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The Islamic State’s version of “Cops” documents cruel day-to-day rule in A-Raqqa

IS religious police prepare to behead a man accused of […]

7 June 2015

IS religious police prepare to behead a man accused of sorcery. Source: “Men of Al-Hisba.” The Islamic State. Available on YouTube. 2015.

AMMAN: The Islamic State (IS) documents its strict day-to-day rule in A-Raqqa city, lecturing barbers, snaring whiskey smugglers and publicly executing an accused magician, according to the latest of a three-part video series uploaded to YouTube last Monday entitled “Men of Al-Hisba.”

The documentary-style video opens with an explanation of the societal role and duties of the IS religious police, narrated from the perspective of an IS religious police-team lead. The seven-man team then files into a police mini bus to patrol the streets of A-Raqqa. In a scene reminiscent of Taliban rule in Afghanistan, they pop into barbershops, warning against illegal beard trims.

Following a series of dashboard-camera patrol scenes, seemingly styled after Western police reality programs, the Hisbeh make alcohol and tobacco busts, collecting cigarette cartons marked “Master,” and bottles of “Horse” brand whiskey.

Their day finishes with the public decapitation of an accused sorcerer, a balding man caught with a few unexplained trinkets and scribbled notes.


IS team lead: “People here love Islam–they comply with their religious obligations even without us … they just want someone to show them the right way.”  


IS team lead: “The stores are all closed during prayer time.”


IS team lead: “What are you getting done today, my brother?”

Barber: “The mustache.”

IS team lead: “As religiously prescribed?”

Barber: “Inshallah.”


IS religious police tear apart a liquor-smuggler’s mini bus.


 The IS religious police team find crates of whiskey.


The secret compartment in another minibus is filled with cartons of Master-brand cigarettes.


“Magic,” says one IS religious policeman, inspecting a zipped bag containing a small blue trinket.



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