In yet another push of propaganda, the Islamic State released a full-length version of its documentary style film Flames of War: Fighting Has Just Begun, after the militant group teased it with a short trailer sneak preview earlier this week.
With flame graphics, black and white footage, night vision, and archive US news footage,Flames of War chronicles the ongoing insurgency of the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.
The 55-minute film opens with a narrator authoritatively declaring that the establishment of the Islamic State has allowed the Muslim community to “unite under one call, one banner, one leader.”
Old press conference footage shows then-President George W. Bush’s infamous post-9/11 speech declaring “Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists” and his 2003 aircraft carrier announcement to the end of major combat operations in Iraq, proclaiming that, “The United States and our allies have prevailed.” Afterwards, the narrator states, “They lied, the flames were only beginning to intensify.”
This sentiment is repeated several times, including when the narrator addresses America’s current “bewilderment” over what strategy to adopt in fighting the Islamic State, saying the White House was deceitful in the past when it said combat troops would not return to Iraq. Ominously, an onscreen message states, “if you leave you will undoubtedly return soon.”
Viewers are then launched into scenes from the Syrian civil war and a very detailed historical explainer of the militant group’s foray into Syria, where the narrator says fighters from throughout the world pledged their allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. We start to see the beginnings of a militant group in formation, with black and white scenes of soldiers sat class-photo style in front of the camera, and eventually details of their massive land grab in northern Iraq that kicked off in June.
After nearly 50 minutes of desert vistas and behind the scenes footage of soldiers using rocket launchers, the movie unexpectedly ramps up the violence level and takes viewers to the raid on the 17th Division air force base in Raqqa. The Islamic State captured the base in August, solidifying its hold on the Syrian city.
With night vision footage, the video lingers on dead or nearly dead Syrian soldiers as the militants survey their work. Celebratory chants follow. In the final scene, the viewer is taken to a daytime scene, hosted by an Islamic State fighter with a Western accent, in which Syrian soldiers captured from the raid are seen digging their own graves.
One of the Syrian soldiers warns people to take their sons out of Assad’s army as quickly as possible, “because it’s as if Allah has blessed the Islamic State.” In the next sequence, he and his fellow Syrian soldiers are shot execution style, falling into their graves. And the Islamic State executioner, once again, affirms that the flames of war are only beginning to intensify and the fighting has just begun.
A final message is read out loud and flashed on the screen. At one point it reads: “A proxy war won’t help you in Sham just as it didn’t help you in Iraq. As for the near future, you will be forced into a direct confrontation.”
The message and film concludes with, “the sons of Islam have prepared themselves for this day, so wait and see, for we too are also going to wait and see.”