Wanted: Western Professionals To Join The Islamic State (ISIS)

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In his first public adress after being declared Caliph
in late June 2014, Islamic State (ISIS) leader Abu
Bakr AlBaghdadi
called on professionals to
immigrate to the territories under his control in
order to help build up the fledgling state. “We make
a special call to the scholars, fuqahaa’ [Islamic
jurisprudence experts], and preachers, especially the
judges, as well as people with military,
administrative, and service expertise, and medical
doctors and engineers of all different specializations
and fields.”[1]
This statement stems from ISIS’s ambition to build
itself as a viable project.[2] In order for its project to
last, ISIS knows that it needs to supply basic
services to the population and to create revenue,
and it knows that educated professionals are an
integral part of forming a successful, operational
society. Therefore, in addition to its heavy emphasis
on recruiting young men from abroad to serve as
fighters in its ranks, ISIS is also making an effort to
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recruit men and women who are able to assist with
their professional knowhow
and experience.
To recruit these elements, ISIS propaganda appeals
to their desire to be part of a succesful community
that implements Islamic law. At the same time, it
stresses the religious obligation on those who have
such professions to come and join its ranks, as part
of the duty of hijra and jihad. Recent ISIS media
releases have showcased young Western operatives
who came to Syria to work for ISIS in the profession
that they acquired in their countries of origin. On
social media, individuals share their daytoday
experiences of working in various capacities, as
doctors, nurses, teachers, and so on. These methods
are used to entice other capable Muslims to join
This report will look at a number of examples of
highly educated professionals who have immigrated
to join ISIS, and at the roles some of them play in it.
Pleas To Skilled Professionals From The West
To Migrate To Islamic State
The third issue of the Islamic State’s Englishlanguage
online magazine Dabiq, released August
29, 2014,[3] was titled “A Call to Hijrah,” that is,
emigration to Muslim lands. Directing its message to
Muslims in the West, it reiterated its appeal to this
audience to come and aid in the formation of this
nascent Islamic state.
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An article in the titled “Hijrah from Hypocrisy to
Sincerity” stated: “Therefore, every Muslim
professional who delayed his jihad in the past under
the pretense of studying Shari’ah, medicine, or
engineering, etc., claiming he would contribute to
Islam later with his expertise, should now make his
number one priority to repent and answer the call to
hijrah, especially after the establishment of the
Khilafah [caliphate]. This Khilafah is more in need
than ever before for experts, professionals, and
specialists, who can help contribute in strengthening
its structure and tending to the needs of their
Muslim brothers. As for the Muslim students who use
this same pretense now to continue abandoning the
obligation of the era, then they should know that
their hijrah from darul kufr [land of unbelief] to darul
Islam [Islamic lands] and jihad are more obligatory
and urgent then spending an unknown number of
years studying while exposed to doubts and desires
that will destroy their religion and thus end for
themselves any possible future of jihad.”
Public appeals for skilled workers come from both
ISIS officials and from individuals
serving as online recruiters who already reside in the
Islamic State. For example, on March 5, 2015, the
Twitter account A. Ibrahim tweeted a photo of an
official seated in a modern office with an ISIS flag,
[4] captioned: “#IS official ‘a medical college was
newly opened [in] Raqqa, soon more colleges will be
opened. We need engineers & doctors.'” The Twitter
account Islam4Libya, which is run by the Englishspeaking
wife of an ISIS fighter in Libya, promoted
and shared this tweet.[5] It shows that the desire to
develop the Islamic State comes from those residing
outside the formal territory governed by the group in
Syria and Iraq.
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On February 23, 2015, a Western ISIS fighter in
Syria called Abu Muhammad tweeted, “Let’s focus on
making our administration, governance, rural and
urban infrastructure planning, education etc more
effective.” The following day he observed, “Ikwan
[brothers] coming from NonArabic
countries usually
r skilled & experience. Most of them not being
utilized bec of their lack of Arabic skills.”[6]
On April 17, 2015, a 19yearold
British ISIS
member who uses the Twitter alias Utopian Islamist
tweeted, “If you make hijra to the Islamic State and
have skills or are specialized in something you will
be transferred to that dept [department].” On his
Twitter byline, he claims to be a student, and he also
goes by the name Abu Shamil.[7]
Abu Shamil
Examples Of Jobs Offered In The Islamic State
On April 1, 2015 British fighter Omar Hussein posted
an article on Justepaste.it titled “Ten Jobs You Can
Do in Dawlah [the State, ISIS].”[8] He wrote that
some interested parties had reached out to him and
asked if it was possible to move to the Islamic State
and help out in ways other than participating in
fighting. Hussein explained that while fighting is
preferable and more honorable, there are other
duties to be carried out that will assist the state. The
first option he provided was the media center.
According to Hussein, it is necessary to combat the
West’s negative propaganda and slander against the
Islamic State. “Every war needs men, and men need
support from the masses, and this is where the
media comes in. Alhamdulillaah [praise Allah]
Dawlah has a strong foot on the media, but imagine
if there was no internal media from us, so many
misconceptions would be unanswered, so many
arguments would not have been refuted. We would
be totally silent in the face of the vicious onslaught
from the media. So its importance is known when
one looks at the opposition.”
Hospital assistance is listed as the second
employment option; he stressed that this is a vital
field and that there is a desperate need for more
professionals. “This is a vital aspect of
Dawlah. Many brothers get injured and many times
the hospitals get packed out. I have been to the
hospitals many times and the assistance, care and
supervision of many brothers goes unchecked. Many
times there are a lack of doctors and assistants…
And if you’re a doctor then we need you here more
than anyone, we need you, wAllaahi [by Allah] we
need you. I do not wish to sound harsh, but my
brother please fear Allaah, stop treating the Kuffaar
and come treat the wounds of your brothers.”
Hussein described how cooking is a safe but very
important job. “Dawlah has a big kitchen where
brothers cook food for those in ribat [combat duty].
These kitchens are about 30km behind enemy lines,
so its safe from all firing. And when the cooking is
done, it is packed and a brother drives it to all the
ribat points…”
He also mentioned auto mechanics: “Vehicles play a
big role in the work we do. Indeed it is a vital tool
for a Mujaahid in all aspects of daily life. And many
times while driving over rocky terrain or over fields,
and the continuous usage, they get damaged and
parts get broken. So our own mechanics are very
useful. Being a mechanic at the Dawlah garage is
very handy and also a very rewardable [i.e.
rewarding] job. So if you know mechanics, work in
the Dawlah garage and assist the Mujaahideen with
your skills.”
Describing work in the bombmaking
department as
a “beautiful job,” Hussein states: “Ever wondered
who assembles the cars and trucks that the brothers
drive for their martyrdom operations? Ever
wondered who makes the explosive belts? Ever
wondered who places bombs on the roads between
us and the enemy? The brothers in the bomb making
department are the core and backbone of nearly
every operation… So it is a beautiful job for those
who truly wish to reap rewards.”
Teachers play an important part in educating and
raising the next generation of the Caliphate, Hussein
pointed out: “Today’s children will grow up to be the
next generation, so they need to be nurtured upon
tawheed [the Islamic concept of monotheism] and
jihaad. This is where teachers are needed. Tajweed
[proper recitation of the Quran], fiqh
[jurisprudence], ‘aqeedah [creed], hifdh
[memorizing the Quran], physical exercise… all
areas where teachers are needed. Imagine the
reward in nurturing a child upon tawheed and
jihaad! All his efforts and deeds he does due to you
teaching him will earn you huge rewards.”
He noted positions at the shari’a courts as another
option, although he said that anyone who wants to
work there must be vouched for by a trusted
individual: “There are many admin roles one can
have in the mahkamah [shariah court], from office
work to scheduling meetings and appointments,
even a caretaker or a prison guard. Every role, no
matter how ‘minor’ one may think of it, is a solid
brick in a wall. However, to work with the
mahkamah, one would need a strong tazkiyah
[accreditation] to get in.”
Hussein revealed that he has personally worked in
the hisba force, which enforces Islamic law. and
describes its work which he found very enjoyable.
“This is the police force who patrol the streets
preventing all types of munkar [vice] they see. They
are the ones who carry out the public lashings and
beheadings. They walk the streets with their sticks,
punishing all those who break the law. They ensure
all shops are closed for salaah [prayer] times, and if
women are dressed unislamicly, then their fathers,
brothers or husbands are punished for not ensuring
they keep their womenfolk within the confines of the
Law. House searches are also a part of the work the
hisbah do, and much much more.”
A final opportunity in the list was being a fitness
trainer at ISIS basic training camps.
Academic Qualifications
ISIS members and supporters take pride in the fact
that their leader Abu Bakr alBaghdadi
boasts a PhD
in Islamic Studies from the Islamic University of
Baghdad. A selfdescribed
Australian blogger in Syria
who goes by the name of Mohamed Ibn Albaraa AlShammi
wrote on Facebook on February 21, 2015:
“Abu Bakr alBaghdadi
hafidhahuAllah [may Allah
protect him] was never in night clubs nor in places
of munkar [vice]. Abu Bakr AlBaghdadi
was a
student of knowledge since high school, finished a
PhD in Islamic Studies and was a preacher in Iraq
from those days onward. He was not a failure in
school. He scored 98/100 in maths alone, and if you
know the curriculum in the Arab counties you will
know that is extremely high. Contrary to the kaafir
[infidel] media, who have no goal other than to
tarnish the name of the current Khalifa [caliph] of
the Muslims. Abu Bakr alBaghdadi
is a man that
history, in Sha Allah [God willing] will never forget.
Be wise before you take your news about Muslims
from the media lest you be punished for your
ignorance and slander.”[9]
According to reports, Abu BakrAl
Baghdadi was
critically wounded in a U.S. coalition airstrike in
March 2015, and he is currently unable to lead the
group’s daily functions. A former physics teacher,
Abu Alaa Afri, has been installed as ISIS’s acting
Maxime Hauchard, a French ISIS fighter identified as
a beheader in an ISIS video, previously spent some
time as a teacher volunteering in Mauritania.[11]
On May 7, 2015, a user called Militare S.F. posted a
photo of a man who had left his studies to join ISIS.
“TR [Turkish] citizen Rachid Tural, graduate of
#METU [Middle East Technical University] physics,
joined #IS while studying in Finland for a master’s
John Maguire, aka Abu Anwar AlCanadi,
featured in the fifth installment of an ISIS video
series called “Message of a Mujahid.” Maguire
revealed that he had had a normal upbringing in
Canada, and that his future had appeared promising.
He says in the video,”I was one of you. I was a
typical Canadian. I grew up on the hockey ring and
spent my teenage years on stage playing guitar. I
had no criminal record. I was a bright student and
maintained a strong GPA in university.”[12]
It is also known that Mohammed Emwazi, the
notorious ISIS executioner known as Jihadi John,
graduated from university with a degree in computer
One group of professionals who bring their skill sets
to the Islamic State are engingeeners. Their
knowledge of assembling explosives is crucial to
fighting enemies.
Nero Saraiva, a senior ISIS figure from Portugal,
earned an engineering degree from a univeristy in
Porto and a specialist diploma in oil from a university
in London. He fought in battles to capture airbases in
Aleppo, and serves also as a lecturer and recruiter in
Syria. He has been in Syria since 2012.[14]
Image from Nero Saraiva’s Facebook page,
Facebook.com/nero.saraiva, October 23, 2013.
Hamayan Tariq, from Dudley, England, Hamayan
Tariq, from Dudley, England, an exTaliban
turned ISIS sniper, is known as Muslim AlBritani.
He is a bombmaking
and explosives expert
currently residing in Syria. On December 6, 2014 he
posted instructions on how to detonate a bomb with
a cellphone on his Twitter account.[15] He also
shared bombmaking
On April 21, 2015, he shared some sketches and
diagrams instructing followers how to assemble
weapons on his newest Twitter account. He wrote
“Have many old notes on electronics & weapons in
English can be useful for bros learning & who don’t
speak much Arabic.”
In another tweet from the same day, he posted a
labeled diagram of a rocket launcher.
Tariq is an accessible authority figure whose tweets
garner much attention, and interested parties
interact with him on Twitter seeking advice on
assembling explosives. A user using the Twitter alias
Abu Khalid, who appears to be based in the West,
asked, “Assalamu alaikum akhi [my brother]. Can u
outsource some electronic works to us? Maybe we
could be able to help in research.”[17]
Another eager individual, also likely based outside of
the Islamic State wrote: “Jajak Allah Bro. Can you
post the RPG internal all details with parts and
connectivity & AK47 All of parts details drawing?”
Medical Personnel
Many of the profiles of individuals in this report work
in the medical field. In an attempt to demonstrate
how educated young people are flocking to put their
skills to use in the Islamic State, proISIS
account Exposing Falsehood tweeted a tongueincheek
message: “Only desperate and uneducated
youths who can’t find jobs go to the Islamic State
they said…” along with an image of an Observer
front page headlined, “Nine British Medics enter ISIS
stronghold to work in hospitals.”[19]
An ISIS video released April 24, 2015 showcased the
health services available in the provinces of Raqqa
and Aleppo.[20]
The video features a pediatrician from Adelaide,
Australia, Tareq Kamleh,[21] who in the video goes
by the alias Abu Yousef AlAustrali.
In it, he calls
upon Muslim doctors to immigrate to the Islamic
State, and stresses that there is no lack of medicines
or equipment, but that qualified medical care is
Abu Yousef AlAustrali
Another Englishspeaking
medical professional
featured in the video, Abu Muqatil AlHindi,
is a
physiotherapist at the physiotherapy center in
Raqqah. He claims that there are physiotherapists
from Russia, Syria, Australia, Sri Lanka, and Tunisia,
and other countries, and that female
psysiotherapists are available for treating female
patients and children. The center, he said, started
with 30 patients a week, and now 400500
seek treatment every week there.
Abu Muqatil AlHindi
treating a patient.
Still image of surgery from video
Many ISIS supporters referred to this video to refute
the claim that only the dimwitted immigrate to the
Islamic State. ISIS supporter Maghrebi Witness
tweeted: “Latest #IS release from the Islamic State
Health Service is another blow to the ‘jihadists are
uneducated’ narrative.” It should be noted that the
branding and logo of the health services is modeled
after that of the UK’s NHS, perhaps in an attempt to
lend credibility and legitimacy to the nascent health
On March 20, 2015, Omar Hussain, a British fighter
from High Wycombe, England using the Twitter alias
Aboo Awlaki, and who operates as an ISIS recruiter,
shared a photo of a doctor who had joined ISIS
teaching a young boy about Islam, “Abu Ali Ansari, a
doctor in the state, who teaches kids Hadith during
his lunch break.”[22]
On March 24, “Aboo Awlaki” tweeted, addressing
Muslim doctors: “O Muslim doctors, stop treating the
Kuffaar [infidels] & come Sham & help the injured
mujaahideen! Imagine the reward of helping a bro
go back 2 batle!”
On February 19, Umm Yaqin AlMuhajira,
a young
woman who left a Western country to joing ISIS
wrote about her vocational training: “Started
training in a maternal hospital under the #Islamic
A Malaysian woman who writes almost exclusively in
English, “Shams,” posts about her experiences in
Syria. She reveals that before moving to Syria she
worked on an orthopedic ward. She did some work
in a hospital in Raqqah, but when she became
pregnant she switched to generating online
propaganda to promote the Islamic State. She
eagerly conveys the fact that women can hold
important positions in the Islamic State.
On September 17, 2014, Shams tweeted, “My
story= Woman’s role in the ISLAMIC STATE and how
Dawla [IS] encourage woman to contribute in varies
[various] profession.” She linked to her narrative,
which is published on her Facebook page, in which
she details how she treats women and children, and
relates an anecdote about a woman who was
suffering with appendicitis who she helped to
diagnose and treat at the hospital in Raqqah in
coordination with a Syrian doctor. She explained that
when she came to Syria in February she lost her
suitcase that held some medical supplies, but that
ISIS “provided me with few equipment like
stethoscope, sphygmomanometer, ACCUCHEK
some medication such as broadspectrum
She also wrote that when the emir first found out
that she was a doctor, she was offered a house that
would also serve as a clinic for patients. However,
she was not confident enough to deal with patients
in Fusha Arabic, so she opted instead to work as a
primary care doctor.
Changing the subject, she wrote that she is having a
difficult pregnancy and is ill herself: “[S]taying at
home for long and do [doing] nothing makes me feel
so bad. That is when I thought I should do da’wah
[preaching] online and spread the message. That is
why I created this page and trying my level best to
spread the truth. In sha Allāh together we can make
a change!” She included two photos showing the
surgical room at the Raqqah hospital.
Source: Tumblr.com/diaryofamuhajirah.
Shams also fields questions from interested parties
on her Tumblr blog. On April 12, a woman concerned
about her linguistic skills asked her advice:
“Assalamualaikam ukhti [my sister]… actually im
still doubt… my family support me to be a dcotor in
dawlah… And I’m not quite sure… my english n
arabic is very very bad.” Shams replied, “Wa
alaykum as salaam. Do isitkharah [ask for Allah’s
guidance] till your heart becomes sure of your
decision, Verily doubts and waswas comes from
shaytaan. Make duaa to AllahMuqaallibul
Qulub [
he who shifts what is in one’s heart.] Language is
not a big deal you can learn.”[24]
A selfdescibed
“muhajir [emigrant] medical doctor”
created a Twitter account to disseminate Islamic
State medical updates, and to offer medical advice
to those on the battlefield, under the Twitter alias Dr
Abu Layla AlShami.[
25] It is likely that the doctor is
from the West, since his command of English
appears to be on the mothertongue
level. The
doctor’s Twitter byline reads: “Muhajir medical
doctor. Medicine as a mercy to the Muslims. The
Sword against the enemies of Allah. The Quran, a
guidance to Mankind.” This account is currently
Explaining his motive for creating his Twitter account
in his first two tweets on January 2, 2015, he wrote:
“S3 [salam alaykum], new to twitter, IA [inshallah]
posting medical advice to the mujahideen, including
first aid tips. Also, health updates from the Islamic
state IA. Also inshallah, analysis &advice regarding
issues of Jihad & aqeedah [creed].”
On January 3, the doctor shared some photos of the
medical school in Raqqa. “First
glimpses of the new Islamic state medical school…
opening soon inshAllah in Raqqa.”
On January 22, 2015, the doctor posted a “medical
tip” for those battling in the frontlines: “Frontline
medical tip: For every 1 litre of blood lost, give 3
litres normal saline. Remember… FOR EVERY BIG
On February 24 the doctor shared another tip for
fighters, writing, “Frontline Tip: The ability to insert
an intravenous cannula is a very useful skill. If you
have time, go to your local hospital and practice.”
One interested party wrote to the doctor on January
28 to ask: “R there any plans u have for the
postgraduate doctors so they can serve
mujahideen.” Dr AbyLayla AlShami
replied, “Yes alhamdulilah.
Internship & resident courses are being
setup. Still early days but the project & aims are
there IA[inshallah].”
The doctor marveled at the diverse group that has
applied to the school, writing: “It’s great to see that
many people both brothers and sisters from a wide
range of nationalities have applied to the Medical
Math And Science Skills
ISIS fighters often stress that strong mathematical
skills are needed in combat. For example, British
ISIS fighter Omar Hussain/ Aboo Awlaki tweeted an
image of his calculations that he used in battle on
March 6, 2015. The caption reads: “This is the sort
of maths envolved when learning how 2 shoot a
mortar rocket. Degrees, angles, altitudes, etc.
Another mathematically skilled fighter is Jake Bilardi,
aka Abu Abdulliuh AlAustrali.
an 18yearold
genius from Melbourne, Australia.[26] In March
2015, he blew himself up in a truck in a suicide
bombing in Ramadi against Iraqi security forces.[27]
Visual Media Skills
Graphic design and photographic skills are a crucial
part of the ISIS propaganda machine. ISIS activists
often stress the need for experts in these fields. It
seems that in fact quite a few men and women who
came from abroad have joined ISIS and are working
in its media production wing.
Twitter user Muhammad Alindonesi is a
photographer and videographer in the Islamic State.
On March 8, he shared a photo of himself on Twitter.
He celebrated the destruction of idols by ISIS. He is
seen posing in the photo with a camera in one hand
and a rifle in the other.
A married woman who came from the West to the
Islamic State, who uses the Twitter alias
UmSalahudin Alkurdia, claims to be a “photographer
in IS” in her Twitter byline.[29]
UmSalahudin Alkurdia states that she emigrated to
the Islamic State in late January 2015. On January
27, she posted a photo from an airplane showing the
Turkish landscape through the window. She wrote,
“Ma shaa Allah Turkey is so beautiful!”
Another tweet from that day reads: “6+ h on the bus
can’t take it anymore. Next Daaaaawlaaah.” It is
likely that she entered ISIS territory shortly after
that tweet.
From a zoo in Syria, she shared photos, tweeting:
“Zoo in IS. My personal photos.”
The Islamic State Media account in English posted
UmSalahudin Al Kurdia’s photo from the zoo.
Businessmen Turned Fighter
Many men with an education and a professional
background also joined the ranks of ISIS’ army.
A 63yearold
French former business man who
assumed the alias Abu Suhaib alFaransi
joined the
fight in Syria in 2013.[30] In Syria, he serves as a
military trainer. Recently, he featured prominently in
a video production by the ISIS media wing AlHayat
that was released on March 7, 2015, in which he
spoke about his conversion to Islam and his
experiences in Syria.[31]
On June 12, 2014, Abu Dujana AlMuhajir,
Canadian fighter, paid tribute to fellow Canadian Abu
Abdulluh AlKhorasani
on his Tumblr blog. The two
knew each other from the 8th and 8th Musulla
mosque in downtown Calgary. AlKhoransani,
real name was Salman Ashrafi, was a business
analyst by profession. He worked for Talisman
Energy, a Canadabased
oil and gas company. On
November 7, 2013, Ashrafi carried out a suicide
bombing, killing 46 soldiers at a military base in
Tarmiyah, Iraq.[32]
Unsuccessful Bids By Professionals To Emigrate
To The Islamic State
Jamshed Javeed, a British chemistry teacher, was
turned into authorities by his family for planning to
join ISIS.[33] He was arrested in December 2013
and is currently serving a sixyear
prison sentence.
In March 2015, U.S. Air Force veteran Tairod Nathan
Webster Pugh was arrested in Turkey for trying to
join ISIS. In the Air Force, he installed and
maintained airplane engines and navigation and
weapons systems.


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