ISIS Attracts Aleppo Residents With Promises of Power and Wealth

Activist says most young men join the radical group hoping for positions in services which are granted broad security powers and attractive salaries

The Islamic State group is organizing Shariah and military courses in the towns of Minbij and Jarablus in the Aleppo countryside for all those who want to join their ranks, with the aim of “teaching them principles and values of Islam, ‘Walaa w Baraa’ [loyalty and disavowal], and other religious matters.”

Al-Souria Net’s correspondent in the Aleppo countryside, Shazi al-Khalil, reported that “the group forces any person who would like to join its ranks to take a Shariah course for 45 days, and then others to learn fighting techniques for the same period. New members are then sorted into the positions of their service according to the profession they mastered, and sometimes sent to fight if there is a shortage on the fronts.”

Activist Abu Obeida al-Sharqi, from the town of Minbij in the Aleppo countryside, told Al-Souria Net that “most young men have joined the group hoping for positions like the hisbah [morality police], the jubaiyeh [tax collection], and the diwans of other services which are granted broad security powers and attractive salaries.”

Osama, a young man, was one of those to join the group hoping to obtain a position in the hisbah diwan to bring in money. According to what his wife told Al-Souria Net, “After putting him through a Shariah course, his goals changed. His ambitions became related to jihad and he became ready to blow himself up after they brainwashed him with extremist beliefs and ideas.”

His wife confirmed that: “He started to visit the group leaders specialized in suicide operations and talked about the possibility of getting into a neighboring country to blow himself up.”

Residents in the Aleppo countryside complain of the clear discrimination in the group’s policies between the town residents who join them and the foreigners. The foreign militants enjoy many benefits, starting from the positions they receive and barely ending with housing and salaries.

Abu Mohamed from the Jarablus countryside explained how his son was killed two days after joining the group. He said that his son surprised him with his decision to join the group to volunteer in one of the agencies, and despite his father’s objection to his decision to join the group, he went to take the Shariah course.

Abu Mohamed added that, “We received news of his death two days after he left, when one of his friends who went with him to the group told us they threw him on one of the fronts in the Aleppo countryside on the pretext of a lack of fighters there.”

This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.

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