The Islamic State 'Masterplan' of Administration- Some Analytical Notes

13 December 2015

By Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi

The Guardian today has a huge story based on a 'masterplan' text I leaked to the paper entitled 'Principles in the Administration of the Islamic State'. The text- likely written at some point between June and October 2014- concerns a variety of aspects of administration, including management of oil resources, composition of military ranks and propaganda. You can read the whole text, which I translated, here.

The sign-off notably says that admin cadres are to receive instruction in administration according to the text. The question then arises of how far the Islamic State is actually following this administrative plan. Here are a few thoughts of my own:

1. The text calls for breaking down the differences between muhajireen (foreign fighters) and ansar (local Iraqis and Syrians) by integrating them together in the military ranks, uniformly accepting a fundamentally Arabic and Islamic character to their identity of affiliation with the Caliphate alone. In the pre-Caliphate era, one will have noted the existence of foreign fighter battalions for what was then ISIS fundamentally based around single nationalities and ethnicities, such as Katiba al-Battar al-Libi (Libyan while attracting some Europeans of Maghrebi and north African origin) and the Abu al-Nur al-Maqdisi Battalion (Gazan). However, since the Caliphate declaration, these battalions have generally dropped off the radar of social media, and as colleague Michael Weiss was able to establish in an interview with an Islamic State defector, the Katiba al-Battar al-Libi was in fact disbanded for precisely these reasons of discouraging affiliations on ethncity, which of course may give rise to loyalties beyond those owed to the Caliph.

2. Distinctions are made as to who must/need not be affiliated with the Islamic State in the oil and gas industries: while the oil and gas fields are themselves owned by the Islamic State and anyone who makes a direct investment in them must have an allegiance to the Caliph, those who wish to purchase the crude substance from the fields and then refine/transport/deal in the products, inside or outside the territory of the Caliphate, need not have this allegiance. Therefore, refiners, truckers and those who sell to civilians are not necessarily affiliated with the Islamic State, and the ultimate sale of oil to outside actors such as the territories of the rebels and the Assad regime, even though they are enemies of the Islamic State, is officially sanctioned and allowed. All of this has been well established and corroborated in reporting.

3. The text sanctions co-optation of personnel who worked under prior governments as a means to run projects under the Islamic State. In other words, when the Islamic State claims to provide services under its Diwan al-Khidamat, the personnel running the projects are often the same people who worked in the services offices of prior systems. This is particularly true of Iraq-controlled territories of the Islamic State, such as Mosul, where municipal office employees are working under Diwan al-Khidamat. Internal documents show an established pattern of compelling such personnel to return to work under threat of confiscating property. Compare also with the threats to confiscate property of medical personnel who leave Islamic State territory and will not work under its Diwan al-Siha.

4. The section on media is particularly interesting with regards to auxiliary media outlets. In analysis of Islamic State propaganda, one notes the existence of as shadowy 'Amaq News agency, which ostensibly uses more neutral language in its reports on Islamic State operations: e.g. "muqatilun" ('fighters') rather than "mujahidun". Further, while 'Amaq News covers military operations against external enemies and aspects of life under the Islamic State, it does not cover implementation of hudud punishments like cutting hands of thieves, or internal security operations featuring execution of spies. This exactly mirrors the plans outlined here. 



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