Bilal Abdul Kareem – Cracks within ISIS are starting to show

Cracks within ISIS are starting to become apparent, writes Bilal Abdul Kareem.

The story circulating in the media for the past two days of ISIS killing 100 of its own soldiers is confirmed. I avoided mentioning this story until I could confirm it.

This is one of many stories emerging from ISIS’ Syrian stronghold of Ar Raqqa. As the story reports, there were a large group of fighters who wanted to leave ISIS. For this reason they were imprisoned and later executed for the crime of “apostatising” from the religion.

Internal dispute and failed ambush

What media reports aren’t telling us is that ISIS is currently in the midst of an internal crisis. It is alleged that they were planning to attack Ahrar ash-Sham and Jabhat al-Nusra in the Idlib area.

Jabhat al Nusra fighters in Idlib
Jabhat al Nusra fighters in Idlib

However, just before the attack, a disagreement broke out between two groups – with the Turkmen on one side and the fighters from Kavkaz (region of Chechnya) on the other.

A heated argument quickly escalated into weapons being drawn and ultimately fired with the two factions killing members of the other side. The nature of the argument is still not known.

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This internal division scuttled the sneak attack ISIS was planning on the Syrian rebels in Idlib.

Shortly thereafter the sprawling base at Wadi Daif was overrun by Ahrar ash-Sham and Jabhat al-Nusra.

This convinced ISIS leadership that the combined forces of Ahrar ash-Sham and Jabhat al-Nusra were too well fortified in Idlib’s suburbs and thus the attack was called off.

Abu Abdur Rahman Al Misree

In other news, in the region of Al Bab, ISIS’ religious advisor (Shari’), Abu Abdur Rahman Al Misree was assassinated for stating that ISIS was indeed an Islamic State, and obedience to that state was obligatory, but it was NOT a Caliphate.

ISIS commanders branded him an apostate for his statements and he was subsequently killed as a result.

Abu Bakr al Baghdadi
Abu Bakr al Baghdadi

The issue with takfiri groups is that their methodology is one that will not tolerate dissent of any kind, so ultimately the members inevitably turn on one another.

They accuse one another of apostasy for questionable acts and because they’re all armed, it turns bloody very quickly.


The reason why some devout ISIS members’ solid foundation is beginning to show signs of defection is due to two main reasons:

1. Many members were upset that all the fighting they are asked to do in Syria is against other rebel groups and not Bashar Al-Assad’s forces. This has sown the seeds of doubt regarding ISIS’ direction and leadership. According to a report on NBC News, IHS Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Center’s (JTIC) database showed just 13 percent of ISIS attacks during the past year up to November 21 targetted Syrian security forces.

2. The statements of Islamic scholars around the Islamic world condemning ISIS in unison has taken a toll on the membership numbers as well. They cite that the lack of scholarly support for the group has made them doubt the validity of their support for Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and the group’s methodology.

Bilal Abdul Kareem is an American journalist and filmmaker who spent two years in Syria documenting the rebels.


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