New ISIS Media Company Addresses English, German And French-Speaking Westerners

 June 23, 2014

The following report is a complimentary offering from MEMRI's Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor (JTTM). For JTTM subscription information, click here.

In the last months, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has stepped up its media activity, opening social media accounts and distributing videos, audios and images via numerous channels and in many languages, thereby avoiding online censorship. As part of these intensive propaganda efforts, it has launched Al-Hayat Media, a new media branch specifically targeting Western and non-Arabic speaking audiences.

Logos of Al-Hayat Media's Twitter accounts in English, German and French

Launched in May 2014, the new media branch follows ISIS's general media strategy of distributing diverse materials in several languages, including new videos and subtitles for existing videos, and also articles, news reports, and translated jihadi materials. Its main Twitter account is in German, but it also publishes materials in English and French, as well as other languages. For instance, it recently posted a  speech by ISIS spokesman Abu Muhammad Al-'Adnani translated into seven languages (English, Turkish, Dutch, French, German, Indonesian and Russian).

Speech by ISIS spokesman Abu Muhammad Al-'Adnani translated into seven languages

The character and quality of the productions suggest that the staff is experienced in producing media materials for Western audiences. Apparently, one of the main figures active in the new media branch is German rapper-turned-jihad-fighter Abu Talha Al Almani (aka Deso Dogg), who was wounded twice in the fighting in Syria. In April 2014, around the time of Al-Hayat's Media's establishment, he announced in a video that he had decided to quit active fighting and assume a new role in the ISIS propaganda mechanism: "That’s why I pledged allegiance [to ISIS], in order to help the brothers and sisters of ISIS... and teach them how to make da'wa [preach] to people who have long lived in humiliation and do not know the laws of Allah. We are here, and we make da'wa to the children, to the elderly, to all the people"[1]. Recently Al-Hayat Media released a video of him singing a jihadi song.[2] Given his previous involvement in ISIS propaganda projects, [3] it is likely that he has a prominent role in running the new media branch.

Latest video released by Al Hayat Media:" There Is No Life without Jihad"

Following the ISIS offensive in Iraq on June 10, 2014, Twitter closed down many official ISIS and pro-ISIS accounts, including the main accounts of Al-Hayat Media, in German, English and French, but these were soon replaced by new Twitter accounts.  Al-Hayat Media's videos and materials are also distributed via Archive.org and other free web hosting services, and are regularly listed on justepaste.it, a web service for sharing free user-created contents.

Pro-ISIS Twitter account uses popular World Cup hashtag to advertise Al Hayat Media

Al-Hayat Media's target audience is jihad-supporters and potential supporters, and even potential recruits, in the West and other non-Arabic speaking countries. Recent publications suggest that the target audience may also include non-Arabic speaking foreign jihadis fighting in Syria and Iraq who are eager for news and/or media exposure.

Al-Hayat Media releases to date (many of which have been the subject of MEMRI JTTM reports) include:

- A series of three original videos titled Mujatweets, showing snippets of day-to-day life "in the Islamic State," i.e., in ISIS-controlled parts of Syria. The first clip features a German jihad fighter singing a religious song in honor of ISIS, the second shows foreign fighters distributing ice cream, and the third features a worker in a sandwich shop in Al-Raqqa, who describes how secure and prosperous under ISIS supposedly is. The purpose is to show that life under ISIS rule is peaceful and normal, and to shatter the image of the jihad fighters as fierce religious fanatics by presenting them as ordinary, friendly people eager to help the local population. The quality of the videos suggests knowhow and ability in production and post-production.[4]

- Two videos of nasheeds [religious chants] accompanied by a montage of footage and still images. The first  is a call for violence against everyone who opposes ISIS, including Christians. The second is a call for Westerners to join ISIS; the footage shows executions and other extremely violent scenes from previous ISIS videos, such as Salil Al-Sawarim.[5]

 

- A series of seven articles in English, released as high-quality PDF documents, reminiscent of Al Qaeda's Inspire online magazine. The articles emphasize ISIS's successes on the battlefield and showcase prominent ISIS fighters and operations, including suicide bombings and their perpetrators. The articles are styled to resemble professional press pieces.[6]

- English subtitles for videos released by ISIS's other media groups, Al l'tisam and Al Furqan, including the extremely violent video series Salil-Al-Sawarim, which shows  ISIS fighters butchering their enemies. As stated, Al-Hayat Media also produced subtitles in seven languages for a speech by ISIS spokesman Abu Muhammad Al-'Adnani.[7]

- A 14-minute English-language video, released June 19, 2014, featuring interviews with British and Australian jihad fighters, titled "There Is No Life without Jihad". The interviewees urge more Westerners to join ISIS in Syria and fight for the establishment of the Caliphate.[8]

 


[4] See MEMRI JTTM report Belgian Fighters Appear In ISIS Propaganda Video, June 5, 2014

[7] See MEMRI JTTM report ISIS Spokesman: The Real Battle Will Be In Baghdad, June 12, 2014.