Getting to know IS – by their tweets
Islamic State is a State. So let’s not underestimate them, because it is only by getting to know them that we will be able to combat them efficiently. It is by analyzing the thousands of tweets from IS militants and supporters that researchers are now managing to get a better grasp on the caliphate and to chart what daily life might be like in the territories under its control. This analysis has in fact revealed that Daesh has distributed vaccinations aimed at eradicating diseases in infants, it has stripped school syllabi of any trace of philosophy, French or English, and has established yet more strict rules which oblige their subjects to dispose of their waste in containers rather than throwing them overboard… There are many protocols that if not followed are sanctioned by fines. It remains that one of IS’s priorities seems to be indoctrinating children who live in areas under their control, since a particular effort is being put into the inculcation of violence from a very early age.
Daesh has therefore visibly modified its strategy, which was originally to impose draconian rules with regards to clothing in order to cement the unification of the territory (Iraq and Syria, two very different places) it has conquered. IS’s current objective seems thus to be to impose a uniform jurisdiction – perhaps even a jurisprudence? – through the establishment of sixteen centralized departments. To do this, Daesh has been publishing job offers on social networks, all the while imposing its will on prices and rent for the entire region under its control. And it must be said that IS has the means to fulfil its ambition since its monthly turnover is in the way of 80 million dollars, more than half of which is generated by taxation, confiscations and drug trafficking, with the rest coming from oil revenue.
Unlike al-Qaeda, Islamic State, the richest terrorist group in the world, is therefore not dependent on outsider donors to ensure its survival. This is why, while they have indeed affected IS’s contraband petrol trade, the coalition strikes are not making a marked impact on its income. In the victory against IS, money is the sinew of war since it is this that allows IS its room to manoeuvre, like its ability to attract ever growing numbers of combatants. As long as it is in a position to levy taxes and engage in the trafficking of both legal and illegal commodities, which facilitates its internal structuring, Daesh will be equipping itself day after day with more and more attributes of a genuine State.