There have been reports that the Islamic State has issued a fatwa (Islamic decree) mandating female genital mutilation for all women aged 11 to 46. Female genital mutilation (FGM) involves the removal of part or all of the external genitalia of a woman.
However, other reports suggest that it may have been a fake put out by one of the Islamic State's many enemies.
FGM has been endorsed by leading Islamist scholars such as the prominent Saudi Sheikh Mohammed Alarefe who tweeted to his eight million followers "Circumcision is a noble act to do to women. There’s nothing wrong with doing it. Some religious scholars have issued fatwas that it’s not allowed because many that perform the circumcision cut too much and they cause damage to the woman."
For more information see our factsheet on FGM.
The Islamic State, formerly of Iraq and Syria (ISIS, ISIL, DAASH) has been building the institutions of statehood and imposing its harsh, brutal and unyielding interpretation of Islamic law.
Simultaneously it has been quietly consolidating its power and readying for a confrontation with the Assad regime.
Thus they are physically and philosophically constructing their vision of an Islamic Caliphate.
The imposition of FGM comes on the heels of other enactments that bring the Islamic State's sharia law to its territory. Shop owners in Mosul are now forced to veil the mannequins in their shop windows. Only a few days ago the Islamic State expelled the last Christians from Mosul, bringing to an end a community almost as old as Christianity itself. Posters in Mosul have called on citizens to hand over their unmarried girls to the militants for so called 'sex-jihad' while children as young as nine have been seen patrolling the streets with heavy weaponry in their new role as soldiers of jihad.
The nascent Caliphate is also investing significant resources into building legitimacy. In his speech at the beginning of Ramadan, calling on his supporters to wage jihad, he appeared dressed in the traditional garb of an Islamic preacher. He also donned a black turban, worn by the Abbassid Caliphs, whom Baghdadi is consciously imitating. Additionally his bevy of titles such as al-Qurayshi
(the Quraysh was the tribe of Muhammad) displays his alleged lineage, claiming his descent from the founder of Islam, Muhammad.
ISIS is recruiting people to work in all positions in its new state. It has even issued passports to its new citizens.
As well as building civic institutions and enforcing their draconian laws, they have been waging war. Their military targets reveal a sophisticated and carefully thought out strategy aimed at creating and consolidating the foundations of a state. They are focusing on consolidating territory and power over economic resources such as oil and gas fields.
They have largely driven Jabhat al-Nusra and other groups out of Deir ez-Zour and have captured the oil fields there, pushing westward into Homs. A few days ago they massacred around 100 regime soldiers near the Sha'ir gas fields. They threaten other gas fields as well as the nearby Ebla plant which converts the liquid gas into fuel that can be sold. IS has also been in control of three hydroelectric dams (Euphrates, Baath, Tishreen) in the north of the country for some time, putting them in charge of a significant section of the Syrian energy sector and in a position to threaten much more of it.
The Caliphate is now in control of over a third of Syria, including almost all of Deir ez-Zour province. Jabhat al-Nusra is relocated its base to Deraa and declared itself an Islamic Emirate in what appears to be a desperate attempt to stay relevant. Struggles between different jihadi groups continue but the Islamic State seems to be finally ready to fight Assad's regime for control of Aleppo province.
In Iraq the Caliphate controls a significant section of the oil industry, although by no means the majority of it. They have been making significant profits smuggling the oil at discounted prices. They have also been able to refine certain amounts of oil into fuel using plants captured in Syria. An engineer at Iraq's Qayara refinery spoke to Reuters on the condition of anonymity saying: "(The Islamic State) were keen to keep energy installations inside Qayara intact. We did not realise why they did not destroy facilities, but a week later they started to fill the trucks with Qayara crude. They were planning from the beginning to profiteer the field."
Exact estimates of profits vary. The Islamic State was already the richest armed group in the world after looting $450 million in cash from Mosul's banks. The Guardian reported that before the capture of Mosul they had $2 billion. One oil-smuggling operation was earning $1 million per day, but Iraqi forces and the Peshmerga, the local Kurdish defense forces claim to have halted that operation by bombing the transport trucks. Other revenue sources include levying duties on all imports into Mosul. They have also raised considerable sums by looting and selling captured Iraqi and Syrian historical artifacts, including the contents of Mosul's Museum.
What is clear is that the Caliphate is rich and getting richer.
Some of the world's oldest and most priceless historical artifacts have been destroyed by the Islamic State, including pieces dating back to the Assyrians and the earliest days of human history.
The Islamic State has seen no significant reversals of fortune since it declared a Caliphate almost a month ago. No forces of note have opposed them and there has been no determined counterattack. Its black-banner armies have only gained in strength and continue to become bolder, more powerful and more dangerous.
Related article: Last Christians Expelled From Mosul After 2,000 Years