I have remarked elsewhere that IS' creation of Ajnad Media Foundation in summer 2013 with the production of a plethora of unique songs (e.g. 'Close ranks and pledge bay'ah [allegiance] to Baghdadi', 'My Ummah, Dawn Has Appeared/Loomed', and 'I am not content with a life of humiliation') helped to give the group a unique identity vis-a-vis other jihadi groups, particularly al-Qa'ida, from which, it was clear, what was then ISIS had de facto broken off following on from Baghdadi's refusal to disband ISIS. For example, the nasheed 'Close ranks and pledge bay'ah to Baghdadi', which emerged in September 2013, made reference to the forthcoming establishment of the Caliphate- something that was also emphasized in the emergence of the ISIS slogan 'The Promised Project of the Caliphate', in light of the group's takeover of Azaz in northern Syria bordering Turkey. Such have the Ajnad Media nasheeds become a marker of the group's distinct identity that ISIS' overtures to win over Somalia's al-Qa'ida affiliate ash-Shabaab were reportedly rebuffed with a sudden 180-degree turn-around by ash-Shabaab's leadership that even banned the broadcasting of ISIS nasheeds.
Though Ajnad Media productions can be readily identified as background music in IS videos, strengthening IS' claim to a unique identity, it turns out that in a recent video on media operations in 'Euphrates Province', IS has in fact appropriated without credit an old nasheed that has nothing to do with jihadism. The nasheed in question is called 'tamūju t-taḥāyā' ('the cheers surge') and first appeared in November 2009 in two versions by Saudi munshids: one of them 'Abu Zayad' Maher al-Wazab, and the other Muhammad al-Jabbari. The version used in the IS video is that of Muhammad al-Jabbari.
[Update: I suspect IS came to associate the nasheed with itself on account of IS fans posting the nasheed as a 'nasheed of the Dawla' on Youtube and other platforms: see e.g. here].
The following nasheed from the Islamic State was released at the beginning of June 2014 (i.e. when the group was still just the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham; unsurprising in light of explicit reference to Bilad al-Sham). There is also anticipation of subsequent propaganda themes like 'kasr al-hudud' ('breaking of the borders') that came with the group's rapid advances in Iraq that meant genuine contiguous territory spanning the Iraq-Syria border.
The nasheed has subsequently been featured in a propaganda video from Ansar al-Dawla al-Islamiya fi Gaza (in reality likely no different from Jamaat Ansar al-Dawla al-Islamiya fi Bayt al-Maqdis), which participated in the fighting against Israel in the summer.
This nasheed from the Islamic State, with its benign tone, emphasizes the supposed peace, security and ideal nature of life under the group's rule. For example, it was featured in an Islamic State video from Rutba in Anbar province as part of a showcase of the Islamic State's offering of public services.
The statement translated by me below concerns the recent Islamic State [IS] suicide bombing conducted in the heart of Arbil, around 14 months after a previous assault by IS' predecessor the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham [ISIS]. Some points to note:
1. That IS would use a Kurdish member to carry out this attack comes as no surprise. Featuring Kurds within the group's ranks- to be directed at Kurdish rivals and counteract allegations of ethnic supremacism- has been a part of IS[IS] messaging for a year now, as can be seen in an installment of the al-'Itisam media video series entitled "Windows on the Land of Epic Battles." The section of interest is "message of the Kurdish mujahideen in the Islamic State", in Kurdish and with Arabic subtitles, with threats to the Kurdistan Regional Government [KRG]:
The jihadi nasheed I have translated below is an old work of a Saudi munshid ('nasheed singer') by the name of Abu Abd al-Malik, real name Mohsen al-Dos(a)ri. Along with another Saudi munshid by the name of Abu Ali (of the famous 'Madin kas-Sayf', 'Bi Jihadina', 'Jaljalat' and other jihadi nasheeds), Abu Abd al-Malik was certainly a fan favourite of jihadi forums for the main part of the 2000s, but eventually fell out of favour as a personality even as compositions such as 'Ummah of Islam, Good Tidings' continued to be widely used. As a forum user on Muslim.orgremarked in 2009, "As for Abu Abd al-Malik, he has changed his direction [his direction has changed], turned against the mujahideen and shaved his beard." Indeed, Abu Abd al-Malik's transformation from a jihadi munshid to a more regular music artist (the art of ghana') was featured in an interview with him on al-Arabiya in April 2012, in which he characterized the shift as a "transfer in artistry and specialty from the good to the better." To coincide with the move to more conventional song was the release of an album by the name of 'Three Cards.'
However, Abu Abd al-Malik then did a 180-degree turn the following year in a publicised 'tawba' ('repentance') from ghana' and a return to nasheeds, with a focus on support for the cause of the Syrian revolution, with subsequently released songs featuring imagery from the Syrian civil war and focusing on religious matters, such as 'Evidence of Love from Our Lord' (Arabic: Daleel al-Hubb). More recently, Abu Abd al-Malik released a nasheed entitled 'Tyranny' in support of the Palestinians, with lyrics such as 'Our jihad is great.' The first claims of his 'tawba' had in fact emerged in July 2012 though the evidence seems dubious: it is rather 2013 where a clearer transition (or more accurately, 'reversion') can be noted.
Intro and Analysis
As far as the dating goes, these claimed operations seem highly questionable (typo error? Cf. spelling errors in the original Arabic elsewhere- e.g. markaz shurt al-makhili when markaz shurtat al-makhili is meant). It seems odd that they are all reported on 7 September and one will struggle to find any corroboration for them on that day, but identical incidents to those claimed here can be found elsewhere. In short, ignore the translated statement's dating of the incidents. The events in question rather took place in late October and November, not, as erroneously implied by the statement, in September well before the 'Wilayat Barqa' had been announced by Islamic State-aligned jihadis.
As has been noted previously, in his new speech put out by al-Furqan Media, the Islamic State's leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi explicitly acknowledged the recent series of pledges of allegiance to him from Sinai, Libya, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Algeria, with the creation of new 'wilayat' ('provinces') therein. I had also noted that the most realistic prospects of this declaration translating to tangible results on the ground- that is, in terms of actually building the trappings of a state on the precedent in Syria and Iraq- exist in Libya and Sinai. In Libya, the concept of 'Wilayat Barqa' ('Cyrenaica Province', referring to eastern Libya) had already come to light in the city of Derna, where jihadis had some weeks ago declared their allegiance to the Islamic State. Here were some early signs of this 'Wilayat Barqa' (October time).
Considering all the prior analysis that has been done here on the GMCIR (an initiative of the Ba'athist-Sufi Jaysh Rijal al-Tariqa al-Naqshbandia [JRTN] and Harith al-Dhari's Muslim Scholars Association together with his 1920s Revolution Brigades), not much needs to be said here other than the following:
- As ever, the style of address overlaps with JRTN: 'Oh dignified people of Iraq.'
- Though using superficial cross-sectarian nationalist language like JRTN, it is clear this statement is playing on Sunni Arab grievances of ethnic cleansing in areas such as Jurf al-Sakhr (now renamed Jurf al-Nasr after the Islamic State [IS] was driven out in an offensive spearheaded by Iranian proxy militias) and al-Yusufiya (where fighting and IS activity still persist).
- GMCIR evidently believes the insurgency is still on the path to final victory and 'revolution', even as it is clear that the goal of overthrowing the government is unattainable. Some of the areas where GMCIR can be identified as operating at the moment are in the northern and western outskirts of Baghdad (e.g. areas like Tarmiya in north Baghdad), Anbar in unspoken coordination with the Islamic State (e.g. Ramadi city and the al-Baghdadi district further west), and parts of the Salah ad-Din countryside (e.g. peripheries of the Tikrit area, Yathrib and Balad districts).
While it has been noted that the recent speech by IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (released on 13 November) constituted the first recognition by Baghdadi of pledges of allegiance to him and his group from outside Iraq and Syria- specifically in Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Yemen and Saudi Arabia (a series that emerged on 10 November beginning with Jamaat Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis)- with consequent nullification of distinct group identities and announcement of new 'wilayāt' ('provinces') of IS therein, official IS recognition of the pledges had already been extended at least a day before at the lower level by an IS "General Media Committee," according to the statement translated by me below and distributed by IS sources in Iraq's Ninawa province. That this statement appeared in Ninawa province is unsurprising when we consider this just released official IS Ninawa province video of celebrations of the new pledges of allegiance.
As an appropriate follow-up to my Jihadology archive of billboards put up by what was then the Islamic State in/of Iraq and ash-Sham [ISIS] in the city of Raqqa during the summer and fall of last year, here is the latest series of billboards put up by what is now just the Islamic State [IS] in Raqqa. The difference in dynamics this time is that the city is solely controlled by IS, rather than power sharing with Jabhat al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham. Unsurprisingly, given the ongoing international coalition campaign against IS, much emphasis is put on the war with the Western-led coalition.