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Wolf Blitzer delivers the most important breaking news and political, international, and national security stories of the day. Tune to The Situation Room weekdays 5-7pm ET on CNN.

May 23rd, 2014
07:25 PM ET

Brutal terrorist group showcases their violence in glossy new video

By: CNN's Mohammed Jamjoom

(CNN) - A shocking and frightening new video produced and released by a terrorist group formerly associated with al Qaeda is showcasing horrific killing sprees in Iraq deliberately recorded on camera.

"The Clanging of the Swords” is a graphic and disturbing film made by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS. Running over an hour, it displays bombings, executions, kidnappings, beheadings and more.

Analysts say the video proves ISIS - a group so extreme that al Qaeda has disowned it - is becoming an even deadlier threat, and they wonder who is providing it with weapons, and the equipment needed to produce the videos.

"This is funded," says Nadia Oweidat, a Middle East Analyst. "This is geopolitics. There is money behind it. It's not just idiots; these idiots have somebody controlling them and providing them with equipment that is very expensive. You can't just get it in a cave."

A far cry from the grainy out-of-focus terrorism videos that have proliferated in the past decade, this one has glossy camerawork and high-level production techniques – as if these terrorists had taken cues from Hollywood movies like "The Hurt Locker" and "Zero Dark Thirty" in order to maximize the terror for viewers.

The opening shots are filmed using an aerial camera flying over Fallujah. Later, you see a brazen daytime raid on a small Iraqi Army base. Once the militants have taken it over, cameras enter the base and show the gruesome aftermath – numerous dead soldiers.

One frightening sequence shows ISIS fighters disguised as Iraqi soldiers setting up fake checkpoints, and looking for members of Iraq's military. One man, accused of just that, is hauled off and executed.

Another horrifying sequence shows a man literally being hunted down, chased by a car as he is shot at. Once shot and on the ground, he pleads for his life.

"I'm just a driver," he says repeatedly, "just a driver."

Then, the frame freezes and what appears to be the man's Iraqi Military ID is shown. It is an attempt by ISIS to prove to viewers the man is lying about being a civilian.

Right after that, sheer brutality, as a hail of bullets is shot into his back.

That's not the worst of it.

At one point, you see a raid on the home of a man accused of having worked with the United States to combat al Qaeda as a member of the Awakening Councils. He and his two sons are made to dig their own graves. A title card announces later they were all beheaded.

To judge from the video, ISIS's reign of terror is far from over – but experts say that's exactly the reason the group is producing such propaganda.

Oweidat, for one, is convinced the tactics will backfire in the long run.

"ISIS can only be beaten at their own game by showing their brutality – their propaganda is the only tool that can defeat them."

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Filed under: Terror
May 22nd, 2014
08:40 PM ET

Residents prepare as fire torches Arizona

Before wildfire season even really begins, another major fire has burned over 45 acres and continues to threaten over 3,000 residents - this time in Arizona. CNN's Ana Cabrera is on the scene.

Filed under: Ana Cabrera • Weather
Dangerous U.S. security gaps exposed
May 22nd, 2014
07:59 PM ET

Dangerous U.S. security gaps exposed

There are new reports that some of America's most critical and well-protected sites may be even more at risk of a devastating attack than we realized - by terrorists, deranged gunmen or hackers.

CNN has learned of three startling new reports that expose serious security problems affecting power and water supplies, federal buildings and nuclear missiles bases - the three most important public sectors that many officials warned were vulnerable to attack in the earliest days after the September 11th attacks.

Shocking nuclear missile security failure

First, at a nuclear missile site, security forces struggled to respond to a "terrorist infiltration" in a scheduled test and ended up failing miserably, according to an internal investigation. As CNN Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr discovered, the report found that the Air Force team may not have been able "to prevent theft, damage, sabotage, destruction or detonation of a nuclear weapon."

Federal buildings may be exposed

Elsewhere, a new investigation into security at federal government buildings says that guards haven't received proper training, especially to handle a shooting rampage. After a handful of such incidents, including last fall's shooting at the Washington Navy Yard, there are new concerns that federal offices and their employees are more vulnerable than previously thought.

As CNN Justice Correspondent Pamela Brown reports, millions of taxpayer dollars are spent each year paying companies to supply the more than 13,000 contract security guards - and many lack even the most basic skills needed.

Public utility's control system hacked

CNN has also learned that hackers recently broke into the computer network of a public utility somewhere in the United States. While officials will not release any more information, experts say it could have been a water-treatment plant, a gas pipeline or a power station.

Security experts tells CNN's Brian Todd that America's enemies have mapped its infrastructure for cyber-attack, and that rival governments and terrorist groups could have the capability to strike.

May 22nd, 2014
07:02 PM ET

Mark Cuban: "I think we're all bigots"

In the wake of the Donald Sterling scandal, fellow NBA owner Mark Cuban offers some candid, but controversial remarks about race. CNN's Suzanne Malveaux reports on what they might mean for Sterling.

Filed under: Sports • Suzanne Malveaux
May 21st, 2014
07:14 PM ET

Report: Sterling asked Stiviano to lie

CNN's Brian Todd reports on new allegations from NBA that Donald Sterling tried to cover up audio-recording revelations - just as V. Stiviano, Sterling's alleged girlfriend, speaks out in a bombshell interview.

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Filed under: Sports
May 21st, 2014
07:08 PM ET

Shocking number of near-collisions

In a new report obtained by CNN, the FAA reveals how many times a year there are near-collisions at airports and in the skies. CNN's René Marsh reports on the growing fears that these situations are on the rise.

Filed under: Air travel • Rene Marsh
May 21st, 2014
06:59 PM ET

Fact check: Has Obama improved the VA?

Weeks after CNN broke the story of deadly wait times at VA hospitals, President Barack Obama claimed that his administration has improved services for veterans, from job opportunities to VA funding. CNN's Tom Foreman investigates.

RELATED: Obama says Shinseki will stay, but misconduct will be punished

Filed under: President Obama • Tom Foreman • veteran
May 20th, 2014
06:35 PM ET

Al Qaeda targeting US using 3 strategies

CNN's Barbara Starr reports on three separate strategies that al Qaeda is using to target Europe and the United States.

Filed under: al Qaeda • Barbara Starr • National security • Situation Room • Terror • Wolf Blitzer
May 20th, 2014
06:33 PM ET

Author: Iranian terrorist living in US

A new book says the CIA helped a former member of the Iranian National Guard defect in exchange for information.

Filed under: Iran • National security • Situation Room • Terror • Wolf Blitzer
May 19th, 2014
06:55 PM ET

Marines prepare for embassy evacuation

CNN's Barbara Starr reports that U.S. officials are now worried that Libya is on the brink of civil war.

Filed under: Barbara Starr • Libya • National security • Situation Room • Wolf Blitzer
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