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A Year On: IS 'Anniversary' Video Celebrates Takeover Of Mosul

The new Islamic State video has some oddly whimsical moments, such as a scene showing a militant riding victoriously into Mosul on horseback.

Graphic footage of an execution-style killing in a packed city square segues into a close-up of a man's hand stamping an official-looking document adorned with the Islamic State (IS) militant group's black-flag logo.

These two deliberately juxtaposed scenes, part of a new video released by IS's Ninawa division on June 11 to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the extremist group's takeover of the Iraqi city of Mosul, seem to have little connecting them.

Yet the brutal public shooting of a man and the bureaucratic order depicted through document stamping are both key elements of the claim to statehood and control that is central to the message of this video and to IS's wider propaganda efforts.

A year after it overran Mosul, Islamic State is using the video to establish a narrative of a stunning military victory guided by God. The 29-minute video emphasizes that the militants are in complete control of Mosul and are able to govern efficiently, according to its extremist interpretation of Shari'a law.

Most of the video consists of footage, some previously unseen, of the militant group's June 2014 capture of Mosul.

A voiceover boasts that, even though the IS forces that advanced on Mosul were greatly outnumbered, they still managed to defeat the "Safavid army," a derogatory term used by Islamic State to refer to Shi'ite Iraqis.

IS's takeover of Mosul is depicted as a tremendous victory that was celebrated and welcomed by the city's population. Mosul residents are shown welcoming the militants as they enter the city, and there are some oddly whimsical moments, such as a scene showing a militant riding victoriously into Mosul on horseback.

The second part of the video focuses on IS's imposition of its rule in Mosul, including its destruction of artifacts the group deems non-Islamic or the "manifestations of polytheism," as well as of its brutal punishments of those who transgress its extremist interpretation of Shari'a law.

The video praises IS's bureaucratic achievements, boasting that the group has established an Office of Health and Education as well as an Office of Agriculture, and has established Shari'a law in Mosul.

But, despite the propaganda, Mosul residents have said the city is like a prison since IS overran it.

Meanwhile, the United States looks set to focus efforts to recapture the city of Ramadi in Anbar province, which IS overran last month, instead of Mosul.

Washington has been open about its recent moves to escalate the U.S. presence in Iraq, and the Pentagon is eyeing sites in the strategic corridor between Baghdad and Tikrit, as well as further north toward Kirkuk and Mosul, Army General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has said.

Dempsey said that an expanded footprint for U.S. troops in Anbar was part of a plan to establish "lily pad" operations centers that would allow the Iraqi army to push IS back -- and eventually retake Mosul.

About This Blog

"Under The Black Flag" provides news, opinion, and analysis about the impact of the Islamic State (IS) extremist group in Syria, Iraq, and beyond. It focuses not only on the fight against terrorist groups in the Middle East, but also on the implications for the region and the world.


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