Promoting ISIL Accountability for Atrocity Crimes

In the aftermath of the collapse of the Islamic State’s self-declared “caliphate,” the international community has grappled with the question of how to achieve accountability for crimes committed by the armed group. While prosecutions of captured ISIL fighters and other ISIL-affiliated individuals are occurring, they have to date overwhelmingly focused on terrorism charges, rather than charges based on the atrocity crimes directly or indirectly perpetrated by these individuals. There have been notable exceptions to this, including the landmark 2021 conviction of an ISIL member for genocide in Germany. Yet, many prosecutions, by not addressing the additional dimensions of the crimes committed, fall short of true accountability for the atrocities that have occurred.

To support prosecutions that reflect the atrocities committed by ISIL, additional work is needed to collect and analyze evidence relating to the structure and organization of the Islamic State. Recognizing this, the Center for Justice and Accountability engaged eight experts to conduct original research on the inner workings of ISIL. The authors of these reports are recognized inter-disciplinary experts on the Islamic State—some of whom have served as expert witnesses in U.N.-led investigations and domestic criminal proceedings. These papers are intended to serve as a summary of their research and a starting point for prosecutors and other authorities conducting investigations and building cases around crimes committed by ISIL.

The Islamic State and its Treatment of ‘Out-Groups’: A Comparative Analysis
Author: Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi
Examining ISIL ideology and treatment of Shi’a, Christian, and Yazidi communities, including forced conversions and enslavement

Cubs of the Caliphate
Authors: Tore Hamming and Amarnath Amarasingam
Understanding the recruitment, indoctrination, training, and deployment of children and youth by ISIL

The Agency and Roles of Foreign Women in ISIS
Authors: Devorah Margolin and Joana Cook
Defining the complex and varied roles of the foreign women who joined ISIL

ISIL Propaganda
Author: Charlie Winter
A look into the system behind ISIL’s notorious propaganda and incitement to violence

The “Mujahid’s Bag”: Digitally Curating the Legacy of Foreign Fighter Training Materials
Author: Moustafa Ayad
Considering foreign fighter recruitment, intake, training, and deployment through an examination of materials and records in the Cloud Caliphate

Victory, Violations, and Investment: Inside Islamic State’s System of Slavery
Author: Gina Vale
ISIL’s enslavement system — its organization, implementation, and ideology

The Islamic State’s Pillage Economy: The Policy of Confiscations
Author: Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi
Detailing the large-scale confiscation of the moveable and immoveable property of those ISIL killed, detained, or forced out