The Islamic State terrorist group has released a new propaganda video that details their unusual military training tactics and their modes of spiritual training as they prepare recruits from all over the world to take on the challenges of jihad in Iraq and Syria.
The six-minute video entitled "The Blood of Jihad" shows hundreds of Islamic State recruits going through various self-defense, weapons and religious training exercises at one of the new Islamic State training camps in Nineveh City in northern Iraq. The video also includes hand-to-hand combat training exercises.
The video was posted to YouTube last weekend and has since been removed by the website.
An ISIS instructor speaking in the video says in Arabic that the video's purpose is to show the graduation of the first recruits ever trained at that particular military camp.
"The first group of volunteers for Jihad in the path of Allah has graduated at the Sheik Abu Azzam Al-Ansari military camp," said the ISIS instructor, according to the Middle East Media Research Institute's translation of the video. "This blessed training course consists of three aspects. The first was physical fitness and strength. Training was conducted by an expert in urban warfare and self-defense. The second aspect weapons training, including assembling and disassembling weapons. The third aspect was learning Sharia."
In one training exercise, the video shows a recruit practicing a rescue attempt drill by crawling in the sand with a rescue rug tied to his leg while being shot at by multiple instructors. Once the recruit crawls up next to the prone recruit that was designated to be the wounded comrade, he rolls the wounded soldier onto the rug and covers up his body, while a third recruit pulls the bodies away while they are, once again, shot at by the instructors.
Another exercise shown in the video shows the recruits crawling underneath a barbed wire obstacle track designed to teach them how to crawl and stay low while advancing moderate distances without being struck by a bullet. Although this drill is not too different from standard U.S. military crawl drills, once again, the ISIS instructors were firing at the recruits while standing over them as they crawled.
On a side note, U.S. military tents are noticeable in the background of the crawling exercise. The tents, which have the initials U.S. on the front of them, could be have been taken by ISIS forces when they captured weapons from Iraqi security forces over the summer when the group seized much of the Nineveh province.
In another scene, the video shows one drill where all the recruits are lined up while one ISIS instructor proceeds down the line kicking each recruit squarely in the stomach testing their abdominal strength. Once the instructor reaches the last person in line, the instructor knees the last recruit in the chest.
In a scene depicting their spiritual training, a religious leader is seen addressing the large group of recruits and tells them of their fate.
"Do you know, oh mujahideen, that you will make your first step on the battlefield with the tip of your foot, and your final one will be as you are carried on people's shoulders after your martyrdom," said the spiritual instructor, according to the MEMRI translation.
The video also shows various hand-to-hand combat drills in which the recruits seem to be getting instruction from combat professionals and practice high-flying maneuvers and other tactics that help demobilize opposition fighters.
In one scene, a fighter takes down the last opposition fighter with a roundhouse kick that ended that particular sparring match. But after the recruit successfully connects on the roundhouse kick, the whole group of recruits start to shout "Allahu Akbar", the Islamic phrase meaning "God is greater." The chants of Allahu Akbar were followed by arabic chants which MEMRI translates as "the state of Islam is here to stay."
Anthony Cordesman, a terrorism expert at the Center for Strategic and International Study, told CNN that the hand-to-hand combat seen in the ISIS "training" video proves that this video is not an actual training video but rather a staged propaganda video.
"This type of hand-to-hand fighting, with automatic weapons, mortars, artillery, vehicles, almost never occurs. Throughout this entire video, what you have is a stage set of exercises. You look at them and this really isn't a training exercise. It's a video exercise," Cordesman said. "It is the use of indirect fire to soften up positions. It is to assault key positions with suicide bombers. And then, close in using automatic weapons."