The Islamic State (IS), formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), permitted filmmaker and Vice News journalist Medyan Dairieh to have exclusive access to their operations for three weeks, allowing viewers insight into the horrifying inner world of jihadist militant extremists.
Devastating footage of executions and men lying beheaded in the street illustrates the severity of the threat of the Islamic State. Militants patrol the streets to ensure their religious standards are being upheld, and citizens are encouraged to report any transgressors, even if they are family members. One man is stopped and instructed to make his wife change the fabric of her veil, and although the tone is polite it is clear the requestor is telling, not asking. The influence of the enforcers is evident - prisoners who have dared disobey the IS laws are full of self-blame, accepting their punishments to be the will of Allah. Disobedience will not be tolerated by man or God.
Preaching centers serve as meeting grounds for fanatics young and old as they celebrate their faith by raising guns above their heads and sing songs of triumph over America and the European countries. As the borders between Syria and Iraq are crossed, IS fighters defend their growth, ever insistent that their actions are defended by the will of their God, even as women and children lay bloodied and dying before them.
Operating under Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, a self-proclaimed descendant of the Prophet, followers are taught to surrender everything to him, be it their money or their lives. Interviews with young boys attending a Mosque service demonstrate the fundamentalist mindset that is being ingrained in the local children, who are as eager as their adult counterparts to enact what they believe to be God's will through acts of violence and self-sacrifice.
It is the belief of the adults that their hardships bring them closer to their God and that the children are meant to be "the generation of the Caliphate" who will combat the Americans and their "infidel" allies. Those under fifteen are sent to Shariah camp to learn about their religion, while older teens are sent to military camp to train for combat; however, it is not uncommon for the younger children to already be practiced in handling arms and bracing for conflict.
The Islamic State is a stark, harrowing wake-up call to the realities of religious fundamentalism in the Middle East and the corruption of generations being raised to believe violence is the best defense of their beliefs.