A new video released by the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) that makes heavy use of recycled footage reveals the group is scrambling to keep up appearances following its recent defeat in Iraq, experts told Diyaruna.
The video, posted November 30th under the title, "Flames of War (Part II)", was identical to Part I -- released three years ago -- with minor changes in its promotional content.
The 58-minute release relies heavily on videos and images of older terror operations the group had carried out in the areas it once controlled in Iraq and Syria in 2014, in an attempt to draw attention to its barbarity and its survival.
Recycling such images in a new production is a sign that the group is experiencing a crisis, security expert Saeed al-Jayashi told Diyaruna.
The group has been dealt a severe blow in Iraq, and as a result, is seeking to sidestep this reality with old releases designed to deceive viewers, he said, adding that "the group wants to soften its defeat and re-energise its base".
ISIS has suffered both a stinging military defeat and a painful blow to its propaganda machine, which it has relied on heavily to recruit fighters and spread terror, he said.
All the group’s media centres in Iraq have been targeted, he said, and 80% of websites and webpages sympathetic to extremists have been taken down.
Defeat in Iraq and Syria
The latest ISIS release directly calls on its supporters and followers to embark on a new stage of conflict from new areas, or so-called "lands of migration".
Monitors have seen this move as a concession of its defeat in Iraq and Syria, which until recently were considered "lands of enablement and control" where its so-called caliphate was located.
ISIS has lost 13 of its self-declared provinces in Iraq and Syria, out of 33 it has declared around the world, security analyst Fadhil Abu Raghif told Diyaruna.
"This loss has prompted the group to try to take its terrorist activities to alternative territories, or as they are called lands of migration".
In its latest video, the group suggests "Wilayat Sinai" in Egypt would be a new destination for its fighters.
Letters written by ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi found in the group’s stronghold in Libya call on his followers to make their way to Libya and use it as a launchpad for its operations in Egypt, Tunisia and Algeria.
"ISIS wants to assert control in southern Sinai and the Libyan desert as well as the Horn of Africa and the city of Marawi in the Philippines," Abu Raghif said.
"These are the likeliest destinations for terrorists," he added.
The November 24th massacre at al-Rawdha Mosque in the Bir al-Abed area of Sinai that left more than 300 dead reflects the group’s determination to dominate those areas, he said.
Weakened media reach
ISIS is currently suffering from a steep decline in its media production, Abu Raghif said, noting that several of its outlets and publications have ceased production altogether.
These include its Amaq agency and al-Naba, its digital platform, al-Furqan for media production and its print magazine, Dabiq.
The decline in its media production and weakened media presence is evidenced by its latest release, which makes heavy use of recycled footage, he said.
"The group has been defeated and has not managed to revive itself anywhere or resell its twisted ideology," he added.
Iraqi forces "have dealt a painful blow to the terrorists", said Iraqi MP Iskandar Witwit, who serves on the parliamentary security and defence committee.
Witwit called on countries to come together to prevent the group from resurfacing elsewhere, and to continue to work together to combat its electronic propaganda and restrict its access to military and media resources.