As a part of its propaganda machine, ISIL created the video series ‘The Best Outcome Is for the Righteous.’ Each video contains common themes: members ready for battle, photos of enemies in respective regions, and calling upon other Muslims to join the fray. Alongside this they renew, or pledge their allegiance to Abu-Bakr-al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIL. Its thirteenth installment — The Best Outcome Is for the Pious — was no different, however it was released by its Bangladeshi faction.
Visual propaganda attempts to showcase that ISIL still has Wilayah, or regional territory. Therefore, it seeks to divert attention away from the group’s ongoing struggles, such as loss of their last physical stronghold. According to Raphael Gluck, they have transitioned into a kind of ‘insurgency mode’. ‘The Best Outcome Is for the Pious’ reached wider audiences by way of its release by Amaq News Agency and pro-ISIL Telegram channels.
Bangladesh is not the only Wilayah ISIL claims to have a presence. Other videos have been released in Khorassan (historical region of Iran and Afghanistan), the Caucasus, East Asia (Philippines), Sinai, West Africa, Azerbaijan and Libya. All of these videos have been posted since Abu-Bakr-al-Baghdadi released a video in April 2019, in which he stated the battle of Baghouz has been lost.
The correlation between ISIL territorial losses and release of video propaganda is not coincidental. They want to depict they still have a presence in diverse states. The fact remains that terrorist ideologies have no set borders, but ISIL is adamant that the word knows they have a presence in these thirteen regions.
The videos serve as a moral boost after ISIL lost its territory in Syria and elsewhere. It is a show of faith in the organization and leadership when cells of ISIL fighters pledge allegiance to al-Baghdadi. They are intent on continuing the fight. Further, these videos are depictive of a current desperation for recruitment. ISIL needs to show that it still has strength and it is apparent a heavy recruitment campaign is underway, with emphasis on regional sympathizers in various locales.
‘The Best Outcome Is for the Righteous’ series claims active regional involvement, but ISIL’s only authentic presence remains in cyberspace. Revealing this factor is the way to counter ISIL sympathizers from seeking membership in an actual insurgent formation. Authorities in the aforementioned regions must focus on limiting any exposure that showcases ISIL’s presence locally.
Terrorist organizations strive on fear, and fear often leads to publicity, which in turn translates into influence. The only power ISIL has is that provided through complicit exposure.
Image Credit: A clip from an ISIL propaganda video courtesy of the Long War Journal.