Islamic State seek to capitalize on Iran and Russia attacks

By Terror Leaks May2,2024 #Daesh #isis #leader

Islamic State (IS) has released a speech entitled ‘By Allah, He wishes this matter’. This is the third campaign of 2024, and follows the recent poor uptake of ‘Fight them until there is no more strife’, and ‘Kill them wherever you find them’. Another audio recording, it included the voice of al-Ansari (spokesperson), who delivered a 40 minute Arabic speech which was later referenced in the al-Naba’ publication. This statement aligns with assessments made that the Central Media Bureau (CMB) is facing significant challenges in maintaining a coherent posture over the Israel/Gaza conflict. But at the ten year anniversary of the Caliphate, the broader inconsistencies of their broken operating model are being displayed in their propaganda output; the lack of identity of the Caliph Abu Hafs fully encapsulates this. The speech referenced the following points:

  1. Celebrating the anniversary, while highlighting the decline of Iraq/Syria and refocus into Africa
  2. Urging supporters that patience and prayer is the way to overcome the obstacles that have hampered their progress
  3. Warning against the rise of other Islamist factions in an attempt to halt the exodus of fighters leaving the Islamic State
  4. A call for supporters to take to the internet, giving media campaigns more importance than military operations
  5. Inciting attacks in places such as the US, Israel, and Europe

Existential competition is a critical factor for IS, and this repivot declared by al-Ansari is driven by Abu Hafs’ necessity over strategy. This is no longer 2014, and persistent military pressure has continued to suppress any capability for ground holding control in their spiritual heartlands of Iraq/Syria. The last bastion of coherence remains the weekly magazine al-Naba’, which relies on the work of affiliate groups, to demonstrate force and remain relevant with a declining readership. The subsequent issuance of 2024’s campaigns are an effort for Abu Hafs to rejuvenate public interest, and reassert the CMB as the primary vector for information dissemination. Their role has recently become ever more significant, given the ongoing failings within the supporter groups (such as Intaj al-Ansar, which is likely run by the slandered Abu Qutaiba), which al-Ansari sought to placate through asking followers to cooperate rather than fight.

The complex attacks on Kerman (01/03/24) and Moscow (03/22/24) have attracted widespread attention online, but have been overshadowed by claims of state sponsorship, leading to a series of accusations of IS being a proxy force of the US, Israel, and Ukraine. A number of retaliatory strikes, raids, and arrests (notably by Russia and Iran rather than Western nations) have been further increasing the pressure against an already depleted force, evaporating any latent external operations capability. Older issues of al-Naba’ (such as Issue 425) sought to justify this failing by stating that attacks conducted globally had a tangential impact on the Western mindset (“If one limb complains, the rest of the body responds with fever”) but there was significant uncertainty from supporters online over this assertion. More recent editions (such as Issue 435) reference the duty to retain their perseverance in the face of setback (“It took years of patience to pay for freedom…walk on the tough path”), seeking to address the issues of morale within the group, and to stem the flow of defectors to alternate causes. Issue 436, released following the Moscow attack, was forced to comment on the deluge of contradictions, stating “We are drowning in conspiracy theories…assume the interrogation of prisoners will only serve political interests”, to offset the trending theme of state sponsorship. This lack of flexibility in narrative is likely a result of one of the following:

  1. The CMB no longer has the requisite resource or authority to dynamically respond to international events
  2. Supporter groups can no longer be relied upon to offset shortages within the CMB, leading to conflicting narratives for followers
  3. Senior leadership have strategically pivoted away from the Middle East, focusing effort onto more permissive environments in Africa
  4. Competing insurgencies are dominating the information environment, gaining sympathy and outpacing recruitment efforts
  5. The inconsistent and opportunistic activity is a byproduct of influence by outside powers

We have previous discussed the issues of a faceless Caliphate. The Caliph lacks identity, let alone any form of religious or political authority, and his successors have struggled to be in post for enough time to make any significant change to an ever more bureaucratic and decentralized group. At the ten year anniversary of the Caliphate, the broader inconsistencies of their broken operating model are becoming displayed in their propaganda output. Abu Hafs must step out from behind the shadows in order to be seen as credible.

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