ISIS terrorists have been sending out a series of photographs on Twitter showing their “graduating class” of local and foreign recruits, conveying the overall message: We’re organized, growing and not afraid to show it.
“There are two messages being sent by ISIS besides the obvious shock factor,” said Ryan Mauro, a national security analyst and adjunct professor of Homeland Security for the Clarion Project, Fox News reported. “First, their caliphate is an actual functioning and legitimate state. Second, this is a long-term struggle.”
Mauro also said ISIS was trying to flex its muscles and show it has “succeeded where al-Qaida, the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists have failed,” in terms of creating an actual state, Fox News reported.
The so-called “graduation” pictures are the culmination of the terror recruits’ 18 months of training in ideology and weapons at Deir Az-Zour, a facility in northern Syria. The photos show the graduates, dressed in black and wearing masks, holding AK-47s and listening intently to their speakers, the news site reported.
The pictures will also serve as propaganda and recruiting tools, other security experts said.
“[They] send a message by ISIS that it has a military capacity ready to defend the Islamic Caliphate – a ‘government’ that has not lost control and will be able to defend its ‘territory,'” said Jasmine Opperman, an analyst based in Africa who works for the Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium.