The Islamic State Releases New Video Showing Insurgent Operations in Iraq
On October 5, 2021, all official media of the Islamic State (IS), almost simultaneously on all platforms used, released an official video of Wilayah Iraq of about 49 minutes. The video is entitled “So Wait; Indeed We, Along With You, Are Waiting Wilāyat al-'Irāq” and refers to a verse in the Qur'an: 9:52. The last official video from Wilayah Iraq dates to May 2021 and was number three in the “Makers of Epic Battles” series.
The video comes on the eve of the Iraqi elections and at a time of expanding operations by militants in the Iraqi province. In fact, according to data collected by various analysts, there were over 800 operations conducted in Iraq by IS in the period from January 1, 2021 to September 2021.
Fig. 1 - Banner of the Wilayah Iraq video.
The video shows numerous attacks conducted by Iraqi militants of the caliphate, from the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) to attacks on barracks in Diyala, Salahuddin and Kirkuk, or the raid on border bases in al-Anbar governorate, in which Iraqi militiamen stormed the bases in pickup trucks. The video also shows the violent and coordinated 5 September attack on a federal police checkpoint near the village of Asriya Satih in the district of Rashad.
Fig. 2 - A local IS commander delivers a speech to militants before the assault on a barracks.
Subsequently, footage is shown of ambushes on Iraqi militias near Samarra, rocket attacks in the governorates of Salahuddin, Kirkuk, Diyala and al-Anbar, and attacks on police convoys. The video also shows several clips of IS fighters conducting attacks and reprisals against tribal militias, people accused of collaborating with state and police authorities, and civilians of Shia faith in the areas of Fallujah, Shamal Baghdad, and Kirkuk. Several excerpts of footage of various attacks are then shown, with the types of clips always present in IS videos: of dead bodies of members of the Iraqi security forces, burning equipment, ambushes against federal police officers, and the collection of weapons and equipment.
Fig. 3 - An image extracted from the video of a night operation.
During the video, at the end of one of the attacks, an IS fighter, raising his voice and claiming to represent all the fighters who conducted the operation, sends greetings to the leader of the organization Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi.
Fig. 4 - An image extracted from the video showing a drone shot down by IS militants in the Kara Taba district, Diyala governorate.
The video includes several clips of footage showing the executions of Iraqi intelligence officers or members, as well as their alleged informants and collaborators. Since the beginning of 2020, the various claims published daily and the videos released make it clear that the IS media devotes much importance to disseminating images and news in reference to executions conducted against intelligence officers, secret agents or their collaborators and informants. This is to discourage and frighten those who operate in espionage or those who support them and provide information on the movements of the militants of the caliphate.
Fig. 5 - Weapons recovered by IS militants in one of the stormed barracks.
About halfway through the video, IS focuses on the early parliamentary elections, showing and commenting on archive images. Immediately afterwards, it announces that it will target anyone who collaborates in the conduct of the elections or who supports the “existing political regime”. To dissuade the population from participating or collaborating in the elections, IS shows several images of murders of MPs and informants of government security forces. The video then refers to Iraqi Sunnis, warning them and informing them that, according to IS, the Shiites are organizing themselves again to marginalize or expel them from their areas or the cities where they live. After that, the video shows again images of killings against civilians, militias or accused collaborators, mostly Shiites in different areas, such as Fallujah, in the Dakuk district, in the Kirkuk governorate and in Jaraf al-Sikh.
Fig. 6 - IS fighters planning an attack in the district of Rashad.
Finally, the video also shows footage of fighters preparing and planning high-profile operations and attacks on Badr Organization militias in Naft Khan in Diyala governorate.
The video confirms the persistence of IS operations in Iraq, which conducts two types of operations: “war of attrition” and “economic warfare”. Operations conducted by IS Iraq include, often not requiring a large number of fighters, the installation of IEDs, use of SVBIEDs, the organization of ambushes, assassination operations with snipers, murders, assassinations of social and political leaders, kidnappings, burning of houses and farms, attacks against Iraqi security forces and Shia paramilitary militias, and attacks on civilian and private infrastructure such as oil wells, electricity towers and telecommunication towers. The Islamic State jihadist organization has not been defeated and remains a threat to the security and stability of Iraq as well as the entire region in which it primarily operates and where its central leadership is based. IS in Iraq has the capacity to conduct a prolonged insurgency and the appeal of IS ideology could last for a long time, and perhaps grow, without the right countermeasures.
Visual Citations: Jihadology.net and @war_noir
Daniele Garofalo is a researcher and analyst of jihadist terrorism. He collaborates as Senior Analyst with several Italian and European research centers. He has long been conducting research, analyses and consultancies on all that concerns jihadist terrorism and its organizations, from ideology to operations, also exploiting his own numerous direct sources present in the different geographical contexts affected by the phenomenon. Moreover, he is an expert in the study, research and analysis of the propaganda of jihadist organizations through direct monitoring of jihadist media channels on the web, social networks and messaging apps. You can find him on Twitter: @G88Daniele