Thursday, August 28, 2014

The ISIS Recruitment Strategy

ISIS obviously has a recruitment program that is quite capable at convincing Westerners to join their ranks.  A glossy new English-language (among others) magazine, Dabiq, provides us with useful information when it comes to better understanding their modus operandi.  The name Dabiq refers the Battle of Marj Dabiq that took place near the town of Dabiq located near Aleppo in Syria on August 24, 1516.  This battle between the Mamluk Sultanate and the Ottoman Empire resulted in a victory that gave the Ottoman Empire control over most of the Middle East, particularly Syria.  The town of Dabiq was captured by ISIS fighters in mid-August 2014, a move that puts them very close to the border with Turkey as shown on this map taken from the Dabiq Twitter feed:

Interestingly, in the Muslim faith, Dabiq is also known as the place where an Armageddon-style battle will take place between "Rome" (better known as "The West") and Islam will take place.

The launching of Dabiq was announced on this Twitter account.  Here are the covers of editions one and two:

The Islamic States' official magazine is published with the purpose of calling Muslims to assist in the new Caliphate or that was declared on June 28, 2014, the first day of Ramadan.  The magazine also provides background information on how ISIS has gained success in Syria, provides readers with a list of the atrocities committed by its enemies and graphic pictures of violence against Shi'ites.  The magazine's focus is on legitimizing the Islamic States sovereignty to its readers, primarily, a young male Western audience.

The first edition sets the tone by opening with this photograph showing American (Crusader) soldiers being consumed by flames:

Here are a selection of pages from the first edition starting with this one announcing the arrival of ISIS:

On this page, ISIS calls to those with specific training including doctors and engineers to report for hijrah, referring to the migration of Mohammed from Mecca to Medina:

Here is a "news" page showing ISIS response to various issues that impact them:

Here are a selection of pages from the second issue including this page which is a call to arms for those who would join Califah Ibrahim (aka Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS) in battle:

The overwhelming theme of the second edition is the story of Nuh (Noah) and the Great Flood, an Old Testament story that many Westerners are well acquainted with.  In this version, Dabiq references Noah and his Ark as being the new caliphate with non-believers being swept away in the flood.  Here are the key pages:

An edition of Dabiq wouldn't be complete without photos of destruction.  Here are photos showing the destruction of Shi'ite holy sites in Tal'Afar near Mosul:

Here is an article entitled "In the Words of the Enemy" discussing John McCain's "rantings" about ISIS on the floor of the Senate in June 2014:

Here is a photo of an executed commander and a captured member of the Badr Militia, an Iran-trained Shi'ite militia group, keeping in mind that ISIS is a Sunni group:

The launching of Dabiq in early July 2014 was prefaced with a rare public appearance by ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (also known as Caliph Ibrahim) in which he states the following:

"Go forth, O mujahidin in the path of Allah. Terrify the enemies of Allah and seek death in the places where you expect to find it, for the dunya (worldly life) will come to an end, and the hereafter will last forever…By Allah, we will never be mujahidin as long as we are stingy with our lives and our wealth. By Allah, we will never be truthful as long as we do not sacrifice our lives and wealth in order to raise high the word of Allah and bring victory to the religion of Allah...So take up arms, take up arms, O soldiers of the Islamic State! And fight, fight! …O Muslims everywhere, whoever is capable of performing hijrah (emigration) to the Islamic State, then let him do so, because hijrah to the land of Islam is obligatory. ...We make a special call to the scholars, fuqahā’ (experts in Islamic jurisprudence), and callers, especially the judges, as well as people with military, administrative, and service expertise, and medical doctors and engineers of all different specializations and fields. We call them and remind them to fear Allah, for their
emigration is wājib ‘aynī (an individual obligation), so that they can answer the dire need of the Muslims for them. People are ignorant of their religion and they thirst for those who can teach them and help them understand it. So fear Allah, O slaves of Allah.” (my bold) 

Let's close with the last page of the second edition of Dabiq:
Dabiq is being used by ISIS to promote their grand vision for a new Muslim Caliphate.  By using a glossy, western-style magazine, ISIS demonstrates that they are not a "fly-by-night" shadowy group of terrorists but a group that is striving to be the legitimate leader of today's Islamic world.


  1. And just why again did we provide weapons and training to rebels in Syria? At some point the mounting US foreign policy failures need to get the so called experts on the US payrolls fired. Some new people who understand what is going on and most importantly can learn from past failures and not make the same mistakes over and over and over again. Guns and weapons don't just go away they remain for a very long time. US troops were getting killed in Afganistan by weapons we provided the "freedom" fighters of the 1980s. The western culture is not compatible ISLAM esp. Sunni Islam, this is simple fact. We can make short term alliances with Muslims but they will always be broken because at the core our cultures are not compatible. We need to stay out, trade can be done. But the old maps drawn in the early 1900s need to be redrawn by those that live in the region this is the only way to bring back peace and stability.

  2. Mr. Viable O,
    Thank you for the historical background, including the arcana. Three items for you to consider:
    One - The 3rd issue of that "magazine" was released yesterday, 29 Aug. It is already available via the Internet Archive. I don't know if your comment settings allow URLs so I won't try. Just do a keyword search for the title on archive d0t org.
    Two - consider enabling some of Blogger's spam blocking. (You have two spam comments on this fine post already, which is a shame to see. It is so discourteous.)
    Three - The Twitter URL in the post's beginning is incorrect. No (active) dabiq Twitter account exists. Instead, one should search on the hashtag instead.

  3. Ellie

    Thanks for the information. I have deleted the spam - unfortunately, from what I can see, I have all of Bloggers anti-spam methods active.