Inside ISIS’s English-Language Magazine
With the slow but steady recovery ISIS-held lands across Iraq and Syria, analysts are warning of a surge in ISIS-inspired attacks across Europe and the US as the terrorist group changes tactics. The latest magazine from Al Hayat Media Center, the ISIS media wing, confirms this shift in emphasis with an explicit charge to target “businessman riding to work in a taxicab, the young adults (post-pubescent “children”) engaged in sports activities in the park, and the old man waiting in line to buy a sandwich…Indeed, even the blood of the kafir street vendor selling flowers to those passing by is halal to shed – and striking terror into the hearts of all disbelievers is a Muslim’s duty.”
Rumiyah (Rome) Magazine published its first issue in September and, unlike most ISIS propaganda, was published in English, French, German, Indonesian, Turkish, and Russian in addition to Arabic. The magazine’s forward begins with a eulogy for a fallen ISIS commander and a reminder to the “faithful” that the death of any one man is irrelevant to the preservation of the muwahidden. “…Those fools do not realize that Allah preserves His religion however He wills, and this religion will remain established and will not be damaged by the death of any person…”
After the forward, the 38-page publication is divided into 7 articles and a summary of recent ISIS operations, including those of affiliates in Somalia, the Philippines, and Russia (“As the soldiers of the Khilafah continue waging war on the forces of kufr, we take a glimpse at a number of recent operations conducted by the mujahidin of the Islamic State that have succeeded in expanding the territory of the Khilafah, or terrorizing, massacring, and humiliating the enemies of Allah.”)
- The Religion of Islam and the Jama’ah [“body” or “worldwide community”] of the Muslims – a summary of various core ISIS doctrines with heavy exegesis from the Quran
- Interview with the Amir of the Central Office for Investigating Grievances
- Among the Believers are Men: Abu Mansur al-Muhajir – a eulogy for recently killed ISIS militant and recruiter from Australia who spent four-and-a-half years in prison for a plot to detonate a bomb in a stadium during an Australian Football match. He died outside of Aleppo when “a piece of shrapnel struck him and tore his chest open, bringing him what he had long awaited – shahadah in the path of Allah.”
- O Women, Give Charity – a charge to women, who are “excused” from fighting, to do their part by waging jihad with their “wealth, souls, and tongues.”
- The Wicked Scholars are Cursed – an explanation of the necessity of violent jihad within ISIS theology and a repudiation of all other Muslim scholars who reject it
- The Virtue of the 10 Days of Dhul-Hijjah and the Acts of Worship Therein – an explanation on the observances for Dhul-Hijjah, the “best ten days of the year according to Allah.”
- The Kafir’s Blood is Halal for You: So Shed It – the final article in the publication and subject of concentrated western attention.
“The Kafir’s Blood is Halal for You: So Shed It”
The most immediately relevant for Western readers, this article declares “anyone who is neither a Muslim nor a dhimmi kafir [a non-Muslim who pays a special tax, subjects themselves to special laws, and deserves regular “humiliation”] is a hostile tyrant deserving aggression.” It continues its internal line of reasoning with additional interpretations of Hadith and other traditional sources, concluding: “But Allah did not only command the “fighting” of disbelievers, as if to say He only wants us to conduct frontline operations against them. Rather, He has also ordered that they be slain wherever they may be – on or off the battlefield. Shedding the blood of a non-dhimmi kafir is not sinful, but is rather rewarded with Jannah.”
The final exception from indiscriminate killing is women and children. The article quotes from an 8th century Muslim scholar: “And the reason for the prohibition of shedding Muslim blood being different from the prohibition of shedding the kafir child’s and kafir woman’s blood is that they are not to be killed due to specific revelation restricting this killing [while the initial ruling allows shedding kafir blood in general]. And our opinion regarding this – and Allah knows best – is that the restriction exists so that they can become slaves, which is more beneficial than killing them, and killing them does not harm the enemy; so making them slaves is more optimal than killing them.”
With the exceptions covered, the article reminds its readers that they are permitted and even obligated “to kill anyone – other than those we mentioned above – of the mushrikin, both the combatant and non-combatant, the businessman and employee, the elderly man – whether or not he be a person of influence – the farmer, the bishop or priest or monk, the blind or crippled – no one is given exception”
With the impending assault on Mosul, the group’s last redoubt, IS supporters in the Middle East and around the world will begin to adjust their expectations, their understandings of the caliphate, and their roll in their own history. The combination of ISIS-published articles like those in Rumiyah and the frustration over the impending collapse of what was supposed to be the final Islamic caliphate is likely to result in increasingly desperate and increasingly numerous attacks across Europe and the United States by ISIS supporters.