When Abu Bakr al-Baghadi, the Islamic State’s (IS) leader and self-styled caliph, appeared July 4 for the first time in Mosul, a symbolic venue was chosen by those who manage the media strategy of the world's most wanted terrorist group. Baghdadi chose the Great Mosque of al-Nouri, a Muslim prayer site built in 1172 by Noureddine Zangi, who's known to have paved the way for a strong Islamic state between Syria and Iraq and later expanded to Egypt and knocked down the Fatimid Dynasty. Zangi fought several battles against the Crusaders, vowing to liberate Jerusalem from their occupation. IS strategists played on this to try impose a comparison in the minds of those who are familiar with the mosque's history, to indicate what kind of state they are looking to build — one that can conquer the Shiite state Iran and one that is capable of fighting the West.
IS wanted to portray its caliph — who succeeds the Prophet Muhammad and represents God on earth — during the Friday sermon in July in the best way possible. From Baghdadi's outfit to the cameras used to broadcast the sermon, everything was planned to convey a message. Five high-definition cameras were placed inside and outside the mosque, all wired to a device operated by what appeared to be a professional technician, or maybe director, who created a professional 21-minute TV broadcast. This was IS’ image of statehood.