Guidelines for media reporting on Daesh


  • Use dispassionate language when describing attacks or terrorists.
  • Avoid publishing images of Daesh members or terrorists in combat gear unless there is a public safety reason for doing so (ex. if the perpetrator is still being sought by authorities).
  • Exercise caution in reporting Daesh’s claims as fact. Statements by Daesh’s propaganda unit, Amaq, following recent terror attacks in the UK and abroad actually show that Daesh had no prior knowledge of these attacks.
  • Avoid war terminology as it fuels fear, gives terrorist organisations power and mirrors their language.
  • Avoid glorifying perpetrators by giving them a nickname ex. ‘White Widow’ or ‘The Beatles’.


Term(s) Alternative(s) Why?
  • Amaq News Agency
  • Al Hayat Media Centre
Daesh’s propaganda unit, Amaq Daesh does not produce objective news or facts. Employing Daesh’s terms plays into its narrative and misleads the reader.
Caliphate Daesh-held territory Using ‘Caliphate’ gives Daesh false legitimacy as it is not a legitimate state.
Daesh military commanders/ generals Senior Daesh terrorist Using warlike terminology implies that Daesh is a legitimate state actor which it is not.
Emir Caliph Terrorist Emir and caliph confer a positive connotation and  a level of legitimacy to Daesh’s claims of an Islamic caliphate.
Foreign fighters
  • Terrorist
  • Foreign terrorist fighter
Avoid as it can glorify criminal activity.
Islamic Islamist Avoid using ‘Islamic’ so as not to conflate Islam with terrorism. An Islamist is someone who wishes to impose their interpretation of Islam on society, usually expressed as a desire to enforce Sharia.
  • Islamic State
  • IS
  • ISIL
  • ISIS
Daesh Daesh is not a state and no legitimacy should be given or implied. The Arabic acronym Daesh has a negative connotation.
  • Jihad
  • Jihadi
  • Mujahid(a)
  • Mujahideen
  • Fighter
  • Perpetrator
  • Terrorist (only when sure of accuracy)
These terms theologically legitimize the perpetrator’s intentions and ignores the complex religious meanings of ‘jihad’. If reporting insists on its usage, ensure it is distinguished as ‘violent jihad’.
Jihadi bride Avoid this term as it negates women’s agency.
Lone wolf Lone actor ‘Wolf’ has a positive, almost heroic connotation. Care should be taken not to glorify criminal activity.
Mastermind(s) Perpetrator Mastermind gives credit to the criminal.
Rumiyah Daesh’s propaganda paper/ magazine Rumiyah should be clarified as Daesh’s propaganda paper.
Soldier(s) Fighter(s), Perpetrator(s) War terminology should be avoided as it incites fear and adds a sense of authority and legitimacy to both the crime and criminal.
Terrorist Avoid term until confirmed by relevant authorities.  During an attack describe the action ex. ‘bombers’ or ‘gunmen’.
Terrorist attack Avoid term until confirmed by relevant authorities. Only use when law enforcement and appropriate authorities have declared this.
Warrior Martyr Daesh follower/member Dead suicide bomber Suicide bomber Avoid all words that may lead to glorification or imply martyrdom.


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