Math, composition, and the politics of Islamic law—just a few of the subjects that children living in the Islamic State are, apparently, learning in school.
Images of more than 30 purported Islamic State textbooks were posted online Tuesday by Twitter accounts that appear to be supporting the terrorist group, which controls a huge swath of Iraq and Syria. The textbooks, which two experts said appeared to be real, also include English, history, biology, and many other subjects that are religious and secular in nature.
Some of the covers are pretty unremarkable. Other than being written in Arabic, the math textbook cover looks like it could belong in my Wisconsin public school.
Then there are those like the “faith” textbook that shows a destroyed Statue of Liberty sprouting an ISIS flag, or the “physical activity” textbook showing Islamic State soldiers aiming guns.
There’s even an English textbook: “English for the Islamic State.”
Two experts told me they think the textbook covers are legit. Aymenn al-Tamimi, a researcher at the Israeli university IDC Herzliya who has made a name for himself as a debunker of ISIS hoaxes, said the textbooks had been created by the Islamic State education ministry.
“It’s taken a while for these to come into any meaningful circulation within Islamic State territory,” he said in an email. “Schools were supposed to open on 1 September, but that was delayed by more than a month.”
Pieter Nanninga, a professor of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Groningen, one of the largest universities in the Netherlands, also thinks the covers are real. Some of the images have been released previously, and they are being viewed as legitimate by ISIS supporters on Twitter, he told me in an email.
The Islamic State often releases media like this through throwaway Twitter accounts. The original source for these textbooks appears to be this tweet and a series of replies from the same account, Nanninga said:
Higher-resolution copies of the textbook covers (the images seen below) were also posted on this file-sharing site.
If they are in fact textbooks being used to teach kids, it’s another sign that the terrorist group is providing government services and running a real state. The so-called caliphate also runs medical clinics, has a judiciary, and is building out infrastructure.
According to the news website Syria Direct, the Islamic State opened new elementary schools in part of its territory this week. Schools have uniforms, students are segregated by gender, and girls are only taught until grade four, the news site reported.
Here are the textbook covers and their subjects. I asked a relative of one of my co-workers to translate their titles. Some covers that are pretty similar are not included: