Islamic State Is Becoming an Actual Government
Brutal militants are figuring out how to rule
Islamic State is a bunch of slave-running, homicidal rapists and terrorists. But increasingly, it’s also the legitimate government of northwest Iraq and eastern Syria. Laith Alkhouri and Alex Kassirer from West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center explained:
While the Islamic State’s barbarity is undeniable, its life force stems from a side that, although less publicized, accounts for the majority of the group’s activities: a system of governance entailing institutional services, judicial processes, infrastructure work, essential consumer products, recreational activities and more. These activities are transforming the 12-year-old terrorist group into a de facto governing body.
With revenue from oil sales and financing from the local banks it has seized, the terror group provides vital goods and services to millions of people living in the areas it controls.
The Islamic State has done this by merging preexisting structures and institutions with newly imported skills and talents. It has restructured local markets by permitting locals and foreign recruits with relevant skill sets to renovate and manage important elements of the service and medical industry. Rather than launch an overhaul, the Islamic State has grafted itself onto pre-existing structures, by compelling employees to stay in their jobs. Hospitals have kept many of their doctors and nurses and utility providers have kept many of their engineers. In Iraq, as others have noted, the Islamic State’s ability to keep employees in their jobs has been assisted considerably by the fact that the government in Baghdad has continued to pay the salaries of public employees in areas controlled by the Islamic State.
The emerging extremist state aids in the terror group’s recruitment. “The true attraction lies in the idea of a novel Islamic society, offering a sense of belonging and ‘citizenship,'” Kassirer and Alkhouri wrote.
The militants’ establishment of an actual state is also “making it more difficult to uproot.”