Peter Stevens / CC BY 2.0

From Aleppo to Baghdad, Islamic State’s seized territory now stretches hundreds of miles. And by providing key services such as infrastructure and transportation, the militant group has been able to tighten its grip on communities.

The New York Times reports:

In northern Syria, the jihadists of the Islamic State have fixed power lines, dug sewage systems and painted sidewalks. In Raqqa, they search markets and slaughterhouses for expired food and sick animals. Farther south, in Deir al-Zour, they have imposed taxes on farmers and shopkeepers and fined men for wearing short beards.

The group runs regular buses across the border with Iraq to Mosul, where it publicly kills captives and trains children for guerrilla war. Last month, it reopened a luxury hotel in the city and offered three free nights to newlyweds, meals included.

In vast swaths of Syria and Iraq with shattered ties to national governments, the jihadists have worked to fill the void, according to interviews with residents from areas in Syria and Iraq ruled by the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL. The group is offering reliable, if harsh, security; providing jobs in decimated economies; and projecting a rare sense of order in a region overwhelmed by conflict.

With no political solutions in sight for the wars that have allowed the group to thrive, little has prevented the jihadists from deepening their roots in ways that will make them even harder to dislodge.

“As a way of life, people got used to it,” said a laborer from Raqqa who had earned good money painting the group’s new offices in the city. If you followed the rules, the jihadists left you alone, he said, although he wished life were more peaceful.

“It is not our life, all the violence and fighting and death,” he said, speaking on the condition of anonymity, like others from areas run by the Islamic State, so as not to anger the jihadists. “But they got rid of the tyranny of the Arab rulers.”

In the process, the Islamic State’s administration has ballooned. The group has issued declarations banning dynamite fishing and Apple products, pressuring teachers to work in its schools, offering rewards for the killing of Jordanian fighter pilots and advising wounded residents not to travel to Turkey for prosthetic limbs because the Islamic State now makes them at home, according to jihadist documents compiled by Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi, a fellow at the Middle East Forum.


the full article.

–Posted by Roisin Davis

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