Guidelines for media reporting on Daesh

General Guidelines:

  • 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’.
Amaq News Agency
Al Hayat Media Centre
Daesh’s propaganda unit, AmaqDaesh does not produce objective news or facts. Employing Daesh’s terms plays into its narrative and misleads the reader.
CaliphateDaesh-held territoryUsing ‘Caliphate’ gives Daesh false legitimacy as it is not a legitimate state.
Daesh military commanders / generalsSenior Daesh terroristUsing warlike terminology implies that Daesh is a legitimate state actor which it is not.
TerroristEmir and caliph confer a positive connotation and  a level of legitimacy to Daesh’s claims of an Islamic caliphate.
Foreign fightersTerrorist
Foreign terrorist fighter
Avoid as it can glorify criminal activity.
IslamicIslamistAvoid 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
DaeshDaesh 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 brideAvoid this term as it negates women’s agency.
Lone wolfLone actor‘Wolf’ has a positive, almost heroic connotation. Care should be taken not to glorify criminal activity.
Mastermind(s)PerpetratorMastermind gives credit to the criminal.
RumiyahDaesh’s propaganda paper/ magazineRumiyah 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.
TerroristAvoid term until confirmed by relevant authorities. During an attack describe the action ex. ‘bombers’ or ‘gunmen’.
Terrorist attackAs Above.Only use when law enforcement and appropriate authorities have declared this.
Daesh follower/member
Dead suicide bomber
Suicide bomber
Avoid all words that may lead to glorification or imply martyrdom.

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