Some of the 26 Islamic State administrative documents translated by Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi in August.
Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi, a Middle East Forum research fellow, 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 more general interest writings by Jawad al-Tamimi, click here.
The Evolution in Islamic State Administration: The Documentary Evidence (Aug. 5)
Perspectives on Terrorism
An in-depth study of how IS administrative institutions evolved over the course of its rise. Until 2014, IS functioned more like a mafia organization than a state, according to Jawad al-Tamimi. While the first "real signs of proto-governance" began to emerge with consolidation of control over Raqqa and other Syrian areas in mid-2013, ISIS began to cultivate a consistent system of administration in its areas of control in Syria and Iraq in 2014. Today, in contrast to other rebel groups in Syria and Iraq, it has a "a diverse range of bureaucratic departments."
Sheikh Yusuf Jerbo (left) and Nayef al-Aqil (right), leaders of the Dir' al-Watan militia, meet with Druze youth.
The New Druze Militia Factions of Suwayda Province (Aug. 8)
An overview of several new Druze militia factions that have emerged recently. In contrast to previous militias with generic branding (e.g. Jaysh al-Muwahhideen) and affiliation with the pro-regime Popular Committees, these new formations are focused around particular personalities. They include Dir' al-Watan (The Homeland Shield), founded by Sheikh Yusuf Jerbo and commanded by retired Druze military officers; Rijal al-Karama (Men of Dignity), headed by Sheikh Abu Fahd Waheed al-Bal'ous (who, notable early in the civil war for "fiery rhetoric that seemed to imply overthrowing the regime," now advocates "greater autonomy" and refusing "conscription in far-away fights."); and Bayraq Al Nu'aim (Banner of Nu'aim, a reference to Nidal Mu'adha Nu'aim, a Druze Syrian Army brigadier general killed in July 2013).
America Should Aim to Contain, not Destroy, ISIS (Aug. 12)
The Huffington Post
Jawad al-Tamimi argues that the U.S. train-and-equip program for Syrian rebels has been a failure, and that U.S.-led coalition airstrikes have produced mixed results. There are, he concludes, "no viable solutions" to the Islamic State problem.
Liwa al-Sayyida Ruqayya: Recruiting the Shi'a of Damascus (Aug. 12)
The author examines Liwa al-Sayyida Ruqayya (Sayyida Ruqayya Brigade), a new Shi'a militia named after the shrine of Sayyida Ruqayya, a daughter of Imam Hussein who was taken captive at the Battle of Karbala and died in captivity in Damascus. Though closely linked to the Iranian-backed Iraqi Shi'a militia Kata'ib Sayyid al-Shuhada' that has operated in Syria since 2013, it is noted for its recruitment of native Syrian Shi'a from Damascus and its environs. The author examines numerous posters and graphics displaying Liwa al-Sayyida Ruqayya martyrs and finds that many have been previously claimed as martyrs by other pro-regime groups, which "attests to the common phenomenon of overlap among Shi'a militia formations."
An advertisement of services for Umm al-Mu'mineen A'isha Hospital, Syria's Aleppo province
Critical Analysis of the Islamic State's Health Department (Aug. 27)
The author draws some conclusions from an overview of various IS documents and public statements as to the vitality of its health system. Although IS has succeeded in persuading/coercing many medical personnel to stay at their posts, brain drain remains a problem judging from the ultimatums it has issued threatening to confiscate the property of those who have fled and do not return. Some IS fatwas suggest that it is short of female medical personnel (needed to enforce strict gender segregation at health facilities). The group's efforts to enforce price controls on medical provisions suggest that material shortages remain a problem. The author notes that ideology has "contributed to impediments to treatment of patients," as in IS's ban on use of medical supplies of Iranian origin.
Jabhat al-Nusra Service Documents (Aug. 10)
A continually updated collection of documents pertaining to the Public Administration for Services of Syria's al-Qaeda affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra (similar to the archives of Islamic State administrative documents, and Jabhat al-Nusra judicial documents).
"We Have Risen, We Have Risen"- New IS Nasheed (Aug. 11)
Translation of lengthy IS musical chant (nasheed). Excerpt: "We have cut throats, we have broken sheathes/We have healed chests, we have made victory of good fortunes."
Translation of a short musical chant (nasheed) from a video showcasing various Iraqi tribes in Ninawa province pledging allegiance to IS. Notable for its dual focus on Damascus and Baghdad.
26 Unseen Islamic State Administrative Documents (Aug. 24)
An extraordinary collection of IS administrative documents, mostly mundane and local (notices, flyers, work orders, etc.), obtained from a pro-IS "businessman" in Syria's Aleppo province.
Translation of a short musical chant (nasheed) produced by IS's Ajnad Media Foundation. Excerpt: "Be not gentle, be not disdainful: be lofty like the mountains/Destroy them, ruin them, and smash the head of error."
Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi is a research fellow at Middle East Forum's Jihad Intel project.