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ISIS Releases Defiant Video From Inside Besieged Syrian City Of Baghouz

The following report is now a complimentary offering from MEMRI's Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor (JTTM). For JTTM subscription information, click here.

On March 11, 2019, the Islamic State (ISIS) released a video titled The Meanings of Perseverance, seeking to send a defiant message to its enemies that its men remain determined to fight. The 14-minute video was posted and disseminated by ISIS on Telegram.[1] It features several fighters, situated inside the tent city set up by ISIS in the last sliver of territory it controls, delivering impassioned speeches in which they posit that ISIS is being targeted for its faith and implementation of Islamic law, and explain that ISIS members must choose between "victory or martyrdom." The video shows drone footage of the tent city, and daily life inside Baghouz is visible in the background as the fighters speak. Women, children, and men can be seen walking around, and also children gathered around a large pot awaiting their portion of food. Another segment shows members of the ISIS hisba (religious police) driving around to remind ISIS members of their duty to pray and attempting to lift their spirits by saying that Allah may grant them victory.

The defiant message of the video is in line with propaganda released by ISIS supporters in recent weeks as the siege conducted by the U.S.-backed SDF continues.[2] The situation in Baghouz dominates the discourse among ISIS supporters online, with most praising the fighters' stand in the village as an example of commitment and steadfastness.

On March 10, 2019, the pro-ISIS media outlet Al-Muhajireen distributed a statement denying reports that many ISIS fighters have fled Baghouz, referring to them as "rumors." Al-Muhajireen stated that it "rejects any false rumor created by the Crusaders, their mercenaries, and the apostates, regarding the escape of Islamic State fighters... We tell all those who hate the Islamic State, the Islamic State and its fighters are remaining and fighting with their heads raised until victory."[3]

Statement from Al-Muhajireen Foundation

The central speaker in the video is an ISIS member identified as Abu Abd Al-'Azim. His main themes are that ISIS is being opposed because it implements Allah's laws, and that ISIS members are promised the divine reward of paradise, as opposed to their enemies who will be doomed in the hereafter. Al-'Azim says that the loss of lives and territory should be measured by "the standard of the hereafter," rather than "the worldly standard." He also says that while it may seem that ISIS is losing the battle due to its loss of territory and lives, its adherence to Allah's laws guarantees victory in the form of entry into paradise.

ISIS member Abu Abd Al-'Azim

Al-'Azim asks: "What is our sin? What is our crime? Why are we bombarded by planes? Why have all the infidel countries of the world converged to fight us?... Why are we bombed day and night, while the world is not only silent but has agreed to fight us? What is our sin, what is our crime? That we want to implement Allah's law. There is no group in the world which has ruled by the Quran other than this group. Even if we are killed and eradicated, that is a victory...

"Victory and perseverance are that you adhere to that which Allah, exalted is He, loves... regardless of worldly standards. The standards [which should be taken into account] are those of the hereafter, and 'the best outcome is for the righteous.' These infidels and apostates blocked the roads and besieged us, but Allah's road is open..."

As the camera focuses on the food being cooked in the pot, Al-Azim continues: "Receive glad tidings, victory is near, the best outcome is for the righteous. These infidels and apostates laugh and ridicule us in this world, but war has its ups and downs, and the battles are not over yet..."

Al-Azim concludes by declaring: "We say, to enrage the infidels and apostates, there is no Muslim ruler on the face of the earth besides Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, may Allah protect him, even if their noses turn red. There is no area ruled by that which Allah decreed and governed by Allah's law in this time, besides the Islamic State, even if their noses turn red."

Image from drone of the ISIS tent city in Baghouz

ISIS hisba operatives calling for prayers


[1] Nashir News Agency, March 11, 2019.

[3] Al-Muhajireen Foundation, March 10, 2019.