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In Rise of Militant Islam Anthony Tucker-Jones examines from an insider's every landmark event on the road to 9/11 and ultimately failed to curb global jihad.
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Meetings like this one occurred throughout the territory controlled by the Islamic State in Soon municipal employees were back fixing potholes, painting crosswalks, repairing power lines and overseeing payroll. Except we were now serving a terrorist group. The disheveled fighters who burst out of the desert more than three years ago founded a state that was acknowledged by no one except themselves.

And yet for nearly three years, the Islamic State controlled a stretch of land that at one point was the size of Britain , with a population estimated at 12 million people.

By far the largest city under their rule was Mosul. Since declaring a caliphate in , the Islamic State has controlled large swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria.

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But after the group retreated from Mosul and Raqqa in , it lost nearly all of its territory. Nearly all of that territory has now been lost, but what the militants left behind helps answer the troubling question of their longevity: How did a group whose spectacles of violence galvanized the world against it hold onto so much land for so long? Part of the answer can be found in more than 15, pages of internal Islamic State documents I recovered during five trips to Iraq over more than a year.

The documents were pulled from the drawers of the desks behind which the militants once sat, from the shelves of their police stations, from the floors of their courts, from the lockers of their training camps and from the homes of their emirs, including this record detailing the jailing of a year-old boy for goofing around during prayer.

This arrest record was for one of three boys who were A accused of fooling around during prayer. The ticket book was recovered in early north of Mosul in the town of Tel Kaif, in a house that ISIS had turned into a police station. B Ibrahim Muhammad Khalil, who was 14, was arrested at 3 p. Take a closer look at some of the documents here. The New York Times worked with outside experts to verify their authenticity, and a team of journalists spent 15 months translating and analyzing them page by page. Individually, each piece of paper documents a single, routine interaction: A land transfer between neighbors.

The sale of a ton of wheat. A fine for improper dress. But taken together, the documents in the trove reveal the inner workings of a complex system of government.

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They show that the group, if only for a finite amount of time, realized its dream: to establish its own state, a theocracy they considered a caliphate, run according to their strict interpretation of Islam. The world knows the Islamic State for its brutality, but the militants did not rule by the sword alone. They wielded power through two complementary tools: brutality and bureaucracy.

ISIS built a state of administrative efficiency that collected taxes and picked up the garbage. It ran a marriage office that oversaw medical examinations to ensure that couples could have children.

The Wit & Wisdom Of Tyrion Lannister

It even ran its own D. The documents and interviews with dozens of people who lived under their rule show that the group at times offered better services and proved itself more capable than the government it had replaced. A little more than a decade later, after seizing huge tracts of Iraq and Syria, the militants tried a different tactic. They built their state on the back of the one that existed before, absorbing the administrative know-how of its hundreds of government cadres.

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An examination of how the group governed reveals a pattern of collaboration between the militants and the civilians under their yoke. One of the keys to their success was their diversified revenue stream. The group drew its income from so many strands of the economy that airstrikes alone were not enough to cripple it. From agriculture alone, they reaped hundreds of millions of dollars. Contrary to popular perception, the group was self-financed, not dependent on external donors. More surprisingly, the documents provide further evidence that the tax revenue the Islamic State earned far outstripped income from oil sales.

It was daily commerce and agriculture — not petroleum — that powered the economy of the caliphate. The United States-led coalition, trying to eject the Islamic State from the region, tried in vain to strangle the group by bombing its oil installations. It was not until last summer that the militants abandoned Mosul, after a battle so intense that it was compared to the worst combat of World War II. It is savage. We dismiss it as barbaric. It is barbaric.

The day after the meeting, Mr. Hamoud, a Sunni, returned to work and found that his department was now staffed percent by Sunnis, the sect of Islam practiced by the militants. The Shia and Christian colleagues who previously shared his office had all fled.

For a while, Mr. Hamoud and the employees he supervised at the agriculture department went on much as they had before. But the long-bearded men who now oversaw Mr. For generations, jihadists had dreamed of establishing a caliphate. Osama bin Laden frequently spoke of it and his affiliates experimented with governing in the dunes of Mali , in the badlands of Yemen and in pockets of Iraq. Their goal was to recreate the society that existed over a millennium ago during the time of the Prophet Muhammad.

What began as a cosmetic change in Mr.


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The militants sent female employees home for good and closed the day care center. Rain, they said, was a gift from Allah — and who were they to measure his gift? Employees were also told they could no longer shave, and they had to make sure the leg of their trousers did not reach the ankle. Glossy pamphlets, like the one below, pinpointed the spot on the calf where the hem of the garb worn by the companions of the Prophet around 1, years ago was said to have reached. Recovered in early in Al-Araji village by a Times employee traveling with Iraqi troops. It was also published online.

B The picture pinpoints the spot on the calf where the hem should reach, citing an admonition from the Prophet to a follower whose garb was too long. Eventually, the year-old Hamoud, who wears his hair in a comb-over and prides himself on his professional appearance, stopped buying razors. He took out the slacks he wore to work and asked his wife to trim off 5 centimeters. The change involved the very department Mr.

Hamoud headed, which was responsible for renting government-owned land to farmers. To increase revenue, the militants ordered the agriculture department to speed up the process for renting land, streamlining a weekslong application into something that could be accomplished in an afternoon. It was then that government workers got word that they should begin renting out property that had never belonged to the government.

Rise of Militant Islam: an Insider's View of the Failure to Curb Global Jihad

Islamic State members are exclusively Sunni and see themselves as the only true believers. An entire ministry was set up to collect and reallocate beds, tables, bookshelves — even the forks the militants took from the houses they seized. They called it the Ministry of War Spoils. It was housed in a stone-faced building in western Mosul that was hit by an airstrike in the battle to retake the city.

The ensuing fire consumed the structure and blackened its walls. But the charred shapes left behind still told a story. Each room served as a warehouse for ordinary household objects: kerosene heaters in one; cooking ranges in another; a jumble of air coolers and water tanks in yet another. The few papers that did not burn up showed how objects seized from the religious groups they had chased out were offered as rewards to ISIS fighters.

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The request was for a stove and a washing machine. Another application from the General Telecommunications Authority requested, among other things, clothes hangers.


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  8. It received 16 household items. This document was recovered in a bombed-out building in western Mosul that had served as the headquarters of the Ministry of War Spoils.