ISIS Kicks Its Fighters in the Balls, Prepares Them To Take Over Yemen

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An Islamic State militant group (ISIS) member kicks a jihadist recruit in the groin during an alleged graduation ceremony in Yemen's Bayda province in this image released by pro-ISIS media, October 9, 2017. Social Media

The Islamic State militant group (ISIS) shared images Monday showing the jihadis training recruits for new operations in Yemen by kicking them straight in the groin.

The photos—which were shared by pro-ISIS channels on encrypted messaging application Telegram—were allegedly taken in a military camp located in the Yemeni province of Bayda and named after former ISIS second-in-command Abu Mohammad al-Adnani, who was killed in an August 2016 airstrike later claimed by the U.S. military in Syria. The group claims the pictures show a new batch of would-be militants graduating in anticipation for upcoming operations in war-torn Yemen, but not before the trainees were subject to some excruciating punishment.

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In fact, each prospective fighter of the so-called class of Sheikh Abu Bilal al-Harbi, named after ISIS's chief in Yemen, appeared to take a blow that could knock even the strongest man down.

DLxwOfeXUAAvzpv An Islamic State militant group (ISIS) member kicks a jihadist recruit in the groin during an alleged graduation ceremony in Yemen's Bayda province in this image released by pro-ISIS media, October 9, 2017. Social Media

ISIS first announced the creation of its branch in Yemen in November 2014, taking advantage of the domestic unrest that followed the ousting of President Ali Abdullah Saleh in 2012. Saleh's replacement, Saudi Arabia-backed Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, faced increasingly intensive insurgencies by both ultraconservative Sunni Muslim Al-Qaeda and Ansar Allah, also known as the Houthis, a group of rebels representing Yemen's Zaidi Shiite Muslim minority that led the country until 1962.

In January 2015, the Houthis took over the capital city of Sana'a, forcing Hadi to flee to the southern city of Aden and leading to a Saudi-led military intervention on his behalf. The resulting civil war has produced the worst humanitarian crisis in the world and created fertile ground for jihadis targeting both sides of the conflict.

ISIS conducted its first attack in Yemen in March 2015, targeting Shiite Muslim mosques in twin suicide bombings that killed up to 137 people in Sana'a. The group has also staged deadly attacks against the pro-Hadi coalition, including a suicide bombing that killed police recruits in the northeastern city of Mukalla in May 2016.

Monday's photo report, which showed ISIS recruits training with assault rifles, light machine guns and rocket-propelled grenade launchers, may suggest a new focus for the group to establish a foothold in Yemen, where it's traditionally been overshadowed by fighters loyal to the rival Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

RTX2ZTQJ A map shows areas of control in Yemen's civil war as of July 31, 2017. Despite enjoying air support by a Saudi Arabia-led coalition, forces loyal to ousted Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi have failed to dislodge Houthi control over major cities or quell jihadi insurgencies by Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State militant group (ISIS). Risk Intelligence/Reuters

ISIS once claimed nearly half of Iraq and Syria at the group's height in 2014, but its self-proclaimed caliphate has been reduced to a fraction of its former size and a number of observers have suggested the jihadis may attempt to relocate what's left of their operations, which also extend to Afghanistan, the Caucasus region, the Philippines and parts of West and North Africa.

The group has shown off its tolerance for pain in prior propaganda outlets showing militants taking crotch-shots. In November 2015, a widely shared and widely ridiculed 14-minute propaganda clip featured jihadis leapfrogging over one another, boxing and having to resist kicks directly to their groins.