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Study Examines ISIS Propaganda Strategy

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By Kylie Bull

A study released this week said the Islamic State (ISIS) is going to great lengths to prove itself as a viable and functional transnational state.

Beginning to distance itself from glorifying acts of violence, over half of the 900 reports, videos and announcements produced by ISIS media teams in one month focus on civilian life and statehood.

The Quilliam Foundation’s Documenting the Virtual ‘Caliphate’ report is the latest instalment of its research into ISIS propaganda strategy.

The report is an expansion of the foundation’s July 2015 paper, The Virtual ‘Caliphate:’ Understanding Islamic State’s Propaganda Strategy, and is based on an exhaustive 30 day survey of ISIS propaganda conducted across the Islamic month of Shawwal (July 17, 2015 – August 15, 2015).

Over the course of the month, Quilliam’s senior researcher on transnational jihadism, Charlie Winter, used a unique methodology to compile an archive of 1,146 separate propaganda “events” — discrete batches of media from videos and photo essays to audio statements and songs sung a cappella.

From the rigorous qualitative analysis that followed the data collection, a number of intriguing, important discoveries were made, among them the fact that over half of all the propaganda was focused on depicting civilian life in ISIS-held territories. Economic activity, social events, abundant wildlife, unwavering law and order and pro-active, pristine “religious” fervor underpin the foundations of the Islamic State’s civilian appeal. In this way, the group attracts supporters based on ideological and political appeal.

ISIS still markets itself with brutality. However, the Quillam report found the intended target audiences for its ultraviolence are decidedly more regional than they have been previously. It seems that fostering international infamy could now be secondary to intimidating its population with a view to discouraging rebellion and dissent.

Read the full article at HSToday.

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