My recent series on IS administration in Ninawa province focused on education, public services and religious life using numerous specimen IS administrative documents from that province. This post aims to provide an archive of similar translated IS documents in other provinces, and will be continually updated.
Specimen A: Childbirth Operations in Deir az-Zor Province
In view of what the land is going through from difficult circumstances including the debilitation of souls from the exploitation of their Muslim brothers, in order to assist the believers from the sons of Islam who are working in the medical corps to support their brothers from the poor and others besides them from the Muslim populace, and with the desire to keep the course of medical work removed from arbitrary whim, the Diwan al-Siha [health administration/department], after consideration and examination of medical work in the field concerning women [gynaecology etc.] has decided on the following:
1. Fixing of the price of Caesarean childbirth operations to 15000 Syrian pounds.
Note: This is to be considered as tantamount to a written order and all who contravene it will be held accountable in the Dar al-Qaḍa [IS judiciary] with attendant consquence.
2 Muharram 1436 AH
General Medical Official
Specimen B: Landline Telephone Subscriptions in Deir az-Zor Province
Islamic Administration for Public Services
Phone connection: Number 035
The sum receipt has been completed: 400 Syrian pounds [per month]*
[Signatures]: Office official; Service official
NB: For comparison, landline subscriptions according to Northern Storm's spokesman [Azaz area] cost $2 a month (around 365 Syrian pounds). The landline subscription generally only works for local landline connections.
Specimen C: Fishing Regulations (Agricultural Department): Deir az-Zor Province
As a result of the lack of oversight over the abundance of fish, paucity of awareness, and the greed and ambition of some of the fishermen and their audacity in carrying out fishing in ways that are illegal and harmful to the life of the people, the fish and the river environment.
The Islamic State has decided on the following:
1. The use of electric current in hunting fish is forbidden because it leads to extermination of many river/water creatures as well as congenital disfigurement for small fish and other river creatures.
2. No fishing with use of explosive materials, dynamite and the like.
3. No fishing with use of toxins and other chemical substances because that leads to the death of all the creatures of fish and others besides them, as well as poisoning people who obtain food from them.
4. No fishing at a time of proliferation of the fish and river/water creatures because that leads to the prevention of the proliferation of the fish and the killing of their eggs, which constitutes a threat to the abundance of fish.
We ask all who come upon this decision to be bound by it for it is in the interest of the Islamic State and the Muslims in the totality.
Specimen D: Regulations for Pharmacies in Deir az-Zor Province (only preserved in indirect testimony)
Da3esh [IS] insists that all pharmacies operating in Deir az-Zor province must provide the medical administration in the province (Wilayat al-Kheir) with a number of statements including the provision of a degree for the pharmacist; further, it is required that anyone who works in the pharmacy must have a degree of a medical/health institute (pharmacy division) and he is responsible for any mistake that happens in the pharmacy with no provision of anaesthetics, menstrual drugs or prohibited medications except by doctor's prescription.
Further, it has been imposed on pharmacy owners that their profits cannot exceed 20%. They must also bring a document from the Diwan al-Zakat to indicate that payment has been fulfilled. Whoever does not possess those statements will have his pharmacy shut for a period of a month from the date of the decision. Whosoever contravenes will be held accountable in the Dar al-Qaḍa al-Shari'i with attendant consequence.
[5 November 2014]
Specimen E: Prayer Times in Deir az-Zor City (Diwan al-Awqaf wa al-Da'wa wa al-Masajid)
(Diwan al-Awqaf wa al-Da'wa wa al-Masajid)
We remind the Muslims under the shadow of the Islamic State that the time standard authorized for the call to prayer, prayer and the rest of the proceedings is the old time standard ('summer') so please observe this directive by order of the general committee for the Islamic State.
[statement emerged in late November 2014].
A popular jihadi nasheed also used by more mainstream Syrian rebels. Preliminary translation:
They said it was a promise: We are the league of the lion.
Indeed we are the soldiers who burn disgrace with fire,
We will demolish your throne, we will destroy your dominion.
League of evil, depart forever. Hear the resolve from me.
Depart without returning from endurance of the veil.
Concomitant with the transformation of Jamaat Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis into 'Wilayat Sinai' ('Sinai Province') following the allegiance to IS in November 2014, here comes an official IS nasheed to add further recognition to the extension of the IS provinces. Here is my preliminary translation:
"Oh soldiers of God, go forth and defeat the damned kufr [disbelief/disbelievers].
To give a brief introduction, Kata'ib al-Imam al-Gha'ib ('The Absent Imam Battalions'- the 'Absent Imam' referring to Imam al-Mehdi in Shi'a messianism) is one of dozens of Shi'a militias that have emerged as part of the 'Popular Mobilization' (al-Hashad al-Sha'abi) trend in response to the wave of Islamic State [IS] gains in northern and western Iraq in summer 2014. Like a number of militias (e.g. Hezbollah the Mujahideen in Iraq), Kata'ib al-Imam al-Gha'ib- led by a man known as 'Abu Dhir al-Fiqar', advertises itself as a 'Hezbollah brand', using Hezbollah's symbols in its insignia in particular.
As I documented in my previous post, Jamaat Ansar al-Islam's Syria branch, whose parent Iraqi branch came to an end in August 2014 after most of its members gave allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) with the remainder quitting the field, appears to have had a two-way split reflected in a war between Twitter accounts. The Syria branch's previous official Twitter account- @ansarulsham- is claiming the dissolution of the group and allegiance to IS following the real example of Iraq, while @ansarulislam_sh claims to be the new official Twitter account of the Syria branch and denies allegiance to IS, saying that @ansarulsham has been hijacked. The question is which account represents the majority, and if it's @ansarulsham, whether that means the end of Jamaat Ansar al-Islam in Syria too. My conclusion so far has been that some serious defections have likely occurred but the schism is not fatal to those wanting to retain the group's separate identity. This post will document the ongoing evidence emerging from the Twitter wars between @ansarulsham and @ansarulislam_sh, and will accordingly be updated when necessary.
As of today, the latter account is promising a statement on how @ansarulsham got hijacked. @ansarulsham has just responded:
"Expect a visual release of the 'Ansar al-Khilafa' camp for the group before the blessed pledge of allegiance. No one has remained from the group except those who followed their preference and wanted to separate from the group [i.e. the bulk that pledged allegiance]. So they have begun to stir up lies and doubts such as Abu Khateeb who fled to Turkey from the lands of the Dawla [IS] with its banner, and with the thinnest hope is the one who left the land of Islam and escaped to the land of kufr [disbelief] and makes attacks and curses. He and others whom we do not wish to mention by name assert that the group is its own thing. We assert that the group with its amir and amirs of its divisions have given allegiance...And whoever venerates names, adopts them and adopts them as a goal, we did not come to this state of affairs previously for reason of these closed minds. And we thank God that he has guided us to this state...It suffices and satisfies us that we are based in the land of the Caliphate and see the Shari'a of God ruling over our necks. We also bear arms, head out with might, and fight the enemies of the religion to the objection of the cursers and doubters based in the shadow of the Tawagheet [forces of idolatrous tyranny] and tweet and curse the upright manhaj [direction/program]: the manhaj of implementing the rule of the law of the Lord of the Worlds."
The data below- a series of tweets by Bakhsaruf al-Danqulah (an AQAP leader active on Twitter) translated by me- seem to point to a growing probability of AQAP involvement behind the recent attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices etc. in Paris. While the media have reported that one of the attackers supposedly claimed to be loyal to the Islamic State, that could just be an attempt to mislead the media with the worst Western nightmare: namely, a supposed coming together of al-Qa'ida and IS to attack the West.
1. Many followers are asking about the link between al-Qa'ida and those who carried out the Charlie Hebdo attack. The link is direct and the operation was supervised by AQAP.
2. The operation was directed by AQAP's leadership. And they chose these targets out of desire to avenge the insult to the Holy Prophet.
3. And in France in particular for its undisguised role in the war on Islam and oppressed peoples.
4. The operation is an implementation of the threat of Sheikh Osama bin Laden in which he warned the West of the consequence in the long run of affront to the sanctities of Muslims.
5. He said in his message to the West: "If there is no limit to your freedom of speech, your chests will become broadened targets for our actions."
6. The organization delayed implementation of the operation for security reasons dependent on the operatives. And the operation has a number of messages for all Western states.
7. Infringing on Islam's sanctities and protecting those who mock them will bear a very heavy price. And the consequence will be severe and terrible.
8. The crimes of the Western states- especially America, Britain and France- will be turned on their heads within their abodes.
9. The policy of striking the far enemy which has remained for al-Qa'ida under Zawahiri's leadership will continue in the realization of its aims, until the West falls back on itself.
10. The policy of the mujahideen of al-Qa'ida's media incitement, especially Inspire magazine, has produced splendid results in the defining of its aims and marshalling potential.
11. For one of the authors put his name and photo [i.e. that of the editor of Charlie Hebdo] as a dead or alive target for the mujahideen, so the Western states should expect evil consequences and ruins by God's power.
He then concludes with a call for people to disseminate and translate his tweets.
In my report on Azaz, I had originally put the date of the fitna between Ahmad Obayd, who established the original Liwa Amru ibn al-Aas and Jaysh Muhammad in collaboration with Egyptian foreign fighter Abu Obayda al-Masri (AKA: Abu Obayda al-Muhajir), in November 2013. This now appears to have been a simple confusion in testimony. With similar brand names, the extent of localization etc., a degree of confusion on the ground over the facts is understandable. It actually makes much more sense to put the split around a year earlier, which explains the subsequent open source data much better (e.g. why in 2013 each man used his own Jaysh Muhammad seal in competition to claim the brand for himself).
One of the hallmarks of the Islamic State's (IS) methods of establishing its presence in a locality is through the use of billboards and murals to advertise its propaganda. This was first made apparent in IS' prior incarnation as the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) in which ISIS first appeared in Raqqa in the spring of 2013 and increased its clout through the use of billboards even as it was not the only faction present. Indeed, ISIS only became sole ruler of Raqqa after the outbreak of intense infighting with Jabhat al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham in the city in January 2014: for some later billboards see this post of mine.
In Mosul and Tel Afar, ISIS was in a much stronger position and very quickly asserted itself over other insurgent groups. It's all well and good for the Ba'athist Jaysh Rijal al-Tariqa al-Naqshbandia (JRTN) to have a front group on paper for Tel Afar in the form of a "Military Council for the Revolutionaries of the Tribes," but nothing suggests it exercises any real influence even if it has some actual members on the ground. The same is true for JRTN in Mosul: as one of my relatives who still lives in Mosul put it to me: "They are present but have no influence. Some of them were arrested, some of them gave allegiance to the Dawla [IS], some of them fled."
Below is a selection of various IS billboards and murals that have primarily emerged in Mosul and Tel Afar as part of IS' declared "Wilayat Ninawa" ("Ninawa Province"). This material is useful for learning more about IS' ideals and which figures it regards as inspiration for its ideological program.
I have previously written about the group 'Jamaat Ansar al-Dawla al-Islamiya fi Bayt al-Maqdis' ('The Group of Supporters/Partisans of the Islamic State in Bayt al-Maqdis') here and here. Based on the data at the time (which was before Jamaat Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis' pledge of allegiance to the Islamic State [IS] to become 'Sinai Province'), my conclusion was that the group appeared to function as IS' network in Gaza, acting as a supplier of fighters- most notably claimed 'specialists'- to IS in Syria/Iraq, while apparently doing propaganda work for IS under the guise of 'Ansar al-Shari'a- Gaza.'
However, it is now clear that there is considerable controversy even within pro-IS circles about the nature of this claimed group, whose statements are solely released via the IS-aligned jihadi forum al-Platform Media. Most notably, critics assert Jamaat Ansar al-Dawla al-Islamiya fi Bayt al-Maqdis does not have meaningful visual evidence to substantiate its existence, a line made on the assumption that there is no overlap with the group calling itself 'Ansar al-Dawla al-Islamiya fi Gaza' under whose name a video was released of claimed operations against Israel during the summer 2014 war. Emblematic of these criticisms is a series of tweets put out by pro-IS Twitter user "Khilad al-Qurashi" (@saeb_f4), who wrote on 21 December 2014:
Translation of the latest statement from the 1920s Revolution Brigades, which predictably repeats earlier talking points of an American-led war on Sunnis/Islam. The same rejectionist mindset continues, even though, like JRTN et al., the group's influence over major Sunni population centers has waned rapidly in the face of the rise of the Islamic State.