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Ask A Jihadi: An ISIS Fighter's Blog About Life In Syria

For more than a year, a Dutch jihadi has been using Tumblr to post updates and answer questions about fighting in the Middle East as a radical Islamist.

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Chechclear's real name is Israfil Yilmaz, a 29-year-old fighter in Syria who has been active for years on social media, regularly answering questions about life in ISIS and commenting on current events.

His Tumblr has been active — and widely reported on by various media outlets — since early 2014, but the page was deleted on Nov. 20.

When asked about the takedown, a Tumblr spokesperson told BuzzFeed News:

"Tumblr is a global platform for creativity and self-expression, but we have drawn lines around a few narrowly defined but deeply important categories of content and behavior, as outlined in our Community Guidelines. Our skilled Trust & Safety team reviews all content which has been flagged for potential violations on a case by case basis. Due to the anonymous nature of our platform, policy determinations are made based on detailed review of the content, not on the supposed identity of the poster. If law enforcement authorities choose to investigate particular blogs, Tumblr reviews and responds to requests in accordance with the law and our Law Enforcement Guidelines.​"​

Unlike Facebook, which told BuzzFeed News in September 2014 that it "doesn't permit terrorist groups to use our site," Tumblr does not have such a clause in its guidelines.

Although Tumblr's guidelines say that it is not to be used for "malicious speech," which it defines as "[encouraging] violence or hatred on the basis of things like race, ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender, age, veteran status, or sexual orientation," the guidelines also "encourage [users] to dismantle negative speech through argument rather than censorship."

And indeed, Yilmaz used his Tumblr account's Q&A function to respond to criticism about ISIS from from both moral and religious grounds.


In an interview on the Dutch television show Nieuwsuur in January 2014, Yilmaz said that he left the army as he was about to be promoted so that he could travel to Syria.

"If the Dutch forces would send a unit or fighters to Syria to help oppressed people, I would be the first person to sign up for the Dutch army. But nobody's doing anything. So why not do something to help these people."


During this time, he actively denied that he had joined any particular group in Syria, describing himself as a "freelancer" (although he would later admit to having been a part of three groups, all of which he left).

In a Tumblr post uploaded on May 24, 2014, he criticized people who tried to label him as a member of one group or another and urged readers of his blog to reach out to him on if they had any questions about his life or allegiances:

"I just got a phone call from a worried brother saying he saw me on a Facebook post claiming I was working for the secret services," he said. "So what does this mean now? Me doing an interview makes me a spy? Me wearing The Black Banner as an arm patch makes me ISIS? Fighting alongside JN/Ahrar makes me AQ? Training Syrians makes me FSA? Those who claim to know me, those who slander me should fear Allah (SWT). Those who know me, know me - and those who dont know me should ask me about me, I have for a reason."

"At one point I was a critic of IS, but after following the direction of the many arrows of the kuffar, and staying with and around other groups I soon came to realize that here in Syria the most forward, the most sincere brothers are those that have joined IS," he said. Yilmaz added that ISIS's "ideology was clear" and that they "implement the most complete of Shariah I have seen here in Syria."

"I'm very impressed by the Islamic State and the way they govern and manage their affairs," he wrote on July 10, confirming his new allegiance. "Like yourself - I was a fool once who thought it was just 1 big joke, until I came here and saw it with my own eyes - up close and personal. Nothing beats reality on the ground."


He also answers questions about some of ISIS's controversial practices, such as the taking of female slaves, primarily for the purpose of sex.

"Does [ISIS] sell women," asked an anonymous user in July. Yilmaz responded, "The free Muslim women? No. The captured slave women? Yes."

"Slaves/concubines are from the Quran and Sunnah so whoever dislikes it or does not approve of it should check his Islam on a serious note," he said in a Tumblr post June 24 in answer to another question, adding that these women have their rights and their owners "are not allowed to abuse them in any way."

Despite this, he admitted, "Yes, it's true that some brothers have done stupid things with their concubines - but blame that on us - not Islam (for Islam teaches us how to treat them justly)."


In another response dated Sept. 2, he blamed the current refugee crisis on the West's intervention in Syria. "Maybe it's because of coalition bombings on the State?" he asked. "When people get bombed and are scared they flee the area, does that make sense to you?"

"They flee because the coalition and their proxies are waging war against IS so the people can't live in peace in their controlled areas," he wrote on Sept. 1. "There are a million+ people living in Mosul, why are they not fleeing? Because they live in peace under Islamic Laws - and as soon as the apostates and the crusaders are going to attack Mosul thousands and thousands of people are going to be forced to leave."


"We fight and die together, the brotherhood on the battlefields is amazing," he wrote on July 29.

Yilmaz also talked openly about the possibility of his own death, making it clear that he wanted to die in combat. "Shahadah (martyrdom) is beautiful, I wouldn't want to get killed by a cowardly drone strike, though," he wrote, adding that he didn't want to die at the hands of "some chubby American guy sitting behind a computer screen somewhere in Qatar."

"Electricity and internet you can find almost anywhere in the Islamic State," Yilmaz said in response to an anonymous question posted June 19 about how he could have internet and computers in Syria.

"Hehehehe, I wish you could see Mosul, or Ar-Raqqah, it's just like any other city where people go about their daily lives. Shops, cars, parks, restaurants, gyms, schools, etc," he said, adding that his home in Syria reminded him of Adana, Turkey.

On Aug. 4, he posted this "first picture" of his "son," adding that he had named his child Muhammad Qasim Jībrīl. "I gave my baby boy 3 names because my father also gave me and my brothers 3 names," he later wrote.

Yilmaz also wrote that he hoped his son would grow up to be an ISIS fighter and said that the infant was "already showing signs."

Ellie Hall is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC. Her secure PGP fingerprint is 6055 A264 DADD AADC 347E 5986 547C C11C DD7D 176A.

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