Review Of An English-Language Pro-ISIS Media Operation Distributing Radical Content

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March 5, 2020

The following report is now a complimentary offering from MEMRI's Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor (JTTM). For JTTM subscription information, click here.

"People of Tawhid [monotheism]," is a pro-Islamic State (ISIS) blog that publishes religious jihadi material that was originally in Arabic, translated into English.[1] It is the latest iteration of the pro-ISIS media operation known as Ahlut-Tawhid (People of Tawhid) Publications, which has been operating since at least September 2017. Ahlut Tawhid, which distributes material mainly in English and Arabic, is believed to be the collaborative product of several members spread across the world.[2]

The above image depicts the logo for the People of Tawhid website.

The Ahlut Tawhid operation focuses primarily on translating religious jihadi texts, most of which are pro-ISIS or official ISIS material, and disseminating them online. Its material has been shared widely among English-speaking jihadi supporters. Over the years of its operation, the group has operated blogs, websites, and several social media accounts on major platforms. One of the members of the group, Radwan Dakkak aka Abu Bakr Al-Tarabulsi, was arrested in July 2019 for planning terror attacks linked to ISIS in the Sydney area.[3]

The following report reviews the current Ahlut Tawhid website, as well as related social media accounts.

The above image depicts the header for the People of Tawhid website.

People of Tawhid blog

The latest version of the Ahlut-Tawhid blog, titled People of Tawhid, began publishing in January 2020. It replaced the previous blog titled Disbelievers In The Taghut [idolaters].[4] The admin handle for the Disbelievers In The Taghut blog was Abdullah ibn 'Abdil-Hamid, while for People of Tawhid the admin handle is AbuAbdirRahman7. It is noteworthy that identical transliteration guidelines are used by many accounts mentioned in this report. The blog describes itself and its mission as "to connect the people of Islam with the actual people who have actual and authentic knowledge to Islam [...] this blog serves as a modest collection of some works of the [Islamic community] that have been translated into English and is geared more towards [monotheism] and its branches, and matters that are at the core of controversy."

The above image depicts a comparison between the first posts published by the Disbelievers in the Taghut and People of Tawhid blogs respectively, demonstrating their very similar design and identical content. (Posted January 9, 2019)

The website comprises hundreds of religious books, PDFs, essays, and articles by various prominent ISIS, Al Qaeda, and other jihadi leaders, preachers, and scholars. The blog section titled "Uncategorized" contains the most openly pro-ISIS material, such as translations of the official ISIS Al-Naba newspaper, including eulogies for ISIS leaders Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi and Abul-Hasan Al-Muhajir. The section also includes original Ahlut-Tawhid material such as the newsletter titled, "From Dabiq to Rome," and publications distributed in English, Spanish, Urdu, Filipino, Russian, and German.

The above screenshot displays various categories and recommended texts. The first item on the “Must Read” list is an ISIS religious document published in English by Ahlut Tawhid.(Source: PeopleofTawid.org).

The above image displays the cover page of the Ahlut Tawhid English translation of the text "Clarifying Matters of Methodology," originally published by the top ISIS executive body – The ISIS Delegated Committee.

The blog also offers a suggested reading list of works by Western scholars, explaining that the benefit for Muslims who read these texts is that they will gain "insight into contemporary realities and historical backgrounds of what we see in real time." The recommended texts include writings by Noam Chomsky, Henry Kissinger, and Loretta Napoleoni.

The above image depicts the header for the blog Disbelievers in the Taghut, which redirects readers to the new People of Tawhid blog.

Associated Social Media Accounts

The blog's content and the links to it are shared regularly on social media and jihadi online distribution channels. Typically, the material is posted on the blog and sometimes uploaded to a hosting website such as Archive.org.[5] Next, the links are shared on social media, mainly on Facebook and Twitter. It appears that in order to circumvent censorship, the links to the blog are shared through a third-party page-hosting service such as Justepaste.it. Ahlut Tawhid also has an old YouTube channel, Ahlut Tawhid Media, with 315 subscribers, which contains two videos, both posted in 2018 with a combined 7,255 views.[6]

The above logos appear on Ahlut Tawhid's associated Facebook pages.

One individual or group stands out as the probable alias of an admin or contributor to the Ahlut Tawhid group. The alias Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jama'ah is active on two Facebook pages and one personal account and is linked to one Twitter account. The Twitter account @AbuIbrahimSalaf, which has been suspended, linked to peopleoftawheed.org in the bio, and all its content was shared on the Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jama'ah Facebook page. [7]

The above image shows the Twitter profile of Abu Ibhrahim Salaf.

The group’s main Facebook page, Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jama'ah,[8] was created on December 19, 2019, and has more than 700 followers and likes. The page is openly pro-ISIS and regularly posts pictures, videos and texts from Ahlut Tawhid and from jihadi scholars and preachers. The content of the page is almost exclusively in English and expresses support for ISIS fighters and arguments in defense of the organization. Another Alhus-Sunnah wal-Jam'ah Facebook page, assumed to be a backup, was created on December 18, 2019. At the time of writing, it had last posted on February 3, 2020. This page posts mainly in English, but also in Arabic.[9]

The above post shares an official ISIS notice about the martyrdom of an ISIS fighter in West Africa, named Abul-Mukhtar Al-Ansari. (Source: Facebook, January 25, 2020)

The Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jama'ah Facebook page has an associated personal Facebook account under the name Abu Abdillah Al-Athari,[10] which was also created on December 18, 2019.[11] The account has 379 friends and at the time of writing had last posted on March 2, 2020. The content is almost entirely in Arabic. This Facebook account shared a link to a repository of Ahlut Tawhid material hosted on Archive.org.[12] The repository is updated regularly. The Facebook profile liked several pages linked to various different locations which do not appear to be connected to one another, such as an Islamic school in Nigeria,[13] a grocery store in the Maldives,[14] an Islamic Center in Haiti,[15] a Muslim Albanian Facebook page,[16] an online Islamic graphics store based in New Jersey, USA,[17] and a French Islamic travel agency.[18]

The above is an example of one of the many texts written by Abu Abdillah Al-Athari for Ahult Tawhid Publications and posted on the People of Tawhid. (Source: Blog, June 18, 2019)

The above post on People of Tawhid contains the eulogies of ISIS leaders. (Source: Blog, November 1, 2019)

 

[1] Peopleoftawhid.org

[2] Some Ahlut Tawhid content has been published in Dutch, German, Russian, Spanish, Urdu, and Dhivehi.

[4] Disbelieversinthetaghut.wordpress.com.

[5] Several hosting accounts, mainly Archive.org, have been used to share Ahlut Tawhid material. The known accounts are:

Archive.org/details/@ahlut-tawhid_publications.

Archive.org/details/@ahlut-tawhid_media1.

Archive.org/details/@ahlut-tawhid.

Archive.org/details/@ahlut-tawhid_publications_media.

Archive.org/details/@at_media: (contains material in the Dhivehi language).

Bitchute.com/channel/ahluttawhidpublications/.

[6] Youtube.com/channel/UCTgVe_Dcgegr4lZiUTpG9VQ/.

[7] Twitter.com/AbuIbrahimSalaf.

[8] Facebook, UID: 104074761101798, Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jama'ah, accessed March 4, 2020.

[9] Facebook, UID: 112024380296075, Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jama'ah, Ahlus-Sunnah-wal-Jamaah, accessed March 4, 2020.

[10] Abu Abdillah Al-Athari is also the alias of one of the main Ahlut Tawhid authors.

[11] Facebook, UID: 100044651813559, Abu Abdillah Al-Athari, abuabdillah.alathari.79.

[12] Archive.org/details/@ahlut-tawhid_media1.

[13] Facebook, UID: 117175233007878, Daarul-Hadeeth Islamic Schools ILESA, located in Ilesha, Nigeria, accessed March 4, 2020.

[14] Facebook, UID: 107030810806752, Raskara Local Market, located in Male, Maldives, accessed March 4, 2020.

[15] Facebook, UID: 196419747638545, Haitians Muslims Da'wah Center, located in Haiti, Facebook page in French, accessed March 4, 2020.

[16] Facebook, UID: 108795667273357, Mexhliset e Dijes, located in Albania, accessed March 4, 2020.

[17] Facebook, UID 102912804485895, Impressed Graphics, located in New Jersey, USA, accessed March 4, 2020.

[18] Facebook, UID: 2499569360069474, Hamidou Bouzidi Abdeljalil Dieng, located in Paris, France, accessed March 4, 2020.

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