The Islamic State has released pictures showing the graduation of fighters from the “Shaykh Abu Omar al Baghdadi” training camp in Kirkuk. The camp is named after Abu Omar al Baghdadi, the former leader and founder of the Islamic State of Iraq. Abu Omar was killed in a US military raid in Tikrit; the same raid also killed Abu Ayyub al Masri, the successor to al Qaeda in Iraq’s founder Abu Musab al Zarqawi. Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, the current head of the Islamic State, replaced Abu Omar and Abu Ayyub.
The Islamic State has released images of two other camps in Iraq and Syria. In July, the Islamic State released pictures of a training camp in Ninewa province, Iraq. Before that, the Islamic State 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 in May.
These pictures and 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.
The US has targeted five Islamic State training centers in six airstrikes since Aug. 7, when it began its campaign in Iraq. Islamic State training camps were hit in US airstrikes in Raqqah, Abu Kamal, Dier al Zour, and Hasakah on Sept. 22; Manjib on Sept. 29; and again in Raqqah on Oct. 3.
Pictures from the Islamic State’s training camp in Kirkuk:
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