Recent tensions, power struggles and even executions within the Islamic State’s ranks of foreign fighters signal fractures within the extremist group, after its militants were defeated in the Syrian city of Kobani.
Although the Islamic State — also known as ISIS or ISIL — retains a firm grip on swaths of Middle Eastern territory, the group appears to be on the defensive in Syria for the first time, suffering blows from U.S.-led coalition airstrikes, fighting on the ground and mistrust among its own members, the Associated Press reported.
Tensions among foreign fighters within ISIS have emerged over different national backgrounds as well as administrative and financial issues. The Islamic State group has executed at least 120 of its own members, the majority of whom were foreign fighters trying to flee, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based monitoring group, said in December.
The severed head of a senior ISIS official was found last month in eastern Syria with a cigarette between its lips, reportedly trying to show he was beheaded for smoking, which is banned under Sharia law. But there are rumors that the official — who was an Egyptian national — was actually killed on suspicion of spying, according to AP.