Opinion Propaganda Insight

COUNTER DAESH INSIGHT BULLETIN 01-31 OCTOBER 2018

This summary includes information about current trends in Daesh propaganda from the previous month, focusing on the release of a video from Daesh called 'Smashing Heads'. It is intended as a quick overview for those who do not have time to follow monitoring services on a daily basis and is not a comprehensive listing of every piece of Daesh propaganda released. Daesh often make fictitious claims which should not be taken as fact.

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Overview

Between the 1st and 31st of October, Daesh  claimed attacks and activities in Afghanistan, Egypt’s North Sinai region, Iraq, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria and Yemen.

In Afghanistan, a privately-owned newspaper indicated Daesh is carrying out armed activities, recruiting young people and attracting foreign terrorist fighters. Daesh claimed an attack on a USAID office in Nangarhar province and Daesh’s Afghan-based radio channel ‘Voice of the Caliphate’ broadcast a message read by two children urging Daesh to continue the campaign against ‘crusaders and apostates’, and calling on fighters not to be discouraged by US and Afghan air strikes in what they called ‘the caliphate’s territory’.

In Iraq the attacks targeted primarily Shia-dominated areas in and around Baghdad, although Daesh also claimed attacks on the water network in Kirkuk.

In Libya, they claimed to have abducted police during an attack in al-Fuqaha.

In Syria, Daesh emphasised the scale of its alleged attacks, without referencing casualties it suffered during them. There have been reports of Daesh abducting refugees during a deadly attack on an SDF controlled refugee camp. The abducted are mostly non-Syrian women who defected from Daesh or were relatives of deceased Daesh fighters.

In Somalia, Daesh allegedly killed three and injured two Ethiopian Christians, and have been reported collecting taxes in the Bari region.

In Yemen, Daesh is claiming clashes between themselves and Al Qaeda. These reports have been frequent since last July.

In addition to this, supporters continue to experiment with the messaging app Riot as a backup for Telegram. On Telegram they are promoting links to chatrooms on Riot.

Update on Daesh’s propaganda media outlets

In this month’s Al-Naba (Daesh’s propaganda outlet), editorials, articles and infographics covered several topics, ranging from Daesh’s alleged military capability to articles aimed at inciting their supporters. In an infographic that is the second part of a series called ‘To supporters of the caliphate in the field’, Daesh incites followers to use arson as a means to attack the enemy, saying this is the way to cause maximum destruction with minimum effort. An article in al-Naba reiterates a previously-used tactic; shaming rival groups for signing deals with the government in Syria, stating that these groups do this to avoid being blacklisted by the international community. In a later edition, an article gave further details on an alleged deadly ambush of US soldiers that took place on 18th September in Syria. Daesh’s weekly news magazine also released a guide on how to lure and ambush enemies in another infographic. This, the third in the previous named series, described four main areas; the benefits and advantages of these tactics, ideas on what to do, methods on how to do this and a summary of previous use of these tactics. The magazine also published an editorial and an article to promote the ongoing clashes with the SDF in Syria, and an article that plays up the group’s role in the Afghan elections.

During the last month, Amaq (Daesh’s propaganda outlet) released statements and videos on behalf of Daesh. In a short video, they claim to show footage of an attack on the SDF in a village in eastern Syria. Photos were published on Telegram claiming to show the same attack. They also released two videos that claim to show the aftermath of strikes by the Coalition in Syria and the international coalition in Afghanistan. Both videos show footage of people being pulled from rubble caused by the strikes. Another short video claims to show four SDF members captured in Syria.

Daesh’ al-Bayan radio channel (Daesh’s propaganda outlet) carried a roundup of attacks across the world during the last Islamic year, in audio and text versions. The 17-minute 22-second audio recording, entitled ‘Harvest of Soldiers’ and issued via Telegram, provides a summary of the total number and types of attacks. The audio recording used sound effects and nasheeds. The text version appeared in al-Naba magazine issued on the 20th of September. They claim to have killed or injured more than 19,900 ‘enemies’ and that they have carried out more than 2,981 operations in the last Islamic year.

A pro-Daesh outlet released a manual on the distribution of chemical and biological weapons on Telegram. Another outlet released a eulogy for an alleged British member of a Daesh unit responsible for developing weapons. The post did not mention when this member was killed. An animated video, released on the 13th of September and removed a day later without any explanation, which documents the life and death of Daesh’s late spokesperson al-Adnani, made supporters angry and demanded public apologies. Some supporters argue that dissidents, working for security agencies to undermine Daesh, were behind this video. There was also a post advising against trying to leave Syria.

The pro-Daesh ‘Nashir News Agency’ (propaganda outlet) media operation reiterated a warning against fake social media accounts. It released a statement saying it does not have accounts on Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp or any other platform except Telegram.

The French pro-Daesh An-Nur Media Centre’ (Propaganda outlet) released two statements. The first appeared to be aimed at French-speaking fighters that are still present in Syria and Iraq, urging them not to despair despite the setbacks the group suffered. The second statement urged supporters to obey their leaders, claiming it is their religious duty to do so.

Daesh anti-democracy rhetoric in Afghanistan

‘The Voice of the Caliphate’ (Daesh’s propaganda radio channel) warned people to stay away from elections. They are calling the elections an act and an American plot. They further state that the elections are ‘an infidel and democratic phenomenon’ and ‘a way to make man-made law against the almighty God’.

On the 2nd of October, Daesh claimed an attack at an Afghan election rally in Nangarhar province. They claim that this attack killed or injured 90 people and that a number of local leaders were present.

The group also claimed an attack on the HQ of the Election Commission in Kabul.

Amaq (Daesh’s propaganda outlet) released a statement claiming to have caused over 300 casualties in multiple attacks on polling centres in Kabul and Nangarhar. They claim to have used 32 IEDs during these attacks.

 

Videos released by Daesh affiliates

On the 21st of October, the so-called Tigres Province released a 13-minute 26-second video entitled ‘Smashing Heads’. The highly graphic video showed the alleged killing of Sunnis accused of working with the Iraqi government or anti-Daesh militias.

Daesh’s so-called ‘Al-Barakah Province’ released a 21-minute 09-second video called ‘Attacks of Muwahidin’, showing horrific executions and close-up footage of gun attacks against SDF in Deir ez-Zor. This video also used footage of disabled fighters taking part in the fights.

Another affiliate ‘Kirkuk Province’ released a video ‘Wait for them at every place of ambush’. A 11-minute 28-second video was released that allegedly shows; 1) fighters carrying out raids against security forces, 2) execution of pro-government individuals and 3) a facility where IEDs are or were made. The video contains messages from Daesh fighters, including their leader al-Baghdadi, calling for continued jihad (terrorist activity) against their enemies.

‘Al-Hayat Media Centre’, (Daesh’s multilingual media operation), released a 16-minute 25-seconds video as part of its ‘Inside the Caliphate’ series. The video focuses on the importance of ‘digital’ jihad (digital terrorist activity) and explains what the group expects from its online followers. Supporters need to; 1) stick to Daesh official lines and statements, 2) support Daesh and its decisions without questioning them and 3) work to disseminate as much as possible the group’s official messages and propaganda. The video also incites individuals to carry out lone attacks on behalf of the group.