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I Fled the Islamic State’s ‘Caliphate’ in Raqqa — But Fear Its Liberators - FP, June 23, 2017
A friend of mine who aimed to move from Raqqa last month to the city of Manbij — an Arab-majority city located in Aleppo’s eastern countryside, which is under SDF control — with his wife and four little daughters was forced by the SDF into a transit camp on his way. The camp, one of several the group established to conduct background checks for fear of Islamic State infiltration, is located in a fenced-off yard of a cotton storage facility in the town of Ain Issa, 30 miles north of Raqqa. The town was captured in 2015 by the People’s Protection Units (YPG), the Kurdish force that forms the backbone of the SDF.

The U.N. refugee agency estimates there are 9,000 people hosted in and around the camp. “[SDF] collects the IDs of those who leave Raqqa and send them to camps, where they are being mistreated.” My friend said. “They keep people up to 15 days ‘under the sun’ to film them as being taken care of. We had nothing but bread in the morning.”

My friend was kept there for three days. He said his family was forced to sleep in their car, while he slept on the ground. His group had to protest to get their identification cards back. We were beaten for it,” he said. “I wished I’d stayed in Raqqa.”

Nevertheless, he eventually received a permit from the SDF guards to proceed to Manbij, but the obstacles didn’t end there. When he reached the city, the Kurdish police checkpoint asked for a “sponsorship letter” — a document signed by a Manbij resident that states that the person seeking refuge is trustworthy — to be allowed into the city. To have a permit approved to live there, they would need to go through more bureaucracy.

Ahmad, a middle-aged man who owned a currency exchange shop in Raqqa’s al-Mansour street before fleeing to Manbij, favors the SDF. “Under the FSA, I couldn’t keep my shop open, fearing looting for any reason. Under ISIS, businesses like mine thrived as they protected our properties. You could come to my shop with a pocket filled with $100,000; you wouldn’t bother about safety,” he said. “Now under SDF, it is just as safe, with the exception that we don’t have to pay zakat,” he added, referring to the obligation in Islam to give alms.

The SDF governance is widely seen by Arabs as a restoration of the pre-revolution Assad regime — only now with Kurds on the top, replacing Alawites. “Kurds are just like the regime,” said Ahmad. “There are individuals in charge who happen to be persons of integrity, but sometimes you couldn’t go on without bribery or connections. But of course they are still far better than ISIS or the others.”

The years of war have shifted some Raqqans’ views on what they want for their lives, and for their city. For some, simple survival has become the only goal after years of jihadi maniacs on the ground and roaring jets in the sky. A “Manbij solution” may be the best short-term option available for Raqqa — that is, if the city survives obliteration.

“We are seeing frightening footage of destruction coming from Raqqa,” said Abu Merei, an old man who left his house in Raqqa’s al-Noor street. “If only they [Islamic State fighters] withdraw soon. Our hope is that we return to our houses and find them still standing. I don’t care who’s going to rule.”
hidden  SDF  Aleppo  Rojava  localGovt  ISIS  lawlessness  Raqqa  discrimination  IDPs 
yesterday by elizrael
A Pedigree of Terror: The Myth of the Ba’athist Influence in the Islamic State Movement | Whiteside | Perspectives on Terrorism, 2017
The presence of former members of Saddam Hussein’s regime in the Islamic State is well documented in hundreds of news reports and recently published books, and has become a staple in almost every serious analysis of the group. Attempts to measure the actual impact of this influence on the evolution of the group have left us with a wide diversity of views about the group; some believe it is a religiously inspired group of apocalyptic zealots, while others see it as a pragmatic power aggregator whose leaders learned to govern as the henchmen of Iraq’s former dictator. This article examines the impact that former Ba’athists made on who joined the Islamic State, how the organizational structure evolved, and the origins of its unique beliefs that inform strategy. The author relied on captured documents from multiple sources and Islamic State movement press releases collected since 2003 for this examination. The findings reveal that despite the prominence of some highly-visible former regime members in key positions after 2010, the organization was overwhelmingly influenced and shaped by veterans from the greater Salafi-jihadi movement who monopolized political, economic, religious, and media positions in the group and who decided on membership eligibility, structural growth, and strategic direction. This analysis should hopefully correct some inaccuracies about the origins and evolution of the group.
ISIS  Baath  ideology  Iraq  history  Salafis 
yesterday by elizrael
In Mosul, What To Do With Extremists’ Families? | Niqash, July 20, 2017
Local rumour has it that no matter what decisions are being made, or that will be made in the future, the process of pushing the IS families out of Mosul has already begun. On condition of anonymity, a local police officer told NIQASH that the Iraqi army has already detained approximately 170 IS families in Bartala, a formerly-Christian-majority town east of Mosul. Nobody has been allowed to leave the camp.

Basim of the Mosul district council says that they have not moved any families to Bartala.

Other information also suggests that the Iraqi Ministry of Displacement and Migration has transferred around 100 families from Bartala to another camp, south of Mosul.

The authorities will not acknowledge that these are families with an IS connection. But locals say it is an open secret: Just as in other parts of Iraq, like Tikrit, there is already a special camp for IS families, who are kept separate from other displaced Iraqis, and who may not enter or leave the camp without permission. Their punishment has already begun.  
ISIS  collectivePunishment  Iraq 
yesterday by elizrael
After Mosul and Raqqa, Deir-ez-Zor Awaits Its Major Battle - Enab Baladi, July 19, 2017
The Euphrates News Agency reported that ISIS recently ordered shop owners to erect sand barriers in front of their shops in many towns and villages in the province.

The group has even forced civilians in the city of Mayadeen to place barricades in front of their homes, according to the widely circulated provincial news agency. In addition to this, ISIS is said to have destroyed tall buildings to prevent them from becoming bases for invaders in the event of an air landing of troops.
DeirEzZor  ISIS  Mar15 
2 days ago by elizrael
May 2017 CSBA report
Unfortunately, there is no clearly dominant GWOT strategy. In theory, the options at the far ends of the spectrum—disengagement on the one hand and GWOT surge on the other—could markedly reduce the terrorist danger. In practice, however, both strategies are unlikely to deliver on their ambitious promises. Disengagement is unlikely to ease the sources of jihadist anger at the United States sufficiently to offset the security vulnerabilities and other geopolitical costs that military withdrawal from the Middle East would cause. GWOT surge, for its part, will probably not actually bring about military victory and political transformation of the greater Middle East—at least at a cost that most Americans would find acceptable. Both strategies are thus likely to fail in very damaging ways—aside from being politically infeasible in the current domestic climate. The two moderate options, by contrast, are more acceptable politically and pose less risk of catastrophic failure. But they entail potent drawbacks and limitations of their own, and they are likely—even in the best-case scenarios—to leave the United States in a protracted, ongoing conflict with jihadist groups for many years to come.
csba  isis  terrorism  GWOT  strategy 
4 days ago by strohps
Video Shows U.S. Allies in Syria Torturing Prisoners - Daily Beast, July 11, 2017
The two soldiers, both carrying grenades, knives, and sub-machineguns, speak Arabic with a Bedouin accent, indicating they were either conscripts or volunteers who joined the Kurdish-led YPG.

According to Turkish news media that first published the video, it was taken at the end of May in the Mansura district, west of Raqqa.
SDF  torture  Mar15  ISIS  Raqqa  video  leak 
9 days ago by elizrael
RT : English-speaking fighter says he is ready to behead someone in the USA. He says it will be a "blessed" act.…
ISIS  from twitter
9 days ago by vimoh
'I watched her die': The last push for Mosul, from those who lived through the ferocious battle - LA Times
At the former amusement park, evacuees received medical aid, often for dehydration, while also being investigated for Islamic State links. An area to the side of a rink where children used to ride in green-and-purple bumper cars was now used as a screening area for the men, who sat glumly on straw.

The faces of evacuees often bore the slashes left by shrapnel, or sported dirty bandages tinged crimson with dried blood.
iraq  daesh  isis  war 
10 days ago by craniac
Stream of floating bodies near Mosul raises fears of reprisals by Iraqi militias | World news | The Guardian
“I see dead bodies in the water daily,” said Ahmed Mohammed, a driver, speaking earlier this year. “The number has increased since early April. There were five bodies floating in the river recently in one single day. They are young men with their hands tied behind their back and are blindfolded.”

As the extremism and violence of Isis world view became clearer, many Sunnis left or privately turned against the group, but suspicions of collaboration linger and in some Sunni areas a sense of apprehension remains.

“Blood for blood,” reads graffiti on a wall of a house in Qayyarah that locals say belonged to Ali Khether, a well-known Isis commander who had lived in the town. He is described by one as “The child of adultery, Ali Khether, the Daeshi” – a name that refers to Daesh, a pejorative name for Isis.

Close by stands the town’s small stadium where Isis, with the aid of local people, killed dozens, with the most cursory of trials, on charges ranging from spying for the security services to homosexuality
Iraq  ISIS  extrajudicial_killing 
10 days ago by elizrael

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