The abuse of mass media by international terrorist organizations. The online magazine "Rumiyah" and the propaganda of the Islamic State

Textbook, 2019

130 Pages


Table of Contents


List of Abbreviations

List of Figures

The Islamic Glossary


1 Introduction
1.1 Introduction to the theme
1.2 Question of research
1.3 Limitations
1.4 Method of research
1.5 Status and gap of research

2 Category System
2.1 Scientific findings of radicalization research (theoretical framework)
2.2 Design of the category system
2.3 Interim conclusion

3 Description research material
3.1 Islamic State and new media
3.2 Al Hayat Media Center – the media department
3.3 “Rumiyah” – the magazine
3.4 Interim conclusion

4 Results of the analysis
4.1 Content analysis
4.2 Layout description
4.3 Interim conclusion

5 Comparison with the findings about the “DABIQ” magazine 61
5.1 Comparison of content analysis findings
5.2 Comparison of layout analysis findings
5.3 Interim conclusion

6 Possible counter measures
6.1 Possible measures against online propaganda
6.2 Possible offline measures after radicalization (deradicalization)
6.3 European level approaches
6.4 Excursus – “the deradicalization center of the Bavarian police”
6.5 Interim conclusion

7 Conclusion and suggestions for further research
7.1 Conclusion
7.2 Suggestions for further research

8 References
8.1 Analysis material
8.2 Literature
8.3 Online sources

9 Appendix
9.1 Definitions
9.2 The Islamic State
9.3 Development of the police crime statistics
9.4 Analysis – Results


This master thesis purposes to provide a qualitative content analyses of “Rumiyah”, the monthly magazine published by Al Hayat Media Center, the official Media Department of the Islamic State. For this research 13 issues of the magazine will be examined from 1st publication on September 5th2016 to the 13th publication on September 9th2017. The main aim of this paper is to identify the kind of used triggers in the magazine, that can promote radicalization. In the run-up to the presentation of the analysis results, the current state of the scientific findings about radicalization research is introduced. The results of the content analysis will be compared with the results of analogous studies on the "Dabiq" magazine, before possible counter measures will be suggested and how they can be put into the practice. The main objective of the study is to understand the messages propagated through this magazine and how this knowledge can be used from governmental agencies to build up a functional counter-strategy against Islamic State’s radicalization attempts in online jihad.

List of Abbreviations

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

List of Figures

Figure 1: Issues of the „Rumiyah” magazine - overview

Figure 2: Treemap total results of the analysis work

Figure 3: Pie chart partition – “Social Relationship and Affiliation”

Figure 4: Combined chart partition – “Orientation and Meaningfulness”

Figure 5: Layout analysis – table of pages with keyword content

Figure 6: Layout analysis chart – frequency-number pictures per issue

Figure 7: Layout analysis – table of pictures per keyword

Figure 8: Comparison analyzes results “Dabiq” vs. “Rumiyah”

Figure 9: Statistics of the Bavarian deradicalization center

Figure 10: Timetable release date “Rumiyah” – terrorist attacks

Figure 11: Comparison of figures from PKS table 01 and BMI report about political crime

Figure 12: Development sum of incidents in relation to the political motivated foreigner crime

Figure 13: Development crime level in relation to political motivated foreigner crime level (index comparison)

Figure 14: Content analysis category system

Figure 15: Layout analysis category system

Figure 16: Content analysis results – in numbers

Figure 17: Content analysis results – in percent

Figure 18: Layout analysis results – content with keyword

Figure 19: Layout analysis results – Keyword content in pages

Figure 20: Layout analysis results – pictures in context of keywords

Figure 21: Detail comparison analyiss results “Dabiq” vs. “Rumiyah”

The Islamic Glossary

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten


This master thesis is dedicated to my fallen friends, these two heroes gave their lives in the global war against terrorism in the desert of Afghanistan.

1 Introduction

1.1 Introduction to the theme

“Europa will continue to face an Islamist terrorist threat for the foreseeable future.”2

Germany 2016 - 12 killed and 74 partly serious injured innocent citizens attacked by Islamic terrorists in one year, at well-known places and cities. 2016 was the year global Islamic terrorism reached Germany. Those terrorist acts have painfully pointed out that the threat posed by violent jihadists constitutes a high risk for national security – all over Europe and worldwide. Neumann sees Europe facing a "new wave of terrorism", with a new generation of jihadists, whose number has increased enormously in the past few years, consisting from mainly (very) young recruits.3 In the age of globalization and social media they can publish their ideology in the shortest possible time all around the world in just a few seconds. This "new wave" is also characterized by a competition within the jihadist movement, which encourages attacks in the West.4 These "new jihadists" cannot be seen as an isolated problem, they are inseparable associated with the events of the Arab Spring and the conflict in Syria and Iraq. These are the regions, where the Islamic State (IS)5, with the proclamation of its caliphate, has claimed the leadership of the international and transnational operating armed Jihadist community for itself.6 The IS has become the center point for the worldwide Jihadists' movement. Neumann tries to explain this development with the keywords – Utopia, inspiration and logistical hub.7 Actually, the international community has no answer to this IS state-building project.8

As a matter of fact, no other jihadist organization grown up as fast as IS in such a short period of time.9,10

Following the call of the self-proclaimed Caliph al-Baghdadi in 201411, round about 20.000 foreign fighters moved into the Iraq-Syria crisis area.12 At least there are round about 4.000 Western Europeans among them13 – thereunder approximately 800 Germans. According to current estimates, today around 2.000 "violent Islamists" are living in Germany.14 Further, since 2015, there has been an increase in so-called "lone wolf’s"15 attacks all across Europe, too, which correlates with IS area losses in the Middle East.16

These figures show that the IS also offers a huge potential of attraction and radicalization for Western socialized people. The danger arising from radicalized, violent jihadists within Europe and other Western states should not to be underestimated – no matter whether they act as single persons or as members of large structures. The IS supports comparatively simple but extremely shocking terrorist attacks through its propaganda massively.17 Like no other jihadist organization, it also stylizes individuals to heroes, who carry out small attacks against the "Western crusaders" – as idols for every jihadist fighter.18 It is noticeable, that there is not only an immediate threat of terror from the outside, but rather increasingly from the inside as well. For young Western jihadists, violence against the societies in which they grew up has become a legitimate means.

To describe the scope of this extraordinary challenge for the German security authorities following figures can be used: The phenomenon of officially called politically motivated foreign crime (PMAK), has grown considerably in Germany throw the last ten years. According to the statistics, PMAK cases increased from 902 (2007) to 2.719 (2017). If the development during the last years of the frequency number19 of the general police criminal statistics is compared with the frequency number of the PMAK, following result can be determined: the general frequency number remained at a constant level – on the other hand – the frequency number of PMAK raised between 2007 and 2017 about 229%.20 According to the report of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution 2017, currently 24.400 Islamists are living in Germany,21 thereof e.g. 4.070 in Bavaria – whereby 134 were classified “ready to use violence”.22 The "new wave of terrorism" requires that well-known measures and methods of security policy are reviewed. Neumann announced already 2015:

"A new, comprehensive approach is needed – besides the traditional instruments of external and internal security, this is a strategic and credible approach in the fields of prevention, intervention and deradicalization."23

The challenges for security authorities in Western states are, in my opinion:

- understand how radicalization through the IS works,
- how to improve the prevention measures in this context and
- how to stop (and if necessary) respectively reverse the radicalization.

Therefore, a central component of the security policy of modern western states must be the fight against Islamic radicalization of parts of the population by international terrorist organizations like the IS. In this context, the role of the media for modern terrorist organizations should not be underestimated.24

One of the well-known speech tube of the IS propaganda, used for radicalization, is the online magazine “Rumiyah”. IS media wing Al-Hayat released it in September 2016 in several different languages, including English, French, German, Russian, Indonesian and Uyghur. “Rumiyah” is Arabic for Rome, a reference to the fall of the Roman Empire – it replaces the first published online magazine “Dabiq”.25

1.2 Question of research

In order to develop a corresponding counterstrategy, it is essential to recognize, which contents are used by IS propaganda and what kind of radicalization potential do they have. This leads me to the following question of research for my master thesis:

What are the contents of English-language propaganda published from the Islamic State in the online magazine “Rumiyah”, which offer a radicalization potential for Western recipients?

The study opens by explaining the used category system and the way how it was built up. In this context the scientific findings (theoretical framework) about radicalization processes will be briefly summed up. Further the research material is introduced before the results of the analysis work will be discussed. Then the results will be compared to findings from secondary literature about the “Dabiq” magazine. At the end of the master thesis possible counter measures are discussed and pictured how they can be put into the practice exemplified on the deradicalization center of the Bavarian police. The thesis will close by reiterating the findings of the research and the limitations of those findings, and by identifying further areas of research on the topic.

In the appendix a bunch of definitions, facts about IS (history; political, social, historical and psychological logic of IS; IS’s ideological and theological inclinations; IS in number and statistics) are listed. These facts are followed by a short analysis of the development of Islamic motivated crime in Germany. At the end of the appendix, the analyses datasheets have been added.

1.3 Limitations

Radicalization processes are individual and different research approaches are existing. This master thesis includes not all the leading theories extensively, only the essential parts are described (which were necessary for the creation of the used category system). For a detailed overview of the leading radicalization theories, please refer to Christmann26 or Young et al.27. Additionally, next to the “Rumiyah” magazine a lot of other radicalization-books, -magazines, -websites etc. used by the IS are available. The findings referred to in point 4 are compared with an analogous study of the “Dabiqe” magazine by Kiefer et al.28 in point 5. This master thesis not includes an examination or analyzation of the distribution channels for radicalization materials used by IS.

1.4 Method of research

In the core of my master thesis, methodically I oriented my analysis towards the qualitative content analysis according to Mayring.29 During the analysis, I defined coding and context units, which consist of at least one subset (coding unit) – maximally several sentences (context unit). It must be noted, that a context unit is always a sense unit. So, sentences can have only one statement (meaning)30. These units will be analyzed by using a category system. Subsequently, the results were graphically processed, evaluated and discussed. The analysis work was carried out manually without the aid of an evaluation software.

Now the steps of the analysis will be explained briefly: Initially I derived deductively a category system from the scientific findings of the research on radicalization (focused on identified Jihadists' motifs - especially those that attract young people). Furthermore, where necessary, I created an inductive formation of subcategories. Than the thirteen English written issues of the “Rumiyah” magazine (from September 2016 till September 2017) were evaluated using this category – system (in point 2 the built up of the category system itself is explained – the complete results of the analyses in detail are added in the appendix, point 11.4.). By carrying out a frequency analysis, the key focusses can be shown and afterwards interpreted. The method bases on an evaluation procedure that has already been applied at the Institute of Political Science at the Eberhard Karls University in Tübingen to evaluate the IS online magazine “Dabiq31. Additionally, I described, how the layout of the different issues changed by the time based on this method (lightly modified, point 4.2.1.).

The theoretical framework part and the content about possible counter measures are based on literature work. The contents have been compiled from existing scholarly publications, the internet and scientific articles. The facts and scientific knowledge were collected and discussed subsequently.

1.5 Status and gap of research

A study of the radicalization discourse of IS has utmost value. Not merely from an academic purpose, it is vital to decipher and understand the radicalization tools used by IS. The narratives of IS need not only be comprehended, but also countered and replaced with alternative narratives. In our world today, it is no longer enough to defeat these Islamic terrorists on a battlefield. Much more, their fanatic narratives must be fought online with a counter narrative. Consequently, to this end academics and experts across the world have been engaged with studying and analyzing the arise, structure and spread contents produced by IS. Particularly the “Dabiq” magazine was analyzed by many different scientists. Primarily academics have been drawn towards focusing upon the process of radicalization triggered by propaganda material. There is a plethora of literature on the process of radicalization through propaganda material as well as on the IS’s propaganda efforts, ranging from major publication like: Weiss & Hassan32, Hall33, Stern & Berger34 and Lahoud et al.35 – to numerous shorter analytical texts, including those by Farwell36, Friis37, Peresin & Cervone38, Böckler & Zick39, Qadir40, Colas41 and Ingram & Reed42.

Within their research, Weiss and Hassan, present the rise and expansion of the IS. Dozens of interviews with experts from the US military, various intelligence agents and former IS fighters focused intensely on how an almost defeated insurgent group could become a serious army of fanatical jihadists.

Hall first handed information by conducting narrative interviews directly with IS militants in Syria. In doing so, he not only presents the personal curricula vitae of individual fighters, but also explains why the Levant region will suffer for a long time from the long-term effects of IS's occupation.

In their work, Stern and Berger analyzed the new model of violent extremism that IS wants to incorporate into its own proclaimed caliphate in Iraq and Syria and implement it around the world. The analytical work traces the ideological innovations of the IS as well as the path of recruitment processes. The use of shocking pictures in this context is also discussed.

The report of Lahoud et al. identifies key areas where IS has demonstrated strength, learning and adaptive capacity. In contrast, weaknesses, flaws, and deficiencies in the field of ideology are also identified. To this end, the history of IS is drawn and compared with other prominent militant organizations (Al Qaeda and Taliban).

Farwell's work focuses on how IS uses brutal violence to establish its legitimacy. Here, the use of social media and cyber technology as a means of transport is discussed.

The effect of IS produced splatter videos (showing beheadings) on the population in the United Kingdom and in the United States examined Friis. She illustrates the impact of the power of these images on American and British security discourse, too.

In their research Peresin and Cervone examined the role of women in the state construct of IS; distinguishes between the non-combat roles and the militant roles of women in this context. It also draws a situation picture of women who want to leave Europe (whose aim is to live in IS) and what problems can arise with female returnees.

Which specific motives for young Muslims in Germany are the reason why they are attracted to jihadism was examined by Böckler and Zick. Excessive demands in everyday life, the offered sense of community and the explanation of the world with simple truths are determined as the main factors here.

In that regard, particularly noteworthy are the anonymous case studies of Qadir. He demonstrates the numerous push-and-pull factors act on young people and detail the practical methods and solutions involved with changing permanently attitudes and behaviors.

Colas analyzed the "Dabiq" magazine in terms of targeted audiences and fundamentalist content. He explains the hermeneutics of IS in its media efforts to fathom the logic behind the messages.

Ingram and Reed explored the role of instructional material of the “Inspire” and “Rumiyah” magazine. In their work, the communication content of this propaganda magazines was analyzed and examined in more detail. As a result, strategic communication recommendations are proposed for possible proactively undermining extremist messaging as well as post-incident responding.

Because IS's global threat, research into all scientific disciplines in this context is being driven by the whole Western world. In my opinion, leaders in this field are the King's College London's "International Center for the Study of Radicalization and Political Violence", the West Point Military Academy's "Counter Terrorism Center" and the University of Leiden's "Terrorism and Political Violence Research Program". Regardless of these well credited academic ventures, there’s still a gap in literature. Upon reviewing literature, an extreme dearth of available academic paperwork about the "Rumiyah" magazine, IS latest publication, can be seen. All the texts mentioned focus upon either “Dabiq” or other publications by terrorist organizations such as “Inspire” magazine by Al-Quaeda. The absence of literature on “Rumiyah” is troubling and demanding, however comprehensible – given to the timeline of “Rumiyah’s” publication, they have been recently published and in fact are still being published. Apart from the scarcity of literature on “Rumiyah”, all the above-mentioned texts point towards the professional production graphic violence and proficient utilization of social media to account for the appeal and success of the IS productions. This research study deviates from these trends in the current literature at two fronts: first by focusing upon the magazine “Rumiyah” and second by focusing upon the triggers which succeeds to alter the recipient’s perception and can start the radicalization process (radicalizes them to fight for IS’s goals). By the rounding off comparison to the study of Kiefer et al. (point 5.), in which with a comparable category system the "Dabiq" magazine was evaluated, similarities of these two online magazines can be shown, but also their differences. The aim should be to present any identifiable changes in the radicalization triggers used by IS in its publications (which may be related to the substantial changes in IS territory). These results should help research and practice on prevention, intervention and deradicalization, and should allow governmental agencies to effectively tailor their strategies to the specific triggers of IS radicalization attempts.

2 Category System

2.1 Scientific findings of radicalization research (theoretical framework)

There is no final agreement on the exact definition of radicalization in scientific discourse. The understanding of radicalization as a process is a common ground –

“a personal and political transformation from one condition to another”.43

However, theories on radicalization vary, as Young at al. wrote, especially with regard to their focus on different stages in this process, the importance they attach to socio-psychological factors, and whether an explanation of the process or a fight against it, is the goal of the research.44 I understand radicalization not as an event, but as a process during which people's attitudes and thinking change.45 Radicalization is an individual process that individuals go through in several phases, culminating in a form of extremism - often violent.46,47 Furthermore, I see the key to the radicalization process in the phase of cognitive opening in which the individual becomes receptive to radical thoughts. It can be understood as the consequence of an individual crisis that can no longer be adequately processed and resolved by the hitherto accepted view of the world.48 Such crises can be triggered by environmental (job loss, indebtedness, etc.), socio-cultural (such as racism or feeling of cultural inferiority), political (repression) or personal (death of a caregiver) negative experience.49

A special type of cognitive opening can also exist in people who suffer from mental illness. In some EU countries, especially in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, the authorities have documented an extraordinary number of such cases in the context of radicalization.50 Within the British “Channel” prevention program was discovered, that in 44% of 500 reported cases of radicalization, the radicalized persons are suspected or diagnosed with depression, anxiety disorders or other mental illnesses.51 A Dutch health office reported that 60% of 300 "jihadist radicals" suffered from mental disorders, including 25% of serious mental illnesses.52 The case numbers mentioned are notable but too small to be statistically or empirically relevant. In addition, studies of biographies of extremists in most European member states, including Germany, show no comparable results. But more research is obviously needed at this point. In my opinion, for the general susceptibility to extremist propaganda, the criterion "mental illness" cannot be decisive, because more than 99% of the affected group are not radicalizing.53

Nonetheless, regardless of the background of the mental opening, after it happened, radical ideologies can derive a new, meaningful interpretation of the world and those crises, escorted with simple and clear messages.54 These ideologies often rely on simplified explanatory contexts, open up the recipient options for action and the prospect of recognition and security within a perceived as special community.55 The term "ideology" is a controversial concept in science. In my thesis I focused on the approach of Snow:

“[…] ideology is generally invoked as a cover term for the values, beliefs, and goals associated with a movement or a broader, encompassing social entity, and is assumed to provide the rationale for individual and collective action.”56

As some concepts of radicalization suggest, ideologies and especially the social component of a shared world view do not only play a role in the beginning of a process of radicalization, they accompany the process at later stages, too.57 For example, it is likely that the confirmation of one's perceived reality and ideology by the group, will result in an increasing tendency to extremism of the group members.58 Radicalization research already recognizes specific motives for jihadist ideologies, which are considered to address and radicalize adolescents. Here, three major topics have been identified that potentially play a role in the radicalization of young people. These include deprivation experience by the adolescents (a vicarious victimization experience that feeds on a perceived worldwide deprivation of Muslims).59 As an alternative and as a further central motif, Glaser names the promise to be part of a special connected society (like an elitist group or avant-garde). A third important motif is characterized by orientation and the creation of meaning by a demarcation from the majority society and a turn to another value system.60

Although the motif of deprivation is criticized by some authors61 and is seen partly as a concomitant of other motives and not as an independent motif of radicalization62, nonetheless I used it in my analysis. I believe that for recipients, especially for the second generation of Muslim migrants in the West, it has a role to play - not least because of their feeling of represented deprivation or their touched sense of justice.63 This is above all a “perceived deprivation”, a psychological phenomenon that leads the individual to feel himself and his fellow human beings (the same ethnic, religious, political or professional group) as disadvantaged and the whole society as unfair and closed. However, this may be the case even if society actually allows social mobility or the individual lives in relatively comfortable conditions.64 Holman was able to confirm these motifs in his research on French Foreign Fighters65, as well as Hegghammer, who dealt with Western jihadists in the Syrian conflict.66 Saltman and Smith have also demonstrated the role of such ideological jihadist motifs in their work on the radicalization and recruitment of Western women by IS.67

Among the communication partners of the radicalization process, besides the recipient, is the sender (in this case IS) - which offers the recipient new ideas and consciously or subconsciously picks up one or more of the above written motives. Propaganda is the central medium of their communication. Propaganda has an impact if and only if the individual context makes consumers receptive to it, especially in the phase of cognitive opening. In this context, I understand propaganda according to Bussmer as the communication of social groups that communicate their interests and values.68 It moves within the "pluralistic propaganda paradigm" (which has emerged against the background of Western liberal democracies) – orienting itself on the psychological and social context of the target group.69 The aim of propaganda, according to this paradigm, is to make an offer for the formation of identity, thereby enabling the recipient to be self-identified by offering guidance, interpretation, and behavioral instructions.70 Since propaganda influences the radicalization process very individually, it is crucial for the effect of the content on the recipient how exactly the propaganda is tailored to his context. As a matter of fact, males and females from western countries are interested in the contents of IS – this suggests, that the offer of IS propaganda seems to contain potential radicalizing motives.71,72

As mentioned several times above, I believe that the phase of cognitive opening plays a special role - but I also recognize that propaganda is likely to influence the recipient at a later stage of radicalization. This means that propaganda not only recruits sympathizers (for example by confirmation), it consolidates and continues additional the radicalization process later. However, the results of this work cannot say anything about whether and what effect individual propaganda motifs have at which point in the radicalization process of individuals (these would be objectives of psychological researches on recipients). Rather, the results presented here show which motifs are taken up by the transmitter in its communication, which can potentially have a radicalizing effect. In this thesis, I associate social-psychological radicalization research with a propaganda analysis and examine whether and to what extent the already known motifs (identified by the radicalization research) are contained in the propaganda of IS and how they are structured in content.

2.2 Design of the category system

As explained in the previous part of the theoretical framework, I have based on the results of radicalization research for establishing my category system. It is grouped into the three main categories “Deprivation”, “Social Relations and Affiliation”, and “Orientation and Meaningfulness”. During the analysis, I defined coding and context units, which consist of at least one subset (coding unit) – maximally several sentences (context unit). It must be noted, that a context unit is always a sense unit. So, sentences can have only one statement (meaning).73 In passages in which statements are substantiated by longer tracts, I have encoded the statement only once. I have doubly coded and strictly divided the two categories of “concept of the enemy” and “deprivation” because of their proximity to content. Furthermore, it must be noted that it was difficult in some cases to divide the categories "concept of the enemy - wrong religion" and “delimitation to the majority" (in context of the Muslim world outside the IS). By the way, each issue of “Rumiyah” forms one analysis unit.

2.2.1 Deprivation

As the first main category, “Deprivation” is defined as expressing one's own perceived victimhood in western majority society and / or as a community of faith in the world. Coded were meaning units that describe the individual suppression of "true" Muslims in Western societies, the worldwide suppression of Islam, or attacks on IS as a representative of the “Ummah”. Likewise, sense units were encoded which represent the actions of IS as self-defense (due to deprivation). In contrast to the other main categories, no subcategories were derived or inductively formed within the main category of “Deprivation”. Anchor example:

“They carried on with their pacifist and even pro-democracy da'wah while Muslim woman around the world were being abused, vilified, imprisoned, and violated at the hands of the kuffar and their puppets.”74

2.2.2 Social Relations and Affiliation

This main category includes statements that describe group-specific characteristics of IS, which also include moral and material benefits, as well as those that emphasize community within IS. This main category includes the following categories:

Superiority of IS”: This category includes all representations and assertions of IS’s own power and military strength. Often these representations are related to threats against the enemies of IS. However, these threats contain no direct calls for destruction. However, an enumeration of individual successes is encoded in the category "Achievement of IS". Anchor example:

“The Americans faced a great massacre, to the extent that many of them were seen fleeing from the battle, hiding in Muslims’ houses. At first, the mujahidin refrained from entering those homes for fear of harming the Muslims, but once they confirmed the presence of the American troops inside them, they found them hiding like cowards and began killing them as if they were beetles and flies, and all excellence and blessing belong to Allah.”75

IS as Avant-garde”: All representations of the IS and its members are listed here as the chosen and the only legitimate representatives of god. Anchor example:

“As for the mujahidin in Allah’s cause – and they are the elite of His creation, those of His slaves whom He has chosen to become martyrs and whom He subjects to favorable tests – then the death of their leaders and commanders who stormed ahead of them into battle, running head first into hardships for their religion, only increases their firmness and determination in fighting the enemies of Allah.”76

Achievement of IS”: As IS achievements, I understand all the accounts of the group's achievements, including both military victories, successful assassinations, territorial expansion, and membership growth ("bay'ah"). Anchor example:

“Meanwhile, the soldiers of the Islamic State succeeded in damaging 4 Abrams tanks, destroying 16 hummers, […] Additionally, several members of the Rafidi army and their militias were killed and wounded.”77

Social Security”: This category summarizes those statements that refer to social and material security within IS – with social security as the emphasis on equality in their so-called state. To delineate this category of “IS as Avant-garde”, I have encoded only statements about current, not future, conditions. Anchor example:

“[...] the amir of the Central Office for Investigating Grievances clarified the reason behind the office’s establishment, and the role it plays in eliminating the injustices that might afflict both the subjects and soldiers of the Islamic State. [...]”78

2.2.3 Orientation and Meaningfulness

This main category is defined as expressions which on the one hand point to the need for a meaningful, clear world view with higher goals, and at the same time point out possibilities and rules of action. This main category includes the following categories and subcategories:

Clear rules”: This code unit includes concrete behavioral instructions that cover the entire life, from everyday life to jihad. In addition to the direct specification of rules, descriptions of punishments due to misconduct were also coded. Anchor example:

“This form of jihad (the jihad through du'a) is more emphasized in the case of those for whom Allah exempted from fighting for His cause, such as woman, the ill, the disabled, and the imprisoned. They should all make du'a for the mujahidin, for indeed, when Allah excused the exempted, […]”79

Concept of the enemy”: Content of the category is the clear juxtaposition, respectively dividing the world into e.g. good and evil or believing and disbelieving. While there is sometimes a direct comparison to the positive IS, I also have encoded one-sided naming of enemies. These are explicitly pejorative statements. During the analysis, I inductively formed three subcategories in this category to differentiate the various enemy concepts. Decisive for an assignment was the subject of IS speaks and not the reason for the denigration:

- “Wrong religion”: This subcategory contents statements concerning those individuals and groups (and their behaviors) attached to the false religion, even the "false" Islam. That means, the individuals and groups are characterized not by their affiliation to the West or any other jihadist group, but by their affiliation to a false religion. Also, the general dichotomy of the world in infidels. Anchor example:
“An individual is not saved form the filth and impurity of shirk and its people as long as he does not disbelieve in the tawaghit of his era, […] Also included is the "Murtadd Brotherhood" group and its parties, factions and sister organizations, […]”80
- “the West and Allies”: This subcategory includes negative statements about Western nation states, including Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Japan, as well as all entities that cooperate with them, such as Israel or "the Jews," Arab states and rebel groups in the Syrian civil war (IS’s point of view). In addition, the Assad regime, as well as Muslim scholars supporting the West, have been included in this subcategory. Finally, I also coded Western concepts such as nationalism or secularism into this subcategory. Anchor example:
“The old colonialism was but a front for the Crusaders, just as it is today a front for the Jews and Christians. Indeed, the “Caesar of Rome” Bush has declared multiple times that, “It is a Crusade!””81
- “other jihadist groups”: Here the demarcation to other jihadist groups was encoded, which did not submit themselves to the IS. These include, for example, Al-Qaeda and the Al-Nusra Front (now: Jabhat Fatah Al-Sham). Anchor example:
“Fighting the Islamic State ultimately became a joint project between the Taliban movement and the nations of kufr, who were terrified by the presence of the Islamic State on their borders, just as its presence terrified the United States of America, which occupies Afghanistan.”82

Supposed noble targets”: Statements of this category express the supposedly higher and long-term goals of the Islamic State, excluding direct appeals to annihilate the enemy. Anchor example:

“We ask Allah to strengthen the mujahidin of the Islamic State, so they may liberate Makkah and Madinah from the tawaghit of Al Salul - may Allah disgrace them - and to bless us with hajj and 'umrah in the shade of the Shari'ah.”83

Adventure and borderline experience”: In this category should be encoded the advertisement for involvement in the IS's struggle, which is presented as an individual adventure and challenge. This should be done by exemplifying the allegedly exciting and adventurous experiences of IS fighters. This category has been included in the analysis for comparability with the analysis work about the “Dabiq” magazine from the secondary literature. In my analysis, no sense units could be identified that would have been subsumed under this purely (if then this category was marginalized, but the main context was different).

Delimitation to the majority”: In this category, those units of meaning were encoded, which describe the majority society in the West or even the majority Muslims and contrast them with the otherness and strangeness of the "true" Muslims. This also includes direct calls to differentiate the behavior and norms of the majority society or the majority Muslims as well as examples of persons who have successfully distinguished themselves. Anchor example:

“Thus, a person cannot be a Muslim except by adhering to Islam in both of these aspects, so whoever doesn’t submit to Allah – such as one who abandons all actions or forcefully resists some of the manifest, mutawatir rulings – is nothing but a kafir, and whoever isn’t exclusively for Allah – such as one who worships the prophets and the righteous, whether blindly following others or having misunderstandings – is nothing but a mushrik, even if he prays, fasts, and claims that he is a Muslim.”84

Call for change and action”: This refers to the direct and indirect call to action, such as emigration to the caliphate and the call to jihad or the annihilation of the


1 N.N. (2016d), online: <>, p. 7

2 Rabasa & Benard (2015), p. 192

3 cf. Neumann (2015), p. 13

4 ibid., p. 11

5 There are many different names for the so called Islamic State (IS) – e.g. ISIS – Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, ISIL – Islamic State of Iraq and the Levante or DAESH – (acronym of Arabic name) ad-daula al islāmiyya fī l-‘Irāq wa-š-Šām. In this scientific work, I will use IS in order to simplify the reading flow. I waive the addition “so called”, without wanting to give the IS legitimacy.

6 cf. Buchta (2015)

7 cf. Neumann, supra note 4, p. 13

8 cf. ibid., p. 191

9 cf. Roy (2015), online: < onferences/2015/herbsttagung2015RoyAbstract.html>

10 cf. Hughes & Vidino (2015), online: < s-raqqa>

11 Abu Bakr al-Bagdadi was born on July 28th in 1971 / Iraq. He claimed to be the next righteous caliph and he announced the establishment of a worldwide caliphate on June 29th in 2014 – the hour of birth of the Islamic State. According to the Russian government al-Bagdadi had been killed during an airstrike in Mai 2017.

12 cf. Spencer & Connor (2015), online: < /12038402/Number-of-foreign-fighters-in-Iraq-and-Syria-has-doubled-in-past-year.html>

13 cf. Neumann, supra note 3, p. 13

14 cf. Zeit online (2014), online: < n>

15 Def.: “A terrorist or other criminal who acts alone rather than as part of a larger organization.”;

cf. Simpson & Weiner (2017), online: <>

16 cf. N.N. (2017), online: < ologie-a-1150645.html>

17 cf. Maaßen (2014), online: < onen/pb-islamismus/faltblatt-2014-07-themenschwerpunkte-jihadistischer-propaganda>

18 cf. Neumann, supra note 3, p. 159

19 extrapolation to 100 000 inhabitants

20 view appendix 11.3. – evaluation political motivated crime Germany

21 cf. BfV (2017), online: < n/verfassungsschutzberichte>, p. 160

22 cf. BayLV (2017), online: < nen/index.html>, p. 295

23 Neumann, supra note 4, p. 192

24 cf. Nitsch (2001), p. 293

25 cf. Mc Kernan (2016), online: < ganda-terror-group-losses-syria-iraq-a7228286.html>

26 cf. Christmann (2012), online: < alisation-and-violent-extremism-a-syste>

27 cf. Young, Zwenk & Rooze (2013), online: < 160036Literature%20review%20incl%20cover%20in%20color.pdf>

28 cf. Kiefer et al. (2017), online: <>

29 Mayring (2010)

30 cf. ibid., p. 61

31 cf. Kiefer et al., supra note 29

32 Weiss & Hassan (2015)

33 Hall (2015)

34 Stern & Berger (2015)

35 Lahoud et al. (2014)

36 Farwell (2014)

37 Friis (2015)

38 Peresin & Cervone (2015)

39 Böckler & Zick (2015)

40 Qadir (2016)

41 Colas (2016)

42 Ingram & Reed (2017), online: < uctionalmaterial.pdf>

43 Christmann, supra note 27

44 cf. Young, Zwenk & Rooze, supra note 28

45 cf. Neumann (2013), p. 3

46 cf. ibid., p. 3

47 cf. Young, Zwenk & Rooze, supra note 28

48 cf. Wiktorowicz (2005), p. 20

49 cf. ibid., p. 20

50 cf. Ritzmann (2017), p. 6

51 cf. Dodd (2016), online: < calisation-mental-health-problems>

52 cf. Paulussen, Nijman & Lismont (2017), online: < CT-Paulussen-Nijman-Lismont-Mental-Health-and-the-Foreign-Fighter-Phenomenon-March-2017 -1.pdf>

53 About 25% of the German population suffers from diagnosed depression or anxiety disorders, so more than one million people receive inpatient treatment every year (

54 cf. Roy, supra note 10

55 cf. Christmann, supra note 27

56 Snow & Scott (2007), p. 120

57 cf. Young, Zwenk & Rooze, supra note 28

58 cf. McCauley & Moskalenko (2008), p. 422

59 cf. Glaser (2007), p. 5

60 cf. ibid., p. 6

61 cf. Cesari & Pisoiu (2015), p. 10

62 cf. Christmann, supra note 27

63 cf. Briggs, Fieschi & Lownsbrough (2006), p. 45

64 cf. Moghaddam (2005), p. 163

65 cf. Holman (2015), online: < ce/>

66 cf. Hegghammer (2013), online: < n-western-jihadists>

67 cf. Saltman & Smith (2015), online: < _Martyrdom_Do_Us_Part_Gender_and_the_ISIS_Phenomenon.pdf>

68 cf. Bussemer (2005), p. 33

69 cf. ibid., p. 53

70 cf. ibid., p. 62

71 cf. Hughes & Vidino, supra note 11

72 cf. Prucha (2015)

73 cf. Mayring, supra note 30, p. 61

74 N.N. (2016a), online: <>, p. 15

75 N.N. (2017a), online: <>, p. 9

76 N.N., supra note 75

77 ibid., p. 25

78 ibid., p. 10

79 N.N. (2016c), online: <>, p. 33

80 N.N., supra note 75

81 N.N. (2016b), online: <>, p. 19

82 N.N., supra note 76

83 N.N., supra note 75

84 ibid., p. 5

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The abuse of mass media by international terrorist organizations. The online magazine "Rumiyah" and the propaganda of the Islamic State
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Terrorismus, IS, Islamic State, terrorism, Rumiyah, Dabiq, counterterrorism, intervention, prevention, deradicalization, radicalization, policy, jihad, islamism, counternarrative
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Tobias Mattes (Author), 2019, The abuse of mass media by international terrorist organizations. The online magazine "Rumiyah" and the propaganda of the Islamic State, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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