Death to the Infidel Chicken! The Islamic State Destroys U.S. Chickens Amid Food Crisis

Syrians are starving, and the Islamic State is bragging about the destruction of U.S. chickens.


Should one laugh or just cry at the Islamic State’s latest social media missive? On Wednesday, the group distributed photos of men and children in Syria destroying hundreds of boxes of U.S.-made chicken while millions in the country go hungry.

Amid the humanitarian catastrophe of Syria’s civil war, some 9.8 million people require food assistance, according to U.N. estimates. Nonetheless, the Islamic State crowed on social media that it had set fire to boxes of chicken that had been “slaughtered unlawfully,” according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors online jihadi activity. The boxes bear the logo of Illinois-based Koch Foods, and according to their labels, the chicken was halal.

But, you know, death to the infidel chicken and all that.

After consolidating control of large parts of Syria and Iraq, the Islamic State militant group has gone about imposing its strict code of Islamist law. The group manages the distribution of social services and has succeeded imposing a brutal kind of order in the areas it rules. But in many areas the group has struggled to govern effectively and appears to have prioritized the implementation of its strict laws over basic services such as providing clean drinking water.

Heavy on fighters and ideologues and short on engineers and administrators, the group ends up taking absurd actions such as burning hundreds of chickens amid a food crisis.

Indeed, a pair of essays circulating on Twitter Wednesday illustrate the challenges the Islamic State faces in day-to-day governance.

One of the essays appeals to Muslim doctors in the West to travel to Syria to work in Islamic State hospitals. “I have been to the hospitals up and down the state and so many hospitals lack not only manpower but also doctors who are qualified for their jobs,” writes a man named Abu Sa’eed Britani, who has appeared in an ISIS video and has penned other essays for the group, according to a translation provided by SITE. “I have seen many trainees training others on how to treat wounds, and many errors are committed by these untrained, unqualified, inexperienced helpers.”

A second essay by Britani lists job opportunities available for those who travel to Syria but who do not wish to fight. These jobs include:

  1. Media Center
  2. Hospital Assistance
  3. Chef
  4. Mechanic
  5. Bomb Making Department
  6. Checkpoints
  7. School / Madrasah Teacher
  8. Mahkamah (Shari’ah Law Courts)
  9. Hisbah (Islamic Police)
  10. Fitness Trainer

It is unclear how representative this list is of the labor shortages that the Islamic State faces, but it speaks to the challenges the group has experienced in setting up effective rule. Like so many other conquerors, the group appears to be realizing that it isn’t enough to merely win the military battle but that it must also figure out how to build a functioning state in the ongoing carnage of Syria’s civil war.

Also, apparently they need fitness trainers.


Elias Groll is a staff writer at Foreign Policy covering cyberspace. @EliasGroll

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