Inside the leadership of Islamic State: how the new ‘caliphate’ is run

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, one of the world’s most wanted jihadists, is aided by a “cabinet” of deputies, who manage both the Islamic State’s military operations and its new, self declared, caliphate.

Documents seized from the house of a member of the Islamic State in a raid by the Iraqi military have revealed, for the first time and in remarkable detail, the leadership structure of this secretive organisation.

Whilst al-Baghdadi’s predecessors, including Abu Musab al-Zarqawi – who led the group when it was known as ISI – reportedly kept power very centralised, the new jihadist leader has assigned deputies to manage everything from military stores and roadside bomb attacks to the finances of the organisation.

“I describe Baghdadi as a shepherd, and his deputies are the dogs who herd the sheep [the Islamic State’s members],” said Hisham al-Hashimi, a security analyst who had access to the documents. “The strength of the shepherd comes from his dogs.”

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The information, which was found on memory sticks taken from the home of Abu Abdul Rahman al-Bilawi, al-Baghdadi’s military chief of staff for Iraqi territory, who was killed in the military raid, identified two key deputies who are charged with managing terrain controlled by the Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq respectively.

Unlike al-Baghdadi both of these men formerly held senior roles in the Iraqi military and are seasoned in battle…

See a organization chart, here.

Related: Al Qaeda ally calls for statement on Islamic State’s caliphate: Hani al Sibai, an ideologue who is highly respected within al Qaeda, has called on al Qaeda’s senior leadership and the group’s regional branches to address the Islamic State’s announced caliphate. Sibai has long been a critic of the Islamic State. And he doesn’t think al Qaeda’s quiet response to the group’s attempted power grab within the jihadist world is sufficient…

And: Pakistani terror group swears allegiance to Islamic State: A Pakistani terror group has become the first in the region to break ranks and declare allegiance to the Islamic State that has seized power across Iraq and Syria.

It represents a breakthrough for Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as he tries to win support for his caliphate, potentially extending his influence into South Asia and bolstering his challenge to al-Qaeda for leadership of the global jihadist movement.