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Life and death in the Islamic State

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Podcast: The true horrors of life under Islamic State

By Matthew Gault  The Great Debate

November 11, 2015
Participants: Jason Fields, Matthew Gault, Kevin Sullivan

Many in the West think of the Islamic State as a loose collection of fighters — rabble who kill, loot and burn. But the truth is more complex, though no less terrifying. Islamic State actually governs the territory it takes and it’s not terrible at it. The group levies taxes, teaches children and organizes garbage pickup.

Some living under Islamic State’s rule feel the Caliphate is less corrupt than the governments it replaced. The Islamist group’s propaganda videos depict both the violence of the jihad as well as the wonderful “paradise” of the caliphate. Children ride Ferris wheels and eat cotton candy.

In this episode of War College, Kevin Sullivan, a senior correspondent at The Washington Post walks us through his five-part series, Life in the Islamic State. Sullivan and his team spent months interviewing men, women and children in and around the territory ISIS calls the caliphate.

For some, particularly a small number of Sunni men, life in the state is happy. But the lives of women and children can be both brutal and cheap. Sullivan tell us how some women find themselves, “part of an institutionalized, near-assembly-line system to provide fighters with wives, sex and children.”

Sullivan breaks down the horrors of life in the Islamic State, where the tax-man carries a whip, schools brainwash children and women are little better than property.

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Further reading:

Life in the ‘Islamic State’

Al Qaeda is taking advantage of Islamic State’s bad reputation

Islamic State is not even close to defeat


The Secret to Defeating the ISIS ‘Caliphate’ Might Just Be in Islam Itself

America Isn’t Losing the War of Ideas to ISIS

Make No Mistake: A Syrian Safe Zone is a Major

How ISIS Spread in the Middle East

A Who’s Who Guide to the Syrian Civil War

The History of No-Fly Zones Doesn’t Bode Well for Syria

Although ISIS is distinctly violent, most civilian deaths have come from pro-Assad forces

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