The ISIS Visual Discourse at its Height 

We can say that the peak of IS’ media activities was between 2014 and 2015, when it broke away from al-Qaeda, followed by an improvement in its military and financial status until it reached its peak with the invasion of Mosul and the declaration of the caliphate in 2014 (ISIS’s Media Network in the Era after the Fall of the Islamic State. 2018). Since that time Islamic State has amazed the whole world with its highly sophisticated and, at times, shocking media operations (Veilleux-Lepage, Y. 2016). At its height, IS established a powerful ‘Central Media Department’ that was of high quality, effective and centralized (ISIS’s Media Network in the Era after the Fall of the Islamic State. 2018). Through it IS’s media strategy went from local to global discourse to reach target audiences around the world, this is confirmed by producing its discourse in many languages like English, Arabic, Russian, Urdu, Turkish and even Hebrew (Williams, L. 2016). Moreover, in order to assert its authority and to promote fear, both among Muslims and non-Muslims, IS has published a dramatic spectacle in the videos of beheadings, torture and mass murders (Perry, S. P., & Long, J. M. 2016).

It can be said, that the power of IS is primarily in using high technology to deliver the message, as in the age of the picture; IS uses images to amplify its force and to send the message in a shocking way. Friis (2017) inferred that the technical skills of an Islamic state are not only reflected in the way in which it disseminates its material but also in how to organize its discourse in an effective visual way. Nevertheless, the power strategy of the ISIS does not limit, it focuses on the social network, audio broadcasts and electronic games which shocking the mind, logic, and inhumanity, carries through them many messages and objectives. Over time, ISIS produced a large number of very high-quality videos that mimic Hollywood-style with exciting novels to capture the viewer’s attention (Williams, L. 2016). Thereby, Al-Qaeda’s tedious long videos have been replaced by IS’ high definition steady-cam shots, along with carefully scripted and edited narration, besides multilingual messaging, all aimed to attract young Muslims in east and west, and encouraging them to emigrate to the newly founded caliphate (Veilleux-Lepage, Y. 2016). Therefore, its persuasive discourse was produced by professional journalists, film-makers, photographers, and editors. Moreover, it has brought in cutting-edge technology and qualified operators. That has resulted in its film outputs like “Flames of war”, “clashing of swords”, “healing of the believer’s chest” (Vigil, R. B. 2016).

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According to an analysis of several high-quality videos that target different audiences, Yannick Veilleux-Lepage found that the IS’ discourse aimed to intimidate others and display its power that contributes to proving its presence and continuity. Terrorism experts realized that IS succeeded in doing that through the beheading videos. Friis (2015) sees in his study that during the autumn of 2014, the IS’ beheading videos played an important role in media and public debates, as well as in official political dialogue in relation to the war against IS (Friis, S. M. 2015). Following Zarqawi’s footsteps, who was the first who led the visual warfare with a joint effort of the theater and the spectacle, the Islamic State led a series beheading and killing videos with cold-blooded murder displaying inhumanity which undoubtedly shocked the entire world (Vigil, R. B. 2016). The intense attention devoted to beheading videos proves the obvious weight of visual images and media in contemporary war (Friis, S. M. 2015). Scenes of the execution of the hostages are a form of accomplishment of this task, as these videos have caused widespread popular acclaim all over the world.

The creativity of the shots lies in skillfully playing on the emotions of the viewer and raising the degree of tension. On the basis of the above, the whole IS’ media discourse at its highest was aimed at establishing a permanent caliphate; fomenting divisions; weakening the enemy and recruiting, as The Islamic State entered into the year 2015 at the height of its fame, because of  the military and media successes achieved before, which was able to bring about 5000 immigrants to its ranks until that date; which led to the establishment of an international air coalition against it prevented it from moving towards the city of Erbil, and contributed to the expulsion from Ayn al-Arab “Kobanî”.  By the end of the first month of 2015, be practically the first serious military and media setback faced after the declaration of its state.

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The ISIS Visual Discourse at its Height . (2022, Jan 10). Retrieved from