A Look Inside the Caliphate: A podcast about ISIS by Rukmini Callimachi

I started listening to this podcast a few weeks ago and I can’t get over how great it was. I was really disappointed when it ended at only 10 Chapters. I was hoping it would go further and that Callimachi would keep following up on the aftermath of ISIS in the Middle East.

I’d like to hear more about ISIS fighters that are returning to Western countries and trying to avoid prosecution. I’d like to learn more about how Western countries are dealing with this problem, like, for example, how the UK is stripping some ISIS members of their UK passports. I’d also like to hear more “human interest” reports from people on the ground that were affected personally by ISIS. I’d rather hear it in an interview and investigative audio format than read about it later. Somehow, it seems more real and it’s certainly more engaging.

The Caliphate podcast itself is well done, engaging, and informative. If you have any interest in the Middle East, I highly recommend it. I do need to warn you that most of the episodes contain descriptions of extreme violence, sometimes narrated by the perpetrators of that violence in interviews and sometimes by their victims. It starts out with interviews of an ISIS member who returned to Canada, Abu Hussayfa (nom de guerre), and then moves on to other topics, including scouring the front lines for documentation.

I suppose what intrigued me the most about the podcast is how normal “Abu Hussayfa” sounds, considering what he did in Syria. I was also interested in how he tried to justify and excuse his actions. That seemed to be a trend among the people interviewed, which isn’t surprising in and of itself. The religious justifications he chose to use were what I found interesting.

I was surprised to find out just how bureaucratic and organized ISIS was. I had this idea in my head that it was organized in the sense of being a good fighting group, but the fact that they kept careful financial records, criminal justice records, and had a hierarchical administration was unexpected. I suppose it’s hard to picture ISIS, on the one hand, destroying historical sites for being “haram,” and on the other hand acting like a modern bureaucratic state.

Anyhow, again, if you have an interest in the Middle East you should really find time to listen to this podcast.

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