ISIS: towards a “war of attrition” by procuration?



The ISIS leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, appeared in a propaganda video published by the mediatic arm of the organization Al-Furqan. An outbreak that marks a turning point in the operating mode of the terrorist organization that his boss described as “war of attrition”.

5 years after his first and last apparition on the stage of the al-Nuri de Mossoul Mosque in Iraq, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the emir of ISIS, appeared again in a propaganda video turned this time behind closed doors. Surrounded by 3 of his close collaborators, whose faces were blurred, the speech leader of the jihadist movement seemed far from the triumphalism of July 5, 2014, when he had proclaimed himself caliph.

Considered dead or injured repeatedly, since 2017, by Russia and the international coalition in Syria; vanished from the radar since one last audio message attributed to him, in August 2018; the
reappearance of Al-Baghdadi in a video released on April 29, 2019, marks a turning point for the organization that renounces its review to sit an Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

In this 18-minute video message, al-Baghdadi calls again to the holy war, but also to the reorganization of ISIS and jihadist organizations who have sworn allegiance to him through of the world.

ISIS leader assembles troops for what he calls “war of attrition” long-term fight against enemies of all kinds, with a tactical shift in the choice of targets designed by the
terrorist attacks: more fragile and more symbolic targets such as places of worship and police premises (Zulfi attack in Saudi Arabia) etc …

Al-Baghdadi appears on this video in good health and without visible signs of injuries, in a staging that aims to reaffirm the central place he occupies in the nebula of ISIS and its aptitude to lead it.

The ISIS leader is filmed sitting on the floor, in what seems to be a secret location, in a position which recalls those of the famous videos of Al-Qaida leader Osama Ben laden and his successor
Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Shot after the last defeat of ISIS in Baghouz, which marked the fall of its last territorial stronghold in Syria, the video aims to reinvigorate the followers of the jihadist ideology, by inciting them to commit “revenge” attacks on new territories, beyond what was the traditional warfare ground of ISIS.

Al-Baghdadi states in the video that 92 attacks were perpetrated by its organization in 9 countries. Moreover, in an additional audio message, probably recorded after the video, it evokes the
deadly attacks on April 21 in Sri Lanka. Al-Baghdadi also attacks France, calling for targeting the country by new attacks.

This media appearance of al-Baghdadi comes to put an end to questions about his leadership within ISIS, since he seems to keep all its logistical and financial power, and reaffirms the
centralization of its chain of command.

If, the video confirms that ISIS keeps partly of its capacity of reaction, it also proves that it is going through a phase of mutation and is trying to reorganize its troops and reviews the modus operandi of its operations, adopting an insurgent mode of action to fill the gaps caused by the fall of its strongholds in Syria and Iraq.

Out of breath and out of combat, ISIS is betting on a war of “attrition”, in Asia and in North and West Africa. And this thanks to the allegiance of jihadist organizations located in
these regions. Organizations that have autonomy of action, but whose operations contribute to the rebirth of ISIS and that ISIS considers as part of her structure.

Al-Baghdadi tries to reaffirm the central position of his organization in the jihadist nebula, by staging a new reorganization of wilayas (provinces) which compose the caliphate of ISIS. This staging was also illustrated by the evocation of allegiance of Abu Walid al-Sahrawi and his troops in the Sahel as it was a new fact, when in reality it dates from 2015.

This shows that in the media and propaganda war of ISIS, all the fallacious arguments are welcome!