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Iraq crisis: New ISIS video aims to lure foreign fighters

WATCH:  The violent militant group taking over cities and towns across Iraq has posted a sophisticated recruitment video online, trying to lure foreign fighters to the front line. Eric Sorensen reports.

The Islamist militant group trying to take over parts of Iraq is attempting to recruit more foreigners fighters with its latest video posted online.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which now controls several cities and towns through north and central Iraq, has a wide-reaching social media presence.

READ MORE: Iraq crisis: ISIS or ISIL – what’s in a transliterated name?

But a video posted Thursday on ISIS’s Al-Hayat Media Center YouTube channel, reaches out specifically to English speakers, with the message, “There is not life without jihad.”

YouTube removed the video Friday afternoon, saying it was in violation of its policy on violence.

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A man described as “Brother Abu Muthanna al Yemeni – from Britain” sits with three others in front of an ISIS flag.

He explained ISIS is not just trying to raise its flag over buildings, but to “implement the law of Allah… and [fight] the enemies of Allah.”
ISIS aims to lure foreigners to become jihadis.
A still from a video that aims to recruit foreigners to fight with the militant group the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria or ISIS. Al-Hayat Media Center/YouTube

ISIS, a Sunni militant group that is an offshoot of al-Qaeda, is fighting to seize territory from the Shiite-led Iraqi government and set up an Islamic state or caliphate in parts of Iraq, Syria and possibly further afield. The organization has also become one of the main groups fighting against the Syrian regime in that country’s civil war.

“We understand no borders,” al-Yemeni said. “We will even go to Jordan and Lebanon, with no problems, wherever our Sheik wants to send us.”

READ MORE: Top Shiite cleric calls for new government in Iraq

The 13-minute video also appears to take aim at those who may be vulnerable or disillusioned, with a second man saying, “The cure for depression is jihad… Feel the honour we are feeling, feel the happiness we are feeling.

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“Are you willing to sacrifice the fat job you’ve got? The big car you’ve got? The family you have? Are you willing to sacrifice this for the sake of Allah? Definitely, if you sacrifice for Allah, Allah will give you 700 times more than this,” said the man, described as “Brother Abu Bara’ al Hindi – from Britain.”

“Videos like this are but one facet of an all-encompassing strategy aimed at encouraging recruitment of foreign fighters,” Charles Lister, a terrorism expert with Brookings Doha Center, told the Independent. “ISIS has proved remarkably adept at managing a slick – sometimes decentralised – media operation, which always stays loyal to the group’s central objective, which is to remain and expand.”

READ MORE: UN chief warns airstrikes against Iraq extremists could backfire

Western government are growing increasingly concerned about militants who hold their nations’ passports — Canada among them.

Global News reported Thursday the story of Farah Mohamed Shirdon, a Somali-Canadian man from Calgary, who was seen in another ISIS video burning his passport and declaring, “This is a message to Canada and all the Americans oppressors. We are coming and we will destroy you.”

Shirdon’s story follows the deaths of at least two other Canadian men, both also from Calgary, who were killed fighting overseas.

But while other governments, such as the United States and the United Kingdom, have already cracked down and revoked passports of citizens fighting with terrorist organizations overseas, Canada is only just getting around to passing a similar bill.

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Public Safety Minister Stephen Blaney said Canadian law enforcement agencies were working to tackle the issue and to “dissuade those who attempt to leave the country.”

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service, or CSIS, recently told a Senate committee there are 130 Canadians who have joined extremist groups abroad, 30 in the Iraq-Syria area alone.

With files from Shirlee Engel