Islamic State touts training camp in northern Iraq


The Islamic State released several photographs of what it said are its training camps in Iraq’s Ninewa province. The images are the latest in a propaganda effort by various terror groups in both Iraq and Syria to promote their training camp infrastructure.

The 22 photographs of what the SITE Intelligence Group described as “scenes from its training camps ” were published on the Ninewa Division’s Twitter feed [view all 22 photographs here]. The Islamic State did not name the camps.

One of the photographs showed what appears to be eight squads of Islamic State fighters consisting of 11 to 13 men each sitting in formation on the floor while receiving instructions.

Other photographs showed fighters receiving martial arts instructions, marching through the streets in formation both in daylight and at night, and training on a machine gun. Young boys are shown training with the men in several of the photographs.

The Islamic State, an offshoot of al Qaeda, took control of Ninewa province as well as much of Salahaddin and Diyala provinces after launching an offensive along with its allies that began on June 10. Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, is firmly under the control of the Islamic State.

Most of Anbar as well as northern Babil province is also under the Islamic State’s control. Fallujah and other cities and towns fell after the Islamic State went on the offensive in Anbar at the beginning of January.

Jihadist groups in Iraq and Syria are promoting training camps

Jihadist groups in both Iraq and Syria have promoted the existence of at least five training camps this year.

In mid-March, the Al Nusrah Front for the People of the Levant, al Qaeda’s branch in Syria and a rival of the Islamic State, announced that it is running two training camps in Syria. Its Ayman al Zawahiri Camp was located in the city of Deir al Zour and is named after al Qaeda’s current emir (the Islamic State currently controls the city). The other camp, whose location was not disclosed, is called the Abu Ghadiya Camp and is named after the leader of the al Qaeda in Iraq facilitation network that was based in eastern Syria. Abu Ghadiya was killed in a US special operations raid in eastern Syria in the fall of 2008.

In the beginning of April, the Jaish al Muhajireen wal Ansar (Army of Emigrants and Supporters, or Muhajireen Army), a group of foreign fighters led by commanders from the Caucasus, released video of its training camp in Aleppo province. The video included footage of a bomb-making class.

In early May, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham announced the existence of the Zarqawi Camp, which is named after the slain founder of al Qaeda in Iraq, on the outskirts of the Syrian capital of Damascus.

And in June, an Uzbek jihadist group known as the Imam Bukhari Jamaat released a video of its training camp in Syria. The camp is thought to be located in Aleppo province.

The videos from ISIS, Al Nusrah Front, Muhajireen Army, and Imam Bukhari Jamaat training camps are reminiscent of others released by al Qaeda from the network of camps in Afghanistan during the 1990s. Al Qaeda used camps such as Khalden and Al Farouq to churn out thousands of foreign fighters who fought alongside the Taliban in the 55th Arab Brigade. But al Qaeda also selected graduates of the camps to conduct attacks in the West, including the Sept. 11, 2001 operation against the US.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • Alex says:

    So…if we know where they are, and if they don’t seem to mind bragging about them, can’t we just send the drones at them?
    Also has there been any reports on Iraqi government formation? I haven’t heard anything since the Speaker of Parliament got elected.

  • Mike E says:

    It seems unlikely that significant training camps could be set up in a region where the Iraqi government and their US allies have total air supremacy. Small scale clandestine testing efforts, possibly.

  • James says:

    They should also send a thank you letter to Twitter, Inc. for their assistance in promoting their jihadist and terrorist mentality.
    Need to get your message out, Al Qaeda? Use Twitter.

  • Daniel Lopez says:

    “Ayman al Zawahiri Camp is located in the city of Deir al Zour ”
    Wasn’t the city just over-run by the Islamic State? Does that mean the camp is cactus too?

  • DD says:

    @ Alex
    The drones are a reason why the have recruits. Think about it.

  • Mark says:

    “So…if we know where they are, and if they don’t seem to mind bragging about them, can’t we just send the drones at them?”
    1/2 the electorate is against this because of ideology or they are beholden to a party.
    Many on the other 1/2 are against it because we bleed time after time without results.
    With the current POTUS I do not expect much. I do expect many trolls on the on-line forums to deny, deny, deny.

  • Mark says:

    @ DD
    The bow and arrow is the reason the enemies of the (choose one: Assyrians, Mongols, Babylonians, Huns,…) have recruits.
    You are saying because a “stand off” weapon was used against someone who attacked you, they will get recruits.
    Is that more recruits or just recruits period?
    Of course during Clinton’s time AQ did not train 5,000 to 20,000 terrorists, because Clinton did not use drones.
    He used cruise missiles one time and that is so different than drones.

  • A Confused Camper says:

    In case some of you are wondering why the Iraqi Air Force doesn’t bring any smoke on these camps is simple. They have a few Hellfire equipped prop jobs and 12 to 20 SU-25’s not enough air assets to put out the fires they have now. Not to mention the Intel needed to put a productive airstrike together. The Iraqi Air Force has suffered helicopter losses. It’s unlikely any damaged helicopters will be repaired quickly. LS has little to fear baring a US or Iranian air campaign. The bulk of the Iranian Air Force is Pre Shaw but more than credible to make IS life difficult l why they haven’t struck IS baffles me.

  • Eric says:

    I think the answer is simple. Destroying a handful of camps will do nothing. The only way to stomp out a presence like the Islamic State is to go to war and exterminate them. The west is not going to engage in a profitless expensive war with the current economic environment being what it is. The only way to make it profitable is to seize lands controlled by the Islamic State which would mean colonizing our conquests. This would further inflame the region. Muslim lands occupied by infidels would not be tolerated. Then there are those states who feel they are benefiting from the instability caused by Islamic State and are happy to allow it to flourish so long as it does not cross their borders. An example would be states who are selling arms to the combatants. The longer this goes on, the more money there is to be made. Another example is the Sunni states that are happy to see the Shia being removed from power and driven from the area. And then there is those entities who want access to the oil the Islamic State has taken control of. The Islamic State is here to stay and will probably grow stronger. They unlike other terrorist groups of their kind have established a land, population, and skilled ex-military command base from which to build their armies.


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