Vice News: The Islamic State

During an interview broadcasted Sunday, 28 September 2014 on CBS US President Barack Obama admitted “that the U.S. underestimated the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and overestimated the ability of the Iraqi military to fend off the militant group” (“Obama: U.S. underestimated rise of ISIS in Iraq and Syria“, 60 Minutes, CBS, 28.09.2014). It seems that the U.S. didn’t learn much in the last months because they still do underestimate the Islamic State. With air strikes, but without “boots on the ground”, Obama still tries to muddle through the problem (see also: Andrew Smith, “US foreign policy: muddling through, satisficing or boiling frog?“,, 16.09.2014).


In the article series “ISIS: Here to Stay!” (part 1, part 2 and part 3), Sascha Bruchmann analyzed the Islamic State and in this regard some of the international and regional actors. Finally, he shows that these actors, for a variety of reasons, are reluctant to directly fight against the Islamic State. The battle over Ayn al-Arab will sadly show that air strikes will not be enough to stop the Islamic State.

Public reports from inside the Islamic State are rare. Very interesting (but also disturbing) is a 45′ documentary by Vice News. Its reporter Medyan Dairieh (Facebook | Twitter) spent three weeks embedded with the Islamic State, gaining unprecedented access to the group in Iraq and Syria as the first and only journalist to document its inner workings. Nevertheless, because Dairieh was accompanied by the ISIS spoke person, Abu Mosa, who decided where and what Dairieh could film and because of the brutally oppression of critics, you cannot hear any critical voices in the documentary. Another video secretly filmed by a Syrian woman shows that there is minor resistance against the Islamic State in Ar-Raqqa. Also in Dairieh’s report you can sense the disaffection among the marketeers, when the “Hisbah” did their inspections.

[…] it’s very dangerous to take photos inside the city. […] ISIS put cameras all over the city, so they can know who is taking photos and there are a lot of checkpoints. Also, the internet in the city is very, very slow so we use internet cafes and it’s very dangerous because all the internet cafes are monitored by ISIS. — Abu Ibrahim Raqqawi cited in Alice Speri, “Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently, And These Guys Are Risking Their Lives To Document It“, Vice News, 26.09.2014.

The Islamic State builds up a terror regime in the occupied territories. Hopefully the people will realize in the long term that in the case of the regions in Syria, who are now under the control of the Islamic State, one oppressing regime was toppled only to have another similar brutal one. Nevertheless time is running against the approach to stop the spread of the ideology of the Islamic State. In this regard, the indoctrination of children is very alarming. With this strategy, the Islamic State is building up the future terrorists. That’s why it is urgent that the allegedly U.S. formed coalition reacts fast and decisive.

By the way: the Islamic State spoke person, Abu Mosa, who bragged that they “will raise the flag of Allah in the White House” has allegedly been killed during an air strike, according to a pro-ISIS Twitter account.

Update, 01.10.2014
It seems the Islamic State is well prepared against air strikes. According to a lawyer who still lives in Mosul, IS’ preparations are not limited to trying to attract its opponents. He has been watching IS’ movements in the city for weeks and that the group is taking further steps to fight off the expected attacks. The lawyer summarizes these preparations as follows:

  • Finding alternative headquarters for the group’s primary and secondary leaders because the current headquarters are expected to be bombed.
  • Taking advantage of the many mosques in the neighborhoods to store weapons and ammunition, to prevent their being stockpiled in just one place.
  • Placing large IS centers in residential areas to take advantage of any coalition errors during the war, whereby civilians killed by aerial bombardment will be exploited to gain more supporters.
  • Making plans to booby-trap roads and houses, a strategy that has proven its effectiveness during the past few weeks, as part of the “scorched earth” theory of engagement.

According to security expert Mortada al-Nasiri, Mosul is the group’s soft underbelly today. The group hasn’t deployed large numbers of troops inside the city because it needs fighters at the open fronts, and losing Mosul would constitute a blow for IS morale.

Source: Mushreq Abbas, “IS makes plans to fend off attacks on Mosul“, al-Monitor, 23.09.2014.

This entry was posted in English, Iraq, Syria, Terrorism.

9 Responses to Vice News: The Islamic State

  1. Is Vice’s Documentary on ISIS Illegal?

    […] It is unlikely (although hardly unimaginable) that Vice will be prosecuted for making its ISIS documentary. But […] anti-terrorism laws are quickly heading in the direction of criminalizing behavior that is hard to imagine as criminal: Jimmy Carter’s peace missions, documentaries, newspaper op-eds, and even academic research or publishing. America has faced, and is facing, bigger challenges than jihadist ideology. It’s possible to fight terrorism without shutting down all pro-jihadist speech. But it’s not possible to fight it without understanding it, or confronting ideas with ideas. — Andrew F. March, “Is Vice’s Documentary on ISIS Illegal?“, The Atlantic, 01.10.2014.

  2. …and another interesting article about the same topic: “Scenes from Daily Life in the de Facto Capital of ISIS“, Vanity Fair, 06.10.2014.

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