WASHINGTON (RNS) The militant group that exploded on to the scene in Iraq this year has been carefully cataloging its list of brutalities over recent years in an annual report published online, according to a think tank that has analyzed the latest publication.

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, a Jihadist militant group, published an annual report of its violent activities, including car bombing, sniping and stabbings in 2013.

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, a Jihadist militant group, published an annual report of its violent activities, including car bombing, sniping and stabbings in 2013.


This image is available for Web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

The report from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant — known as ISIL or ISIS — records in explicit detail the number of assassinations, suicide bombings, knifings and even “apostates run over,” according to the analysis by the Institute for the Study of War.

The report doesn’t  trace violence only. It also tracks “apostates repented,” a reference to winning over fellow Sunnis in areas that the group has seized.

The latest report covers last year, well before ISIL’s latest successes in Anbar province and Mosul in northern Iraq.

The statistics in the report indicate that the organization had been putting a focus on Ninewah province, where Mosul is the provincial capital, some time before rebels seized portions of the city in recent weeks.

It suggests a sophisticated level of planning and command and control and raises questions about whether Iraqi and Western intelligence agencies were surprised by the bold strikes.

The ISIL offensives “seem to have shocked not only the American intelligence community but intelligence communities across the globe,” Bruce Riedel, an analyst at the Brookings Institution and a former CIA official, said in a recent interview.

Riedel said the United States reduced its intelligence presence in Iraq when the remainder of its combat forces withdrew in 2011. “We have a tendency to underestimate the Sunni extremists in Iraq,” Riedel said.

But other analysts say the Iraqis did have warnings of ISIL intentions, but its security forces failed to fight at a critical time.

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, a Jihadist militant group, published an annual report of its violent activities, including car bombing, sniping and stabbings during 2013. An infographic outlining these acts appears on the second page of the report.

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, a Jihadist militant group, published an annual report of its violent activities, including car bombing, sniping and stabbings during 2013. An infographic outlining these acts appears on the second page of the report.


This image is available for Web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

“There was reporting that something like this was likely to happen,” said James Jeffrey, a former U.S. ambassador to Iraq, in a recent interview. “People had some idea it was going to happen.”

Militant organizations often exaggerate their successes in order to attract donors and so it is difficult to know how much to read into the latest report. ISIL gets funds from donors in wealthy Persian Gulf states and also runs criminal organizations that help fund its operations.

The latest report was published online in March 2013, and examined by the institute in May, and covers the period from November 2012 to November 2013, according to the institute. It is the second such report published by the group, the institute said.

The report suggests the group is functioning as a military organization with a strategy of attempting to hold terrain it wrests from Iraqi security forces, according to the institute. That differs from a terrorist strategy of wreaking havoc in an effort to undermine the legitimacy of the state.

The report showed that the number of car and truck bombs in Iraq increased to 537 last year, from 330 in 2012.

(Jim Michaels writes for USA Today.)

3 Comments

  1. I am somewhat amused by how the business of terrorism has become so corporatized that they publish an annual report. It assumes both the existence of investors and some kind of reporting standards and metrics for gauging the performance of a religious extremist group. An international terror equivalent of the SEC.

    Make no mistake I am shocked by ISIL’s conduct and brutality and wish for them to go down in a hail of bullets and cluster munitions. But this kind of creative evil still has to be appreciated in its own right.

    Its purely illustrative of the banality of evil in adopting corporate trappings for atrocities. I guess its not much different than Nazis of Communists using the trappings of civil service bureaucratic language, memos and systems to describe organized mass murder.

  2. Ho hum. Depending on who you ask, america and israel have a pretty long list of ongoing and past “crimes” as well. Its a reciprocal concept. These “terrorists” don’t have crimes if you ask one of their supporters. Nor do america or israel if you are talking to someone who benefits from their existence.

  3. “The land is for Jews” – Yahweh
    “The Land is for Islam” – Allah to the Muslims
    “Repent or you must die” – Christians to everyone else
    “Execute them in front of me.” – Jesus (Luke 19:27)

    Can we just all get along? I have no problem with anyone. – Humanitarian Atheist

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