Islamic State Communication Project

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From the very beginning, the Islamic State drew international attention because of its communication skills, especially after the proclamation of a Caliphate on 29th June 2014. The Western interest in Islamists communication has been characterized by an astonishment which for several reasons was not at all justified: – Historical reasons: jihadists, Al-Qaeda in particular, have always used communication as a major instrument in their struggle, making the most of new media technologies. From the beginning, special units focused on creating and spreading media products have became part of Al-Qaeda’s structure. The group has recruited individuals with specific skills to evolve from rough images shot on the field by “embedded jihadists” to videos rich in special effects, chroma key, crawls, fade-outs and other key progress made in the world of new technologies, till the advent of Social Media. – Specific reasons: it is enough to observe the crafty choice of the flexible Islamic State’s name: ISI, when its origins were especially Iraqi (Islamic State of Iraq), ISIL or ISIS when it spread to Syria and the Levant, thus absorbing the mythological and symbolical references to the Sham (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or Sham or Levant), and ultimately IS, simply and most efficiently Islamic State, when with the supranational proclamation of the Caliphate any geographical reference became pointless. The name has not just a media interest for its geopolitical connotation. It is also interesting because it reveals an explicit project: the islamists aim at founding a “State”. From its very beginning, IS showed an aspiration to create institutions and to establish the basis of a State among other states. Among other jihadist groups close to Al-Qaeda, its structure envisaging the creation of provinces is unprecedented. Western astonishment in front of the crafty and strategic IS communication procedures is therefore a sign of the incapacity of analysts to examine the jihadi phenomenon; it is also a manifestation of shallow journalism. The Caliphate communication offered material that communication experts approached as if they were cinema or media critics. They simplified this material in small essays, summarizing length and typologies of the videos or messages, their cuts, setting and much more. This is useful if eventually it leads to an efficient strategy to contrast IS’ communication. If this is not the case, we are then facing an empty intellectual exercise. In the coming notes, therefore, I will try to decipher IS communication. Focusing on its key production and its categories, I will try to understand its complex communication project which is coherent with the Caliphate’s strategy of self assertion. In this light, communication is one of IS assets. In other words, the real innovation introduced by IS is the fact that for the very first time we are facing a competent use of media, not just some vague technological skill, in the framework of a much more complex political and military scheme aiming at consolidating radical and Jihadi Islam on a specific geographical territory.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)99-136
Numero di pagine38
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2015


  • Communication
  • Islamic State
  • Jihad
  • Terrorism


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