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Why Are These ISIS Fighters Kicking Each Other in the Groin?

Great moments in jihadist combat training.

An unusual video released last week purports to show ISIS jihadis going through some rigorous, if perhaps unconventional, boot-camp training. For example, among the activities highlighted in the group's endurance regime are shorter jihadis leapfrogging over taller jihadis, an activity more likely to evoke summer camp than boot camp. Certainly the most striking spectacle in the video is footage of some trainer-looking jihadi facing recruits who are lined up platoon-style, and kicking them rather forcefully in the groin.

This is not the first look at ISIS' often original preparations for battle. Britain's Independent, in its brief report on the footage, noted in an almost rueful tone that, "Absent from the video are the burning hoops ISIS fighters have leapt through in previous videos." Who would have expected that laying the groundwork for Apocalypse itself would so resemble a circus rehearsal?

What is the explanation for such hoop-jumping, leapfrogging, and groin-kicking on ISIS' part? Analysis suggests several possibilities:

  • Eunuchizing the Caliphate. ISIS claims that its dearest wish is to reestablish the Caliphate. Of course, the last time there was a Caliphate, the Caliph was the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire. The Ottomans are famous, or notorious, for many things, but if ISIS wants to embody any of that empire's notable institutions itself as part of its Caliphate restoration project, it really has only three practical choices: It could transform itself into a sultan's harem, into the Janissary corps, or into eunuchs. It's apparent from the video of the "trainer" smashing his leg into the recruits' groins which of these institutions it has chosen to embody personally.
  • ISIS Has a Plan B. If the Caliphate thing doesn't pan out, ISIS has a back-up plan: ISIS' Flying Circus. While there may not be any burning hoops to jump through in this video, the latest training release does feature jihadis leaping acrobat-style over piles of other jihadis. Perhaps the next video will feature multiple jihadis bouncing amusingly on a trampoline, or even soaring on a trapeze; it would be consistent with what we've seen from them so far. These sorts of acts may have declined over the years in the U.S., but you can still get enough bookings on cheesy European TV variety shows to get by.
  • Captagon Side-Effects. A recent series of hysterically excited news reports from Syria has focused on the use by fighters of Captagon, a pill, if one believes these pulsating stories, with perfectly amazing powers. The Washington Post, for example, has written that this "powerful amphetamine tablet... quickly produces a euphoric intensity in users, allowing Syria's fighters to stay up for days, killing with a numb, reckless abandon." (But see Jacob Sullum's wet-blanket take.) Among the quotes gathered from users: "[W]hatever you take to stop it, nothing can stop it." "I felt like I own the world high"; "[I feel] like I have power nobody has." "There was no fear anymore after I took Captagon." Surely if a Capagon pill can turn you into a sleepless, slaughtering killing machine, it can make you kick your comrades in their crotches with wild abandon, or even make you willing to receive such assaults because you think (and this would be a further Captagon side-effect) that they will help restore the Caliphate.
  • A Zionist Plot. The idea that kicks to the groin and games of leapfrog constitute effective military training is the result of a satanically clever plot. Infiltrators, inevitably under the control of Israeli intelligence, have persuaded a gullible ISIS leadership that what their fighters really lacked were enough powerful kicks to their testicles; these agents then succeeded in institutionalizing such activity in ISIS' training manual. The result is that while ISIS camps may be ringing with pained moans, Jerusalem is now echoing with mocking laughter. Note that this is quite different from the notion, widely believed in the Middle East, that ISIS itself is a Zionist enterprise. Furthermore, it's likely that if the Israelis have pulled off such a scheme, the U.S. is certainly aware of it. Perhaps President Barack Obama intended to refer to this plan recently when he engaged in ill-timed swaggering about the anti-ISIS strategy. We have ISIS "contained" he told George Stephanopoulos just prior to the Paris massacres, when what he meant to say is that we have ISIS "in pain." The president, against all advice, wasn't using his TelePrompTer.
  • Mere Military Tradition. According to this view, there's nothing unusual or bizarre about this training video. It simply reflects a long-standing tradition of utter contempt by military leaders for their rank-and-file recruits, especially in the East. The Ottoman Empire's Janissaries, for example, supposedly subjected new arrivals to pederast hazing. Robert Graves, in his 1929 memoir, Goodbye to All That, reports witnessing officers of the Sultanate Egyptian army spitting into the mouths of the low-ranking soldiers. Veterans of the region's current armies commonly refer to their experience as being treated for years like "shoe soles." By such standards, ISIS' training video reflects a humane approach to soldierly fitness.
  • This Video Was Posted to be Ridiculed. By whom?  Perhaps by the same kind of people who posted this curious video snippet (graphic content warning). It features a jihadi figure beginning to boast on camera about the ease with which some position has just been taken. "Praise God!" he says. "Things went much easier than expected, in spite of the fact that this place was very important." We never learn where "this place" is, or why it is "very important," because the boasting spokesman is hit, mid-boast, by a bomb. The camera falls to the ground, and you don't see much else, but the snippet continues long enough to hear a woman screaming as well as some abject moaning by seriously injured persons. Maybe the camera was picked up by the enemy when they came back through "this place," and the macabre boast ending in sudden death was seen as ripe for macabre ridicule. Maybe ISIS' leapfrogging, crotch-kicking extravaganza ended up somehow in the same kind of hands, and they have put it to the same use.

Photo Credit: ISIS

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  • Scarecrow & WoodChipper Repair||

    It proves two things:
    Daesh is nuts.
    Daesh is dicks.
    I am disappointed they did not include assholes.

  • mfckr||

    Funny. ISIS meets Jackass.

  • ||

    I am beginning to think that letting these dunces all assemble in one place isnt such a bad idea.

    I used to know a prison guard who would have beer parties with his buddies. After they all got drunk they would take turns kicking each other in the balls. He was the dumbest human being that I had met up to that point in my life and that is really saying something.

    I wonder how many can show up within the bounds of the Islamic State before Cruz or Trump gets elected?

  • The Last American Hero||

    I will make this Caliphate Great again. The biggest, classiest, Caliphate in all the world. And I'm not takin' any crap from either Putin or the Great Satan.

    /Trump for Caliph 2016

  • IceTrey||

    He's kicking the inside of the thigh not the nuts.

  • bacon-magic||

    Punch to the nuts...still hurts, but it's good for a laugh.

  • Loki||

    Really shitty kicks at that. Seriously, no technique or form whatsoever.

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    We laugh at them.
    We mock them.
    Come election day, we'll know how it feels, regardless of who wins.

  • tao 48||

    we farte in their general direction.

  • ant1sthenes||

    Shown above: Radley Balko guest blogs Reason for a day.

  • Loki||

    Thread. Winner.

  • Loki||

    It's footage from the ISIS version of Ow, My Nuts.

  • Jam4Joy||

    Wait.. You like money and sex too? We should hang out.

  • MSimon||

    How many sides does a captagon have?

  • MSimon||

    OK. Capt. Agon

  • DarrenM||

    They won't need the ability to get women pregnant where they're going.

  • Fredrick Douglas||

    I as a kick in the dick halal?

  • CatoTheYounger||

    I'm going with Zionist Plot for now. It's the joos man! Israel is controlling the Saudis!

  • Number 2||

    "ISIS' Flying Circus"

    Straight Man: "I didn't expect the Islamic Caliphate..."
    Imam Ximenez: "NO-O-O-OBODY EXPECTS THE ISLAMIC CALIPHATE!!!! Our chief weapon is fear, fear and beheading..no, our two weapons are fear, beheading, kicking in the balls and fanatical .... I'll come in again..."

  • Win Bear||

    Is that really so surprising, after this training video?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NuEK9gSUbWw

  • Hank Phillips||

    Reason paid someone for this scribbling? I could see it if there were at least some Trump-bashing or beltway Bush-Rubio-Cruz pushing (same thing). Is this produced on a VA writing grant for head wound victims?

  • Jay Dubya||

    You think Reason receives state funding? You probably shouldnt be mocking head wound victims too hard with bright ideas like that, champ.

  • Seth_M||

    This is a common military practice called 'body hardening'. Every United States Marine experiences it in boot camp, including inner thigh kicks (which often slip into nut kicks)

  • buybuydandavis||

    Kicked in the groin an not hurt. Uh huh.

    That's what we thought!

  • Aloysious||

    I vote that it is a Zionist plot, and that to counter said plot, jihadi's should kick each other in the groin more and harder.

  • Achmed||

    Ah yes, the kick-me-in-the-jimmy training regime. Hallmark of steely eyed killers everywhere. These are the highly trained half-literate goat f**kers (I mean killers) that we are supposed to be terrified of, and that we are supposed to sacrifice rule of law and constitutional rights for. Very impressive.

  • Michael Ahlers||

    “Perhaps by the same kind of people who posted this curious video snippet (graphic content warning).”

    A trigger warning on Reason Magazine. Sigh.

  • macsnafu||

    Because when you're using guns and bombs, it's so important to take one in the nuts or leapfrog over invisible obstacles.

  • Gaffer Tape||

    As mentioned by Seth_M body hardening is common in the marine corp as well as traditional kung fu training. It's purpose is deaden the nerves to limit pain in hand-to-hand combat. It is also to build up mental toughness.

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