Aug 15, 2014 – Harleen K Gambhir – THE INSTITUTE FOR THE STUDY OF WAR – The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham’s (ISIS) assault on the city of Mosul on June 10, 2014 demonstrated its formidable military strength. ISIS’s activities across Iraq and Syria also reveal that the organization is engaged in governance programs, ranging from Shari’a courts to aid distribution and law enforcement. These efforts underscore ISIS’s desire to erect a functional Caliphate within the boundaries of its controlled territory. That effort requires political and religious control in addition to military victory, and ISIS has a vision for how the Caliphate will form. ISIS has begun to explain its grand strategy to achieve this end through extensive public outreach, including a digital magazine series entitled Dabiq. This backgrounder will examine the contents of the first issue of Dabiq in detail, explaining the significance of this strategic messaging approach by ISIS in conjunction with the announcement of a Caliphate.  

ISIS’s political, military, and religious programs reflect what ISIS seeks to accomplish. Some of the richest sources of information on these three linked efforts derive from ISIS’s own publications. ISIS’s reports and magazines reveal how ISIS frames and justifies its activities to particular audiences. The intended audiences are noteworthy: a number of ISIS’s new periodicals are published and promoted primarily in English, with translations into other languages, such as French, German, Russian, and Arabic, released alongside. Two of the organization’s recent long-form English-language publications, both entitled Dabiq, lend particular insight into ISIS’s claim to religious authority on the basis of political control. Both also explain how ISIS relates these programs to the requirement for military control. Released digitally on July 5, 2014, a month after the fall of Mosul, the first Dabiq installment provides English-language readers with battlefield updates, administrative reporting, and religious commentary. A second edition, released on July 27, 2014, follows the same format. The main effort of this outreach campaign appears to be the explanation for the Caliphate’s propriety and existence.  

This backgrounder will focus primarily upon the content of the first Dabiq magazine, which carefully narrates the practical ideology upon which the Islamic State is founded. Through this analysis of ISIS’s own propaganda, the holistic state-building project of the Islamic State becomes visible. The magazine was distributed digitally primarily in English and other European languages, and the content carefully builds off a basic set of Islamic religious concepts. As such, it is likely that the magazine aims to communicate both to enemies and to potential ISIS supporters in the Western world. The target audience and essential message of the Dabiq series differs significantly from the Western-language messaging campaign of al-Qaeda. Begun in 2010, al-Qaeda’s English-language magazine Inspire does articulate religious justification. However, Inspire specifically focuses on encouraging lone-wolf Western-based terrorists to attack the West. Inspire serves more as a how-to guide for individual attacks than an articulation of an overall religious, military, and political vision. By contrast, ISIS’s Dabiq series is farther-reaching, laying out the religious underpinning of the Caliphate and encouraging all believing Muslims to support ISIS and emigrate from their homes to the Islamic State.

– See more at: http://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/dabiq-strategic-messaging-islamic-state?utm_source=Dabiq%3A+The+Strategic+Messaging+of+the+Islamic+State&utm_campaign=Dabiq+Backgrounder&utm_medium=email#sthash.XIpS3K0F.dpuf