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Tanner Barnett

September 4, 2014
Assignment 1 observations
Figured world- The figured world is the big picture from which the observations are
taken. Within a figured world are multiple communities in practice, literacy practices, actors, and
Rules of Engagement:
Conflicts in the Middle East have been a popular topic in the past years. The most recent
of conflicts are occurring in places such as Syria, Iraq, and Kurdistan. The figured world I have
chosen to observe includes Ar-Raqqah, Syria and Mosul and Erbil Iraq, and various small rural
areas. Both Ar-Raqqah and Mosul are under the Islamic state of Iraq and Syrias influence while
Kurdish-Peshmerga forces maintain control of Erbil and parts of Mosul.
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (or sometimes referred to as the Islamic State of Iraq
and Levant, explained later.) is a global terrorist organization that mainly operates in the Middle
East. Popularly shortened to ISIS, the organization has taken control of areas in Iraq and Syria
and are forcing civilians to follow strict religious laws that dictate their lifestyles. These laws,
collectively called Sharia law, are the laws stated in the Quran about how people of the Muslim
faith must by governed. Sharia law is said to be the almighty, forever unchanging word of Allah.
The civilians have limited civil liberties or freedoms and are often harshly punished for minor
crimes, such as smoking and foul language. Due to the lack of civil liberties under Sharia law,
rules often dominate over conventions. The people must obey fasting rules, and prayer times.
Consumption of alcohol, smoking in public, stealing, and adultery are all punishable crimes. By
law, women must cover their faces and bodies with veils and long robes. The punishment of
crimes, as stated in the Quran, are typically lashings. The areas are patrolled by the Hisbah. The
Hisbah acts very similar to a law enforcement agency by enforcing Sharia law. Most often,
Hisbah patrol officers deal with minor conflicts as they see fit. Persecution of religious
minorities is very common along with public displays of execution. Scenes throughout the
documentaries show graphic aftermaths of crucifixions and beheadings.
One of the main communities in practice is ISIS. Members of the organization
collaborate and communicate through radio, phones, and propaganda to establish control
throughout Iraq and Syria, while eliminating non-believers of the Islamic faith. They use
weapons and supplies stolen from the Iraqi armed forces and uses a variety of large military
vehicles and small trucks for transportation. ISIS is also involved in recruiting young males for
their mission by using media and flyers for propaganda. Known as a relentless fighting force, the
Kurdish-Peshmerga are the opposing force to ISIS. The members of the Kurdish-Peshmerga
forces are tied to domain of defending Kurdistan and protecting the religious minorities because
they are Kurdish or have Kurdish family members. The Kurdish-Peshmerga communicate in
similar ways to ISIS such as radios and cell phones, and use large military vehicles and weapons.

Communities- The community is the who of a community in practice. These are the
members of a group who work collaboratively to accomplish the domain. The communities Ar-
Raqqah and Mosul include the ISIS fighters, the civilians, and Kurdish-Peshmerga forces. The
communities interacts with each other through armed conflict, protest, violent persecutions and
ISIS- Members of ISIS are comprised of Sunni Muslim volunteers who go through
intensive military training. Within ISIS, members have various roles from combat roles to
civil duties such as press officers, law enforcement, and clerks.
Syrian Regime 17
Division- The main counter force to all ISISs territorial advances
comes from the last standing pieces of the Syrian Army. ISIS pushes the Syrian army
towards to northern Syria.
Syrian civilians- The civilians who reside in Ar-Raqqah and Mosul are forced to comply
with Sharia laws strict guidelines for behavior and appearance. Women must wear
traditional Muslim wear and any objects, ideas, or events that are thought to have a
western influence are in violation with Sharia Law. These guidelines pertain to even the
Muslims, Christians, and Yazidi religious minorities who are required to abandon their
personal ways of life to adopt Sharia law.
Christian, Muslim, and Yazidi refugees- For the religious minorities that have not
remained in Ar-Raqqah, most have escape religious persecution, Muslims and non-
Muslims are being forced to flee to the outskirts of the country. The refugees desperately
need help and long to return to their homes. Refugees also play a large role in how the
international community must act.

Domain- The domain is the what of a community in practice and can best be described as
what distinguishes a community from a community of practice. The domain incorporates shared
goals and objectives of the group. Members of a group share their knowledge on the domain to
benefit the group. ISIS plans to establish an Islamic state governed by sharia law and eradicate
all non-believers to the Islamic faith. The Kurdish-Peshmerga forces aim to counter ISISs
efforts and protect the Kurdish people from harm. Kurds joins the Kurdish-Peshmerga fighting
force on the common basis of protecting their people and share knowledge just like ISIS. The
religious minorities are brought together by the common threat to their lives and are trying to
Establishing a caliphate- A caliphate is an Islamic controlled form of government that is
based off the ideals of the holy book of Islam. Under a caliphate, citizens have no
freedoms outside of what is stated in the Quran and can be severely punished for not
doing so. ISIS aims to establish the caliphate in Iraq and Syria and expand into the
surrounding countries to occupy all of the middle east.
Sharia law- Sharia Law are the laws based in the holy book of Islam that strictly govern
citizens lifestyle, dress, appearance, and behavior. Sharia law cannot be debated nor
changed because it is said to be the permanent word of Allah. ISIS has established and
continues to enforce Sharia law among its controlled territory.
Defense the Kurdistan- The Kurdish people feel threaten by the growing terrorist
organization and have decided to fight back. The Kurdish people fight ISIS to keep their
land free from oppression and persecution. The members of Kurdish-Peshmerga forces
are joined by their heritage and mission to their people. The Peshmerga rescue and give
aid to refugees while defending northern Iraq from ISIS attacks.

Communities in practice- The communities of practice are groups of people who share a
domain, background, goal, or some other connection. Members of a community in practice
exercise communication and accomplish goals. ISIS is a jihadist organization operating in the
Middle East with sustaining supplies of oil, medical supplies, weapons, and clothing. ISISs
operations depend to their shared resources. With oil and weapons, members cannot carry out
attacks or defend the strongholds. Non-materialistic resources such as training and propaganda
are necessary to each mission but are sustained by recruiting and passing on the knowledge. The
Kurdish-Peshmerga forces operate in similar ways by sharing resources and supplies
ISIS- ISIS in a network of interdependent communities of which interact heavily with
each other to establish a caliphate and enforce Sharia law. For example, the Hisbah
enforces the laws of the Quran throughout the city. The Hisbah captures those how
violate the laws and send them to courts for their sentencing.
Kurdish-Peshmerga Forces- The Peshmerga forces are a well-trained joint army of Iraq
and Kurdistan that aims to provide security to civilians in disputed areas. Peshmerga
forces currently control northern Iraq.
Artifacts- artifacts come from a variety of aspects and give the observer an insight about
the figured world. An artifact can be physical or non-physical and can range from an ideology to
a cultural paradigm.
ISIS weapons- ISISs firepower was obtained from the Iraqi army through militant
attacks. These weapons show organizations power and ability to cause harm to civilians
as well as surrounding countries. The military strength of ISIS could have consequences
to the surrounding countries.
ISIS Flag- The ISIS flag is black and white. It serves as a symbol of stability for some,
and terror for others. The ISIS flag represents dedication to the cause and establishing
control. Citizens and ISIS members alike crowd the streets waving the flag from street
corners, armored vehicles, and buildings. The flags are handed out to kids as they chant
in loud zealous battle cries.
The ISIS Prisoners- These men have violated some law pertaining to the Quran and have
been placed in a small room for a period of time before their sentence. The sentences
range in number of lashes for alcohol and smoking related crimes to death for drug
related crimes. These men in the prisons are all but remorseful of their actions. All men
reported having accepted their wrong and gratitude in the opportunity to reflect on their
Peshmerga- Peshmerga translates to those who confront death. The Kurdish forces
have adopted this term because it represents their reputation of a fearless fighting force.
Citizens have faith that the Kurdish-Peshmerga forces will not back down when opposed
by ISIS.
Refugee camps- The refugee camps show the full effect of what ISIS is doing to the area.
The religious minorities have been forced to flee in fear of persecution and are now away
from home.

Actors- An actor is anyone who plays an important part in the figured world.
Abu Mosa- A press officer who guides the video through the events that occur. Abu
Mosa offers explanations and guidance for events that occur along with reasoning into
the goals of ISIS. As a press officer, Abu Mosas responsibility is to deal with matters of
the media.
Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi- Baghdadi is the current head of ISIS and the caliphate, also
known as the caliph. Bagdadi serves more of an indirect role within the observations. He
does not direct interact with the people in the observations, but since he is the head of the
caliphate, ISIS members must pledge their allegiance to him. ISIS spends a great deal of
recruiting effort prophesizing Bagdadis leadership.
Abu Obida- A Hisbah patrol leader. Abu Obida patrols the city of Ar-Raqqah for citizens
in violation of Sharia Law. During the observations, Abu Obida deals with minor
conflicts non-violently and sincerely, but states he must do his job.
Abu Laith Al- Jazerwe- ISIS fighter. Plays a smaller role in the observations, but
provides insights on ISIS operations and cause.

Literary practices- the literary practices are the modes of communication and interaction
among the community. This includes verbal and nonverbal modes of communication.
Radios and cell phones- A prominent mode of verbal communication for members of Ar-
Raqqah is cell phones and radios. A cell phones access to social media makes them that
much more of a huge mode of verbal communication
Propaganda and Preachings- To spread the word of Islam and ISIS control, the use of
propaganda and preachings have been implemented to reach the maximum number of
civilians. Types of propaganda are typically pamphlets and Islamic paraphernalia (flags,
banners, etc.) and are distributed by ISIS members and preaching vans. Celebrations are
held to parade the pride of ISIS and gather new recruits.
The environment- An environment is strong mode nonverbal communication because it
has the power to influence peoples subconscious minds and set paradigms for the
community. In Ar-Raqqah, Sharia law has very strict rules regarding the appearance for
individuals and the environment. Objects seen to have a western influence or objects that
stand for ideals against the Islamic religion are in violation to Sharia law. In the
observations, A Hisbah patrol officer asked a man to remove a poster for his shop
because it represented western ideals.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, better known as ISIS, is a Sunni jihadist organization.
Sunni is the most common sect of Islam as opposed to Shia. A Jihadist refers to a Muslim who is
part of the movement for reviving extreme fundamental principles of Islam. ISIS was once a part
of the jihadist group Al-Qaeda, the terrorists responsible for the attacks on September 11
, and
now the two jihadist organizations fight for recruits, supplies, and territory. ISIS has significantly
grown in power and numbers recently by invading parts of Iraq and Syria, specifically the cities
of Ar-Raqqah and Mosul. Currently, ISIS controls approximately 30% of the combined countries
while seizing access to Syrian oil, Iraqi water and weapons, and, supplies. The domain of ISIS is
Goal number one is to establish a caliphate, an Islamic state run by a caliph. The second of the
goals expand the caliphate into surrounding areas of the Middle East and on through Europe.
Thirdly, a goal stated in the Quran, is to eradicate false religions and those who believe in them.
ISIS has brought both harm and stability to the region. Previously Iraqi and Syria were run by a
Shia dominate government while the majority of the citizens were of the Sunni branch of Islam.
The voice of Sunni Muslims were often neglected by the Shia governments. By taking control of
parts of Iraq and Syria, ISIS has been able to let the voice of Sunni Muslims be heard and relieve
oppression from Syria president Al-Assad and Iraqi president Fuad Masum. ISIS has set up
medical clinics, kids carnivals, supplies, water and power in order to establish a stronger
presence. On the contrary, the violence at which ISIS enforces sharia law, a form of theocracy in
which a region is governed by the Quran, is being spread through multiple news organizations.
Persecution by the hundreds of thousands of Yazidis and Christians. The observations come from
a series of documentaries showing live footage of the current events. The first documentary
focuses on ISIS while the second and third documentaries focus on the Kurdish-Peshmerga and
religious minorities. The main events that occur throughout the observations happen in former
Syrian city of Ar-Raqqah, Mosul, Iraq, and surrounding residential areas and checkpoints.
Throughout the observation, the streets of ISIS territory are often crowded with people.
Destroyed cars and other debris littering areas of the region. Walls are ridden with bullet holes.

Observation 1
0:00-2:30- The scene begins in Ar-Raqqah, Syria. An ISIS fighter is firing a machine gun
from the back of a pickup truck. Another ISIS fighter is ordering the gunfire above to an aircraft.
The scenes are introducing ISIS and giving a short history of their origins and what they stand
for. A yellow car is shot off the road by ISIS gunfire. ISIS vehicles and tanks parade through the
village while people wave the ISIS flag. People crowd the streets with phones to record to
events. The area is dilapidated with remnants of destroyed vehicles, bullets hole ridden walls,
and high rising smoke. The scenes transitions to introduce Abu Mosa, an ISIS press officer who
acts as a tour guide.
2:30-6:20- Abu Mosa and another press officer are driving through Ar-Raqqah. Abu
Mosa is explaining how they will have to drive past a checkpoint guarded by the Syrian Regime
Division, one of the last standing pieces of the Syrian Army. There is a sniper atop a sugar
factory building, none of the members in the car are harmed. Abu Mosa talks about the death of
his two brothers along with more civilians due to attacks from the Syrian Army. He says they
attack with 23mm cannons, snipers, machine guns, and mortars. A map shows the region that
ISIS currently has control of in relation to the last Syrian stronghold in the city of Ar-Raqqah. As
they continue down the road, Abu Mosa and his partner arrive at an ISIS stronghold. They exit
the vehicle, scan the area near the Syrian stronghold, and begin firing shots from a far. Abu Mosa
explains how ISIS has cut off the Syrian armys supplies.
6:20-8:30- A cut scene shows that ISIS has invaded the Syrian Armys Stronghold. The
Syrian army suffer approximately 50 casualties, of which ISIS fighters decapitated the troops and
display in a plaza of Ar-Raqqah. The scene transitions to a crowd of people gathering mosque.
The people are worshiping Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, the caliph of the newly established ISIS
caliphate. All the civilians are wearing casual clothes while Baghdadi is dressed in an ankle-long
black robe accompanied with black headgear. Inside the building has tall, beautiful stone pillars
and archways. Baghdadi preaches to the people about the cause for ISIS and how people should
be willing to sacrifice everything, including their life, for God. At another Mosque in Ar-Raqqah
called Al-Fordos, A speaker proclaims to price of victory through sacrifice and the crowd swears
allegiance to Baghdadi. Various recruits explain their reasons for pledging allegiance for the
8:30-14:40- Abu Mosa talks about family. He doesnt get to see them much because he is
out fighting for ISIS. He only returns home when he is terribly ill or a problem arises. Abu Mosa
and his partner drive to the Euphrates River and request that a Preaching Van accompany
them. The preaching van distributes pamphlets to kids playing in the river. There is surprisingly
high output of positive energy among the people at the river, kids and adults alike. Various kids
explain how they are eager to join the cause of ISIS. Kids as young as 9 express there desire to
fight to kill non-believers with stomaching churning energetic tones. The accounts of the people
at the river provide a reciprocal viewpoint on conflicts in the Middle East. Most people justify
attacks against terrorist organizations because of the violence threatening or committed against
innocent people. The members of ISIS justify their violence and hatred for the United States
from the civilian casualties caused by US Airstrikes our hatred for Muslims, of which may or
may not be true. ISIS gains support when the US airstrikes claim civilian casualties because the
message ISIS sends now has proof. Children can begin participation in ISIS as young as desired.
Children under 15 attend camps to learn ISIS ideologies while children at the age of 16 are
trained to participate in combat operations.
14:40-18:00- ISIS holds a celebration ceremony for the establishment of the caliphate.
The event is organized and structured, showing more implications of what ISIS military
operation are capable of accomplishing. The ceremony progresses and many ISIS members who
have previously pledged allegiance to Baghdadi praise the establishment of the caliphate. The
ceremony is used as a recruiting opportunity. A speaker holding an automatic rifle speaks of his
experience. He has travelled from Europe to establish his commitment to the cause. He
denounces all other false religions and strongly encourages the crowd to join ISIS. The
alternative to not joining will be death. The crowd concludes the ceremony with a pledge of
allegiance to the caliph, Baghdadi, followed by more motivational chants.
18:00-23:55 The focus is now directed towards daily life in Ar-Raqqah and how the
presence of ISIS is changing it. ISIS has established Sharia Law, which has strict rules about all
aspects of life from appearance, behavior, and even issues pertaining to economics and court
issues. Street vendors accompany both sides of the street selling various products. Signs resonate
in abstract colors and unfamiliar encryptions above beaten down shops with no more space than
a vacant storage closet. Traffic stops for no one while the vendors shout in attempt to grab the
attention of those walking by, all adding the chaotic confusion of the environment. A new actor
is introduced. Abu Obida is a Hisbah patrol leader whose job is to enforce Sharia Law in Ar-
Raqqah. He takes in his work and explains how he offers individuals a chance to change without
arousing conflict. If they do not comply then he must take action. As Abu Obida drives through
town, he spots a young man and requests to have a word with him. The man has displayed an
image that conflicts with the views of Sharia Law and comply when asked to remove it. Further
down the road Abu Obida calls to man from his car and orders him to change his wifes veil. He
explains under Sharia law, it is a violation for a female to display any part of her body. It is the
holy month Ramadan, so the Hisbah is responsible for monitoring the citizens activities in
regard to meals. Abu Obida continues to visit each shop vendor to ensure they are selling and
trading fairly. He visit a meat shop to speak to the owner about meat prices. After he is satisfied,
Abu Obida leaves to continue his patrol.
23:50-26:30- A group of prisoners share their individual account and the crimes they
committed. The room containing these men looks like a 10 by 10 room with beige tiled walls
and floor mats. The first man explains he is in prison because he was in possession of alcohol.
The mans tone is calm and sincere as he repents his sins and thanks the Hisbah for bringing him
closer to God. His son was also arrested for possession of alcohol. Another man says he was
arrested for smoking during the holy month of Ramadan. Most of these men will be sentenced to
lashings varying by sentence. One man is likely to receive a death sentence for possession of
drugs. Collectively, the prisoners advice the citizens of Ar-Raqqah to stay true to God.
26:30-31:00- The storyline returns to Abu Mosa. He is riding in a car through Ar-Raqqah
explaining how Sharia law is established to help the peoples way of life. ISIS plans to govern
every aspect of people life through Sharia law. Harsh sentences have been a common answer to
crime in Ar-Raqqah ever since ISIS has taken over the courts. The scene cuts to man who has
been convicted of murder and been publicly crucified. Crowds of people by the hundreds
surround the dead body with their phones taking pictures and videos of the event. Abu Mosa
visits the courts under ISIS control. The courts hear issues pertaining to all aspects and work as
arbitrators. A man explains to Abu Mosa that he is reporting a claim against his cousin for not
sharing the familys crop yield. Haidara, a clerk for the court in Ar-Raqqah helps to explain how
the courts work. He says the main purpose of the courts is arbitration by the word of God. All
sentences can be found in the Quran. The court affairs offices are divided into Muslim affairs
and non-Muslim affairs. Non-Muslims are permitted to live under ISIS if they convert to Islam
or comply with a non-Muslim tax.
31:00-34:25- The focus is shifted to the refugees fleeing Iraqi and Syria. Almost 300,000
refugees have fled the surrounding area in fear of ISIS violence. Churches and Mosques of Shia
Muslims are being destroyed and converted into ISIS preaching centers. In a particular ISIS
preaching center, more pamphlets are passed around to children and adults. The ISIS members
also collect money from the rich as it is mandatory the wealthy giving a percentage of their
income to the poor. A young boy around the age of 10 expresses his rage towards the United
States and his passion for ISIS. He swear on behalf of ISIS to divide America in two and
eradicate all false religions.
34:25-42:30-Two ISIS member are riding in the back of a truck on their way towards the
Iraqi Syrian border. The border was once guarded by troops denying citizens the access to free
cross back and forth. One man in the back of the truck is firing random shot into the air while the
other chants. ISIS has gained control of the border and have expressed satisfaction in being able
to cross the border free. Not only is ISIS taking control of the border and allowing access to
freely cross, but ISIS is dissolving the border placed by the previous Sykes-Picot agreement.
ISIS is doing this by placing of barbed wire and bulldozing part of the 12 foot tall sand barriers
down. ISIS filmed the attack of the Iraqi border and publicized the video. It contains segment
showing the captured Iraqi soldiers piled into the back of a truck. Before they are driven off, an
ISIS fighter tells all the soldiers their heads are going to be chopped off. An Iraqi man wearing a
red-white checkered head cover displaying his satisfaction in the opened borders. He is now can
now visit son, sister, uncle, and nephew who reside in Syria. ISIS fighter Abu Laith Al Jazerwe
concludes the scene be denouncing all other false religions and shares his desires to enforce
Sharia law throughout the region. He states that whether the people agree with the domain of
ISIS of not, they will enforce Sharia Law throughout the land.

Observation 2:
0:00-1:25- To start the video, a reporter asks a Kurdish-Peshmerga troops opinion about
the Iraqi army. In light of a recent ISIS attacks on the Iraqi army, he responds that the Iraqis are
cowards for retreating against ISIS. The Kurdish-Peshmerga forces would never be responsible
for such actions. The setting now takes place in Mosul, Iraq. The area contains destroyed
vehicles still ablaze along with tall black smoke clouds. The area appears to be residential. The
Peshmerga forces currently control the northern area of Iraq and Syria.
1:25-3:50- There is a refugee camp located in Erbil, Iraq with rows of blue tents. Water
and food are being supplied to the refugees. An elder male refugee is interview about the
situation. He says he has brought his family to the camp because they were afraid. His family
was fired upon by ISIS fighters while receiving no protection from the Iraqi forces. Iraqi Prime
Maliki and the Iraqi soldiers have been terrorizing the citizens as well.
3:50-9:10- At a Peshmerga checkpoint, troops monitor entrance into the Kurdish-
Peshmerga controlled area of Mosul. Not far from the checkpoint resides an ISIS controlled
checkpoint in Mosul. The Peshmerga forces do not fear ISIS as an officer explains ISIS already
has multiple enemies. Confronting another strong force such as the Peshmerga would hurt ISIS.
The Peshmerga forces are expanding their region of control in the disputed areas. An Iraqi
citizen who is returning to home in Mosul gives his input. He suggests that the presence of ISIS
is not all bad. ISIS brings stability and order to Mosul by fixing things that Iraq neglected. The
man rejects that ISIS is persecuting innocent minorities, instead he states the no matter what
religion people are, if they repent they will be left alone. When ISIS overtook parts of Mosul
Iraq, the Iraqi troops fled. The reason for this is unknown, but troops dropped everything,
allowing Kurdish- Peshmerga to capitalize and take the equipment. Reports conclude that ISIS
executed masses of Iraqi troops after the attack on Mosul.
9:10-13:55- Scenes are showing Iraqi forces regrouping after the loss of Mosul. There is
chaos among civilians as Iraqi troops try to re-establish stability to the region. There are troops
lined across the road patting down civilians as they cross. There are huge military vehicles with
men filling the truck beds. These men seem to be militia fighters against ISIS. The Iraqi Prime
Minister, Maliki, is accusing officers of war crimes after deserting the fight in Mosul. The
location is now Erbil, Iraq, a residential area. Many Iraqi army troops have fled their post and
occupy Erbil. A troop shares his account. He proclaims that the ISIS attack took the Iraqis
completely by surprise. The collapse of the city occurred nearly overnight as small skirmishes
evolved into a takeover. After Iraqi generals and leader fled Mosul, the troops were clueless and
scared and also fleeing Mosul. The former troop blames treason within the ranks or that someone
was working with ISIS. There had been minor attacks on Mosul before, but no efforts to seize
the city.
13:55-17:30- The focus is on Kirkuk, Iraq. At one time there were disputes between
Kurdish-Peshmerga forces and Iraq on who should control the city. Currently Kurdish-
Peshmerga forces control the city while ISIS controls the region to the south. Attacks on
Peshmerga forces by ISIS and Sunni group occur often. The location in now Erbil, Iraq at a
Kurdistan government office. Head of foreign relations, Falah Mustafa Bakir, explains the
significance of Kirkuk to the Kurdish people and what it means for the city to be in Kurdish
control. Kirkuk is a symbol of national pride to Kurdistan. The oil and natural gas that Kurdistan
possess give them importance and recognition on the international stage. The Kurdish-
Peshmerga forces have no intentions of giving up control of Kirkuk like the Iraqis gave up
17:30-21:00- The scene cuts to the Iraqis 12
division army base in Kirkuk, Iraq. The
Iraqi base was abandoned by the troops and Peshmerga forces have claimed the base. Peshmerga
commander Nakib Abdula explains the situation from the start, beginning with the abandonment
by Iraqi forces. When ISIS overtook Mosul, they burned all of the supplies. He talks about the
composition of ISIS fighters ranging from violent terrorist, to Naqshbandi [Sunni extremist], and
ISIS themselves. Their weapons were acquired from attacks on Iraqi bases and are being used to
fight Peshmerga. The commander reinforces the idea that Kirkuk will remain Kurdish territory
no matter the outcome of the conflict.
21:00-24:10- While still in Kirkuk, most of the people are celebrating Kurdish control.
Kids play happily in a park and the streets are calm with the absence of tall smoke clouds and
gunfire. A Sunni Muslim leader shares his thought about Peshmerga controlled Kirkuk. He says
the Peshmerga forces are greedy for claiming an Iraqi city as their own in such events. Kirkuk is
city rich in oil, agriculture, and infrastructure. He does not approve of the actions the Kurdish-
Peshmerga forces are taking in regards to ISIS, hinting at corruption within the ranks of
Peshmerga who are striking deals with ISIS in return for territory.
24:10-31:30- In Khanaqin Base, Diyala Province, Iraq, there more activity as compared
to the other base due to increased attacks from the south. Troops are loading small arms weapons
with ammunition, piling into trucks, and being transported. When troops are not on rotation, they
spend their down time on the base winding down. The next morning, the troops load trucks and
organize a convoy to head to the frontlines. A Peshmerga officer explains the position on the
frontlines. ISIS and other Arab militias hold positions to the west and south of Peshmerga. ISIS
is fighting from the neighborhoods. Everyone on the frontlines is alert ready for an ISIS attack.
Observation 3:
0:00-6:38- The location is Bartella, Ninawa Province in northern Iraq, very close to
Mosul. Bartella is a Christian dominated region that is currently under attack by ISIS forces,
even though many Christian refugees from Mosul are seeking refuge in Bartella. The Peshmerga
forces are busy on the frontlines. Trucks loaded with troops and weapons. The troops are
unloading mortars from a truck and scurrying through trenches. Another city, Qaraqosh, is under
attack by ISIS fighters, causing the Christians within the town to flee the area. Around 1700
hours the roads exiting the city were packed with cars. Hundreds of cars honk their horns
chaotically while in traffic. A truck carried a large family in the back. Eventually people got out
of their cars and worked on foot. In the morning, the city is nearly vacant, despite a few
Christians who are trapped or guarding the surrounding churches. A middle-aged Christian man
who stayed behind explains the significance of retaking the city. He says Qaraqosh has a history
with the Christians. The majority of the people in the area are Assyrian Catholics. There has been
no electricity or water in the area. Like previous ISIS attacks, the attacks were unexpected,
catching the Peshmerga and the citizens off guard. Families fled to Erbil and Dohuk. The man
and his family stayed to defend the church and have faith the Lord will protect them from ISIS
6:38-13:00- Yazidi refugees are forced to flee to the Sinjar mountains in Derik, Syria.
The US has claimed to have taken care of ISIS forces in that area, but the Yazidis are still
trapped. The flat barren landscape is scattered with refugee tents. At the camp known as Newroz,
men distribute supplies from a truck bed to a sea of waving arms and calls of distress. The camp
contains about 7000 people. A refugee gives his account of how ISIS attacked his village and
forced them into the mountains. There are workers at the camp to help distribute aid and supplies
to the women and children. More of the story comes from Senior PYD official Aldar Xelil, who
states denies the Syrian regime is providing any other the aid Yazidi refugees are receiving.
Instead of US military intervention, Xelil suggests the US support small militia like YPG to fight
ISIS themselves.
13:00-19:00- The scene moves to the Iraqi- Syrian border, of which has been a particular
area of tension even before the birth of ISIS. Citizens are attempting to make the 3 hour journey
through the border towards the refugee camps, but that particular road has been a popular ISIS
ambush point. On the return from the Iraqi-Syrian border, Peshmerga forces stop at an outpost
for water. At another refugee camp in northeastern Syria, people are scattered on the dry desert
floor trying to get some sleep. Many dont have blankets or cover over their heads.
19:00-25:30- In Khazer, near the residential area Erbil, cars have been deserted about 100
yards from the road by refugees. Chief of Staff Shwan Aziz accounts the events on the frontlines
between ISIS and the Peshmerga forces. The Peshmerga forces have a reputation for being a
strong and daring fighting force. When ISIS made an attack on Erbil, the Peshmerga were forced
to retreat, hurting their reputation. US airstrikes were completed to aid the Peshmerga in
stabilizing their position and have temporarily discontinued the ISIS advancement. General
Makded Harki of the 2
Brigade, Zeravani Division, describes how all religious minorities or
fleeing Iraq.
25:30-30:00- At a base located near the Mosul Dam, Peshmerga forces hold a position
about two kilometers away. The Peshmerga and the US are both working to regain Mosul Dam
because of its military significance. Tall black smoke plumes were visible over the horizons.
Peshmerga forces launch 107mm cannon shells into ISIS positions; ISIS returns fire with mortar
shells. Later that night, the Peshmerga and US retake Mosul Dam.
Interview #1 ISIS fighter
1. Tell me about your connection and experiences with the Islamic State?
I am a fighter for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. I joined the force in earlier
last year during the takeover of my home town, Ar-Raqqah. Ive decided to help fight with
ISIS because I wish to be a part of the caliphate and honor Allah by striking down all non-
believers. The caliphate will represent the people of Islam better than the oppressive
governments of Iraq and Syria. So far I have participated in combat missions including the
attacks on Mosul, Iraq.
2. Please describe some common misconceptions the general public is unaware of pertaining to
the Islamic faith and history.
All the media talks about is irrational violent acts committed by ISIS. We have
brought stability to the region by freeing the people from an oppressive dictator. We have
established medical clinics, running water, and oil to help the Muslims of the region. ISIS has
support from the regions people because we take care of them better than Al-Assad and
Maliki. The demands of ISIS are simply. Just follow the word of Allah written in the Quran,
nothing more, nothing less.
3. How has Islam evolved from its origins to modern day?
Muslims influenced by western ideals have lost connections to the roots of Islam. Allah
has written his word in the Quran and those who call themselves Muslims must abide by
those rules. The caliphate wishes to bring Muslims back to Islams root and will eradicate
those who dont
4. What are the future goals for ISIS?
ISIS aims to expand the borders of the caliphate on into Europe and Asia until the
caliphate has no borders. All other false religions must be eradicate for they disagree with the
one true God. ISIS is now a global organization with supporters from the UK and United
States, and has gain international recognition through the media.

Interview #2 Peshmerga Fighter
1. What is your connection with the Peshmerga and how have you been involved in the
I am Kurdish by birth and have been living in London since I was elven. When
the conflict started getting huge media recognition, I was concerned for my peoples
safety. Finally, after receiving a letter that my uncle had lost his life as a part of the
fighting, I decided to return home and volunteer for the Kurdish-Peshmerga fighting
force. The Kurds are peaceful people who for nothing more than the safety of its people.
This rising terrorist group ISIS threatens are way of life with their goal to conquer the
Middle East and establish a caliphate. After a couple weeks of training I was ready fight
and protect my people from harms way.
2. Describe some of the consequences involving the establishment of a ISIS caliphate and
how it would affect your people.
ISIS has escalated its violent acts since its break from Al-Qaeda. Anyone who
doesnt believe their extreme views has no place in their society and will be executed.
The Kurds never instigated ISIS into acting so violently, but they do not care. ISIS has
even displayed public executions to inject fear into society and discourage all other false
religions. The establishment of an ISIS caliphate in the Middle East would put all people
opposed to the Islamic states radical views in grave danger of oppression and
3. Tell me about the condition of the religious minorities being forced to flee ISIS control.
Since the attacks on Ar-Raqqah and Mosul, religious minorities have had to flee
to escape religious persecution, leaving their homes and possessions behind. Now most of
the religious minorities stay at refugee camps towards the north. The mission currently
has been to rescue refugees stranded in the northern Syrian mountains. The mission has
been successful so far in providing aid and transport in Peshmerga controlled areas, but
these people long to return to their homes and resume the lives they were forced to pause.
4. How do you believe the international community should be responding to the situation?
The Peshmerga need the help of the US to fight ISIS. The airstrikes have been
effective specifically in retaking the Mosul. We also need weapons and supplies

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