The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has issued an electronic and printed newspaper named Dabiq in Arabic and English, as reported by the London-based Rai al-Youm newspaper. Hardly the efforts of a “JV team” as Obama likes to call them.
TDC It’s no secret that The Islamic State is rather savvy when it comes to understanding and utilizing modern technology and media (both social and otherwise) to help recruit new members from across the world to their cause. Over 2,400 citizens from Western countries have essentially joined the IS cause, and that figure is from May; there are substantially more now.
Towards that end, IS has been producing a glossy magazine, written in English with a clear goal of rallying more worldwide troops. Three issues have been released, although I’ve only been able to get my virtual hands on the first one. Let’s take a look.
First, the magazine is undeniably slick-looking and well-produced. From an aesthetic or artistic perspective, it looks no different or worse than any other magazine at your local drug store, save content. About that content…they pull absolutely no punches at all in this magazine. That’s not what we are used to in the United States, where every message is coded and coated.
Dabiq is a straight-up call to arms to all non-Muslims. “One third of them will flee; Allah will never forgive them. One third will be killed; they will be the best martyrs with Allah. And one third will conquer them; they will never be afflicted with fitnah (distress),” reads one of their parables, about historic Constantinople.
I defined fitnah above, but for the most part, the editors realize that their English-speaking readers will not necessarily understand very many Muslim terms, so they heavily add their own parenthetical in-other-words. This goes a long way towards their goal of recruiting English-speakers, who provide invaluable assistance in the logistics of IS operations, from making ransom demands to Western families, to video ops, such as the London-accented beheader of James Foley.
That’s not all IS is looking for: “We make a special call to the scholars, fuqaha’ (experts in Islamic jurisprudence), and callers, especially the judges, as well as people with military, administrative, and service expertise, and medical doctors and engineers of all different specializations and fields.
We call them and remind them to fear Allah, for their emigration is wajib ‘ayni (an individual obligation), so that they can answer the dire need of the Muslims for them. People are ignorant of their religion and they thirst for those who can teach them and help them understand it. So fear Allah, O slaves of Allah.” Note the comparison and contrast between the Western colloquialism “God-fearing” to the literal use of the phrase by IS, along with “slaves of Allah.”
The magazine, as you might expect, is gleefully violent and unabashed in its call to arms against all non-Muslims, and their view as rightful dominators of the globe: “Soon, by Allah’s permission, a day will come when the Muslim will walk everywhere as a master, having honor, being revered, with his head raised high and his dignity preserved. Anyone who dares to offend him will be disciplined, and any hand that reaches out to harm him will be cut off.” Repent, or perish… or at least be imprisoned: “[T]hose bearing arms against the islamic state [are] to repent before they are captured.”
But you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, so much of the rest of the issue is devoted to peace and harmony: “It is a state where the Arab and non-Arab, the white man and black man, the easterner and westerner are all brothers.
It is a Khilafah that gathered the Caucasian, Indian, Chinese, Shami, Iraqi, Yemeni, Egyptian, Maghribi (North African), American, French, German, and Australian. Allah brought their hearts together, and thus, they became brothers by His grace, loving each other for the sake of Allah, standing in a single trench, defending and guarding each other, and sacrificing themselves for one another. Their blood mixed and became one, under a single flag and goal, in one pavilion, enjoying this blessing, the blessing of faithful brotherhood.”
Unsurprisingly (and this is certainly not unique to IS), the zeal in which they call for war against non-believers…mixes uncomfortably with graphic images of their own enemies (the Safawis, in the case of this issue) visiting violence upon them (and it appears, by IS’s own admission, doing so in trying to defend their city from an IS takeover).
The rest of the issue is something of a study guide for the new modern Muslim. It includes a 5-part series on “The Concept of Imamah (Leadership),” a feature called “From Hijrah to Khilafa,” and various dispatches and blurbs from around the Islamic State. It’s worth underscoring again that whomever put this together understands how Western magazines look and how they are edited.
For a non-believer, it will accomplish absolutely nothing persuasive, and indeed only underscore their likely horror towards the Islamic State. But for the scores of people considering joining the thousands of Westerners already nominally a part of IS, this magazine, as well as their other media efforts, will likely accomplish just what they are looking for: new meat and new blood to serve their purposes, lambs, like the ones photographed on page 22, all-too-willingly being led to slaughter. As a piece of propaganda, it is impressive.