The islamic state files gasbuddy nj

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The phone call reached Muhammad Nasser Hamoud, a 19-year-veteran of the Iraqi Directorate of Agriculture, behind the locked gate of his home, where he was hiding with his family. Terrified but unsure what else to do, he and his colleagues trudged back to their six-story office complex decorated with posters of seed hybrids.

Meetings like this one occurred throughout the territory controlled by the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS, in 2014. Soon municipal employees were back fixing potholes, painting crosswalks, repairing power lines and overseeing payroll.

The disheveled fighters who burst out of the desert more than three years ago founded a state that was acknowledged by no one except themselves. And yet for nearly three years, ISIS controlled a stretch of land that at one point was the size of Britain, with a population estimated at 12 million people. At its peak, it included a 100-mile coastline in Libya, a section of Nigeria’s lawless forests and a city in the Philippines, as well as colonies in at least 13 other countries. By far the largest city under their rule was Mosul.

Nearly all of that territory has now been lost, but what the militants left behind helps answer the troubling question of their longevity: How did a group whose spectacles of violence galvanized the world against it hold onto so much land for so long?

ISIS built a state of administrative efficiency that collected taxes and picked up the garbage. It ran a marriage office that oversaw medical examinations to ensure that couples could have children. It issued birth certificates — printed on ISIS stationery — to babies born under the caliphate’s black flag. It even ran its own department of motor vehicles.

They also suggest that the militants learned from mistakes the United States made in 2003 after it invaded Iraq, including the decision to purge members of Saddam Hussein’s ruling party from their positions and bar them from future employment. That decree succeeded in erasing the Baathist state, but also gutted the country’s civil institutions, creating the power vacuum that groups like ISIS rushed to fill.

A little more than a decade later, after seizing huge tracts of Iraq and Syria, the militants tried a different tactic. They built their state on the back of the one that existed before, absorbing the administrative know-how of its hundreds of government cadres. An examination of how the group governed reveals a pattern of collaboration between the militants and the civilians under their yoke.

Ledgers, receipt books and monthly budgets describe how the militants monetized every inch of territory they conquered, taxing every bushel of wheat, every liter of sheep’s milk and every watermelon sold at markets they controlled. From agriculture alone, they reaped hundreds of millions of dollars. Contrary to popular perception, the group was self-financed, not dependent on external donors.

The U.S.-led coalition, trying to eject ISIS from the region, tried in vain to strangle the group by bombing its oil installations. It’s much harder to bomb a barley field. It was not until last summer that the militants abandoned Mosul, after a battle so intense that it was compared to the worst combat of World War II.

The day after the meeting, Hamoud, a Sunni, returned to work and found that his department was now staffed 100 percent by Sunnis, the sect of Islam practiced by the militants. The Shia and Christian colleagues who previously shared his office had all fled.

But the biggest change came five months into the group’s rule. The change involved the very department Hamoud headed, which was responsible for renting government-owned land to farmers. The instructions were laid out in a 27-page manual emblazoned with the phrase The Caliphate on the Path of Prophecy. The handbook outlined the group’s plans for seizing property from the religious groups it had expelled and using it as the seed capital of the caliphate.

The confiscation did not stop at the land and homes of the families they chased out. An entire ministry was set up to collect and reallocate beds, tables, bookshelves — even the forks the militants took from the houses they seized. They called it the Ministry of War Spoils.

Billboards went up showing an image of a woman fully veiled. The militants commandeered a textile factory, which began manufacturing bales of regulation-length female clothing. Soon thousands of niqab sets were delivered to the market and women who did not cover up began to be fined.

As he walked to and from work, Hamoud began taking side streets to dodge the frequent executions that were being carried out in traffic circles and public squares. In one, a teenage girl accused of adultery was dragged out of a minivan and forced to her knees. Then a stone slab was dropped onto her head. On a bridge, the bodies of people accused of being spies swung from the railing.

The street sweepers had not changed. What had was that the militants imposed a discipline that had been lacking, said a half-dozen sanitation employees who worked under ISIS and who were interviewed in three towns after the group was forced out.

"The only thing I could do during the time of government rule is to give a worker a one-day suspension without pay," said Salim Ali Sultan, who oversaw garbage collection both for the Iraqi government and later for ISIS in the northern Iraqi town of Tel Kaif. "Under ISIS, they could be imprisoned."

In the northern town of Tel Kaif, for example, residents recall how the militants conscripted a committee of electrical engineers to fix an overloaded power grid. They installed new circuit breakers, and for the first time, residents who had been accustomed to at most six hours of electricity a day could now reliably turn on lights.