The function of media is to serve the purpose of two-way communication between the general population and those in the upper echelons of power.
Instead of performing this role, media is strengthening and popularizing the terrorist groups worldwide.
Always believed to be open and dynamic industry, international terrorist groups like ISIS (Islamic State now) and Al-Qaeda are using powers of media to forward their propaganda.
ISIS efficiently used media as a tool to inspire, recruit and spread fear among civilians when it was at the peak of its power at Iraq and Syria during 2014-2016. (More context)
The group propaganda claims a peak territorial extent of 282,485 km spread across Iraq and Syria between 2015-17, capital Al-Raqqa served as a stronghold of the region.
ISIS advance in early 2014 didn’t seem to serious for US and allies to conduct airstrikes
ISIS, also dubbed as the most advanced terrorist group has used powers of media to issue fatwas, show beheadings, and impose Sharia Law.
During 2003-04, videos of Osama Bin Laden issuing fatwa against the U.S surfaced on the internet.
Al-Qaeda used sophisticated videos to make their message clear to the officials sitting in the White House as well as Pentagon.
These messages were reminding the U.S that Al-Qaeda has the ability to strike mainland America.
Combining Powers: Traditional and Social Media
Islamic State has mastered the art of using both traditional and social media to enhance their reach.
Sunni Group saw an influx of lots of foreign fighters from Europe and Asia thanks to their social media campaign.
The highest numbers of foreign fighters were from Tunisia (3000 fighters), Saudi Arabia (2400 fighters), Jordan (2000 fighters) in 2014.
A Soufan Group chart showing foreign influx of ISIS members, Foreign Fighters means anyone joining the group belonging to places outside Iraq and Syria.
It today uses twitter and benefits of the connected world to inspire and recruit individuals in different parts of the world.
A study conducted by an Anonymous social media group concluded that at least 23,880 IS-related twitter accounts were active between 2014-2017, posting 17,434,323 tweets during its height.
All these tweets reinforced bombings, beheading, call for Sharia Law and recruitment.
551, 869 had retweeted these posts bringing the total tally to 10,436,603 retweets about IS or its affiliates.
Tweets showing allegiance to ISIS and hacking of US CetCom to show ISIS’ reach
ISIS did not only stop at tweets, but they also went on to have their own YouTube Channel for people to see public executions, protests and group’s recent achievements.
The high-quality video, Hollywood style production, and editing create dramatic videos.
The extremist group also runs its independent TV channel and newspaper to combine the powers of traditional and new media.
They also created their own TV and started broadcasting in their stronghold of Mosul in Early 2016.
The channel was also available on Egyptian DTH (Direct to home) provider, Nielset, speculations rose of ISIS’ reach to previously untapped groups of moderate fighters.
IS’s al-Naba, online newspaper and circulated earlier in Iraq has been pivotal in directing fighters.
Al-Naba or the ‘Announcement’, which lost its readership after, IS lost in Iraq went online to inspire suicide bombers
Newspaper’s role in brainwashing was last seen during Sri Lankan- Easter Sunday attacks, where its combatants used the online version to call for a ‘guerrilla warfare’.
The newspaper also lists down the procedure of attacks and details out every plan.
This has helped IS reach previously unreached areas to attack and inspire people.
Dabiq was an online magazine used by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant for Islamic radicalization and recruitment.
It was first published in July 2014 in a number of different languages. Dabiq itself states the magazine is for the purposes of unitarianism, truth-seeking, migration, holy war and community
Many leaders of these groups also video to advance their personal propaganda.
Former Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin-Laden used media to release regular videos and reinforce his war with the western countries.
Sophisticated Content, Good Quality and specific target audience propelled cyber-warfare
IS leader Abu Baker Al-Baghdadi also released a recent video to confirm he still is alive.
This kind of media usage is helping groups to reach untapped crowds.
Media And Terrorism
The media so far has been used by terrorist organisations to spread hatred.
Taliban had banned media in Afghanistan during its reign of power in 2001.
Movie plying, songs, videos, communication lines all were jammed in under Taliban Afghanistan.
Taliban also controlled and regulated national channels and newspapers in Afghanistan.
Afghan Boy looking at film negatives discarded by Taliban Fighters, Movie viewing was banned in Afghanistan during Taliban Rule.
However, its successors have used the powers of the same media to reach new fighters and wreak havoc.
They say in media, everybody is a reporter, terrorist attack at Christchurch mosque in New Zealand proved that where the terrorist mounted a Go-Pro camera to record his mass shooting.
Go-Pro is usually sophisticated, cheap and durable cameras used by youtube vloggers and others.
A screengrab of the video in which Jabhat Al Nusra’s head, Abu Mohamad Al Jolani Al Nusra is Al-Qaeda’s Syrian Branch.
Media has become the go-to tool for terrorist organisations, these groups have realised the far-reaching power and have put in the effort to create good, high-quality content from their propaganda.