The latest video released by Islamic State (also called Isis and Daesh) depicts an Armageddon-type scenario in which Muslim warriors descend on Rome to lay waste to Christian infidels and Crusaders (anyone who opposes Daesh). The title of the video, Meeting at Dabiq, refers to the Isis's belief that a "final battle" will take place between Muslims and Christians at Dabiq in Syria.
In the video, tanks, amphibious vehicles and weaponry are filmed from a variety of angles including above, suggesting IS has access to drones. IS militants are shown preparing for battle, practising the ambush of the enemy and kissing the foreheads of "dead" comrades.
The video shows what Daesh's members purportedly believe they are killing for: an invasion of Rome, which will trigger the apocalyptic war of Armageddon (also called fitnah, malāḥim or ghaybah in Islam) that will destroy all humanity, which will then be resurrected by Allah.
IS fighters and leaders hate the word - it's an Arabic acronym of "al-Dawla al-Islamiya fi Iraq wa ash-Sham" – meaning the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shams – but when spoken Daesh sounds similar to the Arabic words translating to "the sowers of discord" (Dahes) or "one who crushes underfoot" (Daes). IS threatened "to cut the tongue of anyone who publicly used the acronym Daesh, instead of referring to the group by its full name".
The 14-minute film shows no graphic violence, unlike earlier videos for which Daesh became notorious. The video, which lacks the polish and technical expertise of earlier videos, is nevertheless certain to be studied closely by intelligence agencies hoping to ascertain the next move of the group, increasingly seen as the world's most dangerous terrorist organisation despite being attacked by an international coalition in Syria and Iraq.
Terror by propaganda
IS videos have become almost web events in some quarters, posted and re-posted across the internet despite the best efforts of social media administrators and groups such as Anonymous to take them down. The IS media department is much better paid than the organisation's foot soldiers and the West is devoting considerable energy to hunting down the propaganda's production teams, who are responsible for the videos and Dabiq – Daesh's monthly propaganda magazine.
At one point the flags of over 60 countries are shown on screen: these are the countries with which Daesh has declared war. The flags shown include those of the UK, France, the US and Russia. The film's final message is implicit: so far, despite the international forces lined up against them, Daesh remain unbowed.