The Islamic State’s media strategy is scarily clever

The Islamic State’s flag hangs from a bridge in Mosul, Iraq.
The Islamic State’s flag hangs from a bridge in Mosul, Iraq.

The terrorist group, sadly, is winning hearts and minds via the Internet

Our world has seen its share of bloodshed.

For the past 3,400 years, humankind has known only 268 years of peace, and in that time many terrorists, militants and tyrannical ideologies have come and gone. Since such groups or regimes have always been oppressive, violence and fear have been used to keep the masses subdued and their enemies in check.

This usually involved series of publicly displayed executions, preceded by excruciating torment of those doomed to “serve as an example.”

The more public the location of the misdeed, the better. Thus, the frequently traveled roads, town squares and public buildings have all run red with blood, bearing witness to the might of the oppressor.

The modern era is no different. Violent groups and movements still crave blood and fear, and today they have at their disposal a tool that guarantees more public visibility than ever before: the World Wide Web.

The Internet truly is a great equalizer. While previously your voice couldn’t be heard unless you had a huge budget or owned a TV station, nowadays everyone has a way of reaching out to the masses. All you need is an Internet connection and content to share. What’s more important, anyone can do it. So it only makes sense for terrorist groups to hop on the bandwagon.

Terrorists usually use the Internet to spread fear and, at the same time, their ideology. The task may sound simple enough, but with more than 3 billion Internet users worldwide, one needs to be highly organized to run something as challenging as an effective campaign on a worldwide scale. Although what follows could pertain to almost any terrorist group, for purposes of this article we’ll focus on the Islamic State.

Local censorship

Attempting to control the flow of information isn’t limited to terrorists. In fact, most of modern-day repressive regimes have been doing the same, albeit on a much larger scale. The reasons may vary, but they’re usually strategic (to prevent vital data leaks), as well as propaganda-motivated (to keep the propaganda spin intact).

A good example of this is Islamic State activity in Raqqa, Syria. Since the Islamic State didn’t have a firm grasp on the city at one time, it had to move swiftly and aggressively. The goal was, among others, to isolate the area so it could proceed with military operations and the submission of the local population.

To that end, the Islamic State forbade Internet users from publishing anything critical online, and at the same time destroyed or disabled any online access points it couldn’t control. To ensure the success of the operation, the Islamic State installed surveillance cameras around the city and hacked into personal computers and investigated social media profiles of Internet users suspected of leaking the forbidden information.

The shutdown, however, hasn’t been fully successful. There is a wealth of condemning information pouring out from the news portal “Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently,” whose eerie name stands as a silent witness of the atrocities committed by the Islamic State against the civilian population. There is much about the conflict with the Islamic State that the West doesn’t fully understand, and we’ll get to that shortly.

Source :

media activist from the city of Raqqa, student at the Faculty of Law at the University of the Euphrates. Director of the Media Office of Raqqa, founding member of "Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently", founding member of the documentary project of "Sound and Picture". I work in documenting violations committed by Assad's regime and ISIS group and extremist organizations inside the city of Raqqa, as I work in programming, design and visual media. I hold a certificate of coach in digital security, and a certificate of journalist coach, and a certificate in documenting violations against human rights, and a certificate in electronic advocacy. I underwent a training under the supervision of "Cyber-Arabs" in collaboration with the Institute for War and Peace "IWPR", about the management of electronic websites and leadership of advocacy campaigns, and a training of press photography under the supervision of the photojournalist "Peter Hove Olesen".


  1. achmed
    March 21, 2015 - 10:22 am

    Good points. There’s some upset with elomar and his crony sharrouf after they posted photos flaunting their women and wealth around a bmw car. They are straying dangerously from the party line. we hear elomar has earned the name the widow collector. Some say he even influences sending men away on dangerous missions so he can steal their attractive brides as personal property after the fighters die. Enslaving the Yazidi girls was not enough for these braggarts and sex fiends with sick appetites.

  2. Fi
    March 31, 2015 - 12:31 am

    Naji’s book The Management of Savagery is, according to some sources, required reading in the Caliphate.

    I will look for your next post with great interest as there is a lot I am struggling to understand.

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