Usage of Arabic Terms ‘Ghazwa’ and ‘Ghanima’ in Media Materials … Distortion of Facts

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Usage of Arabic Terms ‘Ghazwa’ and ‘Ghanima’ in  Media Materials … Distortion of Facts


Iraqi Media House

Usage of Arabic Terms ‘Ghazwa’ and ‘Ghanima’ in  Media Materials

Distortion of Facts 

In the course of its 62nd report, the Iraqi Media House, ‘IMH’, monitors the usage by the Iraqi mass media of the Arabic term ‘Ghazwa’ and its plural ‘Ghazawat’ (foray, forays) in referring to the attacks that had been instigated by ‘Daesh Organization’.

The same case with the term ‘Ghanima’, and its plural ‘Ghanayem’ (booty, ill-gotten gains) in depicting the plundering and pillage brutal acts that had been committed by the organization’s elements during their dominance over large areas in north and west of Iraq in mid 2014.

Since that time, the two terms ‘Ghazwa’ and Ghanima’ had been extensively utilized by not only the Iraqi information media, but also by other Arab and foreign Arabic-speaking media, in their coverage of the attacks launched by the organization’s elements on the various media platforms.  

Such inappropriate illegal lexis had actually dominated over the precise legal terms in describing the repercussions of the organization’s terrorist incursions.   

Experts, as well as experienced legal and academic journalists, and Arabic language academicians had stressed on the seriousness of using the term ‘Ghazwa’ and suggested using the accurate word ‘attack’ instead. The same case is applied to the term ‘Ghanima’, which should be substituted by lexis like ‘robbery, ‘looting’ or the same.

Need to avoid using such erroneous words, as illustrated by experts,  is attributed to the fact that  the organization had been insisting on manipulating  such lexis  to win legitimacy and in the meantime  secure the religious and ideological justifications for the criminal practices committed by their militants, in the name of the Islamic faith.  

Hence,  the ‘Iraqi Media House’  had scrutinized samples from the media coverage achieved by different Iraqi, Arab, foreign and  international media platforms, and analyzed all the published materials since  the start of the events in August 2014 until the date of releasing this report.

The IMH report came to the conclusion that;  

Some mass media had been using the term ‘Ghazwa’ to describe the attacks launched by Daesh Organization, and the word ‘Ghanima’ to the robbery and looting crimes that followed their incursion.

Such distortion of facts on the part of the media cope entirely with the extremist orientations adopted by the organization, which was attempting through its media platforms to consecrate the legitimacy of its criminal illicit practices.

The mass media had unjustifiably overlooked the appropriate legal terms recognized by both Iraqi and international laws, in classifying such criminal attacks as ‘Ghazawat’; and by describing the plundering and spoliation criminal acts that followed as ‘Ghanayem’.

Some mass media had put the two terms ‘Ghazwa’ and ‘Ghanayem’ between quotation marks, in reference that these are foreign lexis, in an attempt to wash their hands of the moral responsibility of their media materials.

Most of the mass media monitored by ‘IMH’ kept on using both terms without referring to their original source, i.e., the statements declared and records produced by ‘Daesh’.

Among other things, the’ IMH’ report observed the absence of a common reporting policy within some media establishments, in terms of their dealing with the issues pertaining to the precise description of ‘Daesh Organization’. This might insinuate the existence of various viewpoints within the same establishment, and absence of the essential administrative superintendence, and the legal authority that can define the most appropriate terms that can be suitably used.


In case of using the terms “Ghazwa” and “Ghanima”, it is imperative to refer that such terms are borrowed from the publications issued by “Daesh”, or shed light on the ideological curriculum adopted by the organization.

Mass Media have to seek the advice of experts in the fields of law, and informatics to specify the precise terms that should be used when reporting about terrorism, particularly during the times of human crises caused by armed violence.

This is because such issues have much sensitivity in the Middle Eastern conservative and traditional societies. It is also necessary to avert the common language used by the public. 

Mass media establishments need to revise all their editing policies from time to time and define the common terms edited in their rhetoric. There is also need to identify any shortcoming or drawback and rectify it. 

Legalists, syndicates, societies, and non-governmental organizations are recommended to rectify the common lexical mistakes made in the media, and diagnose the lexis that can form the receivers’ awareness and make them better prepared to accept the extremist interpretations propagated by terrorist groups, and consequently be more tolerant with the violations committed against the minorities of other religions.

Experts Viewpoints

Need to alter inappropriate media terms

Dr. Hashem Hassan (holds professorship degree in media philosophy, author and journalist since 1974, published several books, researches and thousands of articles and had presided over the Information College of Baghdad University for long years)

In the course of a study conducted for Iraqi Media Home, Dr. Hassan said, “Daesh took advantage of a thrilling emblem to arouse sensations and consequently win more and more followers, and in the meantime horrify their opponents through using rhetorical language and terms borrowed from the Holy Quran and Prophetic sayings, aiming to create a stimulating picture that can enflame religious feelings.”

The media professor stresses that any effort to seek alternative lexis to replace Daesh terms is an ‘extremely sensitive issue’ and necessitates a thoughtful research in the Islamic heritage literature.

“Any endeavor to find alternative contemporary terms must be made without arousing religious sensations and through moderate rhetoric that can gradually draw the carpet from underneath the feet of hate rhetoric promoters.”, Dr. Hassan emphatically added. 

Terms in the balance of law

Dolphan Albarawarry (M.A. in Law, investigative journalist and head of the Volunteering Lawyers’ Network of Defending Freedom of Speech)

‘Ghazwa’ and its plural ‘Ghazawat’

In the course of a study conducted for the ‘IMH’, Dr. Dolphan explained the meaning of the Arabic term ‘Ghazwa’ as an attack          launched against one’s enemies on their territories to expropriate their monies and weaponry and kill them.

 “According to the Islamic religious beliefs, ‘Ghazwa’ is an attack against counter religious communities, who are preparing to fight you. In other words, those classified as atheists, according to which their blood, monies and populace are legitimate right for the attacker”, he added. 

“The Islamic State Organization” (‘Daesh) takes advantage of this term to describe the attacks they launch to impose their power over the cities and villages in Iraq and Syria. They classified the regions under their dominance as the land of Islam or the ‘Caliphate territory’. Other lands beyond their control are dubbed as the ‘land of atheism’, in an attempt to bestow a religious dimension to their crimes”, Dolphan stressed.   

He emphasized in the study conducted by the ‘IMH’ that the word ‘Ghazwa’ has no legal or adaptive description, given the fact  that the organization is classified as a criminal gang or rather a terrorist group, and all the attacks launched by their militants are classified as crimes.

Dr. Dolphan stressed as well that the usage of this term bestows a religious dimension to the organization, and an ideological justification for their criminal actions.  It is also regarded as a sort of hate rhetoric against the other religious categories. Subsequently, the correct lexis that should be used to describe their criminal acts can be ‘attacks’, ‘raids’ or the like.    

‘Ghanima’ or its plural ‘Ghanayem”

 Dr. Dolphan elucidates that the linguistic meaning of the word ‘Ghanima’ is what can compulsorily be taken from fighters during wars. And its plural is ‘Ghanayem’.

He referred that that term had been used in the Islamic literatures to describe what the Moslem armies and brigades obtained in their wars against enemy tribes, peoples and countries, being classified according to their conceptions at that time as (atheists or non-Moslems) and hence their monies and blood are consequently legitimate for them.

‘Daesh’ had used the term ‘Ghanima’ in their description of whatever they had plundered and pillaged during their raids against the cities and villages in Iraq and Syria to validate and bestow an ideological dimension upon their crimes. To this end, the regions under their supremacy were dubbed by the organization as the ‘caliphate territories’ whereas the other areas outside their authority as ‘atheism lands’, as Dr. Dolphan explained. 

Dr. Dolphan stressed on the fact that the term ‘Ghanima’ is “legally irrelevant”, and added saying, “The organization is globally classified as a criminal terrorist gang, and all their brutal practices are lawfully considered “robbery and spoliation crimes” committed against citizens. 

 He added that the usage of this term secures a justification for the crimes committed by the organization, which categorize their pilfered victims as atheists. 

‘Ghazwa’ and ‘Ghanima’ in Arabic Language

Dr. Ahmad Hussein Alzoffery (professor of Arabic language and academician with a number of articles and media studies)

The word ‘Ghazwa’ as per the definition given by Alzoffery means “Attackers leave their territories and advance towards enemies’ lands with premeditated intention to take their lives.’

He added saying, “As per the Islamic heritage, the term ‘Ghazwa’ refers to the battles in which Prophet Mohamed, peace be upon him, attended and fought in it himself, but the other battles not attended by Him are referred to as expeditions or brigades.

As from the linguistic and idiomatic point of view, Alzoffery views that “the usage of the term ‘Ghazwa’ conveys a direct religious denotation, signifying the Prophet’s presence in the attack. Thus, this term must be replaced by other words like attack or aggression. 

‘Ghanima’ and its plural ‘Ghanayem’  

The Arabic language professor continues saying, “Linguistically the term ‘Ghanima’ comes from the Arabic word ‘Alghanm’, means procuring or winning something tirelessly. The term ‘Ghanima’ has other meanings like wind, increase, and benefit and its plural is ‘Ghanayem’ i.e. the lootings taken from the enemy in wars.

Idiomatically, as explained by Alzoffery, the term ‘Ghanayem’ signifies the monies and properties taken forcibly from the enemy fighters under duress after victory, while being overwhelmed by a feeling of superiority and dominance. Hence came the claimed legitimacy of procuring the booty from the enemy at wars and distributing it among its beneficiaries. 

The usage of this term in the mass media overshadows a legitimate impression because there are verses in the holy Quran and in the Prophetic sayings, bestowing legitimacy to this act which is entirely repulsive at the present time. In the meantime, it excludes the genuine description of such criminal disagreeable act which is robbery, as emphasized by Dr. Alzoffery.

He emphasized that taking others’ monies or properties must be described as pure ‘robbery’ everywhere and under any circumstances, in order to be able to hold anyone, who dares to commit such criminal acts, accountable for their crimes, and put them on trial.   

Media Monitoring

Firstly: Instances from the mass media using the terms ‘Ghazwa’, ’Ghazawat, ‘Ghanima’, and Ghanayem’


-      Ninwa Operations confirms thwarting Daesh massive ‘Ghazwa’ south of Mosul 

-      Toppling of terrorist network planning to ‘Ghazawat’  Al-Abd

-      Amina Dayali: Millions of Dinars enter Daesh treasury from ‘Ghazawat’ and ‘Ghanayem’

-      With pictures…Daesh camp planning ‘Ghazwat’, turned into rubble

-      16 Daesh elements killed while infighting arguments about distribution of their ‘Ghanayem’ in Mosul

-      Daesh elements killed and wounded, while being engaged in violent infighting over ‘Ghanayem’ distribution 


-      Thwarting terrorist ‘Ghazwa’ in Babel

-      Special operation by national security foils ‘Daesh’ newly-planned ‘Ghazwa’ 

-      Thwarting Daesh terrorist plan dubbed as ‘Ghazwat Ramadan’   targeting Baghdad   

Rudaw Channel

-      ‘GhazwaGhuwayran: Daesh…  time bomb still not defused

-      With photos… ‘Ghanayem’ Daesh…. continuation of its rearmament

-      Arrest of “alms teller and ‘Ghanayem Daesh’ treasurer 

Barsa News

-      Arrest of ‘Daesh’ ‘Ghazawat’  planners

-      Iraqi warplanes demolish the building storing ‘Ghanayem’  of the terrorist ‘Daesh’ gang in Al-Sharqat

-      Terrorist leader of ‘Ghazawat’ and booby traps detained

-      Leader of the terrorist ‘Elnasrah Front‘ in Syria threatens launching vindictive ‘Ghazawat’

Al Ekhbariya

-      Military intelligence topples ‘Daesh’ Amir  ‘Ghazawat’

-      ‘Daesh’ vehicles and ‘Ghanayem’ sold  in Arbil  ‘Al-Alog’ market  

Al Mawazeen

-      Treasure of ‘Daesh’ documents revealing details about their ‘Ghazawat’, ‘Ghanayem’ and nationalities

-      Al Kazyme declares foiling of Daesh ‘Ghazwa’

-      Detention of ‘Al Ghanayem’  official in Aysar Al Mosul   

NON Agency

-      Arrest gang trading in ‘Ghanayem Daesh’ in Al Najaf Al Ashraf

-      Al Nasrah Operations declares thwarting terrorist ‘Ghazwa’

-      Dismantle of ‘terrorist cell attempting launching “ Ghazwat Al Eid’ west of Iraq

Shafaq News

-      Foiling ‘Ghazwa’ planned by ‘Daesh’, north of Babel

-      Dismantle terrorist cell attempting to launch ‘Ghazwat Al Eid’.  west of Iraq

-       Arbil disassembles gang and seize ‘Ghanima’ containing weapons and drugs   

Baghdad Al Ekhbariya

-      Al Kazyme declares foiling  terrorist ‘Ghazwa’ after confessions made by ‘Qerdash’

-      Local official reveals secret of ‘Al Azzeem Ghazwa’ in Dyaale

Ultra Al Ekhbariya

-      Ninwa threatened by ‘Ghazawat’ with crisis still existing ….Who hinders Governor’s nomination?

-      Al Kazyme: Confessions made by ‘Kerdash’ help in thwarting planned  ‘Ghazwa’,,,  Need to  seek difficult solutions  

Alsabah Aljadid 

-      Seven ‘Ghazwat’ planned by ‘Daesh’ thwarted during Ramadan in Diyala

-      New project to support over 2300 Yazidis rescued in ‘Ghazwat Daesh’      


-      Intelligence detains militants preparing to launch ‘Ghazawat’ south of Mosul

-      Security apparatuses  locate ‘Daesh’  biggest guesthouses

-      Security forces block ‘Sa’ar Al Sham’ in Karma and Harq Al Nasr

Secondly: Instances of usage of the Arabic terms “Ghazwa’, “Ghazawat”, “Ghanima”, and “Ghanayem”

 In “Daesh” Organization’s Media

It was the intention of ‘Daesh Organization’, even prior to its dominance of Mosul in the mid 2014, to use the Arabic terms “Ghazwa’, “Ghazawat”, “Ghanima”, and “Ghanayem” in most of its visual records and texted statements.

Most of the attacks launched by the organization and dubbed as ‘Ghazwa’ or ‘Ghazawat’, included the names of the places or cities targeted for their assaults, e.g. ‘Kirkuk Ghazwa’, ‘Al Anbar Ghazwa’……..etc.  If not, they used to add distinguished dates of religious relation to the term such as ‘Ghazwat Ramadan’, ‘Ghazwat Al Eid’; or add names of their leaders who had been killed during their military operations.


Photo published by ISIS on May 18, 2015

Meanwhile, ‘Daesh Organization’ kept on using the terms ‘Ghanima’ and ‘Ghanayem’ in their reference to the pillaging and looting crimes perpetrated , and the dispossession of public and private properties in the regions under the control of their militant elements.  

That was not actually confined to the spoliation of real properties, but when the extremist organization imposed its supremacy over some parts of Ninwa Governorate and Sinjar district on 15/7/2014, it intended to describe the women and children kidnapped as ‘Ghanayem’.

‘Daesh’ used such inappropriate illegal classification of the abductees as ‘Ghanayem’, to justify the brutal crimes of killings, lootings, and sexual slavery perpetrated with 2417 Yazidi abductees.

 Thirdly: Instances of using the four aforementioned terms in Iraqi public mass media

Some official statements included the Arabic terms “Ghazwa’, “Ghazawat”, “Ghanima”, and “Ghanayem”, for instance;

 Interior Ministry

A statement released by the Interior Ministry on 20/1/2021 announcing the arrest of a ‘Daesh’ element, who “confessed of participating in three ‘Ghazawat’ launched by the organization in 2014 against the security forces”, as per the statement’s text.

 Supreme Judicial Council

 The Supreme Judicial Council had not published in its statements the four Arabic terms “Ghazwa’, “Ghazawat”, “Ghanima”, and “Ghanayem”, yet it issued reports containing the confessions made by some Daesh elements, containing the above four terms between quotation marks on the council’s official website, as shown below;

-      A prominent leader in Daesh reveals the new structure… and narrates incidents taking place in “Ghazwat Ramadan’

 -      The Judiciary Council exclusively releases the confessions made by ‘Albaghdady’s terrorist deputy”

 Fourthly: Instances from the usage of the four Arabic terms “Ghazwa’, “Ghazawat”, “Ghanima”, and “Ghanayem” in the Arab and Arabic- speaking foreign media

Al Mayadeen

-      Repercussions of ‘Ghazwat Daesh’ on Mosul and its borders

-      Iraq: ‘Al-Mayadeen’ correspondent: The terrorist ‘Abu Al ‘Ghazawat’ escaped from Daesh and made his way to Syria

 Al Nahar Arabic

-Daesh launches ‘Ghazwat’  “Answer call for Jihad”

 21 Arabic

-      ‘Ghazawat Al Fatah’… publication issued by the State Organization documenting its control over ‘Al Hasaka’

-      ‘Daesh’ announces “liberation’ of Mosul and pledging to launch new-fangled ‘Ghazawat’

 Al Arab Newspaper

-      ‘Daesh’ organization in Iraq revives atmospheres prior to Mosul’s invasion

 Al Arabeya

-      Iraq offers ‘Ghanayem Daesh’…. Anti- aircraft gun and booby trapped vehicles

 CNN Arabic

-      With pictures…. Daesh publishes photos showing ‘Al Ghanayem” captured in Al Ramady

-      With pictures… ‘Ghanayem’ and victims from locations captured by ‘Daesh’

   France 24

-      ‘Daesh’ declares its control over Ninwa Governorate, pledging to launch other ‘Ghazawat’   

DW Arabic

-      Islamic State Organization ‘Daesh’ exhibits “Ghanayem’ including tanks and missiles

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