Research on the Islamic State, Syria, and Iraq
by Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi
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.
Members of the all-female Druze Labawat al-Jabal militia in training. Scroll down for Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi's related article.
Quwat Dir' Al-Amn Al-Askari: A Latakia Military Intelligence Militia (Sept. 3)
The author profiles Quwat Dir' al-Amn al-Askari (the Military Security Shield Forces), one of several pro-regime militias set up by Syrian military intelligence (another is the previously-profiled Fawj Maghawir al-Badiya). Established in January 2016 to help compensate for regime manpower shortages in Latakia, it is reported to have received an award from Russian and Syrian military commands for its role in the January-February 2016 Russian-backed regime offensive in north Latakia province.
Jabhat al-Nusra Statement on Druze of Jabal al-Summaq (Sept. 5)
Analysis and translation of a mid-July 2016 statement from Syrian Al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra (shortly before its rebranding as the officially independent Jabhat Fatah al-Sham) to "brothers who are residents of the village of Kaftin as guests" [i.e. internally displaced persons]. "In referring to all inhabitants of Kaftin as Muslims, it is clear there is no recognition of a Druze identity among the original residents," notes the author.
Liwa Sayf al-Haq Assad Allah al-Ghalib: A Republican Guard Militia in Sayyida Zainab (Sept. 16)
Profile of one of several pro-regime Shiite militias operating in the Sayyida Zainab area of Damascus, home to the Sayyida Zainab shrine. Affiliated with Syria's elite Republican Guard, it claims to have taken part in several battles in Damascus and the surrounding countryside over the past two years.
Liwa al-Imam Zain al-Abidain: Building a 'Resistance' in Eastern Syria (Sept. 18)
Profile of a pro-regime militia operating in the besieged regime-held enclave in the eastern city of Deir az-Zor, surrounded for miles by Islamic State and other hostile forces. Though the militia claims to be non-sectarian, it is named for the fourth Shiite imam and displays typically Shiite slogans and iconography. Liwa al-Imam Zain al-Abidain is relatively small; its leader, known as Abo Abod, claims only 5 "martyrs" for the militia during its 2-3 years of fighting.
Labawat al-Jabal: A Female Syrian Druze Militia (Oct. 14)
A profile of an all-female roughly 200-strong Druze militia in Suwayda province formed in mid-2015. Notwithstanding a flurry of social media posting showing members training, the militia is not known to have participated in any fighting, in part because it is considered shameful for women to fight unless men are unavailable.
Stories of the Mujahideen: Women of the Islamic State (Oct. 17)
A follow-up to the author's August 24 post of translations from the Islamic State da'wa (outreach) series Qisas al-Mujahideen (Stories of the Mujahideen). Two additional entries for female mujahideen are translated here (Dr. Iman Mustafa al-Bagha, a female Syrian Islamic scholar, was covered in the above post): Umm Khalid al-Wahjani, a woman whose husband, three sons, and three daughters have all been "martyred" for IS, and Umm Fatima al-Rusiya, a woman who took part in an operation in Grozny after declaring allegiance to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi
"The Convoy of Light" – New Nasheed from Islamic State (Oct. 24)
Translation of a nasheed (musical chant) by Islamic State's Ajnad Media. It contains typical recurring themes, such as Islam's glorious past ("We are descendants of noble ones, who subdued disbelief for a time.") and fighting infidels ("The disbelievers will only see youth who reject degradation.").
New Reported Leader for Jaysh Khalid ibn al-Waleed (Oct. 24)
Discussion of the October 18 assassination of Abu Hashim al-Shami, head of the pro-Islamic State Jaysh Khalid ibn al-Waleed militia in Deraa province, near the Golan Heights. According to a reliable source cited by the author, he was replaced by Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, a Syrian-Palestinian Islamic scholar formerly with Harakat al-Muthanna, one of the prominent formations that established Jaysh Khalid.
The Fitna inside Jaysh Khalid ibn al-Waleed (Oct. 30)
Discussion of the aftermath of the assassination of Abu Hashim al-Shami, , which saw infighting between its Harakat al-Muthanna and Liwa Shuhada' al-Yarmouk contingents. Most leading figures in the latter were arrested, notably Ábu Obeida Qahtan, a Palestinian-Syrian jihadi veteran who had fought in Afghanistan
Dissent in the Islamic State: Abu al-Faruq al-Masri's 'Message on the Manhaj' (Oct. 31)
Combating Terrorism Center (West Point)
Translation of a treatise of dissent, entitled "Message on the Manhaj (direction/program)," by an IS ideologue in Raqqa who has since disappeared, likely arrested. Among other things, it criticizes IS' choice of Raqqa as its capital, the formal establishment of IS wilayats (provinces) in areas that aren't suitable for state-building, and the group's "announcement of enmity to the world," which " burying alive ... the project of the caliphate in its cradle."
Related Topics: Iraq, Syria | Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi
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