August 30, 2015 Faith Matters

Islamic State’s Al Hayat Media Arm is a real and Ongoing Threat to Young People

Islamic State’s Al Hayat Media Arm is an Ongoing Risk to Young People: Social Media Activity Over the Last Week Highlights the Release of a High Quality Video Which Plays on Religious Symbolism, Identity & History

News of the Walthamstow based Zahera Tariq allegedly travelling to Syria to join IS, possibly highlights the propaganda pull of the so-called Islamic State on small sections the British Muslim population.

This news comes on the back of significant on-line activity by the Islamic State’s media arm, the Al Hayat media centre, which has been producing high definition short videos that have played on themes of identity, purpose and belonging. Social media accounts run by Islamic State sympathisers have been heavily active over the last week promoting Al-Hayat’s video which has been circulated in Arabic and in numerous languages.

The most recent video show Islamic armies on horseback, pushing viewers to buy into a sense of history, honour and supposedly a place where they can be part of a collective movement. This collectivisation of experience is fundamental to virtually every video that the Al-Hayat media agency puts out. For example, pictures show individuals holding up the IS flag whilst on horseback attempting to portray the Islamic State as the ‘protectors’ and ‘defenders’ of Islam.

Recently, IS sympathisers and activists have been hijacking well recognised and circulated hashtag’s to introduce a short trailer stating that the Islamic State will soon release a video. The video, again in high definition and cut with a variety of excerpts, pick up on the themes of ‘a prophecy’ and ‘revelations’. The trailer which has been significantly circulated on social media Twitter and Facebook accounts plays on a sense of chivalry and history and attempts to portray to the viewer that the Islamic State should be trusted in their message whilst other groups and governments are morally corrupt. The video also highlights the Islamic dinar and the reason for this is get viewers to buy into the legitimacy of the movement.

Commenting on this development of a major new set of video releases by the Al-Hayat media agency, the Director of Faith Matters, Fiyaz Mughal OBE stated:

“The quality and the messaging of Islamic State videos are shocking given the way that they are put together. The videos are in high definition, extremely well edited and they play on symbolism that is specifically meant to target young people. From videos produced by the Al-Hayat video centre, the media arm of Islamic State, the key people that they are targeting are young people and this is a real threat given that some may believe in the legitimacy of the group simply because of the well-developed and very high quality videos.

Furthermore, the sense of collectivism and collective action that is pushed by such videos tries to bind in the viewer that they can be part of a wider movement, as though young people can make social change by being part of the group. The propaganda material is very well thought out and there is a real and ongoing risk in the sense that this material is simply grooming young people to come to an area where they will die in combat or die because they are targeted. Let us also not forget that Al Qaeda realised the importance of the internet in 2003 and they have spent the last 12 years refining the delivery of their messaging on-line. They are fighting a cyber-propaganda war and their material is very pervasive. We have to remain vigilant for the safeguarding of young people given this heightened activity on-line.”