ISIS armory loses its sharpness

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ISIS armory loses its sharpness


Iraqi Media House

ISIS armory loses its sharpness

In its 22nd report, “Iraqi media house” monitors the propaganda machine of ISIS 2 years after declaring its “assumed state” and military withdrawal, starting from the beginning of 2016 when it lost most of the cities, which were under its control, and that obviously reflected on its propaganda activities that used to accompany its military and security activities in Iraq.

The new report could be compared to the 5th and 6th monitoring reports issued by the “Iraqi media house” in early 2015, concerning the propaganda machine of “ISIS”, when it was at the height of its power and activity. The report at that time covered blogs, websites, social media activities, and media production companies that used to publish videos of brutal killing actions, which were the base of media war of ISIS.

The monitors of the “Iraqi media house” reached interesting conclusions concerning “ISIS” mediain 2016; it lost almost 70% of its media institutions (visual, read, and audio media outlets). It has also lost the “brutality” element, which is considered the essential stimulus in its media discourse, publishing videos of brutal killing and mass executions, in addition to creating ways of killing that draw people’s attention. All of that made ISIS lose its supporters and fans, and the report mentions examples to all of that.

The monitoring report found out the following:

  1.        ISIS has lost the brutality element, which it completely depends on in spreading its message. Some of the most horrible videos it has published as a message to the world are a video of executing hundreds of soldiers in few minutes in Spiker military base in Saladdin in northern Iraq, a video published as “a message to the United States” showedthe process of beheading the first foreign captive, who was the American journalist James Foley, then beheading the American captive Steven Sotloff, a video published as a “message to the allies of the United States” showed the process of beheading the British captive David Heinz, publishing the violent video of executing the Jordanian pilot Muath Al Kasasbah, burning him alive, publishing a video of killing four persons from Mosul by drowning them in a swimming pool, videos of bombing victims by suicide vests, and videos of throwing opposing persons from high buildings.

When ISIS found itself bared of all of its brutal tools, it started practicing the same barbaric activities against new victims, but without getting the same international attention; since the number of the followers of ISIS propaganda decreased, turning its brutality into a weak point, because it led to international calls to announce a war against it, what caused massive losses came together with military losses it faced.

  1.        ISIS is still capable of easily producing and publishing visual productions on youtube, Facebook, and Twitter; since it is difficult to keep extremists away from propaganda activities because of all the technical and legal gaps that could be exploited by Internet professionals who belong to ISIS.  However, ISIS has lost the spreading element after the war waged against its publications, in which they were being deleted hours after publishing it. Also, the military withdrawal after losing 70% of its lands, and its failure to achieve any victory are all factors that contributed in limiting its propaganda machine, which used to depend on continuous “victories”.
  2.        ISIS visual productions during 2016 depended on reproducing old videos and trying to publish it as videos of new events, which was quickly discovered by people. This is a proof that ISIS has lost the brutality element it had before. The videos produced in 2014 and 2015 which showed scenes of killing and brutal victories were unforgettable for many internet users, and it was easy to discover any trial of reproducing old videos and presenting it as new ones. However, visual content depended on songs and speeches to work up the fighters’ enthusiasm and underestimate its losses.
  3.        ISIS was subject to an enormous loss in social media; its propaganda space decreased in Twitter and Facebook. After having thousands of accounts that used to work for their interest and monitored by Iraqi media house, there are nowadays less than hundreds of accounts. This was a result to the deleting campaign that social media administrations conducted against ISIS accounts. In August 2016 Twitter announced deleting about 360,000 accounts that belong to ISIS and its promoters.
  4.        A wide range of anti-ISIS users of Youtube, Facebook, and Twitter used those websites to delete the extremists’ posts by reporting it by thousands of Iraqi people, and limited its spread by spreading similar hashtags of what ISIS fans use, for example; when you try to make a search using hashtags like “Islamic State” or “Caliphate State” you will find thousands of results that are mostly against ISIS.



After previous massive monitoring reports conducted by the Iraqi Media House concerning ISIS propaganda machine in June 2014, when ISIS was at its best situations, and until we published this new report, which monitored the same media machine until October 2016 when the battles started to recover the last bastion of ISIS in Mosul, the monitors in the Iraqi Media House ended up in the following recommendations:

  1.        The absence of objectiveness in covering political and security events has widely contributed in the spread of the extremists’ thoughts and publications. Those extremists considered the bias and cover-ups in local media when covering events, a perfect chance to offer media outlets that reveal some facts that were in line with its own interest, to convince people that it is objective, then start spreading extreme thoughts and rumors. So, it is very important to focus on “neutrality and objectivity” in the coverage to cut them off and prevent people from following the extremists’ propaganda.
  2.        In addition to the interference of the administrations of social media websites to stand against extreme posts, the audience also should be involved in it by providing digital knowledge for users to fight ISIS accounts and websites, and the websites that try to publish visual publications that attract people, by using law to report and stop any extreme activities. It is also important to know that patience is essential here, because the media war is an open endless war that takes place in an electronic and digital space that has many technical and legal gaps.
  3.        To encourage a strategy based on the use of social media and
    blogging, and to recognize that the coverage of events is no longer confined to reporters and editors. Regular citizen has become an important source for news reporting and documenting them on videos. So, the process of supporting social media would
    prevent the spread of rumors and will contribute to tracking extremists on the internet so easily.


Monitoring Report: (more details in the Arabic version):


First: media organizations and forums:

During the revision of many ISIS media platforms that vary between dozens of its media institutions, forums, media organizations and media production, the monitors in the "Iraqi Media House" came up with interesting results. Their results indicate that thevast amount of influence, which the organization had at height of its power early in 2015, has been greatly reduced. This decline happened after a period of high activity in which ISIS depended on 8 blogs, 11 forums or websites and 12 media organizations including radio stations and both English and Arabic magazines.  


Second: Social Networking Websites

The activity of ISIS supporters on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, is witnessing a sharp decline. Moreover, this decline came in parallel with the progress of Iraqi forces to regain control of the areas that have been occupied by ISIS since the mid of 2014.

It is no longer easy for the monitors in the Iraqi media house to find the
publications and tweets of ISIS supporters by monitoring Facebook and Twitter. It is hard for them even though when they use keywords about ISIS, or when they use the same hashtags used by ISIS. The group has been using these hashtags for promoting the operations of its Militants, as well as for promoting the activity of the administrative systems in the cities controlled by its forces. These cities follow the
Zoning Law based on the system of governorates such as: Nineveh governorate, Baghdad governorate, governorate of the South, Saladin governorate, Diyala governorate, Anbar governorate and Fallujah governorate. This even includes the areas that did not have any existence of Iraqi armed forces, such as Kirkuk governorate and Nineveh governorate. And this is due to a number of reasons including:


Third: the visual media platforms

The monitors in the "Iraqi media house" revised many of ISIS's visual media platforms, included huge production organizations that have been mentioned in the previous monitoring report. These organizations included: "Alforqan", "Alitisam", "Alsaqeel", "Torjoman Al Asawarty” and "Al Hayat Center". Consequently, the monitors team found that there is a recession in the media space dedicated to promote propaganda for ISIS. So, while the previous published videos contained scenes of murders, torture and brutality, most of the new videos are religious songs or speeches.

Consequently, the number of views and comments has receded from what it was in previous years. Also, many videos were inaccessible or deleted because of the current policy of most websites, as well as the media campaign made by the international alliance against ISIS.


Dabiq magazine:


Dabiq magazine remains one of the most important elements in the English speaking propaganda machine of ISIS.

It released eight issues since February 2015, and the total number by August 2016 was 15 issues. Although there were many restrictions on the blogs of ISIS supporters, several issues of the magazine are still available on websites that support ISIS. The most prominent feature of the eight issues of the magazine is that they fully ignore the military setbacks that ISIS suffer from, and the shrinking of its subordinate areas. And Iraqi Media House will elaborate latter an extensive monitoring of this magazine.




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