The jihadist terrorist group Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS)–now rebranding as just “the Islamic State“–is pressing on with the most sophisticated jihadist public relations effort of the modern era. Its English-language outfit, Al-Hayat media, released two videos Sunday, one featuring a jihadist from Chile promoting the cause.
In a video titled “The End of Sykes-Picot” in reference to the Western agreement that constructed the borders currently in use on the Arabian Peninsula, Chilean jihadist Abu Safiyya tours the border of Iraq and Syria (what he calls “Sham”) and displays a number of trophies captured by ISIS, including border patrol soldiers and pieces of Iraqi soldiers’ uniforms.
“Inshallah we will break the barriers of Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon,” he says, while walking in between a spot on the border of Iraq and Syria, adding of the border itself, “We do not recognize it and we will never recognize it.”
Safiyyah also tours a border patrol checkpoint, now abandoned, and disparages the Iraqi army as “cowards” for having abandoned it. He then shows the camera a set of patches that appear to have come from Iraqi military uniforms. “The soldiers, they took these off their uniforms and threw them on the streets and ran away,” he explains.
Safiyyah then introduces the camera to some former border patrol agents, now in ISIS captivity. “Look at these idiots,” he snarls at them, claiming, perhaps jokingly, that they “worship Lucifer.”
“The End of Sykes-Picot” is the English language equivalent of an Arabic-language ISIS video also released this weekend, titled “The Breaking of the Borders.” That video shows footage of a mass murder for which the world had only photos–images of mass executions of Iraqi soldiers occurring in cities like Mosul and Tikrit, where ISIS has established a foothold. The soldiers are forced into a call-and-response chant, responding to ISIS soldiers shouting “Dawlah Islam”–the Arabic words for “Islamic State.” It ends with the mass execution of what appear to be dozens of soldiers, stylized and in black and white so as to appear to be the scene of a movie. The extremely graphic video is not intended for a sensitive audience:
The high production values make Al-Hayat videos appear far more sophisticated than the average jihadist propaganda and serve to attract Western viewers, who may be inclined to join ISIS. Unlike other jihadist groups, they are seeking to build their numbers by persuading Western Muslims–not jihadists already active in the area. This explains the development of a theme song and editing of a mass execution to make it look like a scene out of a World War II movie. ISIS’s adeptness with media makes it one of the most dangerous of such threats against the Western world, and as it expands, expect the group to parade its international recruits more prominently in subsequent videos.