Small Wars Journal

As Islamic State Loses Territory, It Seeks To Survive Online

As Islamic State Loses Territory, It Seeks To Survive Online by Greg Miller, Washington Post

Al-Qaeda’s main affiliate in Iraq avoided extinction at the hands of U.S. and Iraqi forces a decade ago by backing away from military engagements and moving the remnants of its network underground until its reemergence as the Islamic State.

That successor organization, now confronting its own eventual fall, is devising a modified survival strategy that may involve surrendering control of its “caliphate” in Iraq and Syria but seeks to preserve a virtual version of it online.

That plan is described in a new report on the Islamic State’s evolving media strategy as its physical territory shrinks. The study, published by King’s College London, warns that it is premature to imagine a “post-Islamic State world at this time.”

“The organization has used propaganda to cultivate digital strategic depth,” the study concludes, using a term that traditionally applies to a mountainous region or other terrain that a nation can retreat to and defend. “Due to this effort, the caliphate idea will exist long beyond its proto-state.”

As part of this strategy, the ­Islamic State’s media wing has already begun to repurpose videos, images and messages from its massive collection for new propaganda releases that depict the ­Islamist state it sought to establish as an idyllic realm destined to be restored…

Read on.