The Islamic State (ISIS) has released a video titled "Blood of Jihad," though the footage is actually bloodless.
Shot in northern Iraq, the six-minute film released Sunday shows approximately 100 recruits training in different ways: crawling on the ground while dodging gunfire and retrieving wounded soldiers, taking kicks to the gut, and even unleashing some Bruce Lee-style martial arts moves on each other.
Speaking with CNN, Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies suggests that the video is not actual training footage, but their latest piece of propaganda:
This kind of hand-to-hand fighting – with automatic weapons, mortars, artillery, vehicles – almost never really occurs. Throughout this entire video what you have is a stage set of exercises. You look at them and this isn't really a training exercise but a video exercise.
Watch it here:
The Guardian's Steve Rose recently noted that "ISIS's global media operation appears to have two key objectives: to provoke the US and its allies, and to recruit from outside the Middle East. Both seem to be working."
Vice estimates that 10,000 westerners have joined ISIS, about 100 are Americans.
The same day the terrorist organization published "Blood of Jihad," they also released a hostage video of John Cantlie, the fourth British journalist forced to speak on ISIS's behalf.
The Islamic State has been putting out a steady stream of information on social media, making itself relevant in western pop culture. Reason's Scott Shackford highlighted their use of Grand Theft Auto-style animation, and I noted their commentary on the death of Robin Williams.
In a warzone, both sides use propaganda, and the U.S. State Department has been distributing information of its own through a social media campaign called "Look Again, Turn Away." It focuses on ISIS's hypocrisy and un-Islamic practices, as well as the lives of women and children ruined or ended by the war ISIS is waging.
On the battlefield, ISIS is gaining strategic ground, indicating that American airstrikes are not as effective as anticipated.