Anyone who wants to understand how the Islamic State came to be as formidable as it clearly is would welcome the a 28 minute BBC documentary currently available online, Islamic State: Bureaucracy and Brutality. If you don’t have 28 minutes and more or less trust the notes I took down as I listened to it then you are welcome to read on.
The source, Aimen Dean
The interviewee is Aimen Dean, a Saudi Arabian who spent twelve years inside the IS. He left Saudi Arabia in the 1990s to join the mujahideen in Bosnia. After that war ended he went to the Philippines and from there in 1997 to Afghanistan where he joined Al Qaeda.
Aimen says he became disillusioned by Al Qaeda’s drift towards terrorism so he became a spy for the West and worked for the British Foreign Office gathering and analysing information.
Comparing Al Qaeda
IS is a hundred times bigger that Al Qaeda ever was in terms of recruits, firepower and financial resources.
Al Qaeda is looked on with some contempt by IS now for having had no focus or clear direction. Al Qaeda operated through support for scattered cells or local autonomous franchises without any central structure or organization.
IS is tightly organized and focussed. IS considers Al Qaeda’s attention on America to be a waste of time and effort, a distraction from the real goal. What IS is aiming for is the overthrow of other states in the Middle East.
To accomplish this they understand that they must become an organized state power themselves with military power concentrated in a particular region.
IS has managed to take over a quarter of Iraq and a third of Syria because they have a proper, solid infrastructure, both financial and intelligence.
IS has a Department of the Public Good responsible for maintaining roads, cleaning the streets, street lighting, the provision of education.
They control certain professional positions by their own licensing system. No one can become an imam in a mosque, a teacher in a school, a pharmacist, a doctor, a lawyer, until they attend a Shariah course for one week to obtain their licence. In other words they need a course in indoctrination before being permitted to practice.