The Islamic State has released a new video entitled “Blood of Jihad”, which shows many new recruits undergoing training in Ninewa province, Iraq. The total number of recruits featured in the release is more than 100.
In the video, US military tents and weapons are clearly seen being used in the training camp. Each recruit appears to be equipped with either an AK-47, RPG, or a PK machine gun.
Throughout the video, the recruits undergo live fire training, weapons training, hand-to-hand combat training, and training on how to extract a wounded or dead fighter from a firefight. Before the video ends, an Islamic State ideologue gives a fiery speech to the recruits.
This video is just the latest in many multimedia releases showing Islamic State training camps in Iraq and Syria. Last week, the jihadist group released pictures showing the graduation of fighters from the “Shaykh Abu Omar al Baghdadi” training camp in Kirkuk.
The Islamic State has also released images of two other camps in Iraq and Syria. In July, it published pictures of another training camp in Ninewa province. Before that, in May, the group announced the existence of the Zarqawi Camp, which is named after the slain founder of al Qaeda in Iraq, on the outskirts of the Syrian capital of Damascus.
The US has targeted five Islamic State training centers in six airstrikes since Aug. 7, when it began its campaign in Iraq. Islamic State training camps were hit in US airstrikes in Raqqah, Abu Kamal, Dier al Zour, and Hasakah on Sept. 22; Manjib on Sept. 29; and again in Raqqah on Oct. 3. This latest video serves to tout the Islamic State’s training infrastructure despite these airstrikes.
Training Camps in Iraq and Syria
Jihadist groups in both Iraq and Syria have promoted the existence of various other training camps this year.
In mid-March, the Al Nusrah Front for the People of the Levant, al Qaeda’s branch in Syria and a rival of the Islamic State, announced that it is running two training camps in Syria. Its Ayman al Zawahiri Camp was located in the city of Deir al Zour and is named after al Qaeda’s current emir (the Islamic State currently controls the city and it is likely this camp is now abandoned). The other camp, whose location was not disclosed, is called the Abu Ghadiya Camp and is named after the leader of the al Qaeda in Iraq facilitation network that was based in eastern Syria. Abu Ghadiya was killed in a US special operations raid in eastern Syria in the fall of 2008. Just yesterday, the Al Nusrah Front released pictures from another training camp in Syria, this one located in Idlib province. [See LWJ’s report, Al Nusrah Front released photos of training camp in northwestern Syria]
In the beginning of April, the Jaish al Muhajireen wal Ansar (Army of Emigrants and Supporters, or Muhajireen Army), a group of foreign fighters led by commanders from the Caucasus, released video of its training camp in Aleppo province. The video included footage of a bomb-making class.
And in June, an Uzbek jihadist group known as the Imam Bukhari Jamaat released a video of its training camp in Syria. The camp is thought to be located in Aleppo province. The group is allied with the Al Nusrah Front and Jaish al Muhajireen wal Ansar.
These pictures and videos of training camps are reminiscent of others released by al Qaeda from the network of camps in Afghanistan during the 1990s. Al Qaeda used camps such as Khalden and Al Farouq to churn out thousands of foreign fighters who fought alongside the Taliban in the 55th Arab Brigade. But al Qaeda also selected graduates of the camps to conduct attacks in the West, including the Sept. 11, 2001 operation against the US.