Research on the Islamic State, Syria, and Iraq
by Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi
October 1–October 31, 2015
Syria's Druze community has endured sectarian killings and forced conversions at the hands of the Syrian al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra.
Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi, a research fellow at the Middle East Forum's Jihad Intel project, writes extensively about the Islamic State (also known as ISIS) and other armed groups in Syria and Iraq. As his writings and translations tend to be too detailed for a general readership, we periodically compile links and summaries for those wishing to learn about the groundbreaking work of this prolific researcher.
For all writings by Jawad al-Tamimi, click here.
Al Nusra Atrocities against Syrian Druze Belie Its Rebranding (Oct. 5)
Jawad al-Tamimi and coauthor Daveed Gartenstein-Ross argue that efforts by the Syrian al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra to "paint itself as a more reasonable jihadist force" and "appear more moderate to an international audience" are largely window-dressing. Its religious extremism is evident in its brutal treatment of Druze minorities living in areas under its control.
Additional Notes on the Druze of Jabal al-Summaq (Oct. 6)
The author elaborates on Jabhat al-Nusra's treatment of Druze, as discussed in the above Foreign Affairs article. Includes a translation of a (forced) statement issued by the Druze of Idlib renouncing their faith.
Talking to the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade (Oct. 13)
Jawad al-Tamimi examines the evolution of the once-"moderate" Syrian rebel group Liwa Shuhada' al-Yarmouk (Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade) into an Islamic State affiliate. He suggests it began as an effort to "improve its standing among locals by gradually becoming more 'Islamic' in governance."
Rijal al-Karama after Sheikh Abu Fahad Waheed al-Bal'ous' Assassination (Oct. 26)
The author examines how the Syrian Druze Rijal al-Karama (Men of Dignity) militia has adapted to the assassination of its leader, Sheikh Abu Fahad al-Bal'ous, in September. Bal'ous advocated reform within the existing political system, anti-corruption, and prioritization of local defense over forced conscription into government forces fighting elsewhere in Syria. Rijal al-Karama, which officially declared his brother Sheikh Abu Yusuf Ra'fat al-Bal'ous as the new leader, issued a statement implicitly blaming the Syrian regime for the attack, but shying away from confrontation.
Unlike other Syrian jihadist groups, Islamic State is not dependent on foreign donors.
Unseen Islamic State Financial Accounts for Deir az-Zor Province (Oct. 5)
The author translates numerous Islamic State documents detailing its revenues and expenditures in Syria's Deir az-Zor province. Although the province is oil-rich, a large plurality – 45 percent – of Islamic State income there comes from confiscations of property and money.
Unseen Documents from the Islamic State's Diwan al-Rikaz (Oct. 12)
Analysis and translations of several documents issued by the ISIS agency responsible for managing oil, gas, minerals, and antiquities (al-Rikaz literally refers to anything that can be extracted from the ground). Includes a stamped permit for Mahmoud Sari ibn Muhammad "to excavate and search for antiquities and gold north of the town of al-Bab" and a notice that gold and antiquities "are to be confiscated in the event that they are being passed through the border areas towards Turkey."
Unseen Islamic State Treatise on Calendars (Oct. 17)
Translation and analysis of an Islamic State treatise on "Miladi dating," or use of the Gregorian calendar. Jawad al-Tamimi notes that IS is determined to "erase all traces of Miladi dating as it is a system of dating associated with the disbelievers," in favor of Hijri dating, which begins from the time of the migration [hijra] of the Prophet Muhammad from Mecca to Medina in 622 CE. In practice, however, many IS documents contain both Miladi and Hijri dates.
Jund al-Aqsa withdraws from Jaysh al-Fatah (Oct. 24)
Translation of a statement from the Al-Qaeda front group Jund al-Aqsa on its withdrawal from the Jaysh al-Fatah (Army of Conquest) coalition in Idlib province. The statement attributes this withdrawal in part to "the continuing pressure upon us to fight the Dawla [Islamic State] group" from other members of Jaysh al-Fatah, notably Ahrar al-Sham. The statement lists conditions for Jund al-Aqsa's return to the coalition, including that it formally commit to "fighting the Americans and Russians."
Islam 101 According to the Islamic State (Oct. 27)
An annotated translation of an Islamic State da'wa pamphlet on aqeeda (creed/doctrine) and manhaj (ideological program/direction) that Jawad al-Tamimi calls "one of the most basic outlines of Islamic State ideology available from the Islamic State itself."
"Be with God"- New Nasheed from the Islamic State (Oct. 29)
Translation of a short musical chant (nasheed) produced by Islamic State. Excerpt: "Whoever has obeyed and sacrificed everything precious has been successful."
New Mobilization Calls By the Islamic State in Aleppo Province (Oct. 30)
Analysis and translation of new mobilization calls by IS within Aleppo province in the wake of Russian intervention. Includes the first document known to have been officially issued by an IS "Shari'a Committee" since the declaration of the Caliphate.
Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi is a research fellow at the Middle East Forum's Jihad Intel project.
Related Topics: Iraq, Syria | Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi
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