How ISIS Describes its Government Structure

Recently, the Islamic State (ISIS) released a video describing how it sees its government structure. Whether or not it has achieved this structure, the fact that ISIS is envisioning its government’s structure shows how far it has progressed compared to other terrorist groups. Whereas the Nusra Front, for instance, is still struggling with its relationship to al-Qaeda and lacks the resources to enforce its version of Sharia in the areas where it has a presence, ISIS is describing offices particular to its mode of operation.

Al-Baghdadi has ruled over his “state” by dividing it into several provinces in which he appoints a governor, deputy, and Sharia official to run each one’s administration via offices or bureaus (in Arabic they are called diwan, with the plural being dawawin). The word diwan is used in this article to be consistent with ISIS’s choice of terminology. Additionally, the original language used in the ISIS video is captured here to show how ISIS makes religious allusions to appeal to its followers to potential recruits.

With the group Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently (RBSS), SyriaSource has put together an interactive graphic summarizing ISIS’s self-described structure. Whereas ISIS idealizes its own structure and often uses religious terminology to describe itself, a follow up article from RBSS gives some ground truth to these matters and a more realistic view of how they operate.

Click here to download the graphic.

Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently is a campaign launched by a group of non-violent activists in Raqqa to shed light on the Assad regime’s and Islamic State’s atrocities. Follow them on their website, on Twitter @Raqqa_SL, and on Facebook at The info graphic was compiled by Brandi Young, an intern at the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East.

Image: PHOTO: A member loyal to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) waves an ISIL flag in Raqqa June 29, 2014. The offshoot of al Qaeda which has captured swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria has declared itself an Islamic "Caliphate" and called on factions worldwide to pledge their allegiance, a statement posted on jihadist websites said on Sunday. The group, previously known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known as ISIS, has renamed itself "Islamic State" and proclaimed its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghadi as "Caliph" - the head of the state, the statement said. REUTERS/Stringer (SYRIA - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST ) BEST QUALITY AVAILABLE