Two main IS ob­ses­sions: Beards and con­cu­bines

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

After Is­lamic State con­quered vil­lages in north­ern Iraq, it spelled out in minute de­tail the rules of its self-pro­claimed caliphate, from beard length to alms to guide­lines for tak­ing women as sex slaves. Is­lamic State doc­u­ments and posters, ob­tained in vil­lages cap­tured by Iraqi forces, high­light a tight and com­pre­hen­sive sys­tem of rule by the mil­i­tants, who went to great lengths to ex­plain their ex­trem­ist phi­los­o­phy.

The doc­u­ments and other ma­te­ri­als, printed with Is­lamic State lo­gos, were found by Reuters in of­fices used by the group un­til a few days ago. Mem­bers of the Iraqi forces told Reuters the doc­u­ments orig­i­nated from Is­lamic State, al­though this could not be in­de­pen­dently ver­i­fied. Iraqi se­cu­rity forces and Kur­dish pesh­merga fight­ers have seized sev­eral vil­lages and towns dur­ing an of­fen­sive against the north­ern city of Mo­sul, Is­lamic State’s last strong­hold in the coun­try.

When Is­lamic State swept through the north in 2014, it an­nounced a self-pro­claimed caliphate, which ap­pealed to some fel­low Sun­nis who felt marginal­ized by the Shi­ite-led cen­tral gov­ern­ment. But that ap­peal faded as Is­lamic State en­forced its medieval think­ing with brute force, be­head­ing any­one deemed an op­po­nent.

Slick, col­or­ful posters, pam­phlets and doc­u­ments high­light Is­lamic State’s in­tense fo­cus on dic­tat­ing what it called proper Is­lamic be­hav­ior for the cit­i­zens of its caliphate. Vi­o­la­tions of its rules meant pun­ish­ment such as pub­lic whip­ping or be­ing hauled off to Mo­sul for ex­e­cu­tion, ac­cord­ing to sev­eral vil­lagers who re­cently es­caped from Is­lamic State ar­eas. A green wal­let-size in­sert lays out guide­lines for how to pray prop­erly. It shows a young boy un­der­tak­ing ablu­tions. “Wash your feet from the di­rec­tion of your toes down to your heels,” it said.

Obli­ga­tion un­der Is­lam

A five-page pam­phlet with pic­tures of gold bracelets, di­a­mond rings and wheat on the front spelled out in­struc­tions on how to give alms, an obli­ga­tion un­der Is­lam. Fail­ure to do so would mean a penalty. In the vil­lage of Shura, where seven Is­lamic State sui­cide bombers were re­cently shot dead as they rushed to­wards Iraqi forces, mil­i­tants kept metic­u­lous records of who had given alms. En­tries showed whether an in­di­vid­ual owned gold, prop­erty or a car. Monthly salaries were also noted.

Un­like Al Qaeda, its pre­de­ces­sor in Iraq, Is­lamic State made its name in the ji­hadi world by be­com­ing the first mil­i­tant group to cap­ture sig­nif­i­cant amounts of land in the Mid­dle East, hold it and then set up an ad­min­is­tra­tion. But air strikes by a US-led coali­tion tar­get­ing Is­lamic State’s lead­ers and its sources of in­come have dealt a ma­jor blow to the caliphate. Is­lamic State’s in­cli­na­tion to cod­ify its sys­tem of rule ex­tended to what it called the spoils of war.

Rules for sex slaves

A pink and red pam­phlet in­cludes 32 ques­tions and an­swers on how to deal with fe­male cap­tives. A se­nior Is­lamic State cleric has the author­ity to dis­trib­ute fe­male cap­tives among its fight­ers, it said. “NonMus­lim women can be taken as con­cu­bines,” ac­cord­ing to the leaflet. Mil­i­tants can own two sis­ters as con­cu­bines but only have sex with one. “Pre-pubescent girls can be taken as con­cu­bines. You can­not have pen­e­tra­tive sex but you can still en­joy them,” the leaflet added.

One ques­tion in the pam­phlet asks whether a group of mil­i­tants can share a con­cu­bine. The an­swer: only a sin­gle owner can sleep with a con­cu­bine. After blaz­ing through north­ern Iraq, Is­lamic State took hun­dreds of women from the Yazidi mi­nor­ity as sex slaves. Un­der Is­lamic State’s rules, women were re­quired to largely stay at home or wear head-to-toe black cov­er­ings if they ven­tured out. Men wore short pants which were deemed Is­lamic along with beards of ap­pro­pri­ate length.

One of the pam­phlets be­gins by defin­ing a beard as “hair that grows on your face and your cheeks”. There were few forms of en­ter­tain­ment un­der Is­lamic State, which banned the in­ter­net and mu­sic along with cell phones. A ban on satel­lite dishes de­prived Iraqis of news of the out­side world. In a huge slick poster, en­ti­tled “Why I Should De­stroy My Dish”, the ji­hadists pro­vided 20 rea­sons, re­volv­ing mostly around the im­moral­ity of satel­lite tele­vi­sion pro­grams. Rea­son 8: “Be­cause satel­lite chan­nels show sto­ries of love and naked women and in­ap­pro­pri­ate lan­guage.” Rea­son 10: “Be­cause satel­lite chan­nels nor­malise men be­ing ef­fem­i­nate and sissies.” — Reuters

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