laura blog - Nov 2017

Why has ISIS propaganda output changed?

Since Rumiyah 13 was released in early September, there have been no more releases of the monthly English-language terrorist propaganda magazine that targets and influences western supporters.

Meanwhile, the vast majority of propaganda that is produced has become dedicated to coverage of military operations across the world. For example, in Sep 2017 ISIS dedicated Rumiyah articles and released video footage of the, in reality unsuccessful, siege in Marawi City, Philippines.

Simply put the group has nothing to brag about – large territorial losses, thousands of fighters continue to defect back to their home countries and their leader Baghdadi has been forced to flee Raqqa.

However, on 10 Nov they released the latest edition their weekly Arabic-language newsletter al-Naba (105) in which they continue coverage of army operations, but more importantly offer advice to lone wolf affiliates in the “lands of the enemy” (excerpt inserted right). ISIS warn supporters to, “Beware of randomness. Make a good choice of place, time, and means of conducting the operation”. The group also call on lone-wolf affiliates to “choose from targets that will result in the greatest damage to the enemy, with the least expenses and simplest means”. This maximum impact for minimum cost approach is likely due to ISIS’s inability to directly fund operatives in western countries, due to the time and financial constrains placed on them by ongoing battles with coalition forces in Iraq and Syria.

More significantly still, the organisation seems to shift strategy directive. They state, “be sure to have a contingency plan for execution in case the original plan is hindered, and look for emergency exits to withdraw safely in the event that the execution becomes impossible.” This is a drastic turn from their usual encouragement to die during the attack, as in their eyes it is pious to do so. This was shown during the London Bridge attack in June 2017 as assailants wore fake suicide vests so that police would be forced to shoot them dead. The reason for this motive change may be as ISIS leaders fear the consequences of losing more followers, and so going forward prefer attackers to avoid death or arrest so they can attack again.

Through the meticulous analysis of terrorist communication channels and propaganda produced, AnotherDay expert consultants can identify upcoming threats and advise clients on risk mitigation strategies. This specialist approach has become particularly important when securing public places from the threat and impact of terrorist vehicle or knife attacks. It has also served as a valuable deterrent to those attempting to commit attacks, when their target locations have become secured.

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