The jihadist terror group Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) has excelled compared to similar groups in its use of online social media to attract younger, Western minds to its apocalyptic philosophy and culture of death. It is now ramping up this initiative with a multimedia project targeting Westerners called ‘Al-Hayat Media.’
While Al-Hayat was officially launched in April, the media offensive has ramped up in recent weeks as ISIS has gained ground in Iraq and threatens to surround its capital, Baghdad. According to MEMRI, the media offensive began with the launching of a now-infamous English language video titled “There is No Life Without Jihad,” in which Western jihadists explain why they chose to leave their home countries and fight for ISIS. The report explains: “the new media branch follows ISIS’s general media strategy of distributing diverse materials in several languages, including new videos and subtitles for existing videos, and also articles, news reports, and translated jihadi materials.”
That media offensive now also includes an English-language magazine titled The Islamic State Report, which updates jihadists on the advancements of ISIS in the region, and interviews with jihadists posted onto Youtube. The Islamic State Report features ISIS’s signature gruesome photos of mass executions and dead bodies, as well as updates on where certain battles in Iraq and Syria stand. While Twitter and Facebook have largely done away with much Islamist propaganda on their networks, The Islamic State Report is freely available for download on Tumblr.
Al-Hayat also once had a Twitter account–its main account was in German–but Twitter has since taken down several attempts by ISIS to maintain a presence online. Jihadists continue to post their material through other accounts, however, and in some instances have used popular but unrelated hashtags, such as “#WorldCup,” to force their jihadist material into the timelines of people who would otherwise not be searching for jihadist propaganda online.
Al-Hayat still maintains a Twitter-based segment on Youtube, titled “Mujatweets,” in which various jihadists read supportive material from social media.
It is believed that the initiatives is being led by Abu Talha Al Almani (aka Deso Dogg), a former German rapper who left Europe to fight alongside ISIS. MEMRI reports that Almani announced his departure from the warfront to organize Al-Hayat because he believed his job was to spread the message: “That’s why 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.”