“Who Holds the Real Power in IS?”
Al-Monitor, February 19, 2015
“Despite the debate over whether IS represents Islam and what ‘true Islam’ is, Islamic movements, sects and scholars perceive IS as truly believing it is enforcing the rule of Allah according to the Quran and the Hadith under the guidance of the organization’s Sharia Council, probably the group’s most vital body. The council’s responsibilities include overseeing the speeches of the self-declared Caliph Ibrahim (Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi) and those under him, dictating punishments, preaching, mediating, monitoring the group’s media, ideologically training new recruits and advising the caliph on how to deal with hostages when it is decided to execute them. It was the Sharia Council that advised on the burning death of Muath al-Kasasbeh and the slaughter and shooting of dozens of Syrian and Iraqi soldiers as well as James Foley and other hostages. … The former IS cleric, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said of Baghdadi’s decision-making, ‘Despite him being the head of the Sharia Council, he asks for the muftis’ point of view. All the muftis are high-level clerics with deep understanding of the religion. All are ‘hafiz’ [have memorized the Quran]. The same goes for the major Hadiths — Sahih al-Bukhari, Sahih Muslim, Musnad Ibn Hanbal, al-Tarmathi, etc. It is only the elite who can make it on to this council. In fact, they are the ones who rule.'”
Quickie Analysis: The fact that a respected group of clerics makes the decisions in ISIS makes it even worse, in a way.