Why do Islamic State prisoners wear different coloured jumpsuits? Over the past year we’ve seen IS victims in a range of different colours (see below). As far as I’m aware, IS itself hasn’t provided any explanation. I doubt it’s random, because few things are random in IS propaganda, and because the organization would have the resources to provide a standard jumpsuit in, say, orange, in all its locations.
It is reasonable to think that the colours mark prisoners of different status, but I personally see no clear pattern in the assignment. Orange appears to be used mostly for non-Muslim prisoners (including Arab Christians), but it was also used for the Muslim Jordanian pilot. Besides, it was not used for the Norwegian and Chinese hostages (yellow) or the Ethiopians in Libya (dark blue). Most Syrian and Iraqi soldiers and suspected spies have been executed in shades of blue, but some have also worn red. Incidentally, the Norwegian and Chinese hostages displayed recently are the first IS prisoners to wear yellow as far as I’ve seen.
To complicate things further, the executioners have not always been dressed in black; sometimes they wear uniforms, the colours of which have varied. On at least on occasion they wore a rather bright mustard yellow (see below).
The only pattern I see is that jumpsuits in general are reserved for prisoners associated with the enemy in some way. IS “citizens” executed for religious infractions generally don’t wear jumpsuits but regular clothes (see below).