Is ISIS Still Winning? Propaganda and Media – Looking Back

[Editor’s Note: There are many sources today for news. Please be aware that many liberal news sources offer perspectives based on ideals that are not only incorrect, but often unhealthy for long-term benefit to humanity. The ISIS – Islamic State narrative is an important crossroad in this regard. Since the publishing of the following article in April of 2106, much has changed. US legislators and military leaders, together with their Israeli and international counterparts, have been coordinating to keep humanity safe from terrorism. The informed reader is charged to discern from a wide range of sources – not discounting the many individual and private sources arising in later years which hold to values that hope to protect humanity from certain repressive ideals – as well as to inform the public with well-founded factual information.]

Video published on Dec 1, 2017 by the VOA News YouTube channel – As Islamic State stands on the brink of defeat in its previous heartlands in Syria and Iraq, the group’s effort to win the information war is also failing. Analysts say ISIS propaganda has seen a huge decline in recent months. As its propagandists can no longer maintain a pretense of military victory, they are switching attention to inspiring attacks overseas. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to a terror expert who has been following the changes in Islamic State’s media war. See

Article published in April of 2016 from

Early last December, two days after Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik murdered 14 people at a holiday party in San Bernardino, California, the married couple’s landlord invited the media to tour their home. Inside the sparsely furnished town house, news crews trained their cameras on the dirty dishes that filled the kitchen sink and the Arabic-language books that were stacked in a closet. But each journalist inevitably gravitated to the blue-carpeted room that belonged to the killers’ 6-month-old daughter, now an orphan since her parents had elected to die in a shoot-out with police. The image of the baby’s crib, piled high with stuffed animals and fuzzy blankets, became an instant symbol of the unfathomability of Farook and Malik’s crime.

The crib’s emotional resonance with the American public was not lost on the editors of Dabiq, the English-language magazine that the so-called Islamic State regularly publishes as a PDF. In the issue that circulated on social media in January, Dabiq ran a two-page paean to Farook and Malik, the latter of whom used Facebook to pledge her loyalty to the Islamic State’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, just minutes after the San Bernardino attack commenced. The story featured a photograph of the infamous crib, which it inverted into a tribute to the killers’ courage: “Syed and his wife did not hold back from fulfilling their obligation,” read the caption, “despite having a daughter to care for.”

Today the Islamic State is as much a media conglomerate as a fighting force.

That message, like so many other pieces of Islamic State propaganda, was crafted not just to stir the hearts of potential recruits but also to boost the organization’s ghastly brand—to reinforce Westerners’ perception of the Islamic State and its devotees as ruthless beyond comprehension. All terrorist groups seek to cultivate this kind of image, of course, because their power derives from their ability to inspire dread out of proportion to the threats they actually pose. But the Islamic State has been singularly successful at that task, thanks to its mastery of modern digital tools, which have transformed the dark arts of making and disseminating propaganda. Never before in history have terrorists had such easy access to the minds and eyeballs of millions.

The Islamic State recognized the power of digital media early on, when its brutish progenitor, Jordanian jihadist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, discovered the utility of uploading grainy videos of his atrocities to the Internet. As the group evolved, its propagandists surpassed and humiliated their bitter rivals in al Qaeda by placing a premium on innovation. The Islamic State maximized its reach by exploiting a variety of platforms: social media networks such as Twitter and Facebook, peer-to-peer messaging apps like Telegram and Surespot, and content sharing systems like More important, it decentralized its media operations, keeping its feeds flush with content made by autonomous production units from West Africa to the Caucasus—a geographical range that illustrates why it is no longer accurate to refer to the group merely as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), a moniker that undersells its current breadth.

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