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A look into heart of jihadist ‘caliphate’ in Syria, Iraq

A look into heart of jihadist ‘caliphate’ in Syria, Iraq thumbnail

“What do you want to be? A jihadist, or to execute a martyrdom operation?”

In the “caliphate” recently proclaimed by jihadists in Syria and Iraq, even young children are indoctrinated, and Sharia law is backed by the gun, according to a gripping documentary offering one of the first glimpses of life in Raqqa, power base of the so-called Islamic State (IS).

Part 1 of a five-episode series, The Islamic State, filmed by Anglo-Palestinian journalist Medyan Dairieh was released Thursday by New York-based Vice News.

The tone is set early: “Sharia can only be established with weapons,” an IS fighter explains to Dairieh, who spent three weeks embedded with the radical Sunni group.

Dairieh, toting a video camera, gained “unprecedented access” to the organization, Vice News said.

In Raqqa, heavily-armed jihadists are seen celebrating on US armored vehicles seized during their advances in Iraq, while Sharia police patrol streets and markets with rifles over their shoulders.

Patrol chief Abu Obida orders traders to remove a poster showing “infidels,” then blithely tells a man to change the fabric on his wife’s veil.

“Those who don’t obey will be forced,” Obida explains.

In one gruesome scene, a crucified murder convict is displayed in the public square. In another, the bodies of Syrian 17th Division soldiers, killed by the jihadists during a recent offensive, are dumped on the sidewalk, their severed heads impaled on gate spikes.

“The Islamic caliphate has been established, and we will not stop,” said IS press officer Abu Mosa.

A bearded man with a penchant for Ray-Ban sunglasses, Mosa accompanied Dairieh on his reporting and was shown shooting at Syrian soldiers during a skirmish.

He portrayed the group’s fight as a battle against infidels like those in the West.

“Don’t be cowards and attack us with drones. Instead send your soldiers, the ones we humiliated in Iraq,” Mosa said of the Americans.

“We will humiliate them everywhere, God willing, and we will raise the flag of Allah in the White House.”

– Child training camps –

Young boys look into the camera and pledge to take up the cause to “kill infidels.”

A nine-year-old preparing for Kalashnikov rifle training said he was learning “to fight Russians — umm, America.”

“What do you want to be? A jihadist, or to execute a martyrdom operation?” a man identified as Abdullah the Belgian asked his six-year-old son.

“Jihadist,” the boy replies, saying under prompting that infidels “kill Muslims.”

Boys under 15 attend Sharia camp, while older ones learn military operations.

“We believe that this generation of children is the generation of the caliphate,” said one man while children splashed in the Euphrates river.

“The right doctrine has been implanted in those children,” he added. “All of them love to fight for the sake of building the Islamic State and for the sake of God.”

Few women can be seen in the documentary; those who are shown wear the hijab.

Dairieh leads viewers through a courthouse where residents file complaints or wait on rulings from a Sharia judge on matters related to finance, alcohol use, adultery and other personal matters.

Asked if the process meets international standards, a clerk declares: “We aim to satisfy God, that’s why we don’t care about international standards.”

Following a lightning offensive across Iraq in which IS was accused of numerous atrocities, the group on June 1 declared its caliphate from northern Syria to parts of eastern Iraq. Hundreds of thousands of people have fled.

Within days, jihadists advanced on autonomous Kurdistan, driving tens of thousands of minority Christians and non-Muslim Yazidis from their villages.

IS media coverage has been exceptionally rare due to security reasons. A New York Times report on the group last month did not identify its author or persons interviewed.

The brutal violence — which has reportedly claimed the life of Mosa and another IS official since they were featured in the documentary — makes Dairieh’s time behind the IS veil extraordinary.

Kevin Sutcliffe, Vice News head of news programming for Europe, said Dairieh is likely “the only person they’ve let in for this amount of time.”

The news outlet, part of Vice multimedia group, launched last December. Vice notably claimed a role in the 2013 “basketball diplomacy” which saw ex-NBA star Dennis Rodman travel to North Korea to meet leader Kim Jong-Un.



11 Comments on "A look into heart of jihadist ‘caliphate’ in Syria, Iraq"

  1. Davy on Tue, 26th Aug 2014 7:21 am 

    Time is on ISIL side. What more needs to be said. All indicators say we are experiencing limits of growth in diminishing returns facing a Mega Predicament of multiple predicaments. In this environment groups of all kinds like ISIL that advocate top down authoritarian control will increasingly take hold. I see this eventually happening in most pluralistic democracies of the major economies in some way. ISIL has the faith and doctrine aspect. What they don’t have is carrying capacity for much growth. They will be hemmed in with expansion due to environment, differing faiths, and economics. These ISIL folks have already proven oil is vital for their growth. Eventually oil will not be enough. They will have to have food and water. They are in a region in carrying capacity overshoot with a rapidly rising population with little productive industry. They rely on oil. The world is too crowded to allow them to rampage across the wider region in a medieval style jihad. The other fatal flaw is the tool of violence. This is a very energy intensive and brittle tool. This has been shown in almost all historical cases to reach diminishing returns. You can’t control by violence long term. You can have authoritarian control economically in the long run on the other hand. This movement will run its course. It will have its life cycle. It has plenty of room for growth for systematic reasons. Instability and contraction are a positive for these groups and that is what is happening currently in our global system. What should be noted with this group is the apocalyptic nature of its doctrine. It is embracing death religiously and seeing this as the fulfillment of its faith. In this case it will destroy if needed what would support it. If they can cripple the oil supply to the west they will. If they can use a WMD they will. This must be the reason why the US and other western powers have become so concerned.

  2. bobinget on Tue, 26th Aug 2014 7:56 am

    CAIRO — Twice in the last seven days, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have secretly launched airstrikes against Islamist-allied militias battling for control of Tripoli, Libya, four senior American officials said, in a major escalation of a regional power struggle set off by Arab Spring revolts.

    The United States, the officials said, was caught by surprise: Egypt and the Emirates, both close allies and military partners, acted without informing Washington, leaving the Obama administration on the sidelines. Egyptian officials explicitly denied to American diplomats that their military played any role in the operation, the officials said, in what appeared a new blow to already strained relations between Washington and Cairo.

    Continue reading the main story

    A fighter from the Zintan brigade after rockets fired by one of Libya’s militias struck and ignited a fuel tank in Tripoli earlier this month.Strife in Libya Could Presage Long Civil WarAUG. 24, 2014
    The strikes in Tripoli are another salvo in a power struggle defined by Arab autocrats battling Islamist movements seeking to overturn the old order. Since the military ouster of the Islamist president in Egypt last year, the new government and its backers in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have launched a campaign across the region — in the news media, in politics and diplomacy, and by arming local proxies — to roll back what they see as an existential threat to their authority posed by Islamist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood.

  3. herrmeier on Tue, 26th Aug 2014 7:57 am 

    When the indoctrinated kids come of age, you can be sure the west will be stupid enough to grant them visas for various reasons.

    Is there anything more stupid than the west?

  4. bobinget on Tue, 26th Aug 2014 7:58 am

    Update as of 5:11 a.m. EDT: The United States has started flying surveillance flights over Syria after President Barack Obama approved it, Associated Press reported, citing U.S. officials.

    Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters in Kabul on Tuesday that the U.S. wants to get a better understanding of militants’ positions in Syria, but did not speak elaborate on the surveillance flights, the report said.

    “Clearly the picture we have of ISIS on the Iraqi side is a more refined picture,” Dempsey reportedly said, referring to the former name of the Islamic State. “The existence and activities of ISIS on the Syrian side, we have … some insights into that but we certainly want to have more insights into that as we craft a way forward.”

  5. bobinget on Tue, 26th Aug 2014 8:18 am 

    World Wars don’t always begin with one dramatic event.

    What we are witnessing today is ‘world proxy war’ gone out of control. As it stands, it’s anyone’s and everyone’s war.

    Enemies one day are allies the next. Even the old Mideast slogan “The enemy of my enemy is my friend”
    is being tested to its limits.

    On oil topic: Libya has descended into chaos. Every single foreign oil worker has either departed Libya or making serious efforts to do so over land.

    In Nigeria, government troops sent to engage Boko Haram dropped their guns and ran for their lives.
    (ISIS has given Boko Haram ambition to form Caliphates of their own)

    Crude prices are being held in check so far. I doubt
    this can be the case much longer. Watch Wednesday’s
    EIA Report. I’ll bet we EXCEED 20 million barrels daily consumption. This could put the world in a one million barrel per day deficit.

  6. paulo1 on Tue, 26th Aug 2014 8:59 am 

    re: “even young children are indoctrinated,”

    Reminds me of Hitler youth ratting out family, etc.

    Don’t retire the A-10s just yet, Dempsey.


  7. WhenTheEagleFlies on Tue, 26th Aug 2014 9:16 am 

    U.S. and the West do not understand deep conviction. (Maybe because they have so little themselves.) Therefore, the West just cannot believe that proffering endless entertainment, fast food, and theme park thrills cannot be enough to woo Muslim terrorists on to their side. They will keep on trying though, believing that the Muslims will see the light soon enough, and ask us to put up with a little more barbarism until they do.

  8. Plantagenet on Tue, 26th Aug 2014 9:39 am 

    As soon as Obama finishes his golf vacation the US will be ready to act against ISIS.

  9. Roman on Tue, 26th Aug 2014 3:14 pm 

    They work for the west. By selling oil on the black market they lower the price of oil.Didn’t the US go to Iraq to get some cheap oil? If they were real Islamists they would destroy oil production to hurt the west.

  10. Makati1 on Tue, 26th Aug 2014 10:17 pm 

    Roman, they are selling .004% of the daily oil demand. That would not affect prices at all. It does provide a nice income to keep the Jihad going.

    I see a false flag ‘ISIS’ attack in the US soon. Before or after the election?

  11. antiwarforever on Wed, 27th Aug 2014 7:22 am 

    …and because the US did the mistake of attacking Iraq in 1990 and 2003, it serves as a pretext NOT to attack ISIS now, as should be done to avoid further mass slaughter. Everything seems helter skelter to me, no logics, no common sense anywhere you look.

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