ISIScanvas2

The Startup Called The Islamic State (aka ISIS)

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the shadowy figure behind the Islamic State , has become the most powerful jihadi leader in the world.  Similar to a startup company’s founder,  Al-Baghdadi has an interesting background and ambitious goals:

  • In his early 40s,  he founded the Islamic State jihadist group (formerly known as ISIS)

  • He was born in Iraq

  • Held prisoner from 2005-2009 in Iraq by the U.S. military, today he has $10M U.S. bounty on his head

  • His organization controls about $2B in assets (cash,  captured military hardware,  etc)

  • Described as secretive and ambitious, he has excellent organizational skills and is believed to be well-educated and rather reclusive

Al-Baghdadi

Killer App

Al-Baghdadi’s organization has risen at a staggering pace.  After release from U.S. military custody in Iraq in 2009,  he took over a local Iraqi Al-Queda group in 2010,  transformed it into ISIS,  and built a transnational organization.  Like leaders of successful startup companies,  he has strong operational capabilities,  is able to pivot quickly to new areas of opportunity,  and exhibits a unique form of corporate-style professionalism.  

Declaring a caliphate (Islamic state) in 2014,  then positing himself as calif (leader),  Al-Baghdadi recently made clear his strategic goals in a July 4th, 2014 speech in Mosul (full text here).  Though sparse on details,  the goals outlined in his speech included:

  • Revenge against the “perpetrators” of crimes against Muslims

  • Strict interpretation of Islamic law

  • Recognition that the caliphate is the duty of all Muslims

  • Allegiance to his leadership (as self-declared calif)

  • Building operational maturity by recruiting engineers,  doctors and lawyers

Social Media And Corporate Reports

As though to emphasize transparency and professionalism,  Al-Baghdadi publishes an annual report, which can be found here.  His organization also makes extensive use of Twitter and Facebook to reach audiences.

We measure success by the understanding we deliver. If you could express it as a percentage, how much fresh understanding did we provide?
Curiousmatic