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

The Islamic State’s Bayat Campaign

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

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

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

This post will be updated with the latest official pledges.

November 2, 2019:

Wilāyat Saynā’

al-Binghāl

November 3, 2019:

Wilāyat al-Ṣūmāl

November 4, 2019:

Wilāyat Bākistān

Wilāyat al-Yaman – al-Bayḍā’

November 5, 2019:

Wilāyat al-Shām – Ḥawrān

Wilāyat Khurāsān

November 6, 2019:

Tūnis

November 7, 2019:

Wilāyat Gharb Ifrīqīyyah – Nījīrīā

Wilāyat al-Shām – Ḥimṣ

Wilāyat al-Shām – al-Khayr

Wilāyat al-Shām – al-Raqqah

Wilāyat Sharq Asīā

Wilāyat Wasaṭ Ifrīqīyyah

November 8:

Wilāyat al-Shām – Ḥimṣ

November 9:

Wilāyat Sharq Asīā

Wilāyat Gharb Ifrīqīyyah – Mālī and Būrkīnāfāsū

Wilāyat al-Shām – al-Barakah

November 12, 2019:

Wilāyat al-Shām – Ḥalab

November 14, 2019:

Wilāyat al-‘Irāq – Shamāl Baghdād

November 15, 2019:

Wilāyat Lībīyā

November 16, 2019:

Wilāyat al-‘Irāq – Dijlah

November 17, 2019: 

Wilāyat al-‘Irāq – Diyālā‎

November 18, 2019: 

Wilāyat al-‘Irāq – Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn

November 19, 2019: 

Wilāyat al-‘Irāq – Karkūk

November 22, 2019: 

Wilāyat Sharq Asīā – Indūnīsīyā

November 29, 2019:

Adhirbayjān

Check out my new ‘Policy Watch’ for the Washington Institute: "The Caliphate Project in Iraq Post-Mosul"


The battle of Mosul was a hard-fought victory for Iraq and the U.S.-led anti-Islamic State coalition. It cost lives as well as destruction to the old city. Moreover, the Islamic State (IS) as a militant jihadist group is far from dead: it continues to conduct insurgent and terrorist attacks along with maintaining some governance in pockets in Iraq. While Iraqi prime minister Haider al-Abadi noted in late June that the fall of Mosul “marks the end of the IS state of falsehood,” the group remains active in pursuing its so-called caliphate project through varying levels of continued, if limited, governance efforts in different areas of Iraq.
Based on IS governance-related official media output, as archived and documented, one can deduce that the group’s capabilities in Iraq peaked in summer of 2015. Today, it retains only a roughly estimated 6.5 percent of that governance capability, illustrating that even as IS has contracted mostly to an insurgent force, it still does uphold state-like structures in some areas of Iraq, particularly in four of its self-styled provinces: Wilayat al-Jazirah (northwest Iraq), Wilayat al-Furat (west-central Iraq), Wilayat Dijlah (north-central Iraq), and Wilayat Karkuk (north-central Iraq). Each province has varying degrees of strength, with Wilayat Karkuk having the most active administration. To better illustrate how IS continues to govern certain locales, this piece will examine content from each province, starting in April 2017.
In assessing the group through this lens, one should note that while following IS official media does help illuminate the group’s governance capabilities, it likely cannot document the full scope of such endeavors. Yet this approach gives a relatively consistent snapshot of IS governance over time, as evidenced by differences observed in the group’s abilities over the past three years.
Moreover, understanding the Islamic State’s continued power projection in certain areas of Iraq can provide a road map for driving the jihadists out of the territory they still control. It can also impart insights into locales that might be easier to retake, providing quicker victories and more momentum. Based on the evidence provided here, the best order in which to tackle IS’s three main spheres is Tal Afar first, then Hawija, and finally al-Qaim.
Click here for the full article.