The Islamic State (ISIS) Establishes ‘Media Points’ In Syria, Iraq, Libya To Indoctrinate Caliphate Citizens And Enhance Its Cyber Activities On The Ground: A One-Year Review

By: Steven Stalinsky and R. Sosnow

October 13, 2015

The following report is a complimentary offering from MEMRI’s Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor (JTTM). For JTTM subscription information, click here.

Introduction

The “media points” of the Islamic State (ISIS) are cyber information booths in cities and towns across all areas controlled by ISIS, that provide religious and ISIS-related materials to the public. This effort, which ISIS launched during the Eid Al-Fitr holiday in late July 2014, consists, according to the organization, of “stationary spots [that are] scattered geographically across general areas” that distribute da’wa-related materials, screen “jihadi productions on display screens,” and “transfer [those materials] to mobile [devices] via Bluetooth and RAMs…” According to ISIS, the campaign has generated much interest among the locals and has been very well received.

In the past year, media points have spread to multiple countries with territories controlled by ISIS and its affiliates: first to Syria, then to Iraq, and, most recently, to Libya. Currently, ISIS media points are located in Al-Raqqa, Mayadeen, Furat Province, Deir Al-Zour, Jarabulus, Aleppo, Al-Kheir Province, Sabikhan, Shaddadi, and “Eastern Division” in Syria; Mosul, Al-Falluja Province, Al-Huwaija, Ninawa, Al-Jazirah Province, Al-Sharqat Province, Dijla Province, and Anbar in Iraq; and Derna and Sirte in Libya, as well as in locations that are not specified. They take different forms – simple booths, trucked-in prefab units, impromptu open-air movie theaters, and more.

For a full key to these images, see Appendix: Key To Logos And Symbols

The media points serve ISIS as a tool for indoctrinating local communities, from the very young to the very old, in the areas that it already controls, by providing access to its videos, pamphlets, and other educational and promotional materials, especially in areas where Internet is spotty or nonexistent. This includes open-air screenings of videos featuring beheadings and executions – such as beheadings of Western journalists and the February 2015 burning of the Jordanian pilot – as well as of well-known ISIS video productions such as Flames of War.

ISIS has released official videos highlighting the construction and activity of the media points, and ISIS fighters tweet photos of them. Although the media points are often numbered, their exact number is not known; there could be hundreds.

The following report includes accounts of media points across Syria, Iraq, and Libya, released largely via social media by ISIS and ISIS followers as well as by locals living in ISIS-controlled territory. These accounts show the media points’ construction, location, and activity – particularly their distribution of cyber content in the form of flash drives and media cards, in addition to video and audio files and physical promotional and indoctrination materials. The media points are also an outlet for ISIS official media groups to distribute their content.

These media points further underline the importance ISIS places on its cyber activity in indoctrinating its followers and potential recruits.

Timeline

This timeline shows the establishment of media points in territories controlled by ISIS from July 2014 to September 2015:

Reports On ISIS Media Points July 2014-September 2015

ISIS Promotes Its Materials Via Media Points Across Al-Raqqa, Syria (July 24, 2014)

On July 24, 2014, ISIS published images of media points distributing indoctrination and religious materials in several locations across Al-Raqqa province, Syria. The images show a booth with gray walls that have windows in them. Only two sides of the booth are visible in the images. One wall has a large red circle with “Media Point” written on it in Arabic. A billboard over the booth informs bystanders to the location of the booth. Among the materials that people can obtain in those media points, according to the billboard, are: ISIS audio/visual productions (i.e. Koran recitations) and nasheeds, da’wa pamphlets, and “Islamic CDs.” It is unclear whether the “promotional” items offered by ISIS are distributed at no charge. In one photo, two men are seen standing at a window of the booth, apparently speaking with a man sitting inside the booth.


A media content distribution booth at the Al-Raqqa media point


Signs at the Al-Raqqa media point


Local citizens visiting the media point

Pro-ISIS Instagram User Shares Photo Of Screening Of Beheading Video At Mosul, Iraq Media Point (July 2014)


Instagram post by abuusamahsomali, July 2014

ISIS Media Points Information Campaign In Ninawa, Iraq, Offers Bluetooth And Other Technologies (August 7, 2014)

On August 7, 2014, ISIS announced that its media points campaign was expanding to Ninawa province, Iraq. The campaign, which ISIS launched during Eid Al-Fitr, consists of “stationary spots scattered geographically across general areas in the city of Mosul,” ISIS said. Those media spots, it added, distribute da’wa-related materials, screen “jihadi productions on display screens,” and “transfer [these materials] to mobile [devices] via Bluetooth and RAMs…” The campaign has generated much interest among the locals and has been very well received, according to ISIS.

Below are images from the media points campaign in Mosul:


Local Mosul citizens stop by the media point during a busy day


Children in Mosul showing pro-ISIS pamphlets they received at the media point


Mosul residents watch an ISIS indoctrination movie at the media point; its sign features an Islamic State black flag with the “Seal of Muhammad”


An ISIS supervisor hands out an indoctrination pamphlet to a teen at the media point


Indoctrination material screened at a media point


Residents of Mosul listen to an audio address by ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi at the media point

Al-Malahem Media Tweets Show Media Point In Mayadeen, Syria Hospital (October 22, 2014) 

ISIS is also expanding its Media Points campaign to hospitals; an October 22, 2014 series of tweets by the AQAP media arm Al-Malahem show laptops set up in a hospital in Raqqa province in Syria, with photos reading “Media Point in one of the hospitals of the Islamic State in Raqqa province.”

ISIS Features Media Point Information Booth in Mayadeen, Syria (November 5, 2014)

The following images are taken from a November 5, 2014 ISIS video featuring local citizens in Mayadeen, Syria, particularly children, being shown ISIS indoctrination videos at an ISIS media point. In the video, an ISIS supervisor can be seen saying: “With the help of Allah, the second media point in Mayadeen has opened… We do not care about their planes or tanks. All we care about is Allah.” The video also shows an audience member who says: “The Prophet said: ‘The people will summon one another to attack you, as people inviting others to eat their dish.'”

To view the video, click here.


Locals gather at the Mayadeen media point to watch an indoctrination video

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