"It Really Brings It All Out": Seized Documents Detail Depth Of ISIS Bureaucracy

On Saturday, we brought you “Secret" Documents Show ISIS May Be Flesh-Eating, Organ Harvesters, US Says,” in which we highlighted “Fatwa 68”, a decree handed down by Islamic State’s Research and Fatwa Committee and recovered in the raid that killed the group’s “gas minister” back in May. 

Fatwa 68 sanctions organ harvesting from enemy captives when it would mean saving the life of an ISIS fighter. Amusingly (in a morbid kind of way), the group’s “scholars” justify pulling organs out of prisoners by noting that “a group of Islamic scholars have permitted, if necessary, one to kill the apostate in order to eat his flesh, which is part of benefiting from his body.” In short, if you can eat an enemy combatant, it’s not clear why you should be allowed to harvest his organs. 

The document was part of a cache of evidence discovered in the raid, Reuters contends. More specifically, the US allegedly seized “seven terabytes of data in the form of computer hard drives, thumb drives, CDs, DVDs and papers.” 

We suspected at the time that we’d likely see more of these “top secret” documents in the days and weeks ahead as the US attempts to provide the public with a plausible excuse for why - gun to our heads - America will be forced to take a more active role in Syria and Iraq in order to eradicate “the terrorists.”

Sure enough, Reuters is out with more leaked ISIS papers including - hilariously - a fighter application form. Here's more:

Islamic State has set up departments to handle "war spoils," including slaves, and the exploitation of natural resources such as oil, creating the trappings of government that enable it to manage large swaths of Syria and Iraq and other areas.


They provide insight into how a once small insurgent group has developed a complex bureaucracy to manage revenue streams - from pillaged oil to stolen antiquities - and oversee subjugated populations.


"This really kind of brings it out. The level of bureaucratization, organization, the diwans, the committees," Brett McGurk, President Barack Obama's special envoy for the anti-IS coalition, told Reuters.


For example, one diwan, roughly equivalent to a government ministry, handles natural resources, including the exploitation of antiquities from ancient empires. Another processes "war spoils," including slaves.


"Islamic State is invested in the statehood and Caliphate image more so than any other jihadist enterprise. So a formal organization, besides being practical when you control so much contiguous territory and major cities, also reinforces the statehood image," said Aymenn al-Tamimi, a fellow at the Middle East Forum think tank and an expert on IS's structure. 


In the documents, there is a ruling on proper procedure for filling out the personal details of prospective fighters: name, gender, and communications method - telephone, telegram, Skype or the mobile messaging service WhatsApp.

So once again, we're to understand ISIS not as a brazen band of desert bandits armed and funded by Washington's regional allies for the sole purposes of destabilizing the Assad regime, but rather as an organized quasi-state with multiple levels of government and a hierarchy of officials who control everything from "natural resources" to the slave trade.

The punchline, of course, is the contention by Brett McGurk that the US needed these documents to understand that there's an bureacratic element to Islamic State's operation. After all, it was The Pentagon which said the following more than three years ago:

"...there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist Principality in eastern Syria (Hasaka and Der Zor), and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime."

So while the establishment of a proto-state located in the exact same place that ISIS currently operates was "exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition wanted" in 2012, Washington is somehow surprised at the "level of bureaucratization."

And while we're skeptical of Reuters' contention that the stash of documents "provide insight into how a once small insurgent group has developed a complex bureaucracy" (because again, that was the goal all along as proven by the "Salafist principality" quote), we would encourage Washington to study the "secrets" of Islamic State's administrative structures closely because if you know anything about the bureaucracy in Washington, you know ISIS has to be doing a better job almost by default.

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ISIS fighter recommendation form:

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