The Program on Extremism at the George Washington University and The New York Times announced a research partnership that will enable GW to create the virtual public archive of the newspaper’s “ISIS Files,” roughly 15,000 pages of internal Islamic State group documents retrieved in Iraq by a team of Times reporters led by foreign correspondent Rukmini Callimachi. The files are a collection of documents including land deeds, tax receipts, military strategies and internal regulations, which reveal the inner workings of one of history’s most deadly and well-organized terrorist groups.
The Program on Extremism will work with The Times and GW’s Libraries and Academic Innovation division to archive, digitize and translate the documents, and publish them on an open, searchable website. The public repository will allow researchers around the world – including those in Syria and Iraq – to access a wide array of documents that provide invaluable evidence on the activities and atrocities carried out by the Islamic State group. The documents, most of which are written in Arabic, will be posted in their original form after GW conducts a thorough analysis of the documents to help ensure information that could harm civilians will not be published, as The Times did when it published many of these documents in its original reporting. The Times delivered the original documents to the Iraqi government through its embassy in Washington after the files were digitized.
“We’re very pleased to be partnering with The New York Times to make these documents available to researchers worldwide,” Forrest Maltzman, GW’s provost and executive vice president of academic affairs, said. “Access to these documents will enhance our understanding of national security issues and provide an important window into the modern history of Iraq and Syria.”
“We are delighted that George Washington University’s Program on Extremism has agreed to preserve these documents and make them available in a responsible and transparent manner that serves history and the people of Iraq,” said Michael Slackman, international editor, The New York Times.
The Program on Extremism will strive to maintain the highest academic and ethical standards while engaging in this delicate effort. The program believes history needs to be documented and researched, and the public has a right to have as-extensive-as-possible access to primary sources. In publishing the documents, the program also seeks to be of aid to the many victims of the Islamic State group’s crimes, chief among them the Iraqi people. The public repository will serve as a record of genocide, to aid in a better understanding of one of most dangerous terrorist organizations in decades, providing a sense of how such an entity runs a state, and informing future policies to prevent rise of next Islamic State type of group.
The Program on Extremism at the George Washington University is a leading academic research center on extremism with a focus on the Islamic State group. The program’s reports and findings have been widely shared in the media and have formed the foundation of congressional hearings and governmental policies. The program’s experts draw from decades of experience in government, policy and academia to regularly testify to and consult with policymakers and practitioners in the field. The program maintains one of the largest databases of English-language Islamic State digital propaganda and has extensively studied how the Islamic State group recruits and instructs its followers and members.