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memri
December 2, 2019 No.
8385

Defiant Message From ISIS In Response To Campaign Against Its Presence On Telegram, Other Platforms

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

In an editorial published in the latest issue of its weekly Arabic magazine, Al-Naba', the Islamic State (ISIS) responds defiantly to the recent widespread campaign to suspend accounts belonging to its media apparatus, media activists, and supporters on social media platforms, most notably on Telegram. The editorial is ISIS’s first official response to the suspension campaign.

Starting on November 21, 2019, leading internet companies began suspending numerous accounts of ISIS supporters, at the behest of Europol and European countries. The most notable results of this campaign have been seen on Telegram, which has served in recent years as the exclusive venue for the publication of official ISIS material. While the suspension campaign has hit ISIS hard, it has not completely disrupted the organization's media output. Further, the campaign has led ISIS supporters to seek other venues, and several have migrated to platforms such as Tamtam, Rocket Chat, and Riot, with some being suspended from these platforms as well.[1]

The editorial stresses the fortitude of the ISIS media apparatus and especially the ability of its activists and supporters to disseminate content to its members via the internet. It boasts that ISIS has retained an active presence online despite all the efforts of Western governments ["Crusaders"] and governments of Muslim countries ["tyrants"] to hamper the distribution of ISIS publicity material. The editorial notes that even if the ISIS presence online has been restricted, it is merely a matter of time until its media activists find an alternative platform, and it vows that the ISIS media apparatus, like jihad itself, will remain "until Judgment Day."

The following are translated excerpts from the editorial:

"For two decades now, the mujahideen's media apparatus has constituted a source of loss of sleep and exhaustion for the Crusaders' and tyrants' intelligence services, as they see themselves outpaced in this field by numerous steps, unable to silence its voice without harming their own information networks which grow in size and complexity every day, and the mujahideen are savvy in using them, with Allah's grace, bringing benefit to them and harm to their enemies."

The editorial stresses the importance of media for ISIS:

"If Allah had not facilitated the spread of their call and news via their media, none of the Muslims would have heard of their presence, let alone the news of their conquests and punishment of the polytheists. Those who heard of them via the enemy's media would have received a false, distorted image, which would have led them to hate them instead of loving them and striving to support and join them..."

The editorial describes the crucial impact that the ISIS media apparatus had at the time of the expansion of the organization in Syria during 2012-2013, and following the announcement of the caliphate. It then describes the failed attempts by Western intelligence and governments to physically strike the ISIS media apparatus and prevent it from distributing its messages on the internet:

"During the past years they [enemies of ISIS] tried to destroy the Islamic State's media apparatus, and with Allah's grace alone they were incapable of achieving this, in spite of their targeting of the mujahideen of the Central Media Diwan and its [regional] media offices by bombing their bases and media points, and despite the harsh crackdown on their means of dissemination of media materials, and the effort to distort their image and accuse them of extremism and deviance from the Quran and the Sunnah.

"As they were incapable of preventing the Islamic State's media apparatus from distributing news items they did not want published, they made an effort to stop those items from reaching the people, by preventing them from being distributed on the [social media] networks, and tracking down those who did so by security services, and terrorizing them in various means in order to prevent them from doing this. Moreover, in some cases they criminalized viewing and having in possession media materials related to the Islamic State, and the evil scholars issued fatwas that prohibited even listening to the songs of the caliphate soldiers.

"But Allah foiled their attempts to harness the activities of the supporters who expend great efforts to disseminate the mujahideen's media materials by various available means, the most important of which being the wide, branching out internet, due to their abundant numbers – praise be to Allah – and their being spread throughout the land, making the task of carrying out a widescale campaign against all of them nearly impossible, with Allah's permission."

The editorial then directly addresses the recent campaign of suspensions, ridiculing the Western governments and internet companies:

"The Crusaders' intelligence apparatuses still announce every once in a while that they are waging a coordinated campaign, in cooperation with the companies that operate the platforms on which they [ISIS supporters] disseminate the mujahideen's media materials, campaigns aimed at deleting these materials and suspending those who disseminate them. They [the intelligence services] follow the groups the mujahideen use to cooperate in their work, and then they announce the results [of these campaigns] in detail, competing among themselves in embellishing them, regarding the deletion of disseminators' accounts, suspending their activity on various internet websites, striking down media groups and channels, and other results related to this matter."

The editorial concludes with a defiant message:

"They know well that the issue of the mujahideen returning to their past activity by other means is nothing more than a matter of time, and that the costs of this for the mujahideen are negligible in comparison to the great costs they will have to bear in terms of money and manpower in order to confine the Islamic State's media. But, to begin with, they do not have any other tools to continue this media war, and likewise they are working to strike a mental blow to the media mujahideen, which will push them to leave this field and cease publishing media and jihad materials in order to bring them to the people, and in this, too, they will be defeated and driven away, with Allah's permission.

"Just as jihad shall last until Judgment Day, and with Allah's help nothing can stop it – jihad's media shall remain and persist in spreading its news and enraging the polytheists and bringing glad tidings to the Muslims and inciting them to mobilize, strengthening the mujahideen and repelling the aggression of the infidels and apostates against their honor and push back their attacks on [the mujahideen's] reputation and methodology, until Allah determines between us and the unbelieving people."

 

[1] For more information, see JTTM report: ISIS Supporters Reeling After Telegram Presence Hit By Europol-Prompted Suspensions, November 24, 2019.