The Islamic State (IS) differs from its predecessors and similar groups by running a powerful intelligence apparatus that is strong and has plenty of security experience acquired by intelligence officers from the previous regime.
The IS intelligence apparatus carries out various types of operations, similar to other intelligence apparatuses around the world.
One of its most important operations is to monitor and identify its opponents, to eliminate them immediately and to avoid the possibility of the Iraqi government, and other local and regional opposing parties, to infiltrate its intelligence apparatus, or a military opposition to emerge on its territory.
Based on IS operations, the list of people to eliminate includes tribal sheikhs who have previously cooperated with the government, members of the Awakening movement who have participated in fighting jihadist groups in the past, clerics who oppose IS' extremism and anyone suspected of delivering security information to governmental parties or other cooperating parties.
The policy of eliminating opponents as soon as they take over large areas is considered an established IS method that was adopted when it evolved in Iraq after the 2003 invasion. In addition to the security reasons, this technique is also based on IS' extremist Salafist principles, which aim to purge the land of any opposition party, to create a unified Salafist community without religious or political differences.
Ground campaigns against IS have increased since the formation of the international alliance that launched airstrikes on IS sites, leading to the group's elimination from regions it previously occupied. In addition to this, assassinations started being carried out against the IS leadership in Mosul and other Iraqi regions, which pushed the group to further tighten its security and eliminate a large number of suspects.
Several IS leaders were targeted, including Abu Anas al-Kurdi, an official in one of the military wings of Mosul, who was killed during an airstrike on Sept. 29. A source in Mosul told Al-Monitor that IS tightened its security after the attack by limiting prominent leaders’ appearances in public as well as arresting people suspected of delivering information to newspapers or any other external parties.
Al-Monitor interviewed a field activist in the city of Hit, two days after it fell into IS hands on Oct. 13, after a significant advance in Anbar province that included most of its cities. The source said that some residents were IS members without the knowledge of their neighbors. After IS took over, the militants eliminated anyone who was inciting people against IS, or working with the army and opposing tribes. People are eliminated based on the information provided by residents who are IS members.