Photo Gallery The Foundation of Islamic State Power

An Iraqi officer planned Islamic State's takeover in Syria. SPIEGEL has been given exclusive access to his papers. They portray the image of an organization that, while seemingly fanatic, is actually cooly calculating.
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The Islamic State rapidly conquered huge swaths of Syria and Iraq. From afar, the group appears to be made up of religious fanatics and Islamist extremists. But a former senior Iraqi officer named Haji Bakr planned the group's siege in Syria. His plan was cool and calculating.

Foto: AP/ Raqqa Media Center
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The group's reliance on foreign troops necessarily meant that the early days were chaotic. But it also ensured complete loyalty to IS leadership. The foreigners knew nobody and had no local roots -- which easily translated into brutality.

Foto: AP/ Raqqa Media Center
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The documents obtained by SPIEGEL show that IS leadership relies on a vast network of spies and informants to maintain its hold on power. The group also has spies in the Syrian and Iraqi regimes.

Foto: © Stringer . / Reuters/ REUTERS
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Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is nominally the leader of Islamic State, but it remains unclear how much power he actually holds. It wasn't him, in any case, who was approached by the emissary of al-Qaida head Ayman al-Zawahiri, but Haji Bakr and the other former intelligence officers.

Foto: Uncredited/ AP/dpa
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Among the documents seen by SPIEGEL is this organigram showing Haji Bakr's sketch for the possible structure of Islamic State administration. The jihadist group accurately reflects many of the notes Bakr made.

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This chart too shows Bakr's thoughts regarding the establishment of Islamic State. He had very clear ideas regarding the need for a far-flung secret service to keep Islamic State subjects under tight surveillance and control.

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Graphic: A digital rendering of one of Haji Bakr's Islamic State organigrams.

Foto: DER SPIEGEL
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Haji Bakr, the secretive strategic head of Islamic State, was killed in early 2014. At first, Syrian rebels didn't know who they had killed. But when they realized, they searched the house, gathering up computers, passports, mobile phone SIM cards, a GPS device and, most importantly, papers. They didn't find a Koran anywhere.

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The house where Haji Bakr was living when he was killed in early 2014. Just how precisely his plans were implemented -- point by point -- is confirmed by the discovery of additional Islamic State documents.

Foto: Christoph Reuter/ DER SPIEGEL
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