The content of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria’s (ISIS) latest edition of its online English-language magazine Rumiyah—released on February 4—suggests the group continues to use propaganda to compensate for a spate of territorial and leadership losses since early 2015. Rumiyah 6 centers around three themes—targeting Turkey, local and regional “successes,” and the importance of martyrdom operations to strengthen global followers’ morale.
- ISIS has been taking a more aggressive stance toward Turkey—the primary gateway for ISIS-bound fighters to Syria—since Ankara closed its borders with Syria in September 2016. Rumiyah 6 focuses on ISIS’s fight against Turkey, highlighting this New Year’s attack at the Reina nightclub in Istanbul. Additionally, the Turkish-language version of Rumiyah 6 calls for supporters in Turkey to target high-ranking officials there.
- Despite losing approximately 40 percent of its territory since late 2015, ISIS continues to tout local successes. In this issue, the group claims to have killed 6,500 “enemy combatants” and injured thousands more from October 2016 to January 2017. Furthermore, ISIS claims it has “conquered” strategically important territory in Iraq and Syria, notwithstanding military losses since last fall in previously occupied areas of Iraq such as Ramadi, Fallujah, and parts of Mosul.
- To try to bolster confidence in its cause, ISIS asserts in Rumiyah 6 an inevitable “victory” through the sacrifices of suicide bombers and direct intervention from Allah [God] in the form of “miracles.” The group also refutes Western estimates of deceased ISIS combatants—about 50,000 ISIS fighters have been killed since 2014, according to US officials—stating, the “allies will not cease to spread lies about the heavily inflated number of Islamic State soldiers whom they claim to have killed. Their goal in that regards is to fill the mujahidin with despair.”