Iraq / Miscellaneous

Abu Hajaar And That ISIS Video On Vice…

Well, this certainly turned into a bigger story than we expected: The Washington Post, The Independent, News Australia, La Stampa, The Huffington Post, RT, The Daily Mail and many more along with a flood of Abu Hajaar internet memes…

For those of you that haven’t seen it yet, Vice published a video that we provided to them yesterday:


A lot of people have asked me about the video and so I thought I would provide some additional details for those of you that are interested.

First of all, it was actually a series of four videos that Vice strung together (more on the videos below).  We obtained the videos on our most recent trip to Iraq at the end of March from a Peshmerga unit – the all-volunteer Higra Agre Fire Force Unit 80 – that we stayed with on the front lines just outside of Mosul.  The videos were discovered on a memory card the Peshmerga retrieved from the helmet-mounted GoPro camera of a dead ISIS fighter following the failed attack seen in the video.  Fortunately, he was using a good camera and so the originals are all in HD.

The ISIS fighter/filmmaker in the video was found dead, slumped against one of the makeshift armored vehicles.  Whether he returned to the original vehicle they arrived in or he was killed next to one of the other armored vehicles the Peshmerga disabled with rockets is unknown.


Did Abu Hajaar survive?

The short answer is that we don’t know… His tormentors certainly did not.  However, the Peshmerga did tell us that some of the ISIS fighters escaped.  So, perhaps Abu Hajaar had the last laugh on that day?

What was ISIS thinking with an attack like this?

These high cost/low result attacks with fighters used as cannon fodders are actually extremely common along the front lines.  In fact, every single time we have gone out to the front lines or even near them, there has been an attack like this at some point during our visit.

So, what’s the point?  Well, they keep the defenders on their toes…  However, other than that, ISIS is not gaining any territory or military objectives now and instead are just grinding through men, money and equipment.  Perhaps this is a way to keep the ISIS militants from getting too restless and starting to challenge the leadership of the Islamic State over their recent string of setbacks?  Perhaps it is to provide the ISIS militants with something to hope for (a heroic military victory) in an effort to maintain morale?  Perhaps it is a way of balancing out the extreme male/female imbalance (too many young men) in the territory controlled by the Islamic State?  Maybe all of those and more?  Tough to say, but it definitely serves as a reminder that Islamic State propaganda does not equal reality…  Some significant figures have contacted us and said that this video is the best material that has surfaced in years to strike a blow against ISIS recruitment efforts.  I don’t know if that is true or not, but it is true that the best way to emasculate a tyrant is to laugh at them.  So, hopefully, the video has had some impact on impressionable minds out there…

What did Vice leave out? 

We gave the rights to the videos to Vice and so I am not able to publicly post the raw, unedited videos for you (for those of you that know us personally, we can show you in person when we see you next if you are interested).

Vice certainly kept in the action highlights.  So, don’t worry that you missed any big action sequences.  What Vice edited out is more of the time in each segment.  So, you missed more of the suicide bomber’s speech in the beginning, you missed more of the ISIS fighters saying goodbye to their suicide bomber friend, you missed seeing more of the village, you missed more of the journey to the front lines, you missed more of Abu Hajaar and the others giving him shit, you missed some of the fire on the Peshmerga positions, you missed seeing more of the aftermath of the rocket strike on the armored vehicle, you missed seeing another ISIS fighter being wounded and you missed a lot of rolling on the ground.  See where I’m going?  In other words, the videos are a bit slower, but you see more of the interactions between the ISIS militants, more death and destruction and the videos may seem a bit less disjointed.

The videos are described below in chronological order:

The first video, which is 27 seconds long, is filmed next to a vehicle that has been dramatically modified (it looks something like a Batmobile) to deliver a suicide bomber to his target and shows a militant delivering a passionate message while a young boy gazes up at him with what can only be described as hero worship.

In the second video, which is 52 seconds long, a suicide bomber has climbed into what appears to be the vehicle that was seen in the first video and we see his friends and fellow ISIS fighters bidding him farewell. It is somewhat surreal to see the man that is about to die casually receiving hugs and waves, knowing what is coming and knowing that these men are aware they will never see their friend again. No one is covering their face and so we can see all of the fighters quite clearly.

In the third video, which is 1 minute and 9 seconds long, we are riding along with a team of Islamic State fighters, including the infamous Abu Hajaar, through a field of rockets as they make their way toward Peshmerga defensive positions on the front lines.

In the fourth, and most dramatic video, which is 12 minutes and 54 seconds long, the tone is set by a continuous stream of gunfire and explosions in the background as we are in the middle of an unfolding assault by ISIS against a Kurdish Peshmerga base near Mosul. The Hiza Agre forces have seven small interlocking bases here that are all about 500 meters apart.  Thus, even though the ISIS attackers are focusing on one base, the other bases are still able to fire on them (and, indeed, you can see a rocket from one of these other bases almost take out one of the ISIS armored vehicles in the initial stages of the attack at 1:59) The Islamic State fighters, being tossed around in the back of a makeshift armored vehicle speeding toward the Peshmerga positions, are firing haphazardly at their target.  After several minutes of panicked activity in the back of the vehicle as the attack starts to go wrong and they try to maintain steady rifle and rocket fire, a massive explosion fills the screen as the armored vehicle is struck by a well-aimed rocket fired from the Peshmerga side, killing the driver. A militant drags himself a short distance away from the burning vehicle before appearing to die, while the other fighters, at least one of them injured, attempt to pull back from the disastrous attack by rolling along the ground while simultaneously maintaining fire toward the Peshmerga base. During this time our filmmaker/fighter is also shot and wounded for the first time.

As one can determine from the fact that the video came into our possession, these efforts to retreat were not successful for all but a couple of fighters…



15 thoughts on “Abu Hajaar And That ISIS Video On Vice…

  1. This is getting more and more incredible. Looks like what initially seemed to be a war souvenir has turned into a significant showcase of ISIS follies as other news sources climb on board this story.

    A big Well Done to you and your news partner in uncovering so many facets of overlooked events, people and places that are unknown to the hollowed-out big media.

    • Sometimes it is more trouble then it is worth as the greater the success, the greater amount of people trying to tear you down.

      • Jim makes an interesting point.

        I have off noted that the MMS (mainstream media) covers to a fairly good deal ISIS attacks, wherever (of course) and makes ISIS sound so lethal and sophisticated and top tier. They likewise cover to a good degree Coalition airstrikes (especially if it involves drones / UCAVs), Russian airstrikes, Syrian airstrikes, battles involving Assad forces and anti Assad Syrian Arab forces, the involvement of AQ affiliated forces there, the successes of Iranian supported Shia militias…. and bringing up the tail is reporting on Peshmerga and Kurdish forces. And frequently when Kurdish involvement and successes are reported on, it is in the context of how that could upset our values NATO ally Turkey (yes, that “valued” part was sarcasm).

        Makes one wonder.

    • Jim makes a good point concerning mainstream media and its coverage of those particular aspects (the true nature of the fighting abilities of the ISIS in many instances) – and what I perceive as a gross lack of coverage to the extent that they deserve for the Peshmerga and other directly allied forces.

    • Here is the type of “mainstream media” reporting that one sees (now this is Afghanistan where ISIS has a very minor presence… And seemingly is not being tolerated well by the Taliban and anti government warlord militias if one does some REAL research):

      And WHO is Sara Carter? A U. S. News reporter?

      Not quite. Although U. S. News was sold this story, Sara Carter is with this organization:

      Note the problems with her story?

      Quoting unnamed witnesses and “U. S. Intelligence officials” with no corroboration. (Personally, I believe that the quotes are simply made up based on other errors)

      No indicator at all that Ms. Carter had been in Afghanistan much less traveled that region. (I believe the story was written from start to finish from her office)

      This media belief that “Children Soldiers” must make great soldiers (they are HORRIBLE soldiers… but great cannon fodder).

      Even the figure of “500 children for suicide and combat missions… ” is a very minimal figure – but what the video shows is 13.

      If the ideology is so great, then why resorting to paying parents ANY money for these kids?

      And finally… “Residents said Islamic State group recruiters are paying parents roughly $300 to $500 a month per child”

      Per month.

      Per child.

      Full time ISIS veteran fighters don’t make anywhere near that kind of money (when they are able to even get paid at all). Give me a break.

      This was reported back in February. Training had been going on for some period for at least the initial batches of trainees. Where have been the attacks by hordes of kids on primarily ANG forces (being by far the majority with most NATO / U. S. forces withdrawn)?

    • Typical mainstream media reporting of the vaunted ISIS (though this story involves ISIS in Afghanistan rather than the MidEast):

      Obviously a huge number of holes in that story (same report, provided to AMI by contributor Ms. Carter).

      Aside from the fact that the much more powerful Taliban are enemies of ISIS In Afghanistan and have been successfully fighting them, there are simply too many “accuracy errors” to be taken seriously.


  2. Anyone else notice (after the firing of the one RPG-7 round that the ISIS fighters employ a “DIY” rifle grenade launcher (a very crude one). It launches a cast iron pipe capped off with a fuse (lit with a lighter) after it is inserted in a “cup launcher” that is attached to the end of the rifle (I presume an AK variant).

    Some versions of cup launchers require the use of a special high-powered blank while others (more modern) use a “bullet trap” mechanism that allows use of regular ammunition. I didn’t have a good enough look to see which it might be (though I suspect the former).

    The fact of using such an improvisation and the use of an “improvised armored vehicle” (and some clearly inexperienced, poorly trained, poorly disciplined, poorly led troops) tells me that the relentless air strike campaigns long with progressive pussy by the Peshmerga (etcetera) have greatly diluted the capabilities (and “rep”) of the ISIS forces.

    (Personally, I believe that rifle grenades – not talking about the 40mm grenade launches like the M79, M203, etcetera, but complimenting them if available – are WAY under utilized…. of course, that’s REAL rifle grenades! BTW, during the Cuban insurgency of Castro against the Batista government, 1953-59, Fidel’s forces developed a similar improvisation that they used more like a light, close-range mortar – like those used at the Squad level by German, Japanese, and British forces in WW2… it consisted of a single-shot 12-gauge shotgun and rounds made by an appropriate diameter / length dowel rod, homemade 12-gauge blanks, and heavy duty tin cans. The cans were cut down to that the bottom and four vertical strips remained. The center bottom of the can was nailed / screwed into the one end of the dowel rod, and the other end inserted down the muzzle and into the blank 12-gauge cartridge. The cartridge was inserted fully into the chamber and the shotgun action closed. The buttstock was placed on the ground and the weapon angled – like a mortar – towards the target. A – usually – Molotov cocktail was inserted in the “can” and after some judicious Kentucky bondage, the weapon fired. Several could be made up in advance and the target was usually a village police station or national guard outpost – and occupants tended to surrender before there were many – if any – casualties. Other “warheads” we’re used on occasion, but this combination was the basic model. Range was generally 100-150 yards, as I recall)

    • My bad.

      That should refer to 16-gauge shotguns, not 12-gauge shotguns. As with many Latin America and a number of South American countries, citizens could not own weapons that used the same caliber as anything that the military used (the reason that Colt made 1911A1s in .38 Super as military forces throughout that region carried 9mms and .45ACP weapons). As the Cuban government military used 12-gauge pump-action shotguns, the civilians used 16-gauge shotguns, with the vast, vast majority of those being break-open action single and double barrel shotguns. Che Guevara especially had preference to their use even as the insurgent forces captured more and more military and police armaments. He even nicknamed the “grenade launcher / semi mortar” contraption the “M16”.

    • Wow.

      Talk about a major Auto Correct error!!!

      “…long with progressive pussy by the Peshmerga…”

      Should have read “…along with progressive successes by the Peshmerga (etcetera, etcetera)….”

      Proofread, proofread, proofread!!!

      • Just found out about your reply.

        LMAO literally.

        Just didn’t want Peshmerga thinking that I was referring to THEM as “progressive pussies” by accident!!!

  3. I find it strange that there are basically NO books of any quality (or detailed coverage) about the Peshmerga and related Kurdish (and their Yazidi and Turkic and Armenian militia allies… or just the Peshmerga).

    “Fear and Faith in Paradise: Exploring Conflict and Religion in the Middle East” by Phil Karber is a decent book that covers most of the Middle East and some of North Africa and mentions the Kurds and the Peshmerga – briefly.

    “The Miracle Of The Kurds: A Remarkable Story Of Hope Reborn In Northern Iraq” by Stephen Mansfield looks quite good. I haven’t read it yet but have a Hold on it through our regional library network for a loan to read.

    And then of course there is “Heval” (August, 2015) by Mr. Jorgen Nicolai. Our regional library network does NOT have a copy of it anywhere so I’ll have to do a WorldCat search to get a copy of it (from its description it sounds like the topic that I am looking for… “Jorgen took the decision to join the Kurds in their fight against Islamic State after his friend was abducted and killed by IS. He fights at the “tip of the spear” on the western front and in the spring offensive against the jihadi warriors, and chronicles the war against a fanatic foe in nerve wracking detail. Proceeds are donated to Kurdish red cross (Heyva Sor) via the memorial fund of our “brother” Erik Kostas Scurfield, who was K.I.A. This Diary is the only one of its kind describing the war against Islamic State directly from the frontline.”

    Pretty much every other book that I have read has focused mainly on political details, administrative concerns, prior to 9/11 histories, etcetera.

    Like, “The Idea of Kurdistan: The Modern History of Kurdistan through the Life of Mullah Mustafa Barzani” and “Kurdistan: Genocide and Rebirth ”

    Hopefully I can dig up some more….

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