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ISIS fighters in statistics: age, religious attainment, education and more

Writing by Ethar Abdul Haq

(Zaman Al Wasl- Exclusive)- The majority of youths joining the Islamic State group add to its vitality by investing their energies and enthusiasm. The “simple minded” form the majority of those joining Isis’s ranks. It is an acceptable percentage that may be necessary to maintain the balance of any entity, especially regarding certain positions and tasks that require somewhat older persons. Based on the documents, no persons above the age of 60 have joined Isis.

Regarding social status, married persons are around 30% of those joining Isis and bachelors are 70%. The hegemony of bachelors appears somewhat unusual and unfitting with the image the Isis presents of itself based on the principles of “al-Shara”, as its religious scholars have sought to identify various evidences from different texts that make marriage appealing and promote it. Concerning the juridical level of those joining, the numbers reveal that only 4.5% hold the level of “Talib el-Ilm.”

“Talib el-Ilm” is a title given to persons who are advanced in their study the Sharia sciences (Jurisprudential sciences). Some religious scholars give the title to themselves as a form of humility, or as an acknowledgement that no science can be known in its totality let alone that it is possible to know a tenth of the jurisprudential science. On the other hand, the “simple minded” holding a modest level of juridical knowledge or a weak knowledge hegemonize Isis’s ranks.

They are 73% whereas persons with average level of knowledge are around 22%. Isis’s standards for assessing the juridical level of new recruits is not known raising the question of whether the level is assigned based on the recruit’s self-assessment or there is an exam that Isis uses to identify the level before noting it in their records.

Regarding the “educational attainment,” around 60% of those joining Isis hold an average level of education (middle school and high school) whereas persons who have weak educational levels (elementary school or illiterate) are 10% of those joining. Around 30% of recruits are university students, and among them only (0.50%) hold higher education degrees… They represent Isis’s “elites” who run its finances, media, administration, oil sector, etc. 95% of the new recruits hold a recommendation certificate. Recommendation certificates are oral or written by someone trusted by Isis. Recommendations facilitate candidates’ entry into Isis and serve as testaments to the candidate’s eligibility, behavior, and manners.

Recommendations are considered a pillar in the work of Jihadist organizations generally, and Isis in particular, as they are a way to prevent any infiltrations which might lead to news leaks about Isis, its movements or leadership. Regarding specializations, they are divided mainly on the basis of fighter and martyr whereby 88% of those joining expressed their desire to be fighters (regular fighters or entrenched fighters), versus around 12% who registered as willing to execute suicide operation.

In reality, the 12% willing to execute suicide bombing operations is not a small percentage even though it is not a large percentage either, especially as taking the decision to end one’s life is difficult. This percentage is “preliminary” to some degree, and other members may choose it after fighting and their subjection to more “preaching”.

Regarding the previous military experience (Jihad), the category includes the question: “Have you participated in Jihad before, if so where?” The category reveals that 88% of those joining Isis have no prior military experience, they are qualified as “inexperienced” in military term.

Isis thus faces the task of preparing them physically, militarily, and ideologically before putting them into battle. This percentage is a burden on Isis as it is forces Isis to open more training camps and assign fighters training duties. From another angle, the high number of inexperienced recruits is an “advantage” as it enables Isis to shape its fighters in ways which agree with its particularities.

The remaining 12% have previous military experience of different forms, and are supposed to assume leadership positions.

(Translation by Rana Abdul)

Read the original post in Arabic

To view the documents  Here


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