ISIS, or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, have, if nothing else, used the last 3 years of raging war in Syria as a massive publicity drive. They have carved out a reputation of the most formidable strain, a legacy of brutality and what’s more they want the whole world to see. Syria has become the trailblazer for e-jihad, a unique conflict in which Twitter has Stumbled upon Sharia and Fatwas have been Facebooked. ISIS love to flaunt their work and in this article we shall look at their brutality through media published by the perpetrators themselves on social media.
In control of most of the Syrian province of Raqqa and its namesake capital since early 2012, initially in conjunction with Al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat Al-Nusra until a much documented feud which saw them take up arms against one another, ISIS have been making headlines for their brutality much of the past three years . In a surprise move last week, ISIS pulled out of towns throughout north-western Syria, though particularly Idlib province. The move is thought to be part of an effort to consolidate their grip on power in Raqqa province. Local activists reported that resident’s of these towns took to the streets, celebrating after many months of living under the most relentless of theocracies.
ISIS’s control of Raqqa has been in unforgiving accordance with the most brutal and uncivilized versions of Sharia. Their position as the de facto local government has seen them impose “Dhimmi”, an Islamic system wherein the remaining Christian population of Raqqa are offered protection in exchange for a tax, it’s nothing short of extortion, although this isn’t Mr Corleone’s mafia.
In the picture below, which can be dated to the morning of March 22nd, a man accused of theft and murder is crucified and left to die in the central square of Raqqa. Under ISIS, there is no innocent until proven guilty, no chance of an appeal, this is medieval justice in action.
Next up, a fighter accused of stealing in the town of Maskanah in Aleppo province:
In this instance we see a crowd gather to watch the alleged thief’s hand amputation. As if the brutality of this act wasn’t up to ISIS standards, the men carrying out the punishment struggle for a clean cut and spend what seems like an eternity hacking away at the suspect’s limb. Perhaps most alarmingly is the behavior of the crowd, they cheer and take photos as though it were some sort of community event, a village fete or talent show. Most alarmingly is the way in which ISIS actually live-tweeted the whole event. They even filmed it, you can watch it here, but be warned it’s extremely graphic. The twitter account in question has since been disabled, though here is a screen grab:
In an attempt to impose their strict Sunni credentials on the local populations of areas they control, ISIS have also taken to destroying shrines of importance to other Islamic sects and beliefs strains. Including this Sufi shrine in Raqqa province:
And for good measure, here’s a photo from November purportedly showing ISIS cutting down a 150 year old tree which they felt people might be tempted to worship. A move eerily similar to the Taliban’s destruction of the Bamiyan Buddahs in Afghanistan, 2001: