The Islamic state of Iraq and Syria (Levant), also known as ISIS, occupied Raqqa (a northern Syrian city) months ago after heavy fighting against the so called “Ahrar al-sham” movement and Jabhat al-Nusra – Al-Nusra Front (both are related to al-Qaeda).

The terrorist group, which is currently led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has waged many territorial battles and declared an “Islamic caliphate” in swaths of land it has occupied, from al-Bab in Aleppo, Syria to Falluja in Iraq – after getting reportedly getting support from the US itself and its allies in the region, especially Saudi Arabia.

But lately, the US stated that ISIS was worse than al-Qaida (PDF), and that it had a “full-blown army”. The U.S. has subsequently increased its flights over Mosul, from one flight a month just two months ago to now 50 flights a day (consider this includes Syria and Iraq!)

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi: The World’s Most Dangerous Man

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

Though he’s “the world’s most dangerous man” to Time magazine and the “the new bin Laden” to Le Monde, Baghdadi’s history is still unclear. His actual name is Ibrahim Awwad Ibrahim Ali al-Badri al-Samarrai, and many consider him an intelligent strategist, someone who is able of convincing others, and a brutal murderer!

The Washington Post’s David Ignatius wrote that “the true heir to Osama bin Laden may be ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.” A senior U.S. intelligence official told the columnist that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is even “more violent, more virulent, and more anti-American.” The United States has a $10 million bounty on his head.

In fact, Baghdadi is now recruiting fighters from other Zawahiri affiliates, including al-Qaeda in Yemen and the Somalia-based al-Shabab, to send them to fight in both Syria and Iraq.

ISIS Rules in Raqqa

Since arriving in Raqqa, ISIS has tried to use the lack of religious faith among the population to posture themselves as rescuers who want to apply God’s laws on earth through the Islamic Caliphate. People in Raqqa say that they are furious with the ISIS, calling for Syrian Army to launch a complete military operation and get the city back under government control.

This following list shows some of the rules which have been set up by ISIS in Raqqa, which are actually denigrating Islam; some of them appear to directly contradict the religion’s teaching.

1. Ordering mandatory school curriculum changes and closing the universities.

2. Women in Raqqa city were forced to wear the Niqab and forbidden from leaving their homes unless accompanied by a brother, husband or father.

3. Everyone was required to attend prayers, with markets and shops being forced to shut down during the prayer times.

4. They are forcing every woman to be “circumcized”, which is a “friendly” term for genital mutilation

5. Smoking was banned across the city (the following images shows ISIS terrorists stand on a pile of confiscated cigarette cartons, before setting fire to them!)

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ISIS terrorists stand on a pile of confiscated cigarette cartons, before setting fire to them!

6. Anyone who violated any of these laws faces immediate arrest.

ISIS changed the life of people in every place they entered, for example, they closed cafes and shops where men and woman may come into contact. They did this under the name of “Islamic principles,” but in fact this is not allowed in Islam and considered as contrary to Islamic guidance.

People in Raqqa should pay ‘taxes’ under the excuse of funding civic services by ISIS. But none of these so-called “services” is available in the majority of ISIS controlled areas.

Zaid Al Fares, a photojournalist who escaped from Raqqa, his home city, wrote more about ISIS action in Raqqa city.

Forced Migration of Christians and Shiites Muslims in Iraq

A report by HRW revealed that homes in Mosul were painted with the letter “N” for Nasrani (the Arabic word for Christian). Others were painted with the letter “R” for Rafidah, a word usually used by Sunnis to describe Shiites.

Yacub, 70 years old Christian man was forced with other Christians in the city of Mosul, who were living in Mosul since 2,000 years, to leave by 19 July as the latest date, pay a tax, convert to Islam, or be killed! This is come after ISIS ultimatums issued to all Christians there.

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An Iraqi man carrying a cross and a Koran attends a mass at Mar Girgis Church in Baghdad – Reuters

Yacub was too old to leave the city, so he remained in his house, he said: “All the people in my neighborhood were Muslim. They came to help me — about 20 people — at the door in front of my house. They tried to convince ISIS not to kill me.” Yacub said, according IB Times.

Speaking to the Guardian from Mosul, Bashar, a 38-year-old musician, said people had tried to occupy the mosques in an effort to prevent fighters from bombing them.

Christians, as well as other Muslims who consider themselves against ISIS, are in real danger now in both Syria and Iraq.

Fighting For Oil and Gas Resources

ISIS has taken control over many important oil fields throughout Syria and Iraq, most notably the Al-Omar oil field in eastern Syria’s Deir al-Zor. Many reports revealed that ISIS has begun selling oil extracted from several fields to earn a powerful earn income. Controlling oil and gas resources is considered the main pillar of ISIS wealth and power!

Officials from the Iraqi oil industry have claimed the ISIS are making profits of $1 million a dayfrom the group’s Iraq operations. Outside of their control are much larger fields still under the control of the central government in the south, and the Kurdish authorities in the north. If this figure is added to estimates of Syria’s jihadist-controlled production, the group could be nearing the mark of $100 million a month!

Lately, ISIS was focussing on establishing control of a natural gas field in central Syria this month, they posted many videos online showing horrible executions of Syrian Army soldiers in the region. The battles in Shaer gas field affect the Syrian government’s electricity utility; some reports say ISIS caused significant damage to the electricity systems there.

In Iraq, the oil is often taken to Syria or smuggled into Turkey and Iran. According to the anti-government Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, located in London, oil from Deir al-Zor is also being marketed in the other direction, to Iraqi businessmen.

The Observatory reported that after purchasing the crude, businessmen must transport the commodity through dangerous areas. To aid with this risk, some local militias, usually those that have pledged allegiance to ISIS, have begun offering their services.

Destroying the Ancient and Holy Places

ISIS had bombed many holy places in both Syria and Iraq lately, the so-called Tomb of Jonah,:a mosque and Muslim holy site in Iraq’s second-largest city, Mosul, was at the top of the list.

ISIS blew up the site, believed to be the burial place of the Prophet Jonah, after ordering visitors out of the building. Their intentions are unclear.

ISIS, the top terrorist group in Syria and Iraq, led by Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, has killed over 2,400 people in Iraq last month. More than 1700 were also killed in Syria last week, and most of the killings were committed by ISIS.

Further Reading:

1. ISIS burns 1,800-year-old church in Mosul

2. Assessing the State of the Syrian Army as ISIS Advances

3. ISIS threatening to redraw Mideast borders

4. Hundreds protest persecution of Christians by ISIS in Iraq

5. More than 1700 Killed in Iraq in July, Says UN

6. ISIS Forces Last Iraqi Christians to Flee Mosul