ISIS’s magazine is good for the West

By Ian Hagerty


Most people around the world openly express disdain for ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, and for good reason. ISIS has led a brutal campaign in the Middle East involving executions and mass fear mongering. ISIS has even managed to start it’s own propaganda and threat filled magazine known as Dabiq. It is easy to see this magazine and assume it as a sign of stability for the quickly growing organization.

In certain ways, this is undeniable. It takes a decently structured organization to orchestrate something like a monthly magazine. There is no doubt that this magazine is a sign of growth for ISIS. However, there are many different aspects of Dabiq that point to flaws within ISIS.

In Dabiq, ISIS often features pictures of former United States military vehicles and weapons being used in their current campaign primarily in Iraq. This can be viewed in a negative light. Yes, our military was incompetent in the manner in which we left Iraq. Yes, we left ISIS far too many resources to exploit. However, when I see ISIS using our old military equipment, I see a desperate militia. ISIS is using hand-me-down equipment and lacks production to make their own. ISIS may be making plenty of money, but they completely lack the means to take on any industrious militarized nations in the world. Their ragtag bunch of used military equipment barely registers a threat to these nations, if they were to put troops on the ground. Recently, ISIS even released a video of former Iraqi Army pilots flying planes under their control. This is also easily seen as a weakness, because ISIS only has three planes, which are all outdated and easily outgunned Soviet Era MiGs. Any number of these MiGs could be easily shot down when exposed, let alone three. ISIS probably would have been better off without a public display of their lack of resources.

Another main flaw of Dabiq is its focus on fear mongering. The magazine constantly features pictures of dead Iraqi soldiers and civilians as well as brutal executions. With public displays such as these, ISIS definitely takes on the role of a terrorist organization. Creating fear in the minds of those controlled by a terrorist organization as well as those who could possibly be controlled in future is a key aspect of a group like this.

ISIS hasn’t realized the one key problem with this strategy. Publicly displaying horrific acts of inhumanity is also a great way to get people to hate you. The magazine attempts to justify the stoning of women for adultery. Actions like these have left most of the developed world mortified. Dabiq may help recruit some loyal followers to the ISIS cause, but in the process it creates many more enemies, like the many Kurds returning home from around Europe to meet ISIS head on. Many, even students, have dropped their priorities and are willing to fight and stop the progression of ISIS. It’s hard to imagine that openly displayed evidence of ruthless killings and other atrocities didn’t in some way contribute to the return of these Kurds.

Dabiq magazine also portrays the, “compassion and generosity,” ISIS claims to bestow upon its loyal followers. The magazine touts about medical centers for ISIS’s citizens as well as programs to help orphans and the poor. These programs all seem well and good, but it is completely contradictory to the bloodshed ISIS has left in its wake. Nobody wants to live under a totalitarian net that only assures life in return for complete lack of freedom.

Not only does the content of the magazine display ISIS’s weaknesses and help spread disdain for the group, but the lack of regularity of the magazine also points out weaknesses in structure. Dabiq has been published on a monthly basis, but only roughly. As far as I’m concerned, making a regularly scheduled publication is one of the simplest and most obvious key facets of a magazine. If a group of relatively inexperienced students can publish a paper online and in print several times a week, one would think that a hugely intimidating and powerful terrorist organization could publish one at least once a month. I can’t help but picture a group of ISIS members scrambling around an office, trying desperately to get their information out on time.

The United Nations completely condemns ISIS’s actions and there are even many different Muslim groups from around the world who wish for nothing less than the complete downfall of the group. ISIS may be expanding in the Middle East and gaining more followers, but with limited resources and the condemnation of the majority of the world, how long can this expansion really last? And will ISIS be able to maintain stability? I don’t think any group could maintain such an impressive reign with three antique MiGs the likes of which my Grandfather had dogfights with decades ago. Dabiq is setting the stage for revolt and revolution. ISIS forgot one of the most important tactics for domination – appeasing the people through lack of information. Anyone can read through the ridiculous religious indoctrination and justifications to clearly see the awful nature of the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq.

Ian Hagerty is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]