Center for Strategic Communication

The Islamic State, an al Qaeda offshoot that controls significant territory in both Iraq and Syria, has posted an extremely brutal video. While most Muslims were celebrating the end of Islam’s holy month, the Islamic State is celebrating mass executions.

Warning: Some of the images below are graphic.

The Long War Journal is posting these images because they highlight the depravity of the Islamic State and its followers. The Islamic State likely believes that these images will help intimidate its opposition into submission and earn new recruits, especially among young jihadists and sympathizers who are mesmerized by the orgy of killings. This will work with a certain segment of the jihadists’ recruiting pool.

But over-the-top violence of this sort can also have the opposite effect, as it turns some potential recruits and supporters into foes. In this regard, the Islamic State is repeating the same mistakes made by its predecessors, al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) and the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), in the past. The indiscriminate violence carried out by these organizations alienated many Iraqis and sowed the seeds of their initial demise.

The military prowess of the Islamic State is formidable and the organization will not be easily defeated any time soon. The Islamic State has managed to achieve remarkable successes on the battlefields in both Iraq and Syria. Yet its brand of jihad creates an opportunity for its opponents to marshal forces against it. This was the linchpin of the strategy previously employed by American forces in Iraq during the height of the “surge.” Therefore, while these images will further the Islamic State’s cause in some circles, they can also help to discredit it in others.

Whether the Iraqi government, which is in disarray, or its allies can take advantage of this strategic liability in the Islamic State’s operations remains to be seen, however. Keep in mind that the United States military and government were crucial to organizing the Awakening, the tribal resistance to al Qaeda in Iraq, as well as bolstering the Iraqi military during the surge, which began in 2007. Additionally, more than 130,000 US troops, supported by American airpower, intelligence, and logistics, partnered with the Awakening and Iraqi security forces to conduct nearly two years of concurrent military operations throughout Iraq in order to beat back al Qaeda and its allies by the end of 2008.

Graphic images from Islamic State’s video celebrating end of Ramadan

The images below appear to cover incidents that have occurred since early June. Some of these events were previously promoted by the group.

A few of the Islamic State’s victims await their death after others perished in a mass killing:

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The Islamic State’s victims are marched to their death:

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The Islamic State’s executioners spray their captives with bullets:

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A gunman makes sure the prisoners are dead by shooting them once again:

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The Islamic State’s victims are carted to their death:

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A line of victims is funneled to a killing spot on what appears to be a river:

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One by one the victims are shot in the head at the killing spot, which is stained with blood, and their corpses are then dumped into the water:

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