Homeland Security

ISIS Supporters Around the World Rally for Steep Escalation in Online Jihad

ISIS-linked media groups are calling on supporters to help expand the virtual caliphate by escalating media jihad on a variety of popular platforms.

In a propaganda poster distributed online in English and Arabic, Muntasir Media, showing a grenade wrapped in computer keyboard letters, directed followers to “Support Your State”: “Help to expand, transfer and share the official contents of the Islamic State to other platforms.”

Arrows direct users to go to YouTube, Facebook and Twitter — platforms that have tried to crack down on Islamic State content for years, chasing many online jihadists to Telegram channels and lesser-known platforms to distribute propaganda and recruit members.

Muntasir’s previous releases include a six-minute, Spanish-language video released in December showing images of bodies in the August 2017 Las Ramblas attack and declaring that “the cells are ready” to strike “designated” targets again. It showed photos of veiled Muslim women being taken into custody by police in various situations, calling for a “new attack in revenge for our sisters.”

Other ISIS-supporting media groups have also been spreading the word for jihadists to take the campaign online now as never before.

Last week, a poster from the Al-Haq Foundation also encouraged media jihad, showing a hooded figure typing on a laptop computer in front of icons for various online platforms including Reddit, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Vine, and Snapchat.

The same pro-ISIS outlet also released posters threatening air travel — showing a passenger wheeling an ISIS-logo suitcase through a terminal — and another showing a wolf howling at a full moon while urging a lone jihadist to be “the expected wolf.”

Al-Nur Media released an image of an operative at a computer, stating “O frere des medias tu es un mujahid” — “O brother of the media you are a mujahid.” Another poster from the group urged supporters to “prolong the fight in the media” as other jihadists fought on traditional battlefields. And yet another French-language image depicted a supporter on a cell phone with urging to “participate in the media front.”

A report to the UN Security Council last month warned that ISIS senior leaders are trying to juggle “a number of essential tasks… such as finance, logistics, military, intelligence, security, doctrine and media” as the terror group has “substantially evolved into a covert network.”

The terror group is believed to still have access to financial reserves of between $50 million and $300 million — and with the fall of the caliphate, ISIS has fewer operational expenses to sap their cash.

Some of that cash has been smuggled outside of Iraq and Syria, and some of it is believed to be invested in legitimate businesses. The report notes that the terror group’s “financial assets have largely been concealed, with a strategic view to funding larger-scale attacks once the opportunity arises again.”