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Learning from ISIS’s Virtual Propaganda War for Western Muslims: A Comparison of Inspire and Dabiq

26 Jul 2017
Long read by Haroro J. Ingram

This Report engages in a comparative analysis of ISIS's Dabiq and Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula's Inspire magazines in order to 'reverse engineer' lessons for CT-CVE strategic communications. It examines how Dabiq and Inspire deploy messaging that is strategically designed to appeal to its audiences and drive their radicalisation. This study particularly focuses on how in-group, Other, crisis and solution constructs are variously interplayed via value-, dichotomy- and crisis-reinforcing narratives to coax audiences into making rational- and/or identity-choice decisions. Together these messages offer its readers a “competitive system of meaning” which acts as a lens through which to shape its supporter's perceptions, polarise their support and, hopefully from the perspective of the group's propagandists, drive their radicalisation towards action. This paper concludes by outlining key lessons for CT-CVE strategic communications arguing that to effectively combat violent extremist messaging strategies, components of their approach will need to be mimicked.

This Report was originally published as part of the book “Terrorists’ Use of the Internet: Assessment and Response”. This book compiles revised versions of a selection of papers delivered at an Advanced Research Workshop on ‘Terrorists’ Use of the Internet’ supported by the NATO Science for Peace and Security Programme and held at Dublin City University on 27–29 June 2016. The event was co-organised by Swansea University’s Cyberterrorism Project and the EU FP7-funded VOX-Pol project.