October 11, 2016


In Coastal Libya, Islamic State Prepared to Build a Nation : Documents in Sirte show how militants trained recruits for war and curried favor with locals; 'I was afraid for my children' (MARIA ABI-HABIB, Oct. 10, 2016, WSJ)

The papers offer rare insights into how the group governed and sought to win over the population and erect a satellite state in Libya.

Detailed lists of prisoners with their offenses and corresponding punishments show how the militants enforced their austere vision of Islamic rule. Tax documents show how they tried to curry favor with some residents by confiscating money and jewelry from the wealthy to distribute to the needy, while also filling their own coffers.

The paper trail also reveals the pedestrian bureaucracy behind the group's brutal rule in Sirte, the largest city Islamic State has ever held outside Iraq and Syria.

The last names of the militants or of civilians featured in the documents found, such as prisoner lists or tax forms, have been redacted. Attempts to reach Abu Bakr and others whose names appear in the documents were mostly unsuccessful, as phone lines across Sirte largely have been cut off.

At the headquarters of the group's Hisbah, or morality police, a spreadsheet listed crimes and punishments. One prisoner got 10 days in jail and 10 lashes for "transporting a woman" who wasn't accompanied by a male relative or guardian.

A meticulous tax code found at another office showed how Islamic State funded itself at locals' expense. Farmers were to turn over a calf if their herd reached 39 cows, for instance, and a four-year-old camel if they owned up to 79 camels.

Those who didn't pay were hunted down through warrants issued to checkpoints around the city. One warrant, on Islamic State letterhead, sought a cattle-herder named Salem from the al-Jiza neighborhood who drove a Toyota, detailing his license-plate number.

In Libya, Islamic State was able to establish and run a state with tax-collection offices, police, courts and even an immigration office to support foreign recruits, a highly organized venture otherwise seen only in Iraq and Syria, where its leaders are based, U.S. officials say.

With the Libyan government's battle for Sirte all but won and militants holed up in a last redoubt by the shoreline, the extremists' hopes to extend the caliphate to within some 350 miles of Europe have dimmed.

Their theology depends not just on their capacity to establish a state but to control certain regions and to govern well.  They can't achieve any of the three, firstly because of who we are and, secondly, because of who they are.

Posted by at October 11, 2016 7:01 PM


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