The recruitment of new members to the ranks of ISIS

Camps and Way of  Joining

The human resources office receives applications for membership and recommendation papers, which are required of each applicant, from two members of the organization ; in an eight-page form, the applicant answers tens of detailed questions concerning his personal and vocational life and those of his blood and close relatives. Most of the applicants are accepted into the organization,and each is given an appointment to pay a visit to this office before joining the sharia course, which lasts for two months in normal circumstances and runs behind closed doors. During this course, the recruits take Qur'an lessons, and lessons in "al-fikh" (the detailed knowledge of the Islamic sharia rules and laws), besides monotheism lessons, which the organization sharia men focus on so that the recruit- through the concepts of "al-wala'a and al-bara'a"  according to ISIS vision and explanation (obsolute obedience and adherence to God's commands, and loyalty to those who have the same attitude, and at the same time denouncing and rejecting everyone that has different attitudes and concepts)- may slavishly follow emirs , and the verdicts of the organization against people may gain blind acceptance among them. After the sharia course finishes , the new recruits enrol on the military course,during which they udergo hard physical exercises besides lessons in using light weapons that are imposed on all recruits, while some of them take additional lessons in using medium and heavy weapons. In normal circumstances, the course lasts for a month,too. But sometimes it is reduced to only two weeks,depending on the security situation and the organization need for fighters. The number also changes from course to course according to these circumstances, which has led the organization to decrease the number of the members of each course and increase the number of courses run at the same time and continually change their sites, in an attempt to reduce the probabilities of their being targeted by the coalition warplanes. The average number of the members of each course has decreased from more than 500 trainees six months ago to 100 trainees in the few past weeks.

 Assigning Graduate Recruits and Specialty

At the end of the sharia course, the recruit is considered to be a " mubay'ye" (someone who has sworn allegiance to the organization) of full membership, and soldiers "diwan" (a department that performs some administrative functions) becomes the apparatus that is responsible for him as long as he remains within the military body, and he isn't assigned to another diwan.  At the end of the military course,assigning  graduates to the various apparatuses, and within the"wilaya"(province)or outside it is determined according to priorities, the most important of which is the amount of need for new fighters. Favouritism and nepotism,which are embodied when an emir of one of the diwans chooses a certain member to be assigned to his diwan, play an important role in assigning some members to apparatuses of which the jobs are safe and comfortable,or to the security apparatus, which is held in higher esteem, without excluding the possibility of asking all the members of the organization- except for security men- to fight on the fronts whenever the need arises.

It doesn't seem that previous professional competence and experience have an essential role in the decision of assigning; you can find someone that has been teaching for years alongside a little boy , whereas a defected soldier can be assigned to a civil apparatus.

1-During the military course,in addition to lessons, the trainee watches movies about battles fought by the organization ,and celebrations of executions and beheadings, which fires the imagination of teenagers and children, so that the most enthusiastic of them enrol on the waiting lists of suicide bombers.

2-Owing to poverty and urgent need for any source of livelihood, over 300 people who come from al-Khurayta and al-Shumayti'ya in Deir ez-Zour western countryside have joined ISIS in the last six months ; last July,a single military course in this same countryside included over 600 recruits.

Translated by Fayez Masri

  • This report was published in issue 63