Report

The virtual ‘Caliphate’: understanding Islamic State’s propaganda strategy

1 Jul 2015
Description

This paper dismantles the self-described Islamic State's brand into its constituent narratives and the various target audiences into their composite parts.

Executive summary

The following report sheds light on the strategic motivations of, and implications to, Islamic State’s media operation. By analysing the organisation’s propaganda output over the twelve months that followed its ‘caliphate’ declaration in June 2014, it has been possible to dismantle the brand into its constituent narratives and the various target audiences into their composite parts.

In doing so, the report demystifies the Islamic State propaganda machine and cuts through much of the unhelpful rhetoric surrounding it. By applying Jacques Ellul’s theoretical framework to Islamic State’s official messaging, this paper unambiguously demonstrates that, with all its complexity and gloss, the organisation’s propaganda is not singularly responsible for radicalising individuals, let alone their joining the jihadist cause abroad or carrying out attacks at home. That being said, it does catalyse the Islamist extremist’s passage from tacit supporter to active member. However, this is just one of the many functions of Islamic State’s propaganda – as the following report demonstrates, it is much more than a matter of inciting and intimidating.

Publication Details
Published year only: 
2015
439
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