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Saturday, June 10, 2023

ISIS Declares ‘Duty’ and ‘War Policy’ to Deploy Disinformation as a Weapon

"Spreading fear" is one aim of disinformation that ISIS said is "very important," and disinformation with the goal of deception was also stressed as crucial.

Disseminating disinformation is a “duty” of jihadists in order to deceive and ultimately divide their foes and should be considered “part of the war policy,” ISIS Khorasan declared in a new issue of the group’s English-language magazine.

The article in the fifth issue of Voice of Khurasan on making the use of media and psychological warfare a core tenet of their game plan comes after the group recently emphasized that “social media warfare” is a critical part of their strategy.

“By all its types whether audio, visual, paper, satellite or internet,” using various forms of media “is a necessity and is also urgent in order to propagate and cause defeatism and demoralization of the enemy, and show the strength of the mujahideen,” said the latest issue. “…Therefore the media and all its technologies must be used by the da’ees [callers to Islam] and mujahideen to spread fear into the hearts of the enemy and to terrify them so that they do not think to stand in front of the Muslims ever.”

Deploying different types of weaponry is critical for “demonstrating strength,” ISIS argues, as is “spreading rumors to strike fear into the heart of the enemy.”

“If we can shake the chain of the enemy and divide them that is part of the war policy to divide them and defeat them,” the article continued. “…Spreading the rumors is therefore a duty upon the Muslim armies to cause fragmentation of the enemy because that disunity will demoralise them significantly.”

“Spreading fear” is another aim of disinformation that ISIS said is “very important as it will cause victory for the Muslims,” and disinformation with the goal of deception was also stressed as crucial: “There is no dispute among the fuqaha [Islamic jurists] that it is allowed to deceive the kuffar [disbelievers] as much as we can in the battlefield.”

A separate article in the issue vowed to “continue to target the nations of Kufr, without differentiating amongst them,” adding that their eyes “are fixed on neighboring countries, Iran, China, Uzbekistan, and other nations of kufr.”

“We we strike them just as we strike you while you will fail miserably to cover our actions to please your masters,” ISIS-K said to the Taliban.

In their third issue, ISIS-K declared that 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.

“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 that article. “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.”

“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 continued. “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 was first published in February, with a 37-page inaugural issue. The page counts have decreased since then, with the fourth issue just 10 pages long and the current issue at 19 pages.

In that 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.”

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.”

Bridget Johnson
Bridget Johnson is the Managing Editor for Homeland Security Today. A veteran journalist whose news articles and analyses have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe, Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor and a foreign policy writer at The Hill. Previously she was an editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and syndicated nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. Bridget is a terrorism analyst and security consultant with a specialty in online open-source extremist propaganda, incitement, recruitment, and training. She hosts and presents in Homeland Security Today law enforcement training webinars studying a range of counterterrorism topics including conspiracy theory extremism, complex coordinated attacks, critical infrastructure attacks, arson terrorism, drone and venue threats, antisemitism and white supremacists, anti-government extremism, and WMD threats. She is a Senior Risk Analyst for Gate 15 and a private investigator. Bridget is an NPR on-air contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, New York Observer, National Review Online, Politico, New York Daily News, The Jerusalem Post, The Hill, Washington Times, RealClearWorld and more, and has myriad television and radio credits including Al-Jazeera, BBC and SiriusXM.

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