12 November 2014
Pledges of allegiance and obedience are the typical mechanisms used by jihadist groups to create “alliance hubs”, including the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) which is also known as Islamic State (IS). Some of the alliances may have proven strong, while others remain weak and exist in name only.
Recent research published by the US-based think-tank, Terrorism Research Initiative, argued that in order to become an effective alliance hub, a “mother organisation” must be capable of providing resources to support its partner organisations. The Islamic State (IS) appears to fulfil this criterion amongst the smaller terrorist groups to which it holds sway under bay’ah or pledges.
But this resource-centred focus fails to address the IS partner organisations’ varying levels of dedication. Based on the purported legalistic discourse promoted by IS, such pledges are of equal gravity to Islamic contracts of allegiance and obedience. Following this logic, a bay’ah addressed to IS should go beyond a mere “declaration of fidelity”. Both IS and the pledging organisation ostensibly profit equally in terms of propaganda, popularity, and mutual support from such “franchising deals”. Under the discourse of bay’ah, IS expects to gain more and to be acknowledged as the leader in an asymmetric alliance.
…Joseph Franco is an Associate Research Fellow with the Centre of Excellence for National Security (CENS), a constituent unit of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University. Philipp Holtmann is a Middle East analyst who has lived and worked in several Arab countries.
CENS / RSIS / Online
Last updated on 13/11/2014