We encourage you to republish this article online and in print, it’s free under our creative commons attribution license, but please follow some simple guidelines:
  1. You have to credit our authors.
  2. You have to credit SciDev.Net — where possible include our logo with a link back to the original article.
  3. You can simply run the first few lines of the article and then add: “Read the full article on SciDev.Net” containing a link back to the original article.
  4. If you want to also take images published in this story you will need to confirm with the original source if you're licensed to use them.
  5. The easiest way to get the article on your site is to embed the code below.
For more information view our media page and republishing guidelines.

The full article is available here as HTML.

Press Ctrl-C to copy

If you are unable to listen to this audio, please update your browser or click here to download the file [21.6MB]

It is just over a year since the self-styled Islamic State, or ISIS, declared its ‘Caliphate’ in the Middle East, after capturing vast tracts of Iraq and Syria. Today, ISIS retains its bloody grip on the region and, with no end in sight for the civil wars in Syria and Yemen, volatility in the Middle East is giving the group a dangerous territorial advantage.
But while governments thrash out strategies to rein in ISIS territorially, there is another sphere where its influence is largely unchecked — the internet. The group’s flood of propaganda videos and social media posts demonstrate a level of media production and internet savvy that have stunned its opponents.
In this audio interview, we speak to Nico Prucha and Ali Fisher, two researchers of jihadist digital tactics. They explain how ISIS’s ‘media mujahideen’ use mobile phones and HD cameras to create films that take viewers “right into the middle of the heat”.
The group’s media mujahideen are also masters of digital distribution. Fisher says this is based on a strategy centred around speed, agility and resilience. By tapping into global networks of supporters across different social media platforms, ISIS safeguards itself against the loss of individual accounts, making its online dominance hard to break, he says.

Fisher calls for a more strategic approach to reduce ISIS’s online influence by inhibiting the group’s networks as a whole, rather than stepping in to close sites after they have posted ISIS videos. This will demand global partnerships across governments, technology platforms, academic disciplines and civil society. For example, Prucha explains how a project that brings together academics, anti-extremism activists and a Sunni Muslim organisation in Indonesia aims to both compete directly with ISIS’s attempts to tarnish the name of Sunni Islam and to present an alternative, positive picture of Islam.

Related topics