Authored by Asaad Almohammad
Based on data gathered from eastern and northwestern Syria between January 2018 and April 2019, the author investigated the Islamic State’s covert operation to infiltrate and fold Tanzim Hurras ad-Din (Guardians of Religion Organization), an unofficial alQaeda affiliate, under its banner. Evidenced by internal documents and interview materials, this paper argues that the Islamic State has orchestrated and implemented this multifaceted operation since at least mid-January 2017. In the run-up to territorial defeat in eastern Syria, the Islamic State signaled its interest in relocating its operatives to Idlib. The group also developed scenarios to facilitate the movement of its members to northwest Syria in the case of territorial defeat. With the potential of a reduction in counterterrorism efforts against the Islamic State, such a plan, if implemented successfully, may allow the organization to put a contingency plan into action, one that facilitates its effort to regroup and rebuild its depleted capacities in Syria. This paper utilizes and demonstrates the value of the tribe building method in gathering data in warzones.