A comprehensive study on the conten...

Egypt's Dar Al-Ifta

A comprehensive study on the content of Dabiq Magazine An analytical review to QSIS’s media apparatus and means of confronting it

A comprehensive study on the content of Dabiq  Magazine An analytical review      to QSIS’s media apparatus and means of confronting it

The Qa’ida separatists in Iraq and Syria known as “QSIS” possess a powerful media apparatus which enabled it in mere months to become the most famous extremist magazine all over the globe.

Media propaganda is considered one of the most important strategies developed by QSIS for recruiting and attracting people to it. They exploited it in spreading anxiety and fear among the citizens of the cities they want to invade in addition to recruiting more Jihadists.

The QSIS possesses numerous media platforms and networks such as “Shmoukh al-Islam network” and “Minbar al-Tawhid wa al-Jihad” and other jihadi forums. This is in addition to al-Bayan radio station, and Facebook and twitter pages for every city that QSIS invades.

For the first time, al-Hayat media center, the media wing of QSIS, has published a digital English magazine bears its name. This magazine is distributed through digital mail inside Syrian lands that fell under their control. Although the magazine conceals the manner of its distribution and website, it mentions that “Dabiq team waits for your comments”.

Moreover, its design resembles that of Inspire the magazine which was published before by Qai’da in the Arab peninsula and included instructions about making bombs, and recruiting persons for executing suicide attacks.

It is noticeable through reviewing the editions of the magazine that it starts with words of Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi, the former leader of Qa’ida in Iraq who once said: “The spark has been lit here in Iraq, and its heat will continue to intensify — by Allah's permission — until it burns the crusader armies in Dabiq ”. 

The significance indications to the magazine’s name…Dabiq:
The historical significance of the magazine’s name reflects the trends of the QSIS and its ideology, because the name is taken from an old village mentioned in Sahih Muslim.

Dabiq lies in the north side of Halab, 45 kilometers from the Turkish borders in A’zaz district. Across its open valleys, a great battle between the ottomans led by Selim I and the Mamluks [patrons] led by Qunswa al-Ghouri took place in 1516. The ottomans won the battle and it was the beginning for them to enter Arab territories and establish their empire.

The valley of A’maq is a region in Turkish Antakya. The Encyclopedia of scientific miracles in Quran and sunnah mentions that the hadith includes a prophecy. This is because of the satellite photos of Dabiq which proves that “it is one of the most suitable places for a great and decisive battle.”

The Encyclopedia added: the hadith mentions that the village lies in a place separates between the Muslims in the east and Christian romans in the west which is the land of confrontation at the end of time.

The Qa’ida separatists believe that the signs of the prophecies included in the hadith have started to be fulfilled. This is due to western fighters joining the QSIS and the international preparations for confronting the QSIS which increases gradually. In addition to the possibility of Turkish interference against the QSIS, a matter which justifies attacking Constantinople.

Those extremists quoted another hadith which indicates that the battle will be “great” with the participation of a hundreds of thousands of fighters. The romans will be gathered under 80 flags, each consists of 12 thousands fighters. This makes the total number of romans fighting against the Muslims equals 960 thousands.

Some other people are concerned with the number of countries agreed to join the anti QSIS coalition. Hamam al-Shamri said in this regard: “I think this photo was taken at the beginning of the coalition, but currently there are 62 countries. However, we still have 18 countries remaining until the anticipated appointment in Dabiq.

A review to the editions of the magazine:
The first edition:
The first edition of “Dabiq” carries a main title “’Awdat al-khilafah” [the revival of Khilafah]. It was published in Ramadan 1435 Hijri and the designers used the map of “the country of Khilafah” [the regions under the control of QSIS in Iraq and Syria] as the background of the cover page.

The subjects of the magazine are considered an interpretation to its title and the introduction is followed by a report on “the revival of Khilafah”, and news from “the country of Khilafah” and “the country of Khilafah from the perspective of the enemies”. Furthermore, the magazine includes articles about Jihad, Jama’a [the QSIS], Hijra [immigration] and the Manhaj [doctrine].

This edition consists of 50 pages and it was distributed through digital mails and it was uploaded to many forums as PDF form. Those in charge of the magazine avoided posting photos of the crimes committed by the QSIS against the Muslims, mosques and the Christians and their churches whether in Syria or Iraq. In the front page a photo for fighters with their faces covered standing before the fire as they resemble the marines more than the fighters of the Islamic state. The magazine unveiled its plan which focuses on monotheism, doctrine, immigration and Jihad.

The first edition commemorates Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi, the founder of the QSIS who was killed in an American raid in 2006, and presents him as one of the significant establishers of khilafah.

The first edition includes excerpts from the speeches of al-Bughdadi who named himself “Ibrahim the Caliph” and talks about a new era in Islam, and invites physicians and engineers to immigrate to the land of Khilafah.
The first edition of the magazine includes photos for masses cheering for the armed militants of the QSIS while organizing military shows holding black flags in Iraqi and Syrian cities. And some other photos for people killed by Rawafid [in reference to the Shi’ites] as the magazine claims and other photos for Iraqi soldiers, the magazine claims they are Shia and were executed by the fighters of the terrorist QSIS.

The first edition also includes a lengthy article based on juristic opinions for justifying the revival of the khilafah and al-Bughdadi’s website as being the religious and political leader of the QSIS.
The second edition:

The second edition comes with the title al-Toofan [flood] and it was published in Ramadan 1435 Hijri with the subtitle “the Islamic Khilafah or al-Toofan” and the second subtitle “Toofan al-Mubahala”.

For the first time, the magazine publishes a clear image for Abu Muhammad al-‘Adnani, the spokesman of the QSIS, with the comment “the first clear image for the mangonel [catapult] of the Islamic State”. The cover carried the image of a ship sailing amid great waves which is an indication that the Islamic State and its followers will be saved from the coming flood.

The introduction comes with an invitation to immigrate to the land of the Islamic State as the first duty upon the readers who are in search for their duty towards the Caliph. In case they weren’t capable of immigration because of any compulsive, their second duty is to pledge allegiance from their places of residence. In case the policies of the country in which the readers reside prohibit pledging allegiance to the Caliph, they must resort to “Tuqia” for pledging allegiance!!

The main subject of the second edition tackles the issue of the Islamic State in correspondence to the flood with reference to the story of our master Noah and al-Toofan. The story is divided into three parts, the first one tackles the issue of belief and disbelief, the second comes with the title Noah’s call and the third is contemplating the verses. The fourth part is on the choice of belief or punishment and the fifth is appointing themselves as the saviors for eliminating illiteracy among people.

In its efforts for promoting the ideology of “Islamic State”, the editor in his article tackles the issue of immigration and jihad in one complete page based on a hadith from Musnad Ahmad and accompanied by a photo for the immigrant “martyrs”. In insistence to the issue of pledging allegiance to the “Islamic State” and the “Caliph” comes the title “Toofan al-Mubahala” to indicate the number of those pledging allegiance around the world. It further tackles the issue from a different perspective in five articles.

With the title “With the words of the enemies” a new perspective is introduced for representing the sayings of the enemies as described by the magazine. It starts with a large photo for John McCain in which a comment is attached “the crusader John McCain”. Furthermore, the second edition includes a section for miscellaneous news, the most distinctive among them is administering the legal penalty on 8 of the youth as the editor called in Jarabulus and the news of killing one of the members of Badr. This is in addition to photos of administering the legal penalty.

Third issue[1]
In the third issue, released in Shawwal 1435 A.H., QSIS tried to focus on the most important hot issues starting from beheading the journalist James Foley, criticizing Obama's policy, justifying the massacre of Shu'aytat at Deir Ez-Zur and finally calling for Jihad on the land of epics "Levant".

This issue consists of 42 pages. It began with the editorial describing Obama as the worst successor to George W Bush, because he follows in the same footsteps which will lead to demolishing the American Civil Empire.

On its pages, the magazine represented the list of the achievements of QSIS carried out in Mosul, Nineveh, and the other cities they seized in northern Iraq. In addition, they published photos of destructing religious shrines for Shi'as and Sufis.

The magazine held the administration of the American president, Barack Obama, fully responsible for Foley's beheading. It stated that QSIS addressed a clear message to the American administration informing that they will behead Foley in case the American airstrikes continue. However, the message was met with the "usual American indifference". The White House immediately ordered the social media networks to close the pages and accounts that support QSIS to hinder the message from reaching the American citizen.

This release also included the issue on the brutal revenge from Shu'aytat tribe in Deir Ez-Sur, along with publishing a report titled, "The punishment for whoever betrays the State", describing the tribes fighter as the violators. They quoted hadiths from the noble biography of the Prophet (peace be upon him).

The third and fourth parts of the magazine talk about the Levant, naming it "the land of epics, while calling for migration to this land.

The fourth issue [2]
The fourth was released in the month of Dhul-Hijja 1435 A.H., titled "The failed Crusades Campaigns".
The first part of the magazine talked about and titled, "My provision was placed for me under the shade of my spear", a hadith reported by Imam Ahmed through ibn 'Umar. The magazine mentioned the opinion of the hadith scholar Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali on explaining this hadith in his book Al-Hikam al-Gadira bil-'Eza'aa.

The second part titled, "The Revival of Slavery Before the Hour". This part focuses on the legitimacy of slavery, confirming what has been published on enslaving the women and young men from Yazidis during conquering Sinjar region. They mentioned, "One should remember that enslaving the families of the kuffār and taking their women as concubines is a firmly established aspect of the Sharī’ah". Adding, "After capture, the Yazidi women and children were then divided according to the Sharī’ah amongst the fighters of the Islamic State who participated in the Sinjar operations, after one fifth of the slaves were transferred to the Islamic State’s authority to be divided as khums."

The magazine revealed that the Yazidi captured men were offered to choose between converting to Islam or killing. QSIS admitted in this issue that they captured and sold Yazidis as slaves, based on mentioning many hadiths and juristic opinions that permit slavery.

In the third part, the magazine mentioned that QSIS has established new two states, Al-Furat and Al-Falluja. And in its fourth report, it is mentioned that the group “Ansār al-Islam in Iraq” has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State. They announced that their banner would be dissolved, and that all their troops, weapons, and capabilities would be placed at the disposal of the Islamic State and its Caliph, the commander of the believers, Abu Barl Al-Bughdadi.

In another report, the magazine tackled the end of the crusades campaigns, mentioning many prophecies that have been stated in this regard. This includes the hadith reported by Abu Hurairah (may God be pleased with him) in which the Messenger of God (pbuh) said, "The Hour will not occur until the Romans come down to al-A'maq or Dabiq". And the like of epic hadiths.

The report confirmed that this crusade campaign serves none but Russia, Iran and the airstrikes launched by America and its allies are useless.

In conclusion, the magazine called upon all fighters and generality of Muslims to support the Islamic state and migrate to the Levant and Iraq to fight the crusaders.

Technical analysis of the magazine's output:
QSIS used varied tools to invade the region, the most important of which is mass media. This included audio, video and recently readable media, after releasing fours issues of Dabiq magazine. This magazine, which had visually dazzled many people, may become the official spokesman for QSIS.

-The magazine enjoys highly professional designs and good quality photos. This urged many to describe this type of media, that QSIS tries to represent, as organized, and far from the chaotic militants media if compared to that represented by other Jihadist groups in Syria.

-The magazine is issued in multiple languages which asserts that QSIS is seeking universality, as it imitates the west in quoting its head officials.

-The magazine enjoys standardized features which posed many questions on its fund sources and its capability to use the media technology in serving its goals.

Moreover, QSIS used to stream good quality videos since the time it was established in April 2013. "Those are true scenes of terrorism and not any of Hollywood movies; yet the videos are designed to resemble it, CNN reporter commented[3]. QSIS named those videos Salil Al-Sawarim in which they meticulously picture the battles, victories and beheadings they carry out. Those movies show weapons, technical and military equipment, cameras and modern cars.

The opening video was recorded in the fourth part of Salil Al-Sawarim by a vertical airplane. The video got a million viewers in a few days. Likewise, QSIS widely uses social media networks in different languages to propagate for its thoughts and methodology including accounts on electronic blogs, Twitter and Facebook. The opposition factions in Syria could not pursue the same avenue throughout three years. A matter which poses many questions on QSIS ability to subdue technology to serve its goals[4].

Back to QSIS magazine, as it was previously mentioned, it appeared that many technicians, who surfed it online via social media websites, have greatly wondered how this group managed to release such highly professional visual output!

-According to international standards, the magazine's pages resemble the same approved international standards. The magazine pages, in each issue, are ranging from 42-50.
-The magazine abides by the international standards for its size.

-The magazine focuses on the visual design, unlike the written content, while the photos form two thirds of its entire content.
-The textual content appears in columns separated by photos or sometimes photos appear as a background.
-It was noticed that they used big photos that occupy two connected pages following the modern output techniques, since photos are perfect means for expression.

It is evidently clear that QSIS, since the very beginning, has realized the importance of fighting using media tools, just as they use human and artillery forces on earth.

The magazine's texts and goals
It appears through the news and photos presented in the magazine, as well as issuing it in English language, that it is addressed to the west, rather than the Arabs. The magazine tried to present the general quotes on which the QSIS group is based. These include:

Amirul-Mu’minin said: “O Muslims everywhere, glad tidings to you and expect good. Raise your head high, for today – by Allah’s grace – you have a state and Khilafah, which will return your dignity, might, rights, and leadership. It is a state where the Arab and non-Arab, the white man and black man, the easterner and westerner are all brothers. It is a Khilafah that gathered the Caucasian, Indian, Chinese, Shami, Iraqi, Yemeni, Egyptian, Maghribi (North African), American, French, German, and Australian. Allah brought their hearts together, and thus, they became brothers by His grace, loving each other for the sake of Allah, standing in a single trench, defending and guarding each other, and sacrificing themselves for one another. Their blood mixed and became one, under a single flag and goal, in one pavilion, enjoying this blessing, the blessing of faithful brotherhood."[5]

As for its texts, the magazine does not follow the detailed approach in presenting its news. It is void of the traditional news that anti QSIS media used to focus on, such as violations, mass graves, beheading and whipping scenes. It neither focuses on the people living in the places QSIS has seized; rather the magazine represents photos that show calmness in the occupied city. On the contrary, they speak about the sufferings of its subjects who live in the cities exposed to the continuous airstrikes by the Syrian regime, especially those in Deir Ez-Zur, despite the fact that this city mostly suffered from the violations and transgression of this group, according to many media outlets and human rights activists.

The magazine contains pictorial articles, news, reports aiming at focusing on the concepts of monotheism, methodology, migration, jihad and jama'ah. It continues to play on the religious aspect to polarize more people through the deceptive idea of reviving the glories of the Islamic state and raising the banner of Islam high in various geographical areas.

The magazine defines and describes QSIS as the savior from this world's pains and suppression of infidel dictatorial regimes. They accept repentance, urges its followers to migration and pledging alliance (Bay'a) which is considered the instrument of forgiveness for their sins.

The magazine's editors presented photos of the martyr Mujahdeen who lost their lives in the cause of spreading the message of God and supporting the oppressed in a balanced form. They published photos of the killed enemies, i.e. the regime soldiers, and avoided photos of the beheaded victims, torn bodies and human slaughtering scenes. Consequently, QSIS proves through its magazine that it seeks to present a professional media. It does not publish photos taken by mobile phones or immature photographers, rather it represents videos recorded by highly professional cameras to tell the world that it shows a state media not a group. The magazine also publishes the news on QSIS battles in Syria, enumerating the victories of the "Islamic state" since invading Iraq. On the top of such victories comes the emancipation of many Iraqi governorates, or Wilayat as they name it, from the Iraqi army forces. This includes Wilayat al-Anbar, Diyali, Karkuk and Salah Ad-Deen.

The magazine publishes the news on many people belonging to the Iraqi police and army as QSIS named them "apostates". They announced the repentance of many of them during emancipating the Iraqi cities consecutively, stressing the fact that those emancipation processes helped many of the apostates to repent and escape the Iraqi Army. QSIS describes the Iraqi army as "Rawafid", claiming they fled from the battle, leaving behind the weapons and ammunitions provided by the infidel crusade countries.

The magazine's Release and funding sources
QSIS’s ability to use media technology for their favor, recruiting highly professional media cadres, which in turn requires a lot of money, poses many questions on its funding sources.

In this regard, the British newspaper Financial times[6] mentioned that "QSIS funds depend on its terrorist activities". The newspaper likened QSIS to a charitable association and a government system at the same time, which managed to fund its activities through national and international network that dates back to many years."

"The so called success of QSIS and the superior speed by which it captured the northern Iraq, which put the country on the brink of a civil war, are the result of extensive commercial and profitable activities, accumulated over years." The financial times said.

"QSIS has benefited from capturing the Mosul city and the money they usurped from the central bank of the city, which is estimated by 225 million USD. This money allowed them unmatched wealth that no other group possess. Moreover, according to inaccurate investigation reports, QSIS extracts 30.000 oil barrels on a daily basis in the area surrounding Riqqa. This quantity, if compared to that extracted by the Syrian regime, sounds to be lesser. However, it provides the group with quite a bit source of income." The newspaper commented, adding "the oil is being sold through intermediaries, and then it is moved to Turkey. Plenty amount of oil is being smuggled in Iraq."The Turkish officials have found underground primitive oil pipelines to smuggle oil through the borders. The newspaper made it clear that QSIS sells oil to the Syrian regime, according to a number of independent reports. The Syrian regime keeps power in the areas controlled by QSIS in return for oil barrels.

The second source of funding, according to Financial Times, is through criminal activities it pursues, including plunder. QSIS has obtained million dollars from kidnapping as stated by terrorism fighting official. Likewise, it is believed that QSIS is involved in smuggling and selling antiques.

The third source for QSIS budget is blackmailing and taxes in the name of the state, as mentioned in the newspaper. It becomes clear that QSIS established the Shari'ah institutions which collects zakat money and imposes Jizyah (tax) on the Christians in Wilayat al-Riqqa. The newspaper believed that QSIS budget, before the militants capture of Mosul, reached 8 million USD. Likewise, the check points that exist on the Iraqi-Syrian borders are considered another source of income. According to QSIS documents, they have established 30 check points in 2013.
[2] alplatformmedia.com/vb/showthread.php?p=357212
[4] http://altagreer.com/الملف-النشط/داعش-هل-هي-جادة-في-تهديداتها-للسعودية
[5]http://worldanalysis.net/14/2014/07/english-publication-iraq-dabiq-issue-1. Dabiq, 1sth Edition.
[6] http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/21e8c922-f95d-11e3-bb9d-00144feab7de.html#axzz3GF8LiVVC


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