The Islamic State (Part 1)
The Islamic State, a hardline Sunni jihadist group that formerly had ties to al Qaeda, has conquered large swathes of Iraq and Syria. Previously known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the group has announced their intention to reestablish the caliphate and declared their leader, the shadowy Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, as the caliph.
Flush with cash and US weapons seized during recent advances in Iraq, the Islamic State’s expansion shows no sign of slowing down. In the first week of August alone, Islamic State fighters have taken over new areas in northern Iraq, encroaching on Kurdish territory and sending Christians and other minorities fleeing as reports of massacres emerged.
Elsewhere in territory it has held for some time, the Islamic State has gone about consolidating power and setting up a government dictated by Sharia law. While the world may not recognize the Islamic State, in the Syrian city of Raqqa, the group is already in the process of building a functioning regime.
VICE News reporter Medyan Dairieh spent three weeks embedded with the Islamic State, gaining unprecedented access to the group in Iraq and Syria as the first and only journalist to document its inner workings. In part one, Dairieh heads to the frontline in Raqqa, where Islamic State fighters are laying siege to the Syrian Army’s division 17 base.
The Islamic State (Part 2)
In Part 2 of VICE News’ exclusive look at the emergence of the Islamic State, filmmaker Medyan Dairieh meets an Islamic State member from Belgium who works to indoctrinate some of the youngest members of the group. He also gains further insight into the minds of Islamic State fighters as they host celebrations and military parades featuring American tanks and APCs seized from the Iraqi army.
The Islamic State (Part 3)
The “Hisbah” are the new Sharia police. In the latest episode of The Islamic State, VICE News joins them on their daily patrols during Ramadan, and witnesses how they check on shops and scrutinize produce, while at the same time ensuring their strict rules on women’s appearances are adhered to.
We are also taken to an Islamic State prison and speak with inmates accused of abusing drugs and selling alcohol. There we learn firsthand of the prisoners’ punishments, and how they have since “rediscovered” their devotion to the Islamic faith since their incarceration — but are yet to be granted permission to declare their allegiance to the caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
The Islamic State (Part 4)
In part 4 of The Islamic State, VICE News visits the Sharia courts where those accused of infractions are sentenced to harsh penalties, including execution followed by public crucifixion. But the courts don’t just handle crime. Citizens can bring all manners of complaints, including family disputes, and see the Islamic State’s form of justice doled out.
With unprecedented access, VICE News reporter Medyan Dairieh also visits the section of the court specifically set up for Christians, where the Islamic State discusses its treatment of minorities, and sees a former Armenian Catholic Church that has been converted into an Islamic center.