Islamist narratives in ISIS recruitment propaganda

Pages 1-21 | Published online: 20 Dec 2016

The group known as ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) has demonstrated remarkable appeal and ability to recruit Muslims from around the world, including the West. ISIS has effectively used Islamist narratives and selectively appropriated aspects of Islam to recruit to its cause in pursuit of its political goals, which raises important questions concerning the role of Islamism among Muslim extremists and in the process of radicalisation. This article examines the core narratives that characterise ISIS propaganda disseminated through its media productions. ISIS recruitment propaganda not only reflects the group’s selective manipulation and extreme interpretations of Islam as well as the war-ravaged social, economic and political conditions from which it emerges but also that it is a contemporary manifestation of the Islamist political ideology (referred to in this article as Islamism). These factors resonate in ISIS’s selective use of Islamist narratives, images and sounds in its media content and in its descriptions of self and others. Understanding how ISIS is able to exploit the prevalence of Islamism among Muslims is critical for developing an effective counter to its appeal and influence.

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