In 2014, Islamic State (IS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi announced the establishment of the caliphate and himself as caliph. A-Baghdadi presented a global vision and declared it obligatory for Muslims around the world to make hijrah by migrating to the land of Islam in Iraq and Syria. The caliphate, al-Baghdadi purported, was “where the Arab and non-Arab, the white man and black man, the easterner and westerner are all brothers.” Accordingly, the divine polity was a place where “their blood mixes and becomes one, under a single flag and goal.” From its inception in 2014, IS had transnational ambitions, and even after the fall of the last bastion of caliphate territory in Baghuz, Syria, in 2019, the movement has continued to spread across Africa and Asia.
IS’s propaganda apparatus and production capabilities are unmatched in jihadist history, with its branches spanning across continents. Official propaganda by IS Central – the caliphate’s leadership and official propaganda apparatus – and the various regional insurgent networks have long been bolstered by independent pro-IS media outlets amplifying the organisation’s narratives and by individual supporters engaging in discourse on social media and messaging application channels.