Small Wars Journal

Down, But Not Out: An Updated Examination of the Islamic State’s Visual Propaganda

Down, But Not Out: An Updated Examination of the Islamic State’s Visual Propaganda by Daniel Milton - Combatting Terrorism Center

Since the summer of 2014, the Islamic State has experienced successes and setbacks on the battlefield. That pattern has also been evident in its production of propaganda. In October 2016, the Combating Terrorism Center published a major report that examined the Islamic State’s production of official visual propaganda, such as still-images photo reports as well as the more familiar videos showing both the group’s brutality as well as its efforts to govern. This update to that major report, which relies on a dataset of over 13,000 propaganda releases, seeks to highlight the setbacks the group has faced as its production of propaganda has continued to rise and fall. As shown through the data in this report, in July 2018, the group’s production of official visual propaganda fell to its lowest level since January 2015. Focusing only on the decline of the group’s production of propaganda, however, obscures other developments that portend the possibility of the group’s resurgence in Iraq and Syria, as well as the expansion of its efforts around the world. In examining these trends, this report finds a group that is struggling to produce propaganda as it used to do only a short time ago, but one that retains the capacity to resurge in an effort to recapture the headlines.

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