CHARLOTTE, NC, August 7, 2014 – Controversy rages every year when Sports Illustrated puts out its swimsuit issue. Why is it then when Islamists publish English language propaganda magazines nobody even notices?
Following in the footsteps of al-Qaeda, the Islamic State, previously known as ISIS or ISIL, has demonstrated just how sophisticated and dedicated they are to their cause with the publication of a new magazine called “Dabiq.”
In addition to the print materials, the Islamic State has also produced a number of English high definition videos for the purpose of recruiting more Western militants, particularly Americans.
ISIS is relatively new to the international terror scene, but already it has earned the reputation of being one of the most brutal jihadist groups in the Middle East. In addition, they also have a public relations strategy that rivals many of the top Western magazines in terms of production and content.
Included among the current magazine’s stories is an article titled “Insight into the Islamic State” which details the Islamic State’s organizational strategy complete with up to date information about its “victories.”
The most disturbing long-range impact of “Dabiq,” and its predecessor “Inspire,” is the sophistication of the content.
In addition to the magazine, the Al Hayat Media Center has become more adept at its use of social media by posting gruesome pictures and videos of ISIS “successes” in the Syrian civil war.
Though the social media aspect of the Islamic State strategy frequently gets shut down as soon as their electronic media materials become available on outside websites, ISIS remains undeterred thanks to its hard-copy magazine. The magazine is readily available for downloading online.
In recent months, the Islamic State has greatly increased its media activities by offering their messages in multiple languages through a wide variety of outlets. That is the result of the Al-Hayat Media input which was created specifically to attract Western and non-Arabic speaking recruits.
The videos include a series called “Mujatweets” which show ISIS members involved in a number of public relations episodes.
One vignette includes a music video of ISIS fighters in Syria praising the virtues of their motives. Another shows hospital visits by jihadists offering comfort to jihadist victims wounded in combat. A third video depicts ISIS fighters handing out candy and ice cream to smiling children.
According to “The Clarion Project,” a video called “The End of Sykes-Picot,” demonstrates how easy it is to cross the border between Iraq and Syria. During the presentation one fighter says, “We don’t recognize (the border) and will never recognize it. God willing this is not the first border we will break, we will break all the borders as well.”
The Middle East Research Institute (MEMRI) reports that Al Hayat is believed to be the result of support from a former German rapper named Deso Dogg who left Europe to become and ISIS fighter. Deso Dogg is now known as Abu Talha Al Almani.
Almani is seen in one of the ISIS videos saying, “I pledged allegiance (to ISIS), in order to help the brothers and sisters of ISIS… and teach them how to make da’wa (preach) to people who have long lived in humiliation and do not know the laws of Allah.”
There is nothing ambiguous about the dangers of media resources produced in English for Western consumption when the goal is to reach naïve young seeking the promise of adventure.
The first video Al Hayat released in June of this year called “There is No Life Without Jihad” featured Westerners explaining why the left their homes to join ISIS while encouraging other Muslims to join the cause.
The Islamic State has rapidly emerged as a major player in international terrorism. For now its activities are concentrated in the region of Syria and Iraq. But there is a reason why it is called the Islamic State. The name alone tells us everything we need to know about its goals.
So while ISIS wages battle in the Middle East, the task of recruiting continues on a global basis through a sophisticated media machine that is getting little attention.
After all, we have more important things to do when there are women in bathing suits to keep our attention.
Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
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