What it takes to join the Islamic State

Fighters interested in joining the Islamic State should undergo tough physical and educational training and a thorough selection process to be admitted to the organization.

al-monitor A member loyal to the Islamic State waves an IS flag in Raqqa, June 29, 2014. Photo by REUTERS/Stringer.

Topics covered

training camps, syria, sharia, militants, jihad, islamic state, isis

Aug 6, 2015

Shouting “Allahu Akbar” (“God is Great”) is not the only requirement a mujahid (fighter) has to fulfill to be inducted into the Islamic State (IS). He is subjected to a systematic intellectual information based on books, publications and fatwas, accompanied by military training — including physical training and training on the use of different types of weapons. Subsequent to this and an assessment stage, the mujahid will be assigned to the appropriate position to serve IS.

Once a mujahid fighter arrives at a city in Syria, the next day he heads to a Sharia camp for 12 days. One of these camps is al-Akirshi in the countryside of Raqqa, where the fighter is taught lessons and sits for lectures on Islamic intellect from an IS perspective and on the foundations of the Islamic faith, whose image and reality, according to IS, are tarnished by Muslims and former religious sheikhs.

Books and special publications loyal to this line of thought are distributed by IS. The publications, obtained by As-Safir from one of the regions under IS control, show that they consist of a set of books, publications and lectures, which are mainly based on the ideas of Ibn Taymiyyah and the Wahhabi sheikh, Mohammed Abdel Wahab.

In a series of questions and answers, Islamic creed (Al-Aqidah Al-Waasitiyyah), the Rules of Interpretation (Ousoul at Tafsir), the Principle of Jurisprudence (Usul al-Fiqh) and the Divine Names and Attributes (Al-Asma' wa al-Sifat) are touched on in addition to a summarized ideology publication (Mukhtasar al-Aqida) signed at the end by Abu Bilal al-Harbi.

The books are “Explanation of al-Wajibaat al-Mutahattimaat” (explanation of imperative obligations) issued by “Diwan ad-Dawa wal Awqaf wal Masajed fi Wilayat Raqqa” — the northern sector; “Slavery” (As-Sabi) by El-Hemma Library and in the name of IS, issued by the diwan of research and Ifta; "Refutation of the Doubts" (Kashf al-shubuhāt) by Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah Wahab; "The Jihad Trade" (Tijarat al-Jihad) by Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman; “Foremost Obligatory Duties About Which Every Muslim Must Have Knowledge”; in addition to a textbook for second-grade students printed in 2013 and titled “Al-Tawhid."

At the end of the Sharia camp, the mujahid meets with the security official for the city of Raqqa, where he is asked about his military experience. If his answer was that he knows nothing and that he worked as an employee or other, he will be sent to al-Manakher military camp on the outskirts of the city of Raqqa.

During military training, the mujahid learns fighting principles with individual weapons. He then reaches the combat, engagement, movement, camouflage and military plans phase. There is a publication about the Katyusha rocket launcher and its using method, and another about maps, and how to read them and understand their implications. There is a book titled “field philosophy — insights into military planning,” printed in Gaza in 2011 and written by Yusuf Hassan Hijazi.

After undergoing the Sharia and military camps, the mujahid is allocated a job that fits his abilities. Some are sent to the battlefronts; others are sent to the hearts of cities and entrusted with non-military work. Still, others work secretly in missions outside the “land of the Caliphate.” Such people usually enjoy qualities, actions and ways of speaking that hide their belonging to the terrorist organization.

Once done with the camp, the jihadist returns to the security official in the city of Raqqa to receive his mission, which could consist of joining the northern section, meaning Al-Mabrouka camp, which is located on the Syrian-Turkish border west of Ras al-Ain city in the province of Hasaka.

As soon as the mujahid joins the organization and starts fighting along its ranks, there will be a form to fill for each operation within IS’ wars. One of the forms used to register personal data is titled “mujahid data form.” This one includes information about the mujahid’s job, his mission in IS, the number of wives and children he has, the number of sex slaves and their children, in addition to other Shariah, military, scientific and occupational data. Another form is called the “martyrdom operation” form and is issued by the Mujahideen Affairs Department. This form includes data about the reason behind the carrying out of the operation as well as a section dedicated to the person’s will. There is a form titled “injustice of participation in the Brigade 93 Battle,” issued by the committee on the distribution of gains, with information on the mujahid’s mission in “the invasion” and the place of the battle prey receipt. For its part, the form titled “participation in the battle of class military airport” includes data on the obtained gains. As for the sex slaves, the mujahid submits a form under the title “female request” whereby he specifies the number of females he wants and the observations of the Emir Battalion.

These terrorist groups seek to fully organize themselves to prove themselves as a “state” worthy of that name. It should be noted that IS is the most organized group with respect to documents, forms and publications.

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