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Twitter and Jihad. The Communication Strategy of ISIS

jeudi 21 mai 2015

The capture of Mosul in the summer of 2014 by the self-styled ‘Islamic State’ appears today much more than a significant miltary event in the complex scenario of the Middle-East and in the tangled situation of Iraq and Syria. Close observers were not surprised. The establishment of the ‘Islamic State’ has characterized most of the recent history of this part of the world and has shown the ability to benefit from the inability to provide a clear answer to all the deep political and social unrest in this region.

Since the very beginning IS has taken away from the enemy the ‘right’ to define its nature, engaging in direct, outrageous and provoking exposition as the flag for all its actions. Communication lies in the DNA of this organization, regardless of technological savviness and familiarity with the times and the rituals of the media. It was the only option, in line with the proposed objective.
Any political power or regime aspiring to impose its rule as a state authority in a specific context and in an international scenario has invariably claimed, along with military, coercive and cultural power, the right to freely define relevant time and space references and the names of the territory and the community over which it intends to exercise its sovereignty, thus coming to embody its identity and essence.
In the case of IS, this operation has proved to be particularly effective. IS has successfully used as leverage the cultural concepts of religious Islamic tradition, so that it has become operational in the everyday life of its supporters, in future new recruits, and naturally, among its enemies.

Until now IS has proved able to control and to convey a wealth of different messages and symbols, that sumup and follow a communication s trategy that is, shall we
say, ‘institutional’ –at least in its intentions– and a more ‘informal’ one, that is left to the initiative of individual supporters. IS has proclaimed itself to be the caliphate, acting or portraying itself as a modern state for all Muslims, being active on the ground and communicating in the virtual space of the Internet, looking every individual in the eye (be them Muslims and non-Muslims) while aspiring to guide the entire Islamic community. In this way IS has brought together times and spaces that are only apparently apart through the effective use of words, images and dissemination instruments that provide coherence, or at least prove clearly effective.

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