Observations on the New Islamic State Video ‘Structure of the Caliphate’

structure of the CaliphateMEF, by Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi  •  Jul 6, 2016
Cross-posted from Aymennjawad.org

Readers of this blog will have known that a long-standing interest of mine has been the structure of Islamic State (IS) administration, focusing primarily on internal documents. To mark the start of Eid, IS has released via its central media outlet al-Furqan Media a video on the very subject, entitled ‘Structure of the Caliphate’. Below are some observations of mine:

1. The list of “wilayas” (provinces) of the Islamic State in the screenshot at right is particularly interesting. In total, IS counts 35 wilayas: 19 inside Iraq and Syria and 16 outside of Iraq and Syria. Most notably, despite widespread speculation of IS gearing up towards announcing a new wilaya in the Philippines and claims that IS is now operating as a wilaya in the Philippines, there is no mention of the Philippines as a wilaya. Nor is there any mention of Tunisia, Indonesia, Somalia and Bangladesh: countries where IS has also claimed operations. The last real expansion on the geographic stage on the international level was the Caucasus wilaya a year ago.

In my view, the lack of new wilaya announcements reflects an IS strategy of avoiding wilaya announcements because they lack credibility without realisation of governance and administration on the ground akin to the system in place in IS-controlled territories in Iraq and Syria. With the exception of Libya (though this too is now in doubt with the attacks on the IS stronghold of Sirte), the wilaya projects abroad have been disastrous in so far as achieving administration on the ground (Arabic: tamkeen). Internal dissent in IS (which I will discuss in a later post using some unseen internal documents) long recognized this problem, and advised against wilaya announcements and that allegiance pledges should be taken secretly. While the latter point has not been heeded, IS now seems more cautious in translating allegiance pledges into the creation of new provinces.

The term Wilayat al-Sahel (Coast Province) featured in a claim of attacks in Tartous and Jableh, but is not mentioned in this video.

In terms of other wilayas, it should be noted that Wilayat al-Bahrain (for eastern Saudi Arabia) and Wilayat al-Sahel (for the coastal areas of Tartous and Latakia in Syria) are absent, despite references to such entities in IS propaganda elsewhere.

2. The diwans, committees and offices listed in the video generally correspond to the documentary evidence I have uncovered but naming is not always consistent. For example, the office for public relations and tribes sometimes comes under the diwans designation in the documents. Likewise, the investigations and studies office has also appeared as a diwan (Diwan al-‘Eftaa wa al-Buhuth). In addition, no mention is made of the Diwan al-Wilaya or the Idarat Aama (‘General Administration’) on the more local level. Certain functions do not always come under the same diwans, and sometimes names for separate diwans come up, raising issues of how centralized administration truly is and how much autonomy wilayas have. For example, I have previously seen documents that talk of the Diwan al-‘Aqarat (“Real Estate Diwan”). There is also no mention of the General Supervisory Committee (Al-Lujna al-Aama al-Mushrifa) that has issued wider notifications to the wilayas, diwans and committees, though it appears to be the same as the Delegated Committee (Al-Lujna Al-Mufawwadha) mentioned in the video, to which more serious matters can be referred by the wali in addition to responsibilities for supervising other committees.

3. Functions of Diwans can overlap in ways not mentioned in the video. For example, the Diwan al-Hisba is well known for enforcing Islamic morality, but it can also deal with issuing temporary exit permits for residents of IS territories and Internet security regulations. Some functions are not mentioned, like the Diwan al-Rikaz’s management of activities, or that the Hijra Committee manages border crossings for temporary visitors to IS territory in places like Dabiq.

4. The media section makes no reference to Amaq News, which arguably fits in with the modus operandi of an IS “auxiliary outlet” whereby links to IS are not officially admitted, even as most observers now recognize the outlet’s real function.

5. Note the mention of the Distant Provinces Administration, whose name first emerged in leaked documents during the controversy of dissent in the Yemeni affiliates.

Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi is a research fellow at Middle East Forum’s Jihad Intelproject.


Here is the video (source: http://jihadology.net/2016/07/06/new-video-message-from-the-islamic-state-the-structure-of-the-caliphate/)

Also see:

The Strategic Threat of Islamic State Child-Fighters

9343By Brian Fairchild, February 25, 2016


  • The Islamic State regards its child-fighters as central to its grand strategy because they constitute the caliphate’s next generation, and it operates an extensive educational/training infrastructure that routinely produces them. Child-fighters are deployed as equals to adult fighters and assigned missions as suicide bombers, combatants, and as cold-blooded executioners.  Their participation in violent operations is accelerating, and they will increasingly confront coalition forces on the battlefield, as well as on American soil in terrorist operations.  They constitute one of America’s least understood strategic threats, but the U.S. is currently ill-prepared to deal with them.

On February 9, 2016, the US Director of National Intelligence testified before congress that the number of foreign fighters flocking to Syria and Iraq in the past few years is “without precedent”, reaching over 38,200 from 120 nations, including, at least, 6,900 from Western countries.  This explosion is both alarming and historic.  Western European leaders in particular were stunned by the November 2015 attacks in Paris, and they fear the worst is yet to come – intelligence indicates that the Islamic State is currently planning simultaneous attacks against several European cities.

But the explosion of foreign fighters tells only part of the story.  There has also been a qualitative change in their character – they are more ideologically extreme, and much more brutal than the jihadists of al Qaeda.  Because of the Islamic State’s (IS) widely disseminated propaganda of beheadings, crucifixions, rape, torture, the revival of slavery, and the inhumane execution of prisoners, there can be no doubt that, even before they leave home, the thousands of radicalized Western Muslims that continue to flood into the Islamic State do so fully understanding and embracing its barbaric ideology and actions.

Of particular note, and the subject of this analysis, is that the Islamic State has intentionally and strategically focused its barbaric ideology on the most impressionable and vulnerable segments of its ever expanding population – its children, who constitute one of America’s least understood strategic threatsThe evidence indicates that the number of pre-teen and early-teen child-fighters involved in combat and violent attacks is increasing.

NOTE:  This report uses the time-tested intelligence analysis format of Facts, Findings, and Forecast.  It will provide relevant facts from primary sources and then make general findings from those facts.  Finally, it will forecast likely future strategic developments based on these facts and findings. 


Islamic State strategy regarding child-fighters:

The Islamic State uses child-fighters as a fundamental part of its grand strategy.  In the 12th issue of its official Dabiq magazine, the Islamic State revealed, for the first time, that a strategic document titled Management of Savagery:  The Most Critical Stage through Which the Umma Will Pass “describes very precisely the overall strategy” that it has followed for over a decade.  Indeed, it gives this strategic guide high praise stating that when its revered leader, Abu Musab az-Zarqawi read it, he commented – “It is as if the author knows what I’m planning.”[1] 

Management of Savagery, published in 2004 specifically to provide salafi jihadis with a strategic guide on how to successfully create a new Islamic caliphate, emphasizes that training Muslim youth in sharia law and military skill is one of the most important strategic goals for the jihad.  So important, in fact, that it ranks fifth out of 12 key requirements it must accomplish to establish the caliphate.  Indeed, the fifth requirement emphasizes the importance of:   

  • Raising the level of faith and combat efficiency during the training of the youth of the regionand establishing a fighting society at all levels and among all individuals by means of making them aware of its importance.”

Management of Savagery insists that brutal violence against enemies must be constantly used, and that the education of Muslim youth must not be confined to the classroom, but that the caliphate’s next generation of leaders and fighters must be taught in the furnace and brutality of war, declaring:

  • Active jihad is the greatest means of educating the MuslimsBy its means, true leaders will be brought forth… That is because speaking on the pulpit is easy and in the newspaper even easier and in books even easier than that. As for having (one’s) home destroyed and one’s family made homeless and one’s mother and sister torn to pieces, only the most extraordinary men are capable of (bearing) that.  Great leaders and hardened troops will not come forth save in an atmosphere like this.”[2]

Proof that the Islamic State has followed this strategic guidance is found in its own statements and videos, as well as in the reporting of journalists, the United Nations, and NGOs (Non-governmental organizations).

For example, the Islamic State has explicitly echoed much of the Management of Savagery’s guidance in its article The Lions of Tomorrow, which appeared in the March 2015 issue of Dabiq magazine, in which it said:

  • “…there is a new generation waiting in the wings, eagerly anticipating the day that it is called upon to take up the banner of īmān. These are the children of the Ummah of jihad…The Islamic State has taken it upon itself to fulfill the Ummah’s duty towards this generation in preparing it to face the crusaders and their allies in defense of Islam and to raise high the word of Allah in every land. It has established institutes for these ashbāl (lion cubs) to train and hone their military skills, and to teach them the book of Allah…”[3]

Islamic State Educational Infrastructure:

The militarization of pre-teens and early teens is also well documented by journalists, the United Nations, and Non-Governmental Organizations:

  • A new study conducted by Georgia State University researchers and published by the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, reveals that the Islamic State employs child soldiers in a uniquely different way than child soldiers were used in African conflicts where they were coerced into service and used as fodder. The Islamic State does not recruit children out of desperation to replace lost adult fighters, but treats them as equals “fighting alongside, rather than in lieu of, adult males and their respective patterns of involvement closely reflect one another”.  Highlighting their fundamental value as the caliphate’s next generation, the study concludes that the Islamic State:
  • “…is integrating children into its project in a way that is more reminiscent of a state than a non-state actor. It’s thinking with the long term in mind. It’s not just bringing children into its ranks and using them immediately on the battlefield. What it’s doing is bringing them in, indoctrinating them, training them, spending a lot of time instilling them with jihadist ideology.”
  • Children are so important to the future of the Islamic State that in every location it rules, one of its first actions is to establish a system to indoctrinate them. According to a local teacher, after it took control of Deir az-Zor, Syria, the Islamic State shut down schools until all teachers could be re-educated according to its religious and ideological doctrine, and the curriculum could be radically adjusted.  When the schools re-opened, gone were chemistry, physics, philosophy, the social sciences and math, replaced by courses on Islamic law, the biography of the Prophet Muhammad, biographies of Islamic leaders, and English translations of the Qur’an and the Hadith (sayings of the Prophet).
  • The June 2014 Human Rights Watch research paper “Maybe We Live, and Maybe We Die” revealed that “both children and adults who fought with ISIS consistently reported seeing children 13 years old or younger undergoing the same training and performing the same military duties as adults.”
  • During the period of July to September 2014, the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq received confirmed reports that children as young as 12 or 13 received military training.
  • Yet another UN report described a school in Raqqa that trains over 350 boys between the ages of 5 and 16 “for combat roles”. This report emphasized that the Islamic State systematically uses education as a tool of indoctrination to ensure that the children grow up to be its loyal next generation, and it highlighted the fact that “children are gathered for screenings of videos depicting mass executions of Government soldiers, desensitizing them to extreme violence”.

Islamic State child-fighters are increasingly involved in violent attacks:

Islamic State schools and training centers are succeeding as a production line for fighters.  Rising statistics show that once child-fighters are indoctrinated with jihadist ideology, they kill for the caliphate.  From January 1, 2015 to January 31, 2016, at least 89 child-fighters died while fighting in battles, and sixty-six percent of them were between 8-16 years old.[4]

Worse, their participation in violent operations is accelerating:

  • On a month-by-month basis, the rate of young people dying in suicide operations rose, from six in January 2015 to 11 in January 2016. The rate of operations involving one or more child or youth is likewise increasing; there were three times as many suicide operations involving children and youth in January 2016 as the previous January (2015).”[5]

Child-fighter Executioners:

In a phenomenon unique to the Islamic State, it has specifically groomed pre-teen and early teens to be cold-blooded executioners:

  • In March 2015, Islamic State videos highlighted two non-Arab boys estimated to be under 11, executing kneeling prisoners by shooting them in the back of the head. This execution was featured in the article The Lions of Tomorrow that appeared in issue 8th issue of Dabiq magazine:
  • It is these young lions to whom the Islamic State recently handed over two agents caught spying for Russian Intelligence and an agent caught spying for the Israeli Mossad, to be executed and displayed as an example to anyone else thinking of infiltrating the mujāhidīnAs expected, the kuffār were up in arms about the Khilāfah’s use of “child soldiers.”[6]
  • In a May 4, 2015 video a Caucasian boy of 14 is shown calmly selecting and loading a 9mm handgun and then executing a kneeling prisoner. Afterwards, he makes a statement vowing terror attacks around the world.
  • In mid-July 2015, an Islamic State video highlighted a boy of no more than ten years old beheading an Islamic State prisoner.
  • On February 6, 2016, the Islamic State released a video of an English-speaking boy around 10 years old beheading a prisoner and threatening the United States.
  • On February 10, 2016, the Islamic State released a video of a four year old boy, pressing the detonator button to blow-up Islamic State prisoners handcuffed inside a car. The boy, Isa Dare, is the son of a radical mother who emigrated from Britain to Syria with Isa in 2012.

Child-fighter combatants:

  • In January 2015, an 11 year old suicide bomber named Abu Imara al Omri drove a truck laden with explosives into a group of Syrian soldiers in the town of Ghazi.
  • In early July 2015, the Islamic State celebrated a 14 year old suicide bomber by the name of Omar Hadid al-Muhammadi who killed 50 Kurdish militants in northern Syria by driving a truck filled with explosives into a military checkpoint.
  • In October 2014, Islamic State twitter accounts praised their youngest “martyr”, a 10 year old boy who was killed by coalition air strikes in Syria while fighting alongside his jihadi father.
  • In March 2015, a 13 year old French boy was described as the youngest French “martyr” when he was killed while on patrol at an Islamic State border post in Western Syria near the city of Homs.
  • In August 2014, a news article highlighted a young radical fighter named Younes Abaaoud, the 13 year old brother of Abdelhamid Abaaoud who was the Belgian ring leader of the November 2015 Paris attacks, who smiles for the camera as he holds his right index finger aloft while holding an AK-47 in his left hand.
  • In November 2014, a video documents two French boys that look younger than 10, brandishing weapons and speaking fluent French telling other children “Over there, you’re in a country of infidels. Here, we’re mujahedeen. We’re in Syria, we’re in Raqqa here. It’s war here”.

Child-fighter lone wolves:

  • In the November 18, 2015 issue of Dabiq magazine, the Islamic State lauded young jihadis for conducting attacks in their countries, specifically praising their youth and inexperience:
    • “They did not use a younger age or lack of training as an excuse to be mere bystanders. They sacrificed their souls in the noblest of deeds in pursuit of Allah’s pleasure…Amongst these brave knights of tawhīd and jihad was fifteen-year-old Farhad Khalil Mohammad Jabar, who on “2 October 2015” struck the crusaders of Australia and killed one of their personnel…”
  • In October 2015, Australian police revealed that a 12-year-old boy is suspected of helping Farhad Jabar attack the police officers in Australia.
  • On April 23, 2015, British police arrested a 14 year old boy and charged him with 2 counts of inciting a person to commit an act of terrorism overseas. The boy, inspired by the Islamic State, was taken into custody after encouraging an attack against police officers in Australia.   It was through the boy’s online communications with two 18 year olds in Australia that police uncovered an active plot by the two Aussie teenagers to run over a police officer with an automobile after which they would finish him off with knives, and then take his gun and go on a shooting spree.
  • On May 27, 2015, A 14-year-old boy from Austria plead guilty to terrorism charges and was sentenced to a two year jail term for downloading bomb-making plans onto his PlayStation and for contacting Islamic State militants in Syria.
  • On April 5, 2015, British anti-terrorist police arrested a 14 year old boy who was preparing for an act of terrorism on behalf of the Islamic State.


  • The Islamic State’s strategic guide (Management of Savagery), as well as its declarations and actions reveal that it develops child-fighters as an essential part of its grand strategy designed to produce the caliphate’s next generation of “great leaders and hardened troops”.
  • The Islamic State asserts that its child-fighters are religiously sanctioned. It explains in the Lions of Tomorrow, that today’s child-fighters are no different than the child-fighters that fought for the prophet Muhammad in Islam’s very first caliphate:  (NOTE:  Translations in parentheses were added by author for clarity) :
  • “As expected, the kuffār (infidels) were up in arms about the Khilāfah’s (Caliphate’s) use of “child soldiers.” Yet this was the Sunnah (teachings, deeds, and sayings) of Allah’s Messenger (the prophet Muhammad)…who would allow those capable from amongst the young Sahābah (Muhammad’s companions) to participate in his battles against the mushrikin (polytheists)… And just as the children of the Sahābah stained their swords with the blood of yesterday’s tāghūt (tyrant)…so too will the children of the Khilāfah stain their bullets with the blood of today’s tawāghīt (tyrants)…”
  • Under Islamic State rule the indoctrination of youth is routinely carried-out via an extensive educational/training infrastructure that successfully produces child-fighters who are deployed in the same manner as adult fighters: They fight and die side-by-side with their adult counterparts as suicide bombers, combatants, and executioners.
  • During the first year of the caliphate, all Islamic State executioners were adult males. But, in March 2015, the Islamic State embarked on a calculated program to highlight pre-teen and early-teen executioners.  This did not occur by happenstance, but because the caliphate finds unique value in using child-fighters in this role to terrorize its enemies, and to use as propaganda to recruit additional children.
  • The Islamic State undoubtedly employs a selection process to identify child-fighters who are religiously, ideologically, and physically able to participate in higher level operations. Participating in executions to demonstrate their commitment and loyalty is likely part of this process.  Indications are that this selection process was also used to select the fighters who conducted the Paris attacks.  This was revealed when an Islamic State video, released after the attacks, highlighted the fact that all of the Paris attackers had previously executed prisoners.
  • The Islamic State actively and successfully encourages young radical Muslims around the world to conduct lone wolf attacks in their countries by expending enormous resources to propagandize, radicalize, and recruit them. It is estimated that the Islamic State and its supporters produce 90,000 messages on social media each day.
  • Islamic State child-fighters are not limited by nationality and race to only Arab children from Iraq and Syria, but they hail from numerous countries, including: Tunisia, Tajikistan, Morocco, Yemen, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Libya, Lebanon, France, Australia, Britain, Belgium, and Austria.


  • Because the Islamic State regards child-fighters as its next generation, it will continue to indoctrinate and use them operationally throughout the areas it controls as long as the caliphate remains. The fact that these child-fighters are purposely groomed to take on the mantle of leadership in an environment where death and brutality are routine ensures the continuation of violent jihad for, at least, the next 25 years.
  • Islamic State child-fighters will increasingly confront coalition forces on the battlefields of Iraq and Syria and all the other areas the Islamic State controls (i.e. Libya, Nigeria, Yemen), as well as in terror operations in the U.S. and abroad.
  • Inevitably, child-fighters will be used in terror operations in the United States. When this occurs, the Islamic State will likely maximize the propaganda value of these operations by ensuring that they are as brutal and horrific as possible.
  • The United States is particularly vulnerable to attacks by Islamic State child-fighters because they are generally not considered to be threats, and they can easily enter the United States, either documented as the children of adult travelers, or via human smuggling networks. Once in-country they can easily be hidden in plain site by support networks and can carry-out their operational tasks unmolested.
  • Because they have not heretofore been considered threats, there are currently no intelligence or law enforcement mechanisms, databases, or operations to track or neutralize child-fighters.
  • The U.S. legal system is not designed to deal with cold-blooded pre-teen and early-teen suicide bombers and combatants. S. law currently protects all children under the age of 18 “minors” who cannot be given the death penalty in murder cases, and who must be afforded special legal considerations such as having a parent present during questioning, and serving prison time in juvenile facilities.  As confrontation with child-fighters increases in the near future, new legal mechanisms will have to be created to deal with this new threat.

Brian Fairchild was a career officer in CIA’s Clandestine Service.  He has served in Asia, Southeast Asia, Europe, the Arabian Peninsula, and Afghanistan.  Mr. Fairchild writes periodic intelligence analyses on topics of strategic importance.

[1] The Revival of Jihad in Bengal, Dabiq Magazine, Issue 12, November 2015, footnote 2, page 39.

[2] The Management of Savagery:  The Most Critical Stage through Which the Umma Will Pass, published online in 2004, Abu Bakr Naji, p. 58.

[3] The Lions of Tomorrow, Islamic State, Dabiq magazine, Issue 8, March 30, 2015, pgs. 20-21.

[4] Depictions of Children and Youth in the Islamic State’s Martyrdom Propaganda, 2015-2016, Mia Bloom, John Horgan, and Charlie Winter, Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, CTCSentinel, February 2016, Vol 9, Issue 2, pgs. 29-32

[5] Depictions of Children and Youth in the Islamic State’s Martyrdom Propaganda, pg. 31

[6] Lions of Tomorrow, pg. 20

Radical Canadian Imam: “Rome Will Be Conquered”

by IPT News  •  Feb 23, 2016

A radical Canadian imam called for Muslims to “look forward” as “Rome will be conquered,” in a Friday sermon posted on the Internet on Feb. 16 and translated by the Middle East Monitoring Research Institute (MEMRI).

“The prophecies of the Prophet Muhammad came true. But some prophecies have not come true yet. Look forward to it, because the Prophet Muhammad said that Rome would be conquered! It will be conquered,” preached Imam Shaban Sherif Mady.

Mady, based in Edmonton, also spoke of restoring the “rightly-guided” Islamic Caliphate.

His reference to conquering Rome mirrors a similar call by Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

“This is my advice to you. If you hold to it you will conquer Rome and own the world, if Allah wills,” Baghdadi preached in an attempt to garner more recruits to ISIS.

Mady’s Facebook page reveals the extent of his radicalism, boasting a cover photo featuring Muslim Brotherhood leaders including ousted Egyptian President Mohammad Morsi and Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

1360In one photo, Mady is shown signalling the infamous Muslim Brotherhood four-fingered salute.

On Tuesday, Mady shared a Hamas propaganda video on his Facebook page depicting terrorists sniping and killing Israeli soldiers, issuing threats to Israelis in Hebrew and Arabic. Mady captioned the video by writing: “Qassam (Hamas’ terrorist wing), the earth’s best soldiers.”

1361Moreover, on Feb. 13, Mady posted photos of Hamas terrorists celebrating “the martyrdom of Imam Hassan al Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood,” according to an Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) translation.

A day later, Mady shared a gruesome video of a wounded woman and called for the destruction of Israel.

“Israel is a terrorist state, in its government and people…The Intifada continues until we restore all of free Palestine…And Jerusalem is the capital of righteous Islamic Caliphate,” Mady wrote in the caption accompanying the video.

Mady was a scholar at Egypt’s Al-Azhar University and served with the Egyptian Ministry of Education. He is now an imam in Edmonton and has preached extremely radical Friday sermons in the past to his Muslim congregation in Edmonton, reports CIJ News.

He recently praised Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for welcoming Muslim refugees, but also called on Allah to destroy enemies of the faith:

“Why (was the Muslim Brotherhood movement was designated as) a terrorist organization? Because it calls for the return of the Caliphate (Islamic State). If so, I’m an operative of the Muslim Brotherhood, I’m a terrorist… (O Allah) to those who want to harm Islam and the Muslims, make their animosity annihilate themselves, make them kill themselves, destroy them completely, annihilate them all, like you did to the peoples of A’d and Thamoud…O Allah, support all mujahideen in any place around the globe.”

Dutch Intelligence Report Exposes Horrors of Daily Life Under ISIS

by Abigail R. Esman
Special to IPT News
February 4, 2016

1349When the leaders of ISIS declared the caliphate of the Islamic State in June 2014, the world already had a strong idea of who they were: a jihadist group so violent, so barbaric, so extreme, that even al-Qaida, with whom they had once been affiliated, wanted nothing more to do with them.

But as the world soon learned, it would get even worse.

The founding of the Islamic State brought some of the most inhumane violence of modern civilization: captives held in cages and burned alive; beheadings captured on video and broadcast on the Internet; mass enslavement and rape of non-Muslim women; and the genocide of Iraq’s Yazidi tribe.

Coupled with this has been a perverse propaganda campaign that makes the Caliphate look like a teenage summer camp, aimed at recruiting Westerners to join the jihad and enjoy life in their idyllic, Allah-blessed commune-on-the-sea. And for thousands of Western Muslims, it has worked, either by inducing them to make the journey, or hijrah, to Syria and Iraq, or by motivating them to carry out terrorist attacks on Western towns and cities.

This is what we know.

What we have not known has been the reality of life in the Islamic State, including the social order, the availability of housing and health care and other basic necessities and the treatment of women and children.

A new report by the Dutch Intelligence Service (AIVD) now shines a spotlight into the heart of the Islamic State, its workings, and the psychology of its leaders. The picture it paints is no less terrifying than one might expect, a society increasingly paranoid and totalitarian, devoid of human empathy, lacking in the most vital resources, and yet somehow, still surviving through a combination of propaganda, lies, oppression, violence, and the profound power of delusion.

It is that delusion which seems most apparent in the AIVD report: the myth of a life of comfort and companionship and a coziness with God that ISIS’s propaganda promulgates, promotes, and perpetuates on social media; the delusion of those who manage to equate murder and enslavement with religious duty and moral good; and those delusions with which ISIS leaders fill the minds of children raised in their domain – and so, build and secure the future of their narrative and their jihad.

“Violence is inherent to ISIS,” the report says. “On a daily basis, it is practiced, glorified, and preached.” Through that violence has emerged a state (such as it is) that is at once overbearing, tyrannical, and powerful and yet, at its core, vulnerable, fragile, and afraid.

Following are highlights of the AIVD report, which was compiled on the basis of 18 months of research.


While many Westerners make hijrah not to fight, per se, but for the glory of living in a true Muslim state, the reality that greets them is not what they likely anticipate, the AIVD reveals. Constant bombardments from Assad troops, allied forces, and Russia mean that every day is lived in perpetual fear and danger. The trauma this brings to children, especially, and particularly those who travel to the caliphate with their parents from the West, is incalculable.

Moreover, despite photographs ISIS distributes on the Internet of houses with exquisite views and happy families, most homes are in disrepair. There are food shortages. Medical care is as minimal as one might expect in a war zone that receives no legal imports or medicines, where there are excruciatingly few doctors or nurses, and daily streams of wounded. Electricity is also scarce; most homes can rely on only an hour or two of power every day.

And while all men receive a state salary (with supplements for wives and children), those salaries were recently halved – an unwelcome development for Caliphate citizens at a time when oil income has fallen and prices for basic necessities, especially food, skyrocket.


Men and women are separated on arrival, according to the AIVD. Men are required to swear allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-proclaimed caliph, before being interrogated to ensure they aren’t spies. They are then sent into military training. Though not all men sign up to fight, all must be prepared to join the battle if called upon and participate actively “in ISIS-led executions, torture, and rape.”

From here, they are generally able to select their own roles, be it as marketing advisers, bus drivers, doctors, or warriors. Some, however, are assigned roles. Reports the AIVD, “specifically-selected men can be trained by ISIS and sent back to stage attacks in Europe.”


While many women make hijrah with the idea of joining in battle, in actuality women are forbidden to participate in what is viewed as men’s work. They also cannot work closely with men who are not family, a law that further bars them from the battlefield.

They have their own parts to play in the Caliphate, the most important of which is childbearing: as many and as fast as possible. Reports the AIVD, “Mothers are [then] required to raise their sons to be ISIS fighters. Daughters, for their part, are to marry fighters and, with the same purpose as their own mothers, to bear children.”

In addition, women can play an active role in recruiting, largely through social media. Others join the all-women Al-Khansaa brigade, which enforces sharia law as it applies to women, be it their manner of dress or their public behavior. “If a woman is apprehended by the brigade and convicted, then another woman carries out the punishment,” the AIVD report explains. “Hence even Western women who have joined Al-Khansaa will execute the lashings of women who have, according to ISIS, violated rules and boundaries.”


It is the children, however, who suffer most in the Islamic State – children whose lives are made of daily confrontations with death and agony and fear. Nonetheless, shockingly more and more Western families are making their way to ISIS territory with their children, or with pregnant mothers wishing to give birth there. And then there are the children born not just to ISIS brides, but to rape victims and sexual slaves such as the Yazidis.

But where most boys of 7- or 8 years of age may go on fishing trips with their fathers or play soccer in local parks, these frequently are brought to observe public executions and beatings. Parents may pose their child with the head of a beheaded enemy. At school, they learn English, Arabic, and the tenets of ISIS doctrine alongside lessons in the use of firearms and “execution practice.” By the age of 9, girls are expected to cover themselves in public, while their male schoolmates are ushered off to training camps to learn to fight.

“Children take an increasingly frequent role in ISIS propaganda,” states the report. “In various execution videos made by the group in the first half of 2015, boys between the ages of ten and twelve served as executioner, shooting or beheading prisoners. The use of children in propaganda fits the strategy of ISIS, which largely hopes to use media images to shock and so, gain attention. Through this propaganda, which is often picked up by regular mass media, it becomes clear that parents who travel to the ISIS territory have a fully realistic view of what awaits their children when they get there.”

The Overview

Increasingly, it appears that life in the Caliphate is becoming tougher. A growing paranoia and fear that disillusioned fighters might leave and counter their propaganda with the truth – not to mention a concern about spies attacking from within – haunts ISIS leaders. They are cracking down in response. It is becoming harder and harder to leave the Islamic State, even for temporary, medical reasons.

Similarly, contact between residents of the Caliphate and those on the outside is being increasingly controlled. “Since July, 2015, it is no longer permissible to use wireless internet in Raqqah,” according to the report. “The Internet can only be accessed through ISIS-approved Internet cafes, where careful watch is kept over which sites are visited. In some cases, permission must be granted by a military leader or emir to spread information to the outside. Whoever fails to observe these rules must appear before a sharia court.”

Such measures ensure that the myth of an idyllic state continues, along with the flow of new warriors and the women who will give birth to them.

Ultimately, concludes the intelligence agency, “the so-called caliphate of ISIS stands far from what the organization purports it to be. The region that is occupied by ISIS is not a holy state or ideal society in its infancy. ISIS functions as a totalitarian regime. Whoever emigrates to the ISIS territory makes a conscious, deliberate choice to take part in an organization, an institution that commits terrorist activities and conducts attacks in Europe. In practice, this means that men as well as women who join the Islamic State, armed or otherwise, take part in ISIS’s jihad.”

Abigail R. Esman, the author, most recently, of Radical State: How Jihad Is Winning Over Democracy in the West (Praeger, 2010), is a freelance writer based in New York and the Netherlands.

It’s Not ISIS We Need to Beat — It’s the Caliphate

isil (5)

Frontpage, by Daniel Greenfield, Dec. 29, 2015:

A recent report by, of all places, the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, found that the Syrian rebels were mostly Islamic Jihadists and that even if ISIS were defeated there were 15 other groups sharing its worldview that were ready to take its place.

And that’s just in Syria.

The official ISIS story, the one that we read in the newspapers, watch on television and hear on the radio, is that it’s a unique group whose brand of extremism is so extreme that there is no comparing it to anything else. ISIS has nothing to do with Islam. Or with anything else. It’s a complete aberration.

Except for the 15 other Jihadist groups ready to step into its shoes in just one country.

Islamic Supremacist organizations like ISIS can be graded on the “Caliphate curve”. The Caliphate curve is based on how quickly an Islamic organization wants to achieve the Caliphate. What we describe as “extreme” or “moderate” is really the speed at which an Islamic group seeks to recreate the Caliphate.

ISIS is at the extreme end of the scale, not because it tortures, kills and rapes, but because it implemented the Caliphate immediately. The atrocities for which ISIS has become known are typical of a functioning Caliphate. The execution of Muslims who do not submit to the Caliph, the ethnic cleansing and sexual slavery of non-Muslims are not aberrations. They are normal behavior for a Caliphate.

The last Caliphate, the Ottoman Empire, was selling non-Muslim girls as sex slaves after the invention of the telephone.  A New York Times report from 1886 documented the sale of girls as young as twelve, one of them with “light hazel eyes, black eyebrows and long yellow hair”. An earlier report from theLondon Post described Turks, “sending their blacks to market, in order to make room for a newly-purchased white girl”. This behavior is not a temporary aberration, but dates back to Mohammed’s men raping and enslaving non-Muslim women and young girls as a reward for fighting to spread Islam.

The ISIS behaviors that we find so shocking were widely practiced in even the most civilized parts of the Muslim world around the time that the Statue of Liberty was being dedicated in New York City.

To Muslims, the end of slavery is one of the humiliations that they had to endure because of the loss of the Caliphate. Europeans forced an end to the slave trade. The British made the Turks give up their slaves. The United States made the Saudis give up their slaves in the 1960s. (Unofficially they still exist.) When the Muslim Brotherhood took over Egypt, its Islamist constitution dropped a ban on slavery.

The Muslim Brotherhood is on the moderate side of the Caliphate curve not because it doesn’t want to bring back the Caliphate, it does, or because it doesn’t want to subjugate non-Muslims, it does, but because it wants to do so gradually over an extended period of time using modern political methods.

But whether you take the long road along the Caliphate curve or the short one it still ends up in the same place. Everyone on the Caliphate curve agrees that the world, including the United States, must be ruled by Muslims under Islamic law and that freedom and equal rights for all must come to an end.

ISIS is just doing right now what the Muslim Brotherhood would take a hundred years to accomplish.

We are not at war with ISIS. We are at war with everyone on the Caliphate curve. Not because we choose to be, but because like Hitler’s Thousand Year Reich or Communism’s vision of one world under the red flag, the Caliphate is a plan for imposing a totalitarian system on us  to deprive us of our rights.

The Nazis and the Communists had a vision for the world. So do the Islamic Supremacists who advocate the restoration of the Caliphate. All three groups occasionally played the victim of our foreign policy, but they were not responding to us, they were trying to bring about their positive vision of an ideal society.

Nazi, Communist and Islamist societies just happen to be living nightmares for the rest of us.

No one on the Caliphate curve is moderate. Some on the Caliphate curve are just more patient. They put up billboards, create hashtags and try to ban any criticism of their ideology as Islamophobic. But that’s just Caliphatism with a human face. And that makes them a much more dangerous enemy.

ISIS is in some ways our least dangerous enemy. We haven’t defeated ISIS, because we haven’t even tried. Instead Obama fights a war in which 75 percent of strikes on ISIS are blocked and leaflets are dropped 45 minutes before a strike on oil tankers warning ISIS to flee. If we were to fight ISIS by the same rules as our wars in the last century, the Islamic State would have been crushed long ago.

A insta-Caliphate like ISIS isn’t hard to beat. The global networks of Al Qaeda employing more conventional terror tactics are a trickier force because they are embedded within the stream of Muslim migration. And the Muslim Brotherhood is the trickiest of them all because it is so deeply embedded within Muslim populations in the West that it represents and controls those populations.

What ISIS accomplishes by brute force, the Muslim Brotherhood does by setting up networks of front groups. Both ISIS and the Brotherhood control large Muslim populations. ISIS conquers populations in failed states. The Muslim Brotherhood however exercises control over populations in the cities of the West. We could bomb Raqqa, but can we bomb Dearborn, Jersey City or Irvine?

This is where the Caliphate curve truly reaches its most terrifying potential.

The original Islamic expansionism was so devastating not because it managed to seize control over the hinterlands of Arabia, but because it conquered and subjugated civilized cities such as Alexandria, Constantinople, Jerusalem, Athens and Delhi. ISIS envisions repeating these conquests and more, but if it succeeds it will not be because of its military strategy, but because it targets have been colonized.

We can destroy ISIS tomorrow, but we will still be in an extended war with a hundred other groups who all have a vision for restoring the Caliphate. This war will never end until we crush their supremacist agenda by demonstrating that we will never again allow such a horror to exist on this earth. As long as Muslim groups hold out hope for a restoration of the Caliphate this war, in its various forms, will go on.

We are not at war with an organization, but with the idea that Muslims are superior to non-Muslims and are endowed by Allah with the right to rule over them, to rob them, to rape them and enslave them. ISIS is the most naked expression of this idea. But it’s an idea that everyone on the Caliphate curve accepts.

Until we defeat this racist idea, new Islamic groups will constantly keep arising animated by this vision. Wars fueled by supremacist beliefs have historically only ended when the illusion of superiority was destroyed by utterly defeating and humiliating the attackers. It worked with Japan and Nazi Germany.

Our war now will not end until we destroy the supremacist faith in the Caliphate curve.


Watch Muslims, in their own words, vowing to to install a worldwide Caliphate:

The Isis papers: leaked documents show how Isis is building its state

The leaked Islamic State document sets out a blueprint for a building a state

The leaked Islamic State document sets out a blueprint for a building a state

Blueprint lays bare new contours of Islamic state, complete with civil service, regional government and Soviet levels of economic control.

Guardian, by Shiv Malik, Dec. 7, 2015:

A leaked internal Islamic State manual shows how the terrorist group has set about building a state in Iraq and Syria complete with government departments, a treasury and an economic programme for self-sufficiency, the Guardian can reveal.

The 24-page document, obtained by the Guardian, sets out a blueprint for establishing foreign relations, a fully fledged propaganda operation, and centralised control over oil, gas and the other vital parts of the economy.

The manual, written last year and entitled Principles in the administration of the Islamic State, lays bare Isis’s state-building aspirations and the ways in which it has managed to set itself apart as the richest and most destabilising jihadi group of the past 50 years.

The Isis papers: a masterplan for consolidating power


Together with other documents obtained by the Guardian, it builds up a picture of a group that, although sworn to a founding principle of brutal violence, is equally set on more mundane matters such as health, education, commerce, communications and jobs. In short, it is building a state.

As western aircraft step up their aerial war on Isis targets in Syria, the implication is that the military task is not simply one of battlefield arithmetic. Isis is already far more than the sum of its fighters.

The document – written as a foundation text to train “cadres of administrators” in the months after Isis’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, declared a “caliphate” in Iraq and Syria on 28 June 2014 – sketches out how to organise government departments including education, natural resources, industry, foreign relations, public relations and military camps.

Dated some time between July and October 2014, it details how Isis will build separate training camps for regular troops and veteran fighters. Veterans, it says, should go on a fortnight’s refresher course each year to receive instruction in the “latest arts of using weapons, military planning and military technologies”.

It says they will also be given a “detailed commentary on the technologies” of the enemy and “how the soldiers of the state can take advantage of them”.

The statecraft manual recommends a department for administering the military camps, a complex arrangement that, as described, goes well beyond the capabilities of al-Qaida in Afghanistan during the time it plotted the 9/11 attacks.

The document reveals for the first time that Isis always intended to train children in the arts of war. Isis propaganda from this year has clearly shown children being drilled, and even made to shoot captives.

But the text, authored by an Egyptian called Abu Abdullah, is explicit about the intention to do so from mid- to late 2014. Children, it says, will be receive “training on bearing light arms” and “outstanding individuals” will be “selected from them for security portfolio assignments, including checkpoints, patrols”.

The text highlights the need for Isis to achieve a unified culture encompassing foreigners and natives and sets out the need for self-sufficiency by establishing its own independent “factories for local military and food production” and creating “isolated safe zones” for providing for local needs.

The document came from a businessman working within Isis via the academic researcher Aymenn al-Tamimi, who has worked over the past year to compile the most thorough log of Isis documents available to the public.

For safety reasons, the Guardian cannot reveal further information about the businessman but he has leaked nearly 30 documents in all, including a financial statement from one of Isis’s largest provinces.

Isis has suffered military setbacks in recent weeks, and some Sunni Arabs from Raqqa have indicated that its statecraft might be better on paper than it is in practice.

But Tamimi said the playbook, along with a further 300 Isis documents he has obtained over the past year, showed that building a viable country rooted in fundamentalist theology was the central aim. “[Isis] is a project that strives to govern. It’s not just a case of their sole end being endless battle.”

Gen Stanley McChrystal (retired), who led the military units that helped destroy Isis’s predecessor organisation (ISI) in Iraq from 2006 to 2008, said: “If it is indeed genuine, it is fascinating and should be read by everyone – particularly policymakers in the west.

“If the west sees Isis as an almost stereotypical band of psychopathic killers, we risk dramatically underestimating them.

“In the Principles in the administration of the Islamic State, you see a focus on education (really indoctrination) beginning with children but progressing through their ranks, a recognition that effective governance is essential, thoughts on their use of technology to master information (propaganda), and a willingness to learn from the mistakes of earlier movements.

“It’s not a big departure from the works of Mao, the practices of the Viet Minh in Indochina, or other movements for whom high-profile actions were really just the tip of a far more nuanced iceberg of organising activity.

Charlie Winter, a senior researcher for Georgia State University who has seen the document, said it demonstrated Isis’s high capacity for premeditation.

“Far from being an army of irrational, bloodthirsty fanatics, IS [Isis] is a deeply calculating political organisation with an extremely complex, well-planned infrastructure behind it.”

Lt Gen Graeme Lamb, former head of UK special forces, said the playbook carried a warning for current military strategy.

Referring to sections of the statecraft text in which Isis repeatedly claims it is the only true representatives of Sunni Arab Muslims in the region, Lamb said it was all the more important to ensure wider Sunni leadership in the fight with Isis, or risk “fuelling this monster”.

“Seeing Daesh [Isis] and the caliphate as simply a target to be systematically broken by forces other than Middle Eastern Sunnis … is to fail to understand this fight.

“It must be led by the Sunni Arab leadership and its many tribes across the region, with us in the west and the other religious factions in the Middle East acting in support.

“It is not currently how we are shaping the present counter-Isis campaign, thereby setting ourselves up for potential failure.”

Also see:

ISIS ‘Mein Kampf’ Blames Israel for Global Terrorism

Islamic State promoting and "end of the world" battle. (Photo : Google Commons)

Islamic State promoting and “end of the world” battle. (Photo : Google Commons)

Experts poring over secret Islamic State dossier found in Pakistan’s tribal badlands; Arutz Sheva gains an exclusive look.

Arutz Sheva, By Sara A. Carter, American Media Institute, 8/16/15:

Intelligence officials are comparing a newly discovered secret Islamic State document to Hitler’s “Mein Kampf,” as it blames Israel for the rise of the Islamic State and crowns U.S. President Barack Obama as the “Mule of the Jews.”

Found in Pakistan’s remote tribal region by American Media Institute (AMI), the 32-page Urdu language document promotes an “end of the world” battle as a final solution. It argues that the Islamic leader should be recognized as the sole ruler of the world’s 1 billion Muslims, under a religious empire called a “caliphate.”

“It reads like the caliphate’s own Mein Kampf,” said a U.S. intelligence official, who reviewed the document. “While the world is watching videos of beheadings and crucifixions in Iraq and Syria the Islamic State is moving into North Africa the Middle East, and now we see it has a strategy in South Asia. It’s a magician’s trick, watch this hand and you’ll never see what the other is doing.”

Retired U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency Director Gen. Michael Flynn and other U.S. intelligence officials confirmed the authenticity of the document based on its unique markings, specific language used to describe leaders and the writing style and religious wording that matched other Islamic State records.

Flynn said the undated document, “A Brief History of the Islamic State Caliphate (ISC), The Caliphate According to the Prophet,” is a campaign plan that “lays out their intent, their goals and objectives, a red flag to which we must pay attention.”

The document serves as a Nazi-like recruiting pitch that attempts to unite dozens of factions of the Pakistani and Afghan Taliban into a single army of terror.  It includes a never-before-seen history of the Islamic State, details chilling future battle plans and urges al-Qaeda to join Islamic State.

Its tone is direct: “Accept the fact that this caliphate will survive and prosper until it takes over the entire world and beheads every last person that rebels against Allah. This is the bitter truth, swallow it.”

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal center for human rights who heads Center’s Digital Terrorism and Hate Project, compares the Islamic State threats in the document to the rise of Nazism pre-World War II.

The brutal killing of a teacher and three children at the Ozar Hatorah school in Toulouse in 2012 by an Algerian Islamist was a major signal to the Jewish community that Europe was no longer safe and that not enough was being done to curtail the rise of anti-semitism, he said.

“It’s important to remember what our founder, Wiesenthal said, ‘it often starts with the Jews but it never ends with the Jews,” Cooper said. “As a matter fact [Islamic State] did not create anti-semitism but they are taking advantage of it, and they are building on it.”

The document advocates creating a new terrorist army in Afghanistan and Pakistan to trigger a war in India and provoke an Armageddon-like confrontation with the United States. It also details Islamic State’s plot to attack U.S. soldiers as they withdraw from Afghanistan and target America diplomats and Pakistani officials and blames the rise of jihadi organizations on the establishment of Israel.

“No sooner had the British government relinquished control of Israel, Ben-Gurion, the leader of the Jews, declared the independence of the State of Israel, triggering a global migration of Jews to the Jewish State, and launching the systematic persecution of Palestinian Muslims who had to abandon their homes and migrate,” the document states.

The document discloses the history of Islamic State dating back to the early 1990s and explains why in 2011 its leader, Abu Bakr al- Bagdhadi, unleashed car bombs to avenge Osama bin Laden’s death, and boasts about the suicide rates of American soldiers.

“Urban centers across Iraq exploded with car bombs and IED’s. The losses inflicted upon Americans, apostates, and heretics were unprecedented, as were the suicide rates amongst U.S soldiers,” the document states. “This state of affairs forced Mule of the Jews, U.S President Obama to announce an exit plan.”

The battle plan to “end the world” is described in six phases (three of which have already passed) – ripping pages from al-Qaeda’s original plans to defeat the west, in a graphic illustration of how ISIS sees itself as the true heirs to Osama Bin Laden’s legacy.

  • Phase 1 “Awakening” 2000-2003: Islamic State calls for “a major operation against the U.S. .. to provoke a crusade against Islam.”
  • Phase 2 “Shock and Awe” 2004 – 2006: Islamic State will lure U.S. into multiple theatres of war, including cyber-attacks and establish charities across the Muslim and Arab world to support terrorism.
  • Phase 3 “Self-reliance” 2007-2010: Islamic State will create “interference” with Iraq’s neighboring states with particular focus on Syria.
  • Phase 4 “Reaping/extortion/receiving” 2010-2013: Islamic State will attack “U.S and Western interests” to destroy their economy and replace the dollar with silver and gold and expose Muslim governments’ relations with Israel and the U.S.
  • Phase 5 Declaring the Caliphate 2013-2016: Not much details offered here. The document just says, “The Caliphate According to The Prophet.
  • Phase 6, Open Warfare 2017-2020:  Islamic State predicts faith will clash with non-believers and “Allah will grant victory to the believers after which peace will reign on earth.”

The document urges followers of al-Qaeda and the Taliban to join the Islamic State in overthrowing Arab governments who have relations with the U.S. and Israel, unlike al-Qaeda, which believed it was “important to weaken the U.S before launching an armed revolt in Arab states and establishing a caliphate.”

In response to the document, a senior ranking Israeli official said that in the Middle East the world faces two threats – from Islamic State and from Iran. “We need not strengthen one at the expense of the other. We need to weaken both and prevent the aggression and arming of both,” he warned.

Alistair Baskey, deputy spokesman for the White House’s National Security Council said Islamic State is being monitored “closely to see whether their emergence will have a meaningful impact on the threat environment in the region.”

The document builds on evidence that Islamic State is expanding into the region where the September 11 attacks were born. A united Taliban, backed by the hundreds of millions of dollars of Iraqi oil revenue now enjoyed by Islamic State, would be a “game-changer,” officials said.

The document warns that “preparations” for an attack in India are underway and predicts that an attack will provoke an apocalyptic confrontation with America: “Even if the U.S tries to attack with all its allies, which undoubtedly it will, the (entire global Muslim community) will be united, resulting in the final battle.”

A war in India would magnify Islamic State stature and threaten the stability of the region, said Bruce Riedel, a senior fellow with the Brookings Institution who served more than 30 years in the CIA. “Attacking in India is the Holy Grail of South Asian jihadists.”

Pakistan Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry denied the presence of Islamic State in the region, calling it only “a potential threat.”

Unlike al-Qaida, whose focus was the United States and other western nations, the document said Islamic State leaders believe that’s the wrong strategic goal. “Instead of wasting energy in a direct confrontation with the U.S., we should focus on an armed uprising in the Arab world for the establishment of the caliphate,” the document said.

The failure to target the radical Islamic ideas has given the group breathing room to spread throughout the world much like Hitler did.

“We did a lousy job predicting what Hitler was going to do in the 1920s, 1930s – honestly, we blew it,” Cooper said. “It’s hard to take seriously or believe that such hatred was real or would be possible. They made jokes about Jews, degraded Jews but nobody believed that they would be capable of what they were saying.  So now, when groups, like [Islamic State] come along and say they are going to do A B and C, you have to take them for their word.”