Salah al-Din’s prison, and it came to pass that he sat with him for hours, in which he then went out to bring Salah al-Din to the training camps of the brothers in the wilaya of Aleppo.

Salah al-Din spent two months in the camp and was then dispatched to the al-Safira area in the same place that he was taken prisoner.

He connected with his family, informed them of his story, and called on them to repent and live in the protection of the rightly-guided Caliphate, and that the religion of Islam is the religion of deliverance, but they did not listen.

Salah al-Din fought in dozens of the expeditions against the Nusayris and was martyred during an inghimasi [commando] operation by the lions of the Caliphate on the peripheries of al-Safira town.

We ask God to accept him.

Dr. Iman Mustafa al-Bagha and her son Abu al-Hassan al-Dimashqi

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From the symbols of the Islamic State, who, by their allegiance to the Dawla, caused a great shock for the associations of the Sultan sheikhs who judge by the whims of their sultans.

She obtained a doctorate in fiqh and its principles from the university of Damascus, obtaining a teaching qualification diploma from the university of Damascus, and supervising the culture division in the global committee for the inimitability of the Qur’an in one of the universities of the Arabian Peninsula previously.

The doctor has participated in many of the studies in the Diwan al-Buhuth wa al-‘Iftaa’ in the wilaya of Raqqa, and she has worked in organizing the women’s Hisba in the wilayas.

Dr. Iman Mustafa al-Bagha has specialised in researching al-wala’ and al-bara’ and making clear the shirk into which many armed groups have fallen in the land of al-Sham- those who have thought that they are thus mujahideen.

And at the time at which Dr. Iman has focused her time on ‘Ilm and studies, her sons have been on the frontlines of fighting against the Nusayris, fighting without leniency and having decided to defend the Islamic State until victory or otherwise being killed in the path of God.

Dr. Iman lost her son Abu al-Hassan al-Dimashqi and has endured his loss and continued her path in jihad.

As it was from her lamentation for Abu al-Hassan [cf. here]:

His amir in the battle came and related the news of his martyrdom…

[Oratio obliqua]: When he was heavily wounded by tank fire during an assault against the Nusayri regime, he carried him and thus traversed with him a long distance, alternating the carrying of him with someone else until they placed him in a car, with the amir saying: ‘Indeed the matter became excruciating for me. So I said: ‘On Lord, let me see glad tidings, and I implored…’

‘I looked at the face of Abu al-Hassan as he was silent, approaching a little, but I smelt the odour of a strange perfume, and I thought a perfume had poured out in his pocket. I stretched my hands and dragged out what was in pocket, for behold, in it were papers stained by his blood.

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So when I raised them, the odour of musk emanated from them, so I offered them to those around me, and they found in them the odour of musk, and lo, the abundance in odour was emanating from his blood and spreading across the place…we rejoiced, looking at him. He remained calm until he died.

I wept and wished I had been in his place, and I knew that he was your son, and I wanted glad tidings to reach his mother so that she should be of good cheer.’

His amir said: ‘Indeed he was determined in fighting, they loved him very much for his charm, manners, and fine recitation when he led them in prayer, and his knowledge when he spoke.’

My son (Abu al-Hassan al-Dimashqi) had been selected as an admin official for his young age, but he did not like it, and he asked to be transferred to a hot zone without informing me, and when I learnt of the matter I rebuked him, and said to him: ‘Oh mama! I am not holding you back, but God has determined that you should be in a place and thus I might be reassured about you, so accept what God has determined for you, as you wage jihad in your place.’

Thus with this talk by which we deceive our children out of concern for their safety, yet we forget that their fate is set in time and place.

But he became embarrassed and said to me: ‘Fine, I will try to withdraw my request.’

I went from the house and he took his things and said to them: ‘Give greetings to Mama, as I go to the area of…and tell her to pray for me…’

I prayed to God to protect him and rejoiced that he returned safe after 36 days, spending 7 days with me and then returning…

And some days after that came to me the news of his martyrdom- thus I reckon him and God is his reckoner.

Dr. Iman has continued her jihad with patience and determination, not being harmed by the loss of her son Abu al-Hassan al-Dimasqi, and she has remained a thorn and enigma that has confused the tughat from the sheikhs of the sultan who have not until today found anything by which they may challenge the doctor as their masters ordered them.

May God protect her and the sisters that have participated with her in the service of jihad in the path of God.

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.

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Islamic State
Camps Administration

Qualities and manners of the mujahid commander
Appendix on military missions

Not be sold or distributed

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In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful

Praise be to God who has ennobled us by the blessing of jihad in His path, and ennobled us with the establishment of the Islamic Caliphate after a century of humiliation, idolatry and disbelieving idolatrous tyrants.

It was not for this edifice that it should be established without the soldiers of the Caliphate, many of whom died in the path of God, defending the enclosure of the Ummah in every corner of the world until God enabled us to establish the Caliphate.

Indeed today we have moved from the war of the streets to the war of the disbelieving states, face to face, land against land. And by God’s grace the soldiers of the Islamic State have been the soldiers of the epic battles who have routed the followers of disbelief and idolatry as well as the agents of the West from Sahwa forces, disbelievers and apostates.

And the time has come for the armies of disbelief to come down themselves to fight the Islamic State in the land of al-Sham and Iraq, after their trust in their agents and the mercenary gangs of the West was lost.

Today we are in the Islamic State that is blessed with security by establishing the law of God.

And that was not to be without an organized, trained army capable of waging the greatest battles and destroying the tyrants in the east and west of the land of the Caliphate.

So one must prepare the commander just as there is the preparation of the soldier in the land of the Caliphate.

For the commander is the pivot of the fight and the pivot of the battle, and the commander in the land of the battle needs to be ready to set out with all the military and Shari’i matters of the soldiers that we study and live by in the mujahid and commander preparation camps.

And in this section we will read some of the lessons of the just predecessors on the manners and qualities of the mujahid and some of the Sira of the Noble Prophet Muhammad (SAWS).

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The commander in the Islamic State

1. A Muslim commander aware of the responsibility to protect the land of the Caliphate.
2. A mujahid leading his soldiers in the land of the battle without doubts or hesitancy in taking the decision.
3. Obedient to his commander and the directions of the Shari’i officials.
4. Capable of being familiar with various types of weapons [pencilled in: heavy, light, medium, reconnaissance].
5. Ability to make the soldiers firm in the fields of tumult on the day the battles intensify.
6. Being aware of the aims of the Islamic State and observing the rulings of war in their entirety.
7. Leadership of his army before, during and after the battle.
8. Knowing the truth about the enemies on their various types, and among them the Sahwa forces, the apostates and the original disbelievers.
9. No violation of worship, prayer, and establishing God’s law in the regions of his administration.

Introduction:

Jihad in the path of God is among the greatest of the hard responsibilities on the human soul. The Almighty has said, making easy its burden upon the mujahideen, on account of much good that derives from it exceeding its burden upon souls: “Fighting has been prescribed for you even though you dislike it, and it may be that you hate something and it is good for you, and it may be that you like something that is bad for you, and God knows and you don’t know”- al-Baqara 216 [Qur’an 2:216].

Therefore it is not possible for one to undertake it, except the one in whom God has cultivated qualities that make him suitable to undertake it, and the mujahid in the path of God- especially the jihad against the disbelievers and apostates by fighting them with life and wealth- is characterized by qualities by which the rest of the believers are characterized from what God has commended to the believers or commanded them to have. He also distinguishes them with the qualities that push towards one’s exertion with one’s life and wealth in the path of one’s Lord and seeking God’s contentment over all else.

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Qualities of the mujahideen:

Qualities with which the commander is adorned as they stand out more in him than others besides him- even if his army shares with him in those or in some of them and the qualities with which individuals of the Islamic army are adorned, and qualities with which the army as a collective is adorned.

And indeed the first basis- on which all manners are built that please God, and among them the qualities of the mujahideen in His path- is faith by whose force those qualities are strengthened and by whose weakness they are weakened equally in the leadership and army. Thus Ibn Taymiyya (may God have mercy on him) said: “And when there are the allies of God, and they are the pious believers, there is reckoning according to the faith and piety of man whose loyalty is to God Almighty. So the one who is most perfect in faith and piety, he is most perfect in loyalty to God, so people differ in quality of loyalty to God- Almighty and Exalted is He- and according to their difference thus do they differ in faith and piety.”

And the one whose faith is most perfect realizes his servitude to God most, so his time will wholly be in worship, learning, remembrance, piety, ihsan, pure devotion and pride in his religion, just as God Almighty has said: “And is the one who is obedient during the periods of night-time, prostrating and standing while being aware of the Hereafter and seeking the mercy of his Lord [equal to the one who neglects these things]? Say: Are those who know and those who do not know equals? Only those who have possessed understanding will remember. Say: Oh servants who believe, fear your Lord. To those who have done well in this world is goodness, and the earth of God is wide. Indeed, those who endure will be given their reward without account. Say: I have been commanded to worship God, purely devoted to Him in religion. And I have been commanded to be the first of the Muslims” [Qur’an 39:9-12].

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The commander in the soldiers of Caliphate [NB: this subheading is not in the original work by Ahdal]

The commander must excel the members of his army by being endowed with the components of successful leadership, so that he may be suitable to lead them, because he cannot lead them successfully in fulfilment of it unless he excels them in many of their qualities, and especially the quality of administration and direction. For followers generally, and the army in particular always aspire to lasting direction- as raising them in all they achieve is their aspiration- and to correcting the mistake that may suddenly arise from them, and to more knowledge, expertise, purification and other things besides that.

So if the leader does not have what gives him his soldiers, but rather he is like the rest of the individuals, or if there is among the members someone who is better than he, it becomes difficult for him to lead them with satisfaction from them as well as preference and affection for him, and he may be exposed to resentment, lack of obedience and plotting against him, as he comes to lack some of the leadership qualities. It is even difficult for the one informed about the Noble Qur’an, the pure Sunnah and the life of the just ancestors to become acquainted with the qualities of the leader, and it suffices that there should be something from them showing what must be above all else from the qualities.

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Striving to obey God

Indeed all the believers are in need of concern for themselves in obeying God to increase obedience to God, but the mujahideen in God’s path are in stronger need of this concern, and to prepare themselves to bear the burdens in God’s path. And the mujahid commander is not only in stronger need of this than all, but also rather necessity requires for him to continue in his concern for himself to increase obedience to his Lord and prepare it to bear responsibility and accept the burdens in His path with a welcome heart. For the field of responsibility of the commander is not like the field of responsibility of his followers, and the difficulties that face him are more numerous than the difficulties that face his soldiers, and what appoints him to take them head on and succeed against them is the force of his bond with his Lord who extends him help according to what he achieves from his worship of/[servitude to] Him (Thee do we worship and Thine aid do we seek- al-Fatiha 5 [Qur’an 1:5]).

Thus, God entrusted responsibility to His Prophet (SAWS)- when He sent him to call to Him- to increase closeness to Him and leave the bed and covering, that the necessary provisions for leadership of humanity and its struggle should increase. And by reading these verses in which al-qiyam is ordered- this order being justified by the heaviness of responsibility- and it is ordered to remember and devote time exclusively to God and entrust oneself to Him and be patient over harm to His people, this great command from which there is no escape for a commander becomes abundantly clear, and it is concern for the self in obeying God and preparing it to bear the burdens in His path.

The Almighty has said: “Oh you who wrap yourself in clothing, arise [to pray] in the night, except a little, or half of it, or subtract from it a little. Or add to it, and recite from the Qur’an. Indeed, We will cast a heavy word upon you. Verily, the measures of the night are stronger in concurrence and better for words. Verily, for you in the day is long toil. And remember the name of your Lord and devote yourself to Him. The Lord of the East and the West. There is no deity except Him, so take Him as guardian. And be patient over what they say, and avoid them graciously” (al-Muzammil 1-10 [Qur’an 73:1-10]).

One of the predecessors [Sayyid Qutb] said: “Indeed the one who lives for himself may live relaxed, but he lives small and dies small, but as for the big one who bears this great burden, what is there for him to do with sleep? What is there for him to do with the warm bed, and the calm life, and the relaxing sleep? Indeed the Prophet- SAWS- recognized the truth of the matter and its extent.

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For he said to Khadija (may God be pleased with her) as she called him to rest and sleep: “The time of sleep has passed oh Khadija.” Certainly the time of sleep has passed and there has not returned since that day, but keeping awake at night, taking up the burden, and the long toilsome jihad (In the shadow of the Qur’an [29/3744]: “And I have tried to be guided to this hadith but I have not been guided to it”).

Thus SAWS responded, for he was undertaking his duties until his feet should break apart, just as he responded to his Lord in calling, patience and bearing the burdens until he met God. And his Companions- may God be pleased with them- imitated him, for they were keen to follow his footsteps- even if reaching the summit of obedience to him was far away- and his successors were most keen to follow him in concern for themselves in obeying their Lord and preparing them to bear the burdens in His path.

And everyone who has wished to lead the Islamic Ummah to the guidance of God, call to him and jihad in His path, must precede his followers in obedience to his Lord, and in preparing himself to bear the burdens of the call and jihad.

And it is not for a leader of one of the nations that his success should appear in leadership of his nation, unless he precedes his followers in all of the fields that are concerned among the necessities of the successful leader.

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Trace of the good example in its time

Among the most important qualities of the successful commander in the Islamic State- may God protect it- [NB: ‘in the Islamic State- may God protect it’ is not in the original text by Ahdal] is that he be a good example to his army, in his faith, just operation, courage, generosity, pleasantness, mildness, determination, boldness, affection and the like, so that they may see what he calls them to or makes them embrace in his conduct, so that they follow the example of his deeds that attest to the truth of his words. And there has preceded what one can refer back to, and there may be added here an example not mentioned before, and that is that SAWS remained firm in the Uhud battle when his companions were wounded and fled, and he was as God described him, calling them from behind, as the Almighty has said: “When you climbed and did not look aside at anyone while the Messenger called you from behind, so God repaid you with woe after woe so that you would not be distressed at what you had lost or what had struck you, and God is well-aware of what you do”- Al Imran 153 [Qur’an 3:153].

And therefore it was from SAWS’ guidance that he should be in the frontline of the army in its going, and in the last line of the army on its return so that SAWS would be directly facing the enemy, and his companions, when the battle flared up, would be on guard with him. And in a hadith of Anas (may God be pleased with him): he said: “The Prophet (SAWS) was the best of people and the most courageous of people, and when the people of al-Madina were frightened one night so went out towards the voice, so the Prophet (SAWS) received them and had cleared up the news, and he was on Abu Talha’s horse without a saddle, and dangling down his neck was a sword and he was saying: “Do not be frightened. Do not be frightened.” Then he said: “We found it [running as fast] as the river.” Or he said: “It is perhaps a river.”

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And from the examples that one must get to know and imitate him in those regards, they also make clear the extent of his courage and entrusting to his Lord, as included in the hadith of Jaber bin Abdullah- may God be pleased with them both- he said: “We launched the Najd expedition with the Messenger of God (SAWS), and when the siesta time came while he was in a valley with many thorny trees, he dismounted under a tree, sought the shade and hung up his sword, so the people dispersed in the trees seeking the shade, and while we were thus, the Messenger of God (SAWS) called us so we came, for there was a Bedouin sitting in front of him. So he said: “When this man came to me I was sleeping so he snatched my sword my stealth, but I woke up and he was standing over my head holding my sword without the sheath. He said: “What will save you from me?” I said: “God.” So he sheathed it and then sat down, so here this man is.” He added: and the Messenger of God (SAWS) did not punish him”- al-Bukhari.

And what this shows is that the Messenger (SAWS) called his Companions and informed them of what happened, so that they might take a real lesson of example on courage and entrusting to God. And from that is SAWS’ showing indifference to what afflicts him in the path of God when he said: “Are you but a finger that has bled, and what you obtained is in God’s cause”- al-Bukhari.

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Purifying the soldiers and raising them in obedience to God

Indeed the Muslim commander must continue his education for his soldiers in matters of their religion, and nurture them with a nurturing that cleanses them of the filth of sins and vices, and he must connect them with the Book of their Lord [Qur’an] and the Sunna of their Prophet (SAWS), because the distance of the Islamic army from education, nurturing and cleansing may be a reason for the failure of their hearts and their committing acts of rebellion and sins, and that is among the things the commander must prevent between him and his soldiers. The Almighty has said: “God blessed the believers when he sent among them a messenger from among themselves, reciting to them His verses and purifying them, and teaching them the Book and wisdom, even though previously they had fallen into clear error”- Al Imran 164 [Qur’an 3:164]. And the Almighty has said: “He it is who has sent among the illiterate a Messenger from among themselves reciting to them His verses, purifying them, and teaching them the Book and wisdom even though previously they had fallen into clear error”- al-Jum’a [2] [Qur’an 62:2].

One of the predecessors [Sayyid Qutb] said: “And he purifies them, cleanses them, raises them and cleans them, cleansing their hearts, their conceptions and feelings, as well as cleansing their homes, honour and connections. He also cleanses their life, society an associations, and cleanses them of the filth of shirk, idolatry, superstition and legends, and what they transmit in life from decadent regulations, rituals, customs and traditions that are disgraceful to man and the meaning of his humanity. And he cleanses them from the filth of the ignorant life and what is polluted by it from feelings, rituals, traditions, values and understandings.”

The commander must undertake to nurture his soldiers and purify them by himself, and if he cannot undertake to purify all of his soldiers, he can undertake to nurture their leaders, each of whom can undertake the same process upon a group of them, because in the commander’s direct nurturing is that which raises the spirits in the souls of his soldiers, and strengthens their bond and loyalty to him on the basis of what pleases God the Exalted. Similarly it is the case that in that is unity of direction and correction of thoughts and understandings, and coming upon what may be among them from problems and attempting to resolve them and take interest in them.

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On the other hand, if he is distant from them, their bond with him becomes weak and their bond with others besides him becomes strong, such that the means of nurturing may differ, and likewise the ideas and understandings, and they may mention their problems to their direct leaders but they are not interested in them, and in that there may arise lack of confidence and doubt in the commander’s concern for their interests.

The commanders who are distant from the nurturing of their soldiers by themselves must bear the results of that distancing from the causing of division in their armies on account of the difference of means of nurturing, the multiplicity of direction, and the crowding of ideas in conflict with each other that make them split into many factions and groups, and the worst thing that has come upon the Islamic armies is bestowing their affairs to the enemies of Islam, from Jews, Christians, communists and idolaters, to undertake their training at arms and their training on thought programs that not one of them is exempt from receiving with his training on arms, for there is no distinction among the enemies of God between training on arms and training on thought programs, even if they differ a little or a lot. The Almighty has said: “Oh you who believe, do not take as intimates those besides yourselves who will not spare you from perdition: they wish that you have suffered and hatred has already appeared from their mouths, and what their breasts conceal is greater. We have already made clear to you the ayat if you use your minds”- Al Imran 118 [Qur’an 3:118].

And it does not suffice for the commander to begin the nurturing and then abandon his soldiers, but rather he must continue in nurturing and elevating his soldiers, as well as inciting their zeal to greater connection with God the Exalted, and this appears in many of the texts. And this is a hadith of Abu Huraira as an example: he said: the Messenger of God (SAWS) said: “Whoever believes in God and His Messenger, undertakes prayer, fasts in Ramadan, it is an obligation on God to enter him into Paradise, whether he has waged jihad in God’s path or sat in his land in which he was born.” So they said: “Oh Messenger of God, do we not tell the people? He said: “Indeed in Paradise are 100 degrees God has reckoned for the mujahideen in the path of God, and what is between two degrees is as between the heaven and the earth, so when you ask God, ask him for Firdous, for it is the most central and highest part of Paradise…”

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So the Messenger (SAWS) wanted that people should not be told of what he mentioned first, from the fact that faith in God and His Messenger, establishing prayer and fasting in Ramadan are things by which God enters people into Paradise, lest people should rely on just that: and the meaning is that they should increase just deeds, especially jihad in the path of God for whose people God has prepared what has been mentioned regarding the degrees.

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Bodily preparation

1. Preparation of the body means that you take up the causes of bodily health, and avoid every illness and risk that may temporarily or permanently influence the well-being of your physique and body, in fulfilment of the words of the Prophet in what Ibn Maja narrated on sound transmission: “There is no sin and there is no harm.”

2. Preparation of the body means that you avoid harmful things from apparatuses and drugs, and that you protect yourself against accidents and injuries.

3. Preparation of the body means that your body remains clean and noble beginning from your desire to follow the Sunan al-Fitra and ending with performing ablution and applying perfume.

4. Preparation of the body includes keen adherence to dietary program that is focused and specialised without excess or lack of moderation.

5. Preparation of the body includes conditioning it to harshness, hunger and harsh life through fasting and experiments of abstention from some of the coveted food items.

6. Preparation of the body means training every limb specifically by what builds in it the components of development and integration, so the valuation of the tongue, valuation of sight, tracking hearing and valuation of the bones and muscles and others besides them.

7. Preparation of the body means conditioning it and training it to be capable of bearing weapons, for weapons are heavy, heavy in their form, heavy in their respect and heavy in their value.

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8. Preparing the body includes conditioning it to receive blows and resist injuries, and it is the Sunna of the struggle against the disbelievers: “If a wound should you, a wound like it has already touched the [opposing] people” [Qur’an 3:140].

9. Preparing the body includes training it in the arts of fighting, including fighting of the streets, wrestling and others besides them.

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Advice for the commander among his soldiers:

1. The soldier of the Caliphate is a trust committed on your neck, his soul not being destroyed except you also are responsible for it whether it has been destroyed justly or in negligence on your part.

2. The cub scouts of the Caliphate are your students in jihad, learning from you and being guided in what they saw from their amir, so be the good example for them.

3. The mujahid won’t be interested in an assault without seeing his amir fighting in the struggle before him.

4. Rebellion should not appear on your part by which you might anger God and plant doubt in the heart of your soldiers.

5. Do not neglect your duties before God, for indeed in every act of rebellion is a cause for delay of victory or defeat for you and your soldiers.

6. Don’t despair in front of your soldiers for their zeal in defending or attacking will vanish.

7. Be embracing of your religion and missions: so your soldier may be like you.

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Appendix on military missions

Important notices in the arrangement of the wilayas:

1. Every graduate from a leadership preparation session must remain distant from the centre of the wilaya in which he is established for a period of six months and that is to practice in leadership and receive the necessary expertise skills.

2. One must deal with the security officials of the wilaya according to a text defined as an appendix for this book, and the private nature of the work of the security officials is to be respected [/observed], and there should be reservation over getting to know them on the part of the military administration for the wilaya.

3. The Diwan al-Hisba is bound by direct order to the military commander without resort to the wali [provincial governor] in special military matters as set out in detail in the security appendix.

4. All Islamic State facilities are to be set forth in the service of the military commander and that will take place following a letter to the military amir in the Islamic State. And the facility for each [/every] matter will be put in place according to the letter.

5. The military commander is not to conscript any new mujahid in the Jaysh al-Khilafa except after he has a letter with him from the camps administration requiring to subject the new mujahid to a Shari’i and military camp.

6. The commander during the battle is to send a signed letter from himself declaring agreement on a request for a martyrdom operation with an attachment in the name of the brother who will execute the operation and a photo of him, and all that will take place after the wali’s review of the letter.

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7. The military commander entrusted with the operation is to compile a document with the war equipment present before the battle and quantities of ammunition and supplementing it with another document after the operation making clear in it the quantity that has been expended and the war equipment that the mujahideen seized or lost during the battle and the matter is to be referred to the military amir through the Diwan al-Wilaya [provincial governor’s office].

  1. Connection is to be established with the media office for the wilaya through the wali’s office who should order for the media production of the operations or to spread the news of the battles according to demands of the military situation. This will take place in coordination with the security official for every wilaya.

    9. Permits [of leave] for the mujahideen are to be done through the military commander for the wilaya only and in the event of lack of not being kept in order, the military commander is to refer a letter to the security official in which he explains the reasons and extent of the absence of the mujahid or his shortcoming.

    10. In the event of disagreement between the military amir and the security amir in the wilaya, the disagreement is to be raised through the wali to the Diwan al-Khilafa [Caliph’s office] as soon as possible and the violators will be held to account in the event that the disagreement is raised to someone else besides them.

    11. Every military commander is responsible for his combat missions only and in the event of necessity the wali defines for him- by letter- the missions assigned to him within the regions controlled by the Islamic State or outside them.

    12. Every operation entrusted to the military commander is to be undertaken by assignment from the military amir for the Islamic State entrusted with administering the battles on the borders of the Islamic State, and it is not right for the military commander to enter any battle without direct order from the military amir.

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    13. A military committee brought together by the military commander responsible for his area is entrusted with overseeing the dress of the mujahideen and their conduct, referring them to the Shari’i court in event of violation.

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    Finally:

    The successful commander is the foundation of the Jaysh al-Khilafa, and upon you, mujahid brother, is the zeal of the Ummah and continuing its glory. By your jihad, you will support the Ummah or abandon it. Behind you is a complete army on your neck, behind you is a whole generation awaiting birth on the pure banner of tawheed in which shirk does not interfere.

    Strive for your afterlife, for you are the crossroads of your Lord, and do not forget the leaders of jihad before you: our Sheikh Abu Omar al-Baghdadi- may God have mercy on him- and our amir Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi at whose hands God opened up the sites of the struggles of the world and the gates of the Caliphate- may God make it mighty.

    So they are an example to you and future generations.

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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.

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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.

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Until our hearts submit to the Shari’a

Da’wa and Irshad Office
Jabhat al-Nusra

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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].

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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 any individual in any other state is not dignified, for the Islamic state aids the individual and mobilizes the armies to take up his rights and liberate him from his captivity and avenge his blood, just as the Messenger of God (SAWS) mobilized the army of Mu’tah[1], ousted the Banu Qaynuqa’[2], and his companions pledged to death in the Pledge of Ridwan[3] and the dispatch of Osama was prepared[4], and all that for the sake of individuals.

The Shari’a that we speak of is that which prevents the sowers of corruption from plundering the Muslims’ wealth and storing it in Switzerland, while their neighbours eat from rubbish bins! It is that which strives to meet the needs of the woman, the man, the young, the old, the Muslim and the Christian in food, drink, healthcare, security, dignity and education.

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It is that which ennobles the woman and ensures her body is not taken as a cheap commodity. It is that which is made known among males and females in society as the bond of brothers of faith, cooperating on piety and awareness of God and building the glory of the Ummah, not voracity stripped of all restraints…

It is that in which minds are sustained and talents are encouraged to set forth to build up the land and be distinguished in the fields of sciences and benefiting mankind.

It is that in which the Muslims are chosen as the ones to be ruled by God’s law, so He has mercy on them but sets down His harshness on the disbelievers waging war.

It is that in which soundness of thought is spread, and in which the qualities of treachery or disbelief are not attributed to anyone without legitimate, considered evidence, and in which the accused is given a fair trial in which he is given his opportunity to defend himself.

It is that in which people are given what they need to satisfy their instincts lawfully, for no hadd is established in it except rarely: on those who have been kept in check by what is lawful and insisted on sowing corruption and assaulting the gates of what is forbidden.

This is the Shari’a, esteemed folks! Clean air in which the people live and on which children are raised and all participate in protecting it.

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This is the Shari’a: purity, decency, honour, piety, mildness, gentleness and blessing. If the society of the Prophet that attained the pinnacle in establishing the Shari’a had been susceptible to the likes of Abdullah ibn Abi ibn Salul, the head of hypocrisy- despite the fact that he harmed the Prophet (SAWS) and conspired against the Muslims, there was susceptibility to him because he did not declare his disbelief openly but rather embraced outwardly the rule of Shari’a[5]– will not our societies be susceptible on the establishment of the Shari’a to the delinquents from the Muslims, whose noses’ dust is better than Ibn Salul, whatever their faults?

The impudent used to say to our Prophet (SAWS) out of desire for more than their lot: “Be just, oh Muhammad, for you have not been just.” Despite that, he would be patient and say: “Woe upon you, and who will be just after me if I am not just?” In the Shari’a that we speak of, the impudent may deride the Muslim ruler openly so he tolerates them and is patient in the face of them because he does not take revenge for himself, but he should be angry if the taboos of God are violated.

This is the Shari’a that we speak of: so if there is after that one who is choked by this clean air, his nose catches a cold and his eyes are burned from the light of the Shari’a, and purity irritates him just as it irritated the people of Lot because he cannot live except in open adultery, making it easy to be come upon by four witnesses, and he cannot live except by drinking alcohol that appears for society from the odour of his mouth and thoughtless conduct and filth on his trousers, and he cannot live except by stealing from the livelihood of others despite the fact that the Shari’a has provided for his bare existence, he has every reason to fear the Shari’a! But let him free us from his wailing, screaming and scaremongering about the Shari’a, for he is not representative, not even of the rebellious of the Muslims whose eyes may tear up at mention of God or the Messenger of God (SAWS) and who love the Shari’a that we speak of in the depth of their souls, so also they will participate in its establishment.

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“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.”

Until our hearts submit to the Shari’a

Da’wa and Irshad Office
Jabhat al-Nusra

Notes

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[1] Referring to the Battle of Mu’tah of 629 CE. A Muslim army was dispatched in revenge for the execution of an emissary sent to the Byzantine Empire.

[2] Referring to the expulsion of the Banu Qaynuqa’, one of the Jewish tribes of Medina. The alleged trigger incident was a trick played on a Muslim woman by one of the Banu Qaynuqa’, prompting a series of retributions and counter-retributions that culminated in Prophet Muhammad’s move against the Banu Qaynuqa’, who had also openly rejected his call to Islam.

[3] The pledge of Ridwan refers to a pledge of allegiance given by the Muslims under a tree to fight to the death after news came of the killing of Uthman bin Affan, who was sent to inform the Quraysh of Mecca that the Prophet was coming to visit the Ka’aba.

[4] Osama bin Zayd, the son of Zayd bin Haritha (killed at the Battle of Mu’tah). Osama was subsequently sent by the Prophet on an expedition to the Palestine area in 632 CE.

[5] Hence the derogatory reference among jihadis to the Saudi royal family as “Al Salul” (The Family of Salul). Though Saudi Arabia might implement hudud rulings in public and enforce aspects of Islamic law, the state is seen as a client of the West.

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:

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“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.

On a final note, it is interesting that although IS officially changed the name of the Aleppo province locality of Deir Hafer to Dar al-Fatah, it still refers to the place by its old name in these documents.

Specimen A: Mobilization Call from Wilayat Halab Shari’a Committee

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In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful

Wilayat Halab
Shari’a Committee

Go forth, lightly and heavily armed [cf. Qur’an 9:41]
1 Muharram 1437 AH [15 October 2015]

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In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful

Wilayat Halab
Shari’a Committee

Go forth, lightly and heavily armed

In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful

By the fact that the day is upon us all, and that the enemy has begun devising all machinations against Islam, and that the protocols and lines of the greatest epic battles have appeared, and that today is the day of the true sword, and that the promise of God is coming with no escape from it,  don’t be those who have forgotten God, for He has made them forget themselves [cf. Qur’an 59:19].

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The Almighty has said: “Those who believe and those who migrate and wage jihad in God’s path, they hope for God’s mercy. And God is forgiving, merciful” [Qur’an 2:218].

Ibn al-Qayyim said- after his citing of the words of Ibn Zayd: “And the wondrous thing is that the degrees are mentioned in a hadith of Abu Huraira, and which al-Bukhari narrated in his Sahih collection, on the authority of the Prophet (SAWS)- that he said: ‘Whoever believes in God and His Messenger, establishes prayer and fasts in Ramadan, it is an obligatory right upon God that He should enter him into Paradise, whether he migrated in God’s path or sat in his land on which he was born,’ They said: ‘Oh Messenger of God, should we not inform the people of that?’ He said: ‘Indeed in Paradise are a hundred degrees that God has prepared for the mujahideen in His path: every two steps is as the distance between the heavens and the earth, so if you ask something of God, ask Him for Firdous, for it is the last and highest part of Paradise, above which is the throne of the Compassionate, and from it gush the rivers of Paradise’- narrated by al-Bukhari.”

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The Almighty has said: “Indeed God has purchased from the believers their souls and wealth, for that Paradise is for them fighting in the path of God. They kill and are killed: a true promise upon Him in the Torah, Gospel and Qur’an. And who is truer in his promise than God? So rejoice in your transaction you have transacted. That is the great attainment” [Qur’an 9:111].

He has transacted this pact with them and confirmed it with various types of confirmation:

The first of them: the Almighty and Exalted’s communication in the form of confirmed news with the particle ‘indeed’ [Arabic: ‘inna].

The second: Informing of that in the past form that had been transacted- it was both confirmed and established.

The third: the addition of this pact to Himself- the Exalted- and that He is the One who has purchased this transaction.

The fourth: that He has conveyed that He has promised to deliver this reward- a promise that He cannot go back on or abandon.

The fifth: that He has conveyed the form ‘ala’ [Arabic: lit. ‘upon’] that is meant for obligation: declaring to His servants that it is a true promise upon Him, its promise being upon Himself.

The sixth: that He has confirmed that because it is a true promise upon Him.

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How does He encourage those who are afraid with the greatest encouragement to the recompense of wars, and meet death with a welcome chest and courageous heart? By making clear to them that death will overtake them inevitably and that if they die as mujahideen, they will be compensated for the worldly life with the greatest recompense, and they will not be wronged in a state of being killed. This is a wide door, and there has not come in the reward for deeds and their virtues the likes of what has come in it [enlistment for jihad]. And thus it has been the most preferable thing into which man can enlist. And enlistment has been- by the agreement of the ‘ulama- more preferable than the Hajj and Umra [minor pilgrimage], prayer and fasting, as shown by the Book [Qur’an] and the Sunna, and it is something openly expressed.

For indeed the benefit of jihad is all-encompassing for the one who carries it out and those besides him in religion and this world, including all types of inward and outward acts of worship. The Messenger of God (SAWS) said: “And by the One in whose hand my soul is, were it not that there were men from the believers who cannot stand to remain behind me and I do not find what can convey them, I would not remain behind a squadron launching an expedition in God’s path. And by the One in whose hand is my soul, I should wish that I be killed in the path of God, then be revived, then be killed, then be revived, then be killed, then be revived, then be killed.”

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In conclusion

Indeed the jihad today is in greater need of us as the Ummah of Islam than ever before. No excuse is accepted for the one who has migrated from the land of Islam to the land of disbelief, and there is no excuse for the one who has abandoned jihad on the pretext of fitna. Indeed the Russian, American, Nusayri and Shi’i enemy has begun threatening the centres of Islam and its sole power in the land.

And God is predominant over His affair but most people don’t know it [Qur’an 12:21].

Specimen B: Mobilization call from Wilayat Halab Diwan al-Buhuth wa al-‘Eftaa

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Islamic State
Diwan al-Buhuth wa al-‘Eftaa

In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful

“If you do not go forth, He will torment you with a painful torment and will replace you with a people besides you and you cannot harm him at all. And God is capable over everything” [Qur’an 9:39].

Now the fighting has come.

Brothers in Wilayat Halab- the eastern countryside.

The Nusayri regime is trying to strive to reach Kweiris military airbase which has made our people in the past years taste the woes of bombing. And the Nusayri regime is trying with the aid of the disbelieving Russian alliance to reach the airbase with the defence facilities, which will facilitate for it the bombing of the inhabitants of the Dawla [IS] at peace in al-Bab, Manbij and Deir Hafer as well as the Muslim populaces in the region. So every capable Muslim must bear arms and join the camps of the Islamic State and its soldiers in the first ranks or aid them with weapons, wealth and prayers.

Wilayat Halab

Specimen C: Mobilization call from Wilayat Halab Diwan al-Buhuth wa al-‘Eftaa

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Islamic State
Diwan al-Buhuth wa al-‘Eftaa
Wilayat Halab

In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful

The obligation of fighting:

Everyone has begun to know the extent of the international conspiracy of the mushrikeen [idolators], Nusayris and apostates against the Islamic State- may God glorify it. And in the shadow of the ferocious Russian and American attack to which the Islamic State and its inhabitants at peace are being exposed, indeed fighting in the rank of the Islamic State is fard ayn [an individual obligation] on every Muslim, and no excuse is to be accepted for any free individual capable of bearing arms as far as he can. And may all wage jihad with the force God has granted him. There is no excuse for you today in your refraining from supporting this religion.

The Almighty has said:

“Oh you who believe, what is for you when it is said to you, ‘Go forth in the path of God,’ and you adhere to the land? Have you preferred the life of this world to the Hereafter? But the enjoyment of the life of this world in comparison with the Hereafter is but a little” [Qur’an 9:38].

Wilayat Halab
6 Muharram 1437 AH [20 October 2015]

Specimen D: Opening of new training camp

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Islamic State
Wilayat Halab
Camps Administration
Date: 3 Muharram 1437 AH [17 October 2015]

In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful

“And prepare for them what you can from force and bonds of horses, by which you may terrify the enemy of God and your enemy.”

By God’s help, the opening of the ‘Jund al-Malahem’ [Soldiers of the Epic Battles] camps has been completed, in order to respond to the Russian and Nusayri aggression against the villages at in Wilayat Halab.

Joining applications will be accepted in all of Akhtarin, Deir Hafer, al-Bab and Manbij.

Wilayat Halab

Specimen E: General note

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Muslim brother,

Your work in digging trenches, raising fences and fortifying the mujahideen’s defences is not a consequence of suffering for you but cleansing you of your sins. And we ask God for whoever has made these preparations that he should already have realized the pleasure of jihad in His path.”