[THREAD] So this is the 1st time we have seen the fugitive leader of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghadi in 3+ years.

For his appearance, a very familiar gun was chosen- a post-1986 AKS-74U. Importantly, it has a very large RPK-74 45 rnd mag

This is _very_ on brand.
The AKS-74U has huge significance, from the "Original" Osama Bin Laden appearing with it so often, to the leader of AQI, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Al-Baghdadi is referring back to this "trend", harking back to the AKS-74U being captured from the Soviets back in Afghanistan.
Whilst the AKS-74U is certainly a useful provider of large quantities of fire in a submachine gun sized package, it actually isn't the most practical weapon. We've seen the current leader of AQ, Ayman al Zawahiri prefer the AKS-74 with a GP-25 UGL, a very practical "update".
However, the AKS-74U with RPK mag were rare and valuable in Afghanistan, signifying victory over the Soviets, in particular officers, which were thought to carry these guns, along with Heli Pilots, for it's compact size/rifle cartridge. This gun has important Jihadi heritage.
Actually, Al-Baghdadi has access to newer weapons, which are also short and are status symbols, such as the M4 symbolically shown at the end of their last Baghuz vid. But it doesn't have the history of capture from the Soviets.

HTS's Al-Jolani carries one too, as does guards.
The selection of the AKS-74 multiple times in the latest footage (The same gun appears in different positions, the video is VERY edited) is a fashion statement & a throwback to jihadist history. It's entirely deliberate, representative of international action, a status symbol.
And for the guns that not so much attention was paid to- the sidearms of the ISIS acolytes, we can spot the very Iraqi HS.9, sold to Iraqi Police, ISOF, and likely others. There's also possibly a Glock 19 Gen3, very popular in Iraq.

I should have noted; I was thinking of working on a detailed post on my website about the symbology of certain arms in Jihadi/MENA imagery- AKS-74U, M4, M16, M249, the simple AK, etc.

I'll include everything in this thread and a lot more besides- good idea?
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