News / Middle East

    Islamic State Video Wages Psychological War on Iraqi Soldiers

    FILE - This image appears to show militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) leading captured Iraqi soldiers after taking over a base near Tikrit, Iraq. The photo was posted on a militant website June 14, 2014.
    FILE - This image appears to show militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) leading captured Iraqi soldiers after taking over a base near Tikrit, Iraq. The photo was posted on a militant website June 14, 2014.
    Reuters

    Islamic State, the al-Qaida spin-off that seized wide swaths of Iraq almost unopposed last month, has released a video warning Iraqi soldiers who may still have some fight in them that they risk being rounded up en masse and executed.

    Iraq's army unraveled when the Sunni insurgents staged a lightning advance through northern towns and cities, building on territory their comrades captured earlier in the west of the country, a major OPEC oil producer.

    Thousands of soldiers fled, prompting Iraq's top cleric to call on compatriots to take up arms against the radical faction that has declared a medieval-style caliphate in parts of Iraq and Syria and aims to march on the capital Baghdad.

    The 30-minute video clip, circulated during the holiday that marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, sheds light on what tactics the Islamic State is likely to employ as it presses ahead with its campaign.

    After sweeping through a town with quick-hit raids, the militants are filmed standing over dozens of terrified, handcuffed Iraqi soldiers.

    One fighter mocks a soldier for wearing civilian clothes over his uniform out of fear of being identified and killed. He pleads for mercy, to no avail.

    Then dozens of soldiers are led to a sandy desert pit. They are executed one by one - bullets from AK-47 assault rifles pumped into their heads.

    Not satisfied that all are dead, an Islamic State fighter makes one last round, opening fire again, one by one.

    Others are led to the edge of a river. Each one is shot in the head with a pistol and then shoved in, the executioner standing in a large pool of blood.

    Promises of paradise

    The mission begins with an Islamic State commander firing up militants with promises that paradise in heaven awaits them if they take the city of Samarra, which is 100 km (62 miles) north of Baghdad and would be their next target in a southward push.

    He tells them that God “made us proud when he permitted us to go to jihad.” It was not clear where or when the video was filmed.

    The footage features night-vision sequences, then shows fighters moving into a city in flat-bed trucks, and U.S-made Humvees seized during their surge through the north last month.

    The Islamic State convoys filmed include small tanks and heavy machine guns transported on trailers.

    Some fighters are on foot, darting towards government buildings on sandy roads. As the Islamic State gains ground small units in trucks pull up beside vehicles during daytime and open fire on passengers who lose control of their vehicles.

    Several militants walk up to a van and empty their AK-47s through the windows, to make sure the job is done.

    Then the camera focuses on Iraqi security forces in watchtowers. One by one they are picked off by Islamic State snipers, who seem to avoid heavy clashes and rely instead on quick, small operations combined with psychological warfare.

    An insurgent can be heard weeping in joy as he declares that Samarra now belongs to the group.

    Residents and security sources say Baghdad Shi'ite Muslim-led government remains in control of Samarra so this footage may have come from another city or town seized by the Islamic State.

    Nevertheless, it illustrates the thinking of the Islamic State, which aims to redraw the Middle East map although it appears to have paused its territorial thrust for now in favor of consolidating recent gains north of Samarra.

    On Tuesday, Islamic State militants blew up a strategic bridge connecting Samarra to the town of Tikrit to the north, severing the main route and a tunnel beneath it that was used by Iraqi military forces, a senior local police official said.

    Iraqi government troops have tried but failed to recapture Tikrit from the insurgents.

    Islamic State's sudden rise has worsened Sunni-Shi'ite sectarian tensions in Iraq, raising fears that the country will relapse into the dark days of civil war that peaked in 2006-2007.

    Shi'ite militias now rival the government army in their ability to confront the Sunni insurgents.

    After the soldiers are executed, the Islamic State video shows fighters blowing up Shi'ite shrines or bulldozing mosques, as well as residents of the town welcoming fighters.  

    You May Like

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    Diplomats Hope to Revive Cradle of Civilization After Defeat of IS

    Diplomats from around globe gather at US State Department, discuss how to rebuild minority communities shattered by Islamic State group

    Women Voters Look Past Gender in Assessing Clinton

    She's the first female presidential nominee, but party identification, other factors outweigh gender

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Busi
    X
    July 28, 2016 4:16 AM
    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora