ji·had·ica

The Propaganda of Jihadist Groups in the Era of Covid-19

Since the very beginning of the pandemic, jihadist groups have been addressing and discussing the issue of Covid-19 in their propaganda, seeking to interpret it for their constituencies and exploit it for their cause. As we shall see in detail below, these groups have sought to use the pandemic as an opportunity to denigrate their enemies, spur recruitment, and inspire attacks. They have also tried to cast the pandemic as a warning from Allah to mankind, including Muslims, and in many cases have detailed strategies for preventing the virus’s spread. Jihadist messaging regarding the pandemic has not been uniform, however, as the following survey of the different groups’ propaganda will show.[1] The main difference is seen between those groups focused more on stopping the spread (e.g., the Taliban, Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham) and those focused more on exploiting the pandemic to stoke violence and amplify their message (e.g., the Islamic State,

Read More »

Jihadi Schadenfreude Over al-Nahdah in Tunisia

On July 25, President Qays Sa‘id of Tunisia dismissed Prime Minister Hisham al-Mishishi and suspended the activities of the Assembly of the Representatives of the People by invoking emergency powers under Article 80 of the Tunisian Constitution. The rationale was an out-of-control Covid crisis, continuing economic problems, and political dysfunction within the al-Nahdah-led parliament. Some analysts in the West have called Sa‘id’s maneuver an autogolpe, while many Tunisians locally, according to polling data, have backed Sa‘id’s move. It would not be a crisis, however, if the jihadi talking heads did not weigh in. It is important to note that jihadi activity in Tunisia has been on a decline in recent years due to counterterrorism and military efforts locally against al-Qaeda (AQ) and the Islamic State (IS), as well as the waning fortunes of foreign fighting endeavors in Iraq, Libya, and Syria as IS lost territory. Nevertheless, it is worth considering

Read More »

Hamas and the Jihadis

The Palestinian terrorist group Hamas has long been a source of controversy in the world of Sunni jihadism. Especially since it participated in and won the elections of the Palestinian Legislative Council in 2006, going on to form a unity government with Fatah, the dominant faction of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, the following year, the group has generally been shunned by jihadis. Hamas’s roots in the Muslim Brotherhood, its embrace of the “polytheistic” religion of democracy, its perceived failure to rule by Islamic law in Gaza, its unholy alliance with Shiite Iran—all of this has made it unpalatable, if not anathema, to the adherents of Jihadi Salafism (al-salafiyya al-jihadiyya). The question that divides jihadis is exactly what level of condemnation is called for. Is the right approach to pronounce takfir (excommunication) on Hamas, or on certain elements of it? Is Hamas to be supported when it faces off against the

Read More »

Living Long Enough To See Yourself Become The Villain: The Case of Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi

It has become a trope within the jihadi studies field to describe Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi (born ‘Isam Bin Muhammad Bin Tahir al-Barqawi) as being the most important jihadi ideologue alive. Part of this derives from a study written by Will McCants in 2006 that notes he is the most cited living jihadi ideologue within jihadi primary source literature. At the time, in many ways, al-Qaeda (AQ) was also the unipolar leader of the jihadi world. Since then, cracks in the foundation of AQ’s leading role have created alternative visions for the future of the jihadi movement. Most notable has been the case of the Islamic State (IS), but another is that of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS). In attempting to bolster their legitimacy, these different currents have moved away from al-Maqdisi and even derided him. The story of al-Maqdisi’s issues with the leader of IS’s predecessor, Abu Mus‘ab al-Zarqawi, and of

Read More »

From Goods and Services to Counterterrorism: Local Messaging in Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham’s Propaganda

[Editor’s Note: Jihadica is pleased to welcome Lina Raafat and Charles Lister. Lina is a research assistant for the Extremism & Counter-Terrorism Program at the Middle East Institute. Her research focuses on militant propaganda with a particular focus on foreign fighter mobilization and logics of martyrdom. Charles is a senior fellow and the director of the Extremism & Counter-Terrorism Program at the Middle East Institute.] The fall of southwestern Syria to Bashar al-Assad’s regime marked a significant turning point in the Syrian conflict, effectively shifting attention to the northwestern province of Idlib, the last remaining opposition stronghold. Home to a wide array of armed resistance groups, including groups with former and current ties to al-Qaeda, as well as defeated opposition fighters recently exiled from elsewhere in Syria, Idlib’s dynamics are incredibly complex and warrant special consideration. As the threat of an impending regime offensive continues to develop, with both Russia and

Read More »

A House Divided: Origins and Persistence of the Islamic State’s Ideological Divide

Last month, a jihadi Telegram user called “And Rouse the Believers” leaked a series of documents related to the Islamic State’s internal ideological rift. As discussed in a previous post, this dispute revolves around the doctrine of excommunication (takfir), and specifically whether those hesitating or refusing to excommunicate unbelievers are themselves to be excommunicated. Heading up the more moderate side in this debate was Turki al-Bin‘ali, the emir of the Islamic State’s Office of Research and Studies, until his death in an airstrike in May 2017. The more extremist side was represented by the Delegated Committee, the Islamic State’s executive council, until Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi reconstituted it late last year and instituted a theological compromise of sorts. “And Rouse the Believers,” whose name comes from Qur’an 4:84, is something of an anomaly: he is even more extreme than the extremists in this contest, believing that the Islamic State has lost

Read More »

The Video of Anis Amri, the Berlin Christmas market attacker

Via Telegram channels operated by IS, the Amaq Agency released a brief video featuring Anis Amri (his name is in Arabic Anis ‘Amari) pledging allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and vowing for more revenge operations. The video is entitled “testimony of the soldier of the Islamic State who undertook the attacks in Berlin and Milano”, dated to December 23, 2016. He appears to be standing on pedestrian bridge in Berlin where he filmed himself using is cell phone and headphones. The somewhat three minute long video is a brief but firm statement that he has submitted himself under the authority of IS and the application of sharia rule by the “state”, presented often by sympathizers and propagandists as “proof” of the IS’ theological coherence and sincerity. Amri cites several theological references justifying revenge for the suffering imposed on Muslims, pledging that we shall drink from the same cup of pain,

Read More »

The role of ideologues

This is the fourth Q&A of the interview series with Ahmed Al Hamdan (@a7taker), a Jihadi-Salafi analyst and author of “Methodological Difference Between ISIS and Al Qaida“. Al Hamdan was a former friend of Turki bin Ali, and a student of Shaykh Abu Muhammad Al Maqdisi under whom he studied and was given Ijazah, becoming one of his official students. Also, Shaykh Abu Qatada al Filistini wrote an introduction for his book when it was published in the Arabic language. The interview series contains contains five themes in total and will all be published on Jihadica.com. You can find the first Q&A here, the second here and the third here. Tore Hamming: Part of the struggle between IS and AQ happens through ideologues either part of or sympathetic to one of the two movements. AQ has consistently been supported by major ideologues like Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, Abu Qatada al-Filastini and Hani Siba’i, while IS

Read More »

The generational divide

This is the third Q&A of the interview series with Ahmed Al Hamdan (@a7taker), a Jihadi-Salafi analyst and author of “Methodological Difference Between ISIS and Al Qaida“. Al Hamdan was a former friend of Turki bin Ali, and a student of Shaykh Abu Muhammad Al Maqdisi under whom he studied and was given Ijazah, becoming one of his official students. Also, Shaykh Abu Qatada al Filistini wrote an introduction for his book when it was published in the Arabic language. The interview series contains contains five themes in total and will all be published on Jihadica.com. You can find the first Q&A here and the second here. Tore Hamming: One of the differences between IS and AQ is the generational divide; the veteran Jihadists in the camp of AQ and the younger generation being attracted by IS. Do you think this is still the case and, as IS is loosing

Read More »

“Come Back to Twitter”: A Jihadi Warning Against Telegram

It is hard to avoid a feeling of déjà vu. Back in 2013, an established al-Qaida ideologue lamented the decline of the jihadi web forums, warning users against migrating to social media platforms Twitter and Facebook and calling for a revival of the forums as the “main theater” of internet jihad. The appeal of course failed to persuade, as the platforms, and Twitter in particular, surged in popularity and left the forums in the dust. Fast forward three years, and again things are changing. Now, a jihadi author is lamenting the decline of the social media platforms, warning users against migrating to Telegram, an encrypted messaging service, and calling for the revival of Twitter and Facebook as the locus of web-based jihad. The al-Qaida ideologue from 2013, while ultimately unpersuasive, was right on one count. He predicted that a day would come when the social media platforms would “shut their

Read More »
Latest Jihadica
Subscribe