Islamic State supporters on Twitter have confirmed that an airstrike on Syria has killed Maher Meshaal, a Saudi national who rose up the ISIS ranks to become the chief singer-songwriter of the terrorist group.
CBS News reports that Meshaal was a Saudi national who had become an indispensable part of Islamic State propaganda: the composer.
It is unclear where the airstrikes killed him; some reports identify his deathplace as the city of Al Hasaka in Syria, while other reports claim he was killed in Deir ez-Zor, hundreds of miles away. He is believed to have been killed on Saturday by a U.S.-led airstrike against the group and believed to have joined the Islamic State two years ago.
The reports of his death surfaced on social media from individuals with known ties to ISIS.
— Terrormonitor.org (@Terror_Monitor) July 14, 2015
— Fikrat Tahmazov Ⓜ (@fikrattakhmaz) July 14, 2015
CBS identifies Meshaal as “the author of jihadi hymns such as ‘Saleel al-Sawarem’ and ‘Halomoo Halomoo O’ lions of war,’ which are regularly played as background music in combat and execution videos released by ISIS.”
Vice translates some of “Saleel al-Sawarim” lyrics: “The banner has called us, to brighten the path of destiny, to wage war on the enemy, whosoever among us dies, in sacrifice for defense, will enjoy eternity in paradise.”
Losing a composer of jihadi anthems, or nasheeds, could deal a not-insignificant blow to ISIS’s propaganda outfit, which is largely responsible for its great success in recruiting young Muslim men and women born and raised in the West.
The Islamic State has traditionally put out two types of propaganda: violent videos showing the supposed might of their mujahideen, and videos geared toward young women that show laughing children, functioning hospitals, and a peaceful Muslims society. Most of these videos are accompanied with background music.
In an extensive look at jihadi music in general and the Islamic State’s unofficial anthem, “My Ummah, Dawn Has Appeared” specifically, The Guardian notes that nasheeds are designed to sound alluring and keep a viewer enthralled by the jihadist propaganda before them. The Islamic State, unlike Shia terrorists like Hezbollah, use only a capella nasheeds, as instruments are seen as a violation of Sharia law. Shia jihadi anthems use drums and other instruments, sometimes incorporating even Autotune technology.
The Guardian adds that, in addition to English-language propaganda outfit Al Hayat TV, the Islamic State has established the Ajnad Media Foundation to produce new theme songs for their barbarous assaults.