The “Islamic State” is an Islamist terrorist organization operating in Iraq and Syria (abbreviated IS or ISIL or ISIS and DAISH in the Arab media). ISIS is recognized as a terrorist organization in the United States, Canada, UK, Australia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, India, Indonesia, and Russia.
Formation of the ISIS
ISIS was established in October 2006 as a result of the merger of several radical Sunni units led by the al-Qaeda unit in Iraq called the Islamic State of Iraq (ISIS). The IS set a goal to seize the Sunni part of Iraq and turn it into a militarized Islamic state. In 2010, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi the emir of the group became one of the leaders of al-Qaeda in Iraq.
In April 2013, through the merger of two “affiliates” of Al-Qaeda in Iraq and Syria – the Islamic State of Iraq and the Syrian Jebhat AL-Nusra (a terrorist group) an organization was formed called “Islamic The State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), whose goal was to create an Islamic emirate on the territory of Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.
In June 2014, the ISIS terrorists took control of several oil fields near the cities of Mosul and Kirkuk (Iraq). Capturing large military bases in Iraq, they received a large number of weapons and military equipment, including portable anti-aircraft missile systems, tanks, armoured personnel carriers and howitzers of American manufacture. According to US intelligence and statements by the Iraqi authorities, IS fighters also possess chemical weapons and repeatedly used mustard and chlorine, containing ammunition in Syria and Iraq.
In June 2014 ISIL announced the establishment of the “Islamic Caliphate” in the occupied territories of Iraq and Syria, and the leader of the organization Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was appointed “caliph”. At the same time, it was decided to rename the group into the Islamic State.
The CIA estimates that the strength of the group is about 30,000, while the Iraqi authorities claim 200,000. According to estimates by the Russian Defense Ministry in December 2015, the ISIS has 60,000 people. Citizens of 80 countries are fighting in the ranks of militants, including about 2000 Russian citizens.
Sources of Funding for Islamic State (ISIS)
The main source of income for Islamists is illegal oil trade. In the territories under its control, the IS has a monopoly on its extraction and supply. Control over the deposits is carried out by police detachments formed from militants. A significant part of the resources is extracted in the eastern part of Syria. The volume of production reaches from 20 to 40 thousand barrels per day. The cost of raw materials sold is $ 20-45 per barrel of oil. Revenues from oil sales reached $ 3 million per day.
Allegations of oil purchases from IS terrorists was levelled against the Syrian authorities, as well as the Iraqi Kurdistan government (Kurdish Autonomous Region of Iraq). November 24, 2015, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Russia has long known “the fact that the territory of Turkey buys a large amount of oil and oil products from the captured ISIL territories.”
On December 2, 2015, the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation reported that ISIS terrorists have at least 8,500 trucks, they transport up to 20,000 barrels of oil per day. The department noted that the airstrikes by Russian air force on the positions of the ISIS in Syria in September 2015, halved their incomes from illegal oil sales (from $ 3 million to $ 1.5 million a day).
Russia’s permanent representative to the UN said at a meeting of the UN Security Council reported that the bulk of trade in IS oil flows through Turkey “through the intermediation of shadow economic structures.” The oil is purchased by smugglers for cash in the mining areas. “In most cases, tankers are transported through the porous border points.
Other Sources of Funding for Islamic State (ISIS)
The second most important source of income for ISIS is the smuggling of cultural artefacts. In addition, the militants receive ransom for the hostages, are engaged in racketeering and robbery, collect “Islamic tax” (tax for refusing to accept Sunni Islam). According to some sources, IS receives cash from private investors from Gulf countries who support the struggle against the regime of Bashar Al Assad. There is also evidence that money transactions and transfers are carried out in virtual currency Bitcoin.
According to research conducted by experts from the UN Security Council monitoring group and independent NGOs, the ISIS annually sells oil and gas for up to $ 950 million, wheat and rye – $ 200 million, cement – $ 100 million, cotton – $ 20 million, and actively trades phosphates, sulfuric and phosphoric acid.
The UN Security Council adopted Resolution on the suppression of the financing of terrorist organizations by the IS and Jebhat AL-Nusra. The resolution establishes a ban on any trade in oil and oil products, as well as precious metals and cultural goods with IS and Jebhat AL-Nusra, and provides for sanctions on individuals and legal entities for providing financial support to terrorists.
Activities of ISIS
ISIS managed to significantly expand its influence in Libya. Since 2014, terrorist attacks in the country have been perpetrated by militants loyal to the IS, where militants also controlled the province of Derna, and some areas of Benghazi, and seized the city of Sirte in June 2015.
In addition, the IS claimed responsibility for the terrorist attacks in the territory of Yemen and Saudi Arabia. Expanding the scope of the group led the Arab countries to engage in the creation of a military alliance to combat terrorism. In January 2015, the leadership of the IS announced the creation of the emirate of Khorasan, which included Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh. His emir was appointed Hafiz Sahid Khan – one of the leaders of the Taliban in Pakistan. IS swore allegiance to many field commanders and rank-and-file fighters of the Taliban movement, but in general, the relationship between these groups remains tense. According to the General Staff of the Russian Federation for October 2015, the number of IS militants in Afghanistan is about 2-3 thousand people. In July 2015, the IS militants published a video message in which they expressed their intention to seize power in Palestine and destroy Israel.
Ideologically, ISIS is popular among other extremist groups. The allegiance of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was sworn in by terrorist organizations from Algeria, Egypt, the Philippines, Pakistan. In support of the caliphate, the dreaded Nigerian group “Boko Haram” also appeared.
At present in Iraq, IS militants control a number of cities in the provinces of Anbar, Diyala, Salah ed-Din and Ninewa, in Syria – a significant part of the provinces of Rakka and Deir Ez Zor. In December 2015, the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation reported that about 70% of the territory of Syria is under the control of militants.
According to the UN, the wave of violence that swept Iraq in 2014 forced more than 2 million people to leave their homes. According to the UN, more than 19 thousand civilians were killed in Iraq from January 2014 to August 2015, about 30 thousand were injured. According to the human rights organization of the Syrian Monitoring Center for Human Rights, more than 3,000 people were killed in the territory of Syria between June 2014 and June 2015 by IS militants. Periodically, militants distribute videotapes with murders of foreign hostages.
Fighting the ISIS
The United States is conducting an airborne operation against the IS in Iraq since August 8, 2014, in Syria – since September 23, 2014. At the NATO summit in Wales in September 2014, it was decided to establish an international coalition against jihadists, where around 60 countries joined hands.
Damage to Cultural Heritage By ISIS
In March 2015, they razed to the ground the ruins of the ancient cities of Kalah, Khatra and Dur-Sharrukin, and in August they destroyed most of the ruins of Palmyra located in Syria.
On February 28, 2015, the UN Security Council adopted a statement condemning the destruction by the IS group of monuments and objects of historical, cultural and religious value, placing these actions on a par with terrorist acts.
Groups that Swore Allegiance to the ISIS
Ideologically, IS is popular among other extremist groups. The allegiance of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was sworn in by terrorist organizations from Algeria, Egypt, the Philippines, Pakistan.
- The first grouping that joined the IS was a detachment of militants from Central Asia Sabri Jamaat, numbering more than 70 militants (mostly Uzbeks). The detachment in full swore allegiance to the ISIS.
- A small group of radical extremist groups Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AKAP) and Al-Qaeda in the countries of the Islamic Maghreb (AKIM) announced the support of the IS. AKAP, numbering more than 1,000 fighters, is based in Yemen, and AKIM, which employs between 700 and 1,000 people, is in Algeria. September 16, 2014 militants from these groups posted a video message to the ISIS with the call to unite in the fight against an international coalition led by the United States.
- In July 2014, the allegiance to the IS was vowed by the Philippine jihadist group “Abu Sayyaf” (also known as Al-Kharakat al-Islamiya), led by its leader Isilon Hapilon. This group has about 500 people.
- In August 2014, Abu Bakr al-Bashir, who for a long time headed the organization Jemaah Islamiyah, considered the largest Indonesian unit of Al-Qaeda (more than 5 thousand people), spoke in support of the Caliphate.
- In September 2014 the Pakistani “Jamaat-ul-Ahrar” joined the ISIS. It was established in August 2014 after the split of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan grouping. The group’s leaders are Ehsanullah Ehsan, a former representative of the Pakistani Taliban, and Omar Khalid Khurasani, the former commander of the Ahrar-ul-Hind squad, whose fighters killed 23 Pakistani soldiers in 2014.
- Also in September 2014, the previously unknown Egyptian extremist group “Egyptian Caliphate Warriors” announced the readiness to serve the leader of the IS Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The goals of future attacks were announced by diplomatic missions of the US and Western countries. There are no data on the number of the groupings.
- In October 2014, a group of extremists belonging to the detachment of the Central Asian militants Katibat al-Imam Bukhari stated about the decision to join the ISIS. On the Internet appeared a video called “Join the ranks,” in which two Uzbek militants swear allegiance to the leader of the IS Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. It is not known yet whether the whole detachment of Kathibat al-Imam Bukhari joined the Islamists.
- The Taliban in Pakistan expressed support for the IS faction’s militants in Syria and Iraq, noting that they are proud of their struggle against the international coalition led by the United States. They also stated that they are ready to help in the creation of a world Islamic caliphate. However, in April 2015, internal documents of the ISIS and the Taliban group came into the hands of the Afghan authorities, according to which extremist organizations declared jihad.
- On November 4, 2014, a communiqué was published on the Internet, in which the grouping Ansar Beit al-Maqdis swore allegiance to the IS. This radical grouping numbers about 2 thousand militants operating in the north of the Sinai Peninsula. On the same day, representatives of the group spread an official statement in which they denied this information. At the end of 2014, the group leaders reiterated their support for the leader of the IS and changed the name to “Vilayet Sina” (“Sinai Province”).
- In March 2015, militants of the Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram swore allegiance to the ISIS. On the video footage distributed by Boko Haram on the network, her supporters pledged to “obey and obey the IS in times of hardship and prosperity.” “Boko Haram” seeks to create an Islamic caliphate in the north of Nigeria and introduce norms of Sharia (Islamic law). As a result of the terror of the faction in Nigeria over the past five years, more than 13 thousand people died, another 1.5 million people were displaced and refugees. In recent months, “Boko Haram” has stepped up its offensive actions, which have also spread to the territory of Cameroon and Chad.
- In May 2015, loyalty to the IS swore by the radical Islamist group Al-Murabitun, led by Algerian terrorist Mohtar Belmohtar. Belmohtar was involved in the attack of militants in January 2013 in the oil and gas complex of In-Amenas in Algiers, which killed about 40 civilians.
- In June 2015, the ringleaders of a number of gangs in Dagestan, Chechnya, Ingushetia, Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachaevo-Cherkessia announced the loyalty of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The oath was brought by terrorists from the so-called “Caucasus Emirate”(a terrorist group, banned in the Russian Federation). After that, the leaders of the IS announced the creation of a province (“Vilayat”) in the North Caucasus.
- In January 2016, militants of four extremist groups of the Philippines joined forces and announced the establishment of the “caliphate” of the “Islamic state” on the island of Mindanao, swearing allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Heading the Philippine “Vilaet” will be one of the leaders of the terrorist group “Abu Sayyaf” Isnilon Hapilon.
- According to the CIA, for 2015, groups from 20 countries announced support for the IS.
Foreign hostages of the “Islamic state”
In 2014-2015 years. IS militants killed citizens of several foreign states.
- August 20, 2014 militants had been killed the first foreign hostage – 40-year-old American journalist Dzheyms Fouli (James Wright Foley), was kidnapped in northwest Syria, November 22, 2012, the ISIS has distributed a video of his murder, entitled “Message America” (A Message To America).
- September 2, 2014. The second hostage, killed by terrorists, was the journalist of the American edition of Time Steven Sotloff (Steven Joel Sotloff). He was taken a hostage in August 2013 in Libya. In addition to the American, Sotloff had Israeli citizenship.
- September 14, 2014, the extremists placed on the Internet a video of violence on his third victim of the number of foreign hostages – 44-year-old British citizen David Haines (David Cawthorne Haines). He was abducted a year earlier in Syria, where he was delivering humanitarian aid
- On October 4, 2014, a video of the massacre of militants over the fourth foreign hostage, 47-year-old British Alan Henning, was posted on the Internet. He was engaged in the delivery of humanitarian aid to Syria, where he was kidnapped in December 2013.
- November 16, 2014. Terrorists beheaded the fifth foreign hostage, the American Peter Kassig (Peter Kassig). He was captured October 1, 2013, in Lebanon, where he assisted Syrian refugees.
- On January 24, 2015, the sixth hostage of militants, Japanese businessman Harun Yukawa was killed. He was kidnapped in Syria in August 2014. On January 20, 2015, a video was published with two Japanese hostages by Kenji Goto and Haruna Yukawa. Militants demanded within 72 hours to pay a ransom of $ 200 million and otherwise threatened to kill the kidnapped. At the end of this time, a video appeared in which Kenji Goto was holding a picture of the murdered Harun Yukawa.
- January 31, 2015. Militants distributed a video recording of the murder of the seventh hostage – 47-year-old Japanese journalist Kenji Goto. He was kidnapped in Syria in the fall of 2014.
- February 3, 2015, there was a video with the massacre of the seventh hostage. The senior lieutenant of the Jordanian Air Force, Muaz Youssef al-Qasasba, whose plane crashed on December 24, 2014, over the Syrian city of Rakka, was burned alive by extremists. After the pilot’s assassination, the Jordanian Air Force intensified the deployment of forces on the positions of militants in Syria and Iraq.
- February 15, 2015: Militants grouping under the name “Junod Vilayet Tarabulus” (“Soldiers of the province of Tripoli”), connected with the ISIS, distributed a video recording of the murder of 21 captured by them in Libya (Egyptian Christian). The Egyptians were captured in two different incidents in late December 2014 and early January 2015 in the area of the Libyan city of Sirte.
- March 10, 2015. The group distributed a video on which a child kills a shot at the head of 19-year-old Mohammed Ismail– a Palestinian who confessed to espionage in favour of Israeli intelligence.
- On April 19, 2015, an extremist group distributed a video of the massacre of two groups of Ethiopian Christians in Libya. The first group of hostages was shot, and the second – beheaded. Each group consisted of approximately 15 people.
- June 2015, the IS gunmen posted a video recording of the brutal murders of 15 Iraqis accused of espionage. Five of them were drowned in the pool, three – shot from a grenade launcher, seven more people were blown up with explosives.
- July 2015, the ISIS group distributed a videotaped massacre of 25 Syrian soldiers in the Roman amphitheatre of Palmyra.
- August 2015. The rebels of the IS posted a statement in which they claimed that beheaded a 30-year-old Croatian citizen Tomislav Salopek. An Egyptian representative of a French construction company was abducted in Egypt in the El Vahat area in June 2015.
- November 2015, IS gunmen published photos of bodies of two hostages in the “Dabik” magazine. They were 48-year-old Norwegian Ole Johan Grimsgaard-Ophstadand 50-year-old Chinese Fan Jinghui.
- December 2015, the IS gunmen distributed a video of the massacre of 23-year-old Magomed Khasiev, who introduced himself as an employee of the FSB. December 3, 2015, the head of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, confirmed that the man was a Chechen, but denied that he had cooperated with Russian special services.
- British journalist John Cantley, who was captured in Syria in 2012, is held captive by the ISIS fighters. Terrorists have distributed several videotapes with his appeals, in which he calls on the West to stop the fight with the IS. According to unconfirmed reports, a prisoner of the ISIS militants from the autumn of 2013 are two Russians – engineer Sergei Gorbunov (there were unconfirmed reports of his execution in the spring of 2014) and Tomsk traveller Konstantin Zhuravlev.