Islamic State Blitzkrieg Propaganda – by F. Borgonovo, G. Porrino & S.R. Lucini

The recent Hamas attack has brought the Israeli-Palestinian conflict back into the international spotlight, and this has awakened the communication of the main jihadist groups. With al-Qa’ida supporting Hamas and its actions, a statement on the attack by the Islamic State was expected. On 20th October, through the publication of the 413th issue of al-Naba, an official newspaper issued by the Central Media Office of the Islamic State, IS expressed its position.

The publication with the position statement took place approximately two weeks after the attack perpetrated by Hamas. In the past years, in most cases, official propaganda has been characterized by calls-to-action with knives. Given that in the attack in Brussels, the attacker used a firearm, it is plausible that the tactical narrative evolved from the operational event and therefore relaunched an operational propaganda that no longer starts from a tactical knife-attack level, but rather raises the level of violence calling for the use of explosive belts.

The events of the past days gave the opportunity to the institutional munasirin of Islamic State with for a direct communication to the supporters, offering targeted propaganda materials. In particular, issue 413 of al-Naba translated into English on 28th October, through an article and an infographic provides specific indications for conducting attacks against the Jewish population all over the world. The infographic was already available on 26th October and is a more user-friendly version of the article from which it was extracted.

The translation times – six days for the infographic and eight days for the article – suggest a strong urgency to disseminate the recent IS publication and to make it available to the widest possible audience. In particular, the infographic, which is more efficient in communicating how to show support for Muslims in Palestine than the article, was translated earlier. This move shows a clear weaponization of propaganda a sort-of blitzkrieg in order to share the most important material (call to attacks) in the shortest time possible. At the same time, this does not affect the importance of the al-Naba article, which provides the theological reasons behind the statement.

The infographic illustrates practical ways to support Muslims in Palestine:

  • Armed Support;
  • Media support;
  • Du’aa support (pray and spiritual support),

For the Armed support, both the infographic and the article define the weapons to carry out attacks against Jews and the West. They stress the importance of explosive belts, which are also called “blessed belts”. The first objective of the IS’s recent propaganda seems to be at the tactical-operational level, trying to influence readers to use firearms and explosive belts in their attacks, seeking more violent and effective results.

Concerning Media Support, a key part of this process is the sharing of material produced by Islamic State munassirin (communicators), which can be found on various social media. In the 414th issue of al-Naba, published on 26th October in Arabic, a graphic presents some social media (WhatsApp, Telegram, X, Facebook and YouTube). This representation pushes the target toward the social media in which is possible to find IS propaganda.   

The high quality of the production underlines the high and widespread level of threat that continually evolves. The communication target is self-radicalized and untrained subjects. As proof of this, except for the attack in Brussels, there has been no claim of responsibility for the attacks. Furthermore, when present, the claim was a self-declaration of belonging. For this reason, it is important to continue monitoring the effects of official propaganda in the spontaneous pro-IS ecosystem.