A pied-de-nez doubled with a precise message. This may be the way to understand the latest video production of ISIS, The flames of war (2) ( further analysis to read on Historicoblog4 ), put online by the al-Hayat media organization (turned towards the international non-Arab public) on November 29, 2017. While the territory of Daesh in Syria and Iraq is reduced to a trickle, although the group has long organized its return to insurrection, and that the propaganda of the jihadist organization continues a decline that began in the summer of 2015, its media remains well present and able to book surprises.
The flames of war (2) is the sequel of a video of the same name published in September 2014, of the same duration (about an hour) and which was already based on the same structure. It included the execution of prisoners of the Syrian regime captured during the offensives of summer 2014 against different military bases, including foreign fighters including the French Maxime Hauchard. ISIS, which now prefers in its propaganda videos short formats, had not put online montages of nearly an hour since the Battle of Mosul ( April 2017 ).
On the same subject: ” Media jihad is half of jihad “: how IS is evolving its propaganda in military videos
This production, in English (voiceover and subtitles), is remarkable for several reasons. Firstly by its geographical spectrum: it shows military operations in both Syria, Iraq, but also in Sinai, branch booming for months. In addition, the Islamic State has knowingly kept for this enormous assembly images of the recovery of Palmyra in December 2016, which until now had not appeared in a long video of the organization. IS is customary because after crushing the regime’s militia offensive on Raqqa, south of Tabqa, in late June 2016, the group used the footage of the victory only in a November 2016 video ( source Historicoblog4 ), at a time when the Syrian Democratic Forces had announced the launch of Operation Euphrates Anger to retake Raqqa. With regard to the other sequences, the images shown, for those that can be dated, are rather recent: the sequence concerning the wilayat Sinai dates partly to September 2017, and that featuring the new wilayat al-Badiyah ( former al-Jazeera), in Iraq, dated October 2017. The only video footage used is that of the wilayat al-Khayr (Deir Ezzor, Syria), which August video showing pictures of July.
In Palmyra, IS has engaged a relatively large number of fighters, as shown by some plans. Screenshot.
The flames of war (2) confirms that the jihadist organization had committed substantial material resources in the campaign leading to the recovery of Palmyra, in November-December 2016. The group delivers the images of Fagot anti-tank missile firing having destroyed a Russian Mi-35 helicopter placed on the ground (November 3, 2016). In addition, the IS has engaged in the campaign many anti-tank teams on Konkurs launchers, Fagot and probably Milan, who destroyed many armored Syrian regime. In the same way, the jihadist infantry, present in number (scenes show more than 50 men, one more than 75), were well supported by tanks T-72AV, T-55 (reconditioned by the workshops of the ‘EI), technicals (armed vehicles) and other means of support. Rarely, ISIS has hijacked a T-55 tank, hijacked and summarily re-shielded as a suicide bomber, to spray the regime’s installed defense near the Palmyra silos east of the city. Well armed, the fighters of the terrorist group inflict heavy losses on their opponents: at least thirty bodies are filmed, not counting the prisoners. The group shows only a small part of the huge material loot seized on the Syrian regime and its Russian ally, which also proves the presence of Liwa Fatemiyoun . This is despite the massive intervention of the Russian air force and helicopters sent as reinforcements. Daesh also does not hesitate to show his losses, since we can see five dead and five wounded at least in the video.
With a Fagot anti-tank missile, the IS destroyed a Russian Mi-35 combat helicopter on the ground (November 3, 2016). Screenshot.
Other sequences, the most interesting is probably that of the Sinai branch, which begins by showing an ambush on a military convoy consisting of four armored vehicles Fahd 240 , with turret BTM308, perhaps Central Security Forces, Egyptian Ministry of the Interior. The pattern of attack is classic: a kamikaze vehicle made up in a traditional pickup explodes in the middle of the armored vehicles, and the detonation is followed by the onslaught of inghimasiyyi which, we can notice, are still much less equipped only on the Syrian-Iraqi theater.
To smash the regime’s defenses near the silos east of Palmyra, the IS launched a detonated T-55 tank converted into a suicide bomber. Screenshot.
The rest of the sequence shows an onslaught, at dawn, on a position of the Egyptian army, which is carried despite the intervention of an F-16 that attempts to bomb the positions of the IS. For the wilayats al-Badiyah and al-Furat, we find the pattern visible for months of mechanized raids including technicals and vehicles improvised troop transports, embarking a super armed infantry of inghimasiyyi targeting an opponent in range (Shiite militia), by surprise.
The moment the kamikaze vehicle explodes in the middle of the column of Egyptian armored vehicles. The attack dates back to September 13th. Screenshot
The flames of war (2) also revives with spectacular performances. As in the first part, the penultimate sequence sees five prisoners of the Syrian regime being slaughtered and beheaded by their executioners, while another, armed with a sword, cuts the heads of two additional prisoners. A pilot of the Syrian regime qualified by the Ismaili IS (branch of Shiism) is then burned alive, killing that reminiscent of the particularly sordid Jordanian pilot Muath Al-Kasasbeh, executed in this way in January 2015, or that of two Turkish soldiers also burned alive in a video posted online in December 2016. In the last sequence of the video, three other prisoners, from Iraq and Syria, are gunned down after having dug their own grave. on stage that recalls the first part of Flames of war in 2014.
Three prisoners dig their own graves before being executed by their executioners. In this video, the IS returns to the first part of Flames of war which was already intended for the western public in 2014.
Another remarkable element of the video, editing. The visual quality and the special effects implemented in the production are significant and incommensurate with the previous achievements of this year. If the introduction mocks US presidents Obama and especially Trump, and highlights the civilian casualties inflicted by coalition air strikes, ISIS also inserts cards claiming its attacks in the United States and Europe. In the first case, the map shows the attacks at the Curtis Culwell Center in Texas (May 2015), San Bernardino (December 2015), Orlando (June 2016) and Manhattan (October 31, 2017), but it also claims the killing of Las Vegas (October 1, 2017).
The map of the United States shows five places where IS attacks claimed, including Las Vegas. Screenshot.
The map of Europe places, strangely and geographically, the city of Lyon in France, next to other places affected by attacks. Screenshot.
The map of Europe shows several countries hit by the Islamic State (Spain, Belgium, Germany), but only two countries show the names of cities affected, England with London and Manchester, and France with Paris and Nice but Also Lyon, which is curious – especially since the city is badly placed on the map – because no attempt was made there. In his story, the video uses numerous audio speeches from his spokesman, Abu al-Hassan al-Muhajir, to an audio speech by his predecessor Abu Muhammad al-Adnani (which gives the subtitle: Until the last hour ), and many verses from the Quran to justify the subject. The video ends with an excerpt from the speech of the caliph himself, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
How to summarize the intention of this video that contrasts with the recent production of the organization? Maybe by repeating the slogan that appears right after the title, after five minutes: ” Jihad enters a new phase “.
“Jihad enters a new phase, purification for the believers, destruction for the disbelievers”. The video summarized in one sentence, at the beginning.
Clearly, ISIS, which has not lost its propaganda tool even though it has been producing less and less for two years, is trying to get a message across. Which? The first verse of the Qur’an quoted calls for jihadists and their followers to hold on despite hardships. It is also the message sent by the sequence showing the recovery of Palmyra: successes are still possible, even in a difficult situation, but it will be necessary to pay them at the price of the blood. The first audio speech of Abu al-Hassan al-Muhajir encrusted in the video invites the jihadists to carry out a fight to death, anywhere, against the “disbelievers”. In the same way, a fighter addressing his comrades before the start of the raid in the wilayat al-Badiyah quotes a verse from the Koran where it is question of the choice of the best fighters, an elite able to defeat forces much superior in number. All the video infuses the idea that the IS gains the victory not because of the number, its weapons or its equipment, but because of its faith in Allah. The victory will come, as the terrorist group expresses in this video, from the fear that the jihadists have of their Lord, Allah. It is also the idea formulated by the audio speech of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi: the world is divided into two camps, the Islamic State and its opponents. There is no intermediary, no “gray area”. Deprived of territory, the Salafist organization, in spite of everything, will survive: this video sadly confirms it.