RAQQA, Syria — A group of ISIS veterans who launched their own militant-themed apparel company are making waves in Syria and Iraq — and Pentagon officials are nervous.
Since April 2015, Raqqa Up Apparel has been selling t-shirts, shemaghs, burqas, and other custom accessories faster than it can print them, according to founder Musawwir Mus'ad, a 32-year old ISIS veteran of the Iraq and the Syrian Civil War.
“I saw how the infidels [Americans] were so quick to show support for their soldiers through t-shirt and sticker purchases, rather than through legislating things like medical care and housing, and realized that there was a similar gap here in the Islamic State,” Mus'ad told reporters. “And it was just like an oil lamp flickered on in my head.”
ISIS veterans have since flocked to the company's website to purchase shirts bearing such slogans as:
“My Time in Uniform is Over, but My Jihad Never Ends”
“Trained in 7.62 Ways to Kill a Man”
“If Your Wife Can't Read This, Thank a Militant," and the extremely popular:
“I May Look Calm, But in My Head, I've Already Beheaded You 6 Times.”
Already, similar companies have started to crop up — including Ninevah-Line Apparel, and IslamistBravos — offering unique slogans of their own. Now, bumper stickers adorn ISIS pickup trucks and Humvees, with such quips as, “If you can't stand behind our mass executions, feel free to stand in front of one!” and “The beheadings will continue until morale improves.”
On the popularity of Raqqa Up's merchandise, Mus'ad believes the causes have been two-fold.
“First, you have the intense pride of the veteran community. Second, you have the civilian population, who feel compelled to show support for their soldiers and veterans, or face summary execution. It's, how you say, 'win-win' for us.”
Other popular designs include bumper stickers featuring a desolate landscape of sand, rocks, mud huts and sparse shrubbery, with a lone camel silhouetted on the horizon, featuring the phrase “This We'll Defend” superimposed below. Another shows the outline of an AK-74u, the popular assault weapon used by most ISIS militants, next to a block of text.
“Ladies, if your husband doesn't know how to use one of these, then you have a wife, and you shall be thrown from the rooftops of the highest buildings for your un-Islamic marriage!”
Pentagon officials have expressed concern that U.S. troops may inadvertently be supporting terror groups by purchasing Raqqa Up or similar companies' merchandise online.
“U.S. servicemembers and military veterans are warned not to purchase anything from these retailers, especially as some of their apparel is decidedly similar to that of some American companies,” said John Billings, a Pentagon spokesperson, while pointing to a graphic of a Raqqa Up hat emblazoned simply with the words, “OIF Veteran.”
“Some of their designs are admittedly a little badass,” said Marine Corps veteran Jack Maynard. “But a lot of them need work — like this one,” he said, alluding to a bumper sticker which reads, “Militant: Because 'Bad-Ass Camel Fucker' isn't an Official Job Title.”
“That doesn't really evoke the image of someone you'd envy,” said Maynard. Other designs he says aren't quite up-to-snuff include one t-shirt featuring a flock of sheep with the phrase, “I Am the Wolf” on the front, while “Sheep Fear Me” adorns the back.
“It just doesn't come off the way I think they meant it,” explained Maynard. Still, sales of the apparel have exploded throughout ISIS-controlled Syria and Iraq, at least among the fighters who have not.
At press time, Raqqa Up announced that interested shoppers could save up to 20% off children's sizes using the promo code, "السيد السيد.”