A concerted focus on “social media warfare” is critical to advance on the ideological battlefield but also in order to counter the pull of “enchanting” social media influencers, ISIS Khorasan declared in a new issue of the group’s English-language magazine.
“War comes in many form and targets different aspects of humans. A war can be fought militarily targeting physical self or it can be fought ideologically targeting intellect,” said an article in the third issue of Voice of Khurasan magazine released online. “As much importance the physical clashes hold ideological confrontations also matter if not more. The physical battle can be lost even before it starts if people, in our case Muslims, are defeated or at the least trapped in the battle for the hearts and minds.”
“The Crusaders of the West understood the importance of battle for the hearts and minds, and hasten to prepare to advance for confrontation in this front by opening their research centres, colleges and other forms of institutions. They funded thousands of people in the name of research for this along and bought people who wear cloaks of Muslim,” the article continued. “Think-tanks such as ‘RAND Corporation’ has wrote about these in more than a decade ago by outlining a framework that Crusader America should follow, which groups they should target to work hand in hand towards this intellectual Crusade.”
ISIS said that the goal of the West’s “ideological battle is to try and counter the true Islamic ideology which Crusaders claim as ‘radical and dogmatic interpretations of Islam’, and make sons of Islam follow the wishy-washy version of Islam that is against jihad, full implementation of Shari’ah and its religious punishments.”
“Jihad against the crusaders and their allies is the best way to deter them. Jihad is not limited to fighting physically, and fighting with tongues are as important as fighting physically,” ISIS-K said. “In this age, social media warfare holds the utmost importance as the medias and social media personalities are enchanting the eyes of the people. Fighting in this field needs to be done in order to incite the believers and save other Muslims from the negative impact of the enchanting battle for hearts and minds.”
Voice of Khurasan has so far been on a monthly schedule, with the 37-page inaugural issue released in February, a 35-page issue released in March and the current April issue coming in at 20 pages long.
In the first issue, the group declared that theirs is the “most important province” of ISIS after Iraq and Syria. The magazine furthered the long-running ISIS narrative that the loss of the group’s claimed caliphate in Iraq and Syria is “temporary,” adding that “although we lost the Khilafah territory and thousands of Mujahideen were martyred in a period of 5 years, there is no problem.”
ISIS told the Taliban in the article that they will “become our brother” if they “desist from your deeds, declare yourself free from infidel democratic system, free your necks from slavery of infidels and ISI, repent from infidel beliefs, innovations and other superstitions,” release prisoners and “acknowledge the sovereignty of one God alone.”
The magazine declared that “even though our territories have been taken away from us” ISIS is still “engaged” in jihad as “we are East Africa, West Africa, Central Africa, Libya, Sinai and other countries including the Philippines are moving very fast and our numbers and strength are increasing day by day.”
The second issue similarly dedicated ample space to criticizing the Taliban and argued that “to this day no entity, no person has ever … brought forth a legit argument against the beliefs of the Khalifah” while slamming the “sheer stupidity” of al-Qaeda leadership. The magazine also brought up the Hayʼat Tahrir al-Sham merger in Syria and a frequent target of ISIS ire, HTS leader Abu Mohammad al-Jolani, saying that he has “cut off his group from al-Qaeda, rebranded his group like he changes underpants in an attempt to escape from terrorism label.”