ISIS propaganda tactics target United States


After the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) has displayed its ability to produce multilingual propaganda by utilizing new tactics that involve targeted criticism and mockery of US political and military leaders. According to security analysts, the growing ambitions of the ISKP insurgency and its international reach pose a direct threat to the security interests of the US and the West.

ISKP, the official affiliate of the Islamic State terror group operating in Central and South Asia, has recently shifted its propaganda strategy from superficial religious vilification of the Western “crusaders” to more focused attacks on President Joe Biden and the US military command. Analysis of ISKP propaganda indicates that the group’s leaders are closely monitoring the statements of US politicians, the Pentagon, and mainstream media to assess the potential threat posed by ISKP jihadists.

The tracking of ISIS-linked Uzbek and Tajik militants’ activity in Central Asia for years revealed that following the coordinated suicide bomb attack on Kabul airport in August 2021 that left at least 100 people dead, including 13 US troops, ISKP has acquired global ambitions threatening world and regional powers. Before the US retreat from Afghanistan, ISKP did not have the global ambition of external attacks, and its Pashto-language media resources waged a propaganda war primarily against the Taliban, its strategic rival and ardent enemy.

But since August 2021, along with the expansion of ideological, logistical, and operational capacities, the group has acquired global ambitions. Lately, ISKP multilanguage media resources have waged an active ideological war with external enemies – the United States, Russia, Pakistan, China, India, Iran, Turkey, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan – to undermine international legitimacy and recognition of the Taliban government.

ISIS-Khorasan has benefited from the reduced counterterrorism pressure after the US retreat from Afghanistan, allowing it to pursue a calculated, thoughtful, coherent, and ambitious international strategy. Over the past year, the Islamic State offshoot carried out a high-profile suicide bombing on the Russian Embassy in Kabul, an attack on Chinese diplomats and businessmen at Kabul Longan Hotel, cross-border rocket attacks on Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, and an Inghimasi attack on Sikh-Hindu temple in Kabul targeting India’s interests in Afghanistan. ISKP strategists aimed at international targets to increase the group’s appeal in the global jihadist world and undermine the Taliban’s ability to ensure stability in the country.

Along with notorious attacks targeting diplomatic missions and foreign nationals, ISKP has intensified its ideological and propaganda warfare campaign through the Al-Azaim Foundation for Media Production. To push forward its international ambitions, ISKP has officially launched several multilingual propaganda outlets under Al-Azaim Foundation for Media Production, such as Voice of Khurasan magazine in English, Pashto language Khurasan Ghag magazine, Al-Azaim Uzbek, Al-Azaim Tajiki, Xuroson Ovozi radio in Uzbek, Al-Millat Media, Khalid Media, Al-Akhbar Wilayah Khorasan, Haqeeqat News, and Al-Mursalat Media. This jihadist outfit has also expanded the language scope of its propaganda to Pashto, Dari, Persian, Urdu, Uzbek, Tajik, Hindi, Malayalam, Russian, Arabic, English, and occasionally Uyghur.

Al-Azaim Foundation multilingual propaganda narratives show that ISKP considers the United States to be it main enemy and “Chief Shaitan” (evil spirit in Islamic belief). As noted above, Al-Azaim Foundation and its local language media affiliates initially criticized the US from a theological and ideological standpoint. If, until recently, ISKP theologically accused the “American Crusaders” of patronizing the Taliban Murtaddin (apostasy in Islam), peacefully transferring power to them and jointly conspiring against ISIS, today its propagandists have moved on to targeted criticism of both.

Currently Al-Azaim multilingual media offshoots tried to analyze the military-political events in the US and mocked their official statements.

In its 23rd issue, Voice of Khurasan magazine, ISKP’s international flagship propaganda force, featured an article titled “And Gas Balloon Intimidates the Goliath of the Time”. ISIS mocks the US fear of the “Chinese weather balloon that was turned away from its course” and raises the question of how the “Taghut (idolaters) Biden administration” would react if the “unidentified soldiers of Allah” conduct operations inside the US. The author concludes by humiliating that the “tyrannical Goliath” is “afraid of his own shadow” and, after all its “own crimes throughout the lands of the Muslims”, openly alludes to the repetition of “another 9-11 styled heavy blow to its mainland”.

On March 13, the pro-ISKP Uzbek Telegram channel “Uzb Bahori va Vatan Buti” posted a video message from the US President Joe Biden assuring Americans that the “US banking system is safe” after the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank. In this regard, Uzbek jihadists ridiculed his earlier promise to find and punish the Khilafah Mujahideen (defenders of Islam) who carried out an Ishtishhadi (suicide bombing) operation at Kabul airport killing 13 “kafir US servicemen”. “Still licking his wounds, the Crusader leader is making new promises that aren’t worth a damn”, the pro-ISKP Telegram channel concluded.

In recent days, Al-Azaim Media’s Uzbek, Tajik, and Pashto language units and pro-ISIS Telegram channels discussed the statement of Gen. Michael Kurilla, the head of US Central Command, who acknowledged that within six months, ISKP could target US or Western interests abroad. As is known, speaking before the Senate Armed Services Committee on March 16, Gen. Kurilla admitted the ability of ISKP to conduct external operations, which was picked up by ISIS-Central and its provinces’ propaganda arms with enthusiasm.

Particularly, on March 17, 2023, Al-Naba weekly of ISIS published an editorial titled “Harvest of the Pentagon” with a photo of Gen. Kurilla, which indicates the importance of his statement for the group’s propaganda campaign. The editorial claims that “US Central Command’s statement testifies to the shameful failure of the Crusaders in their global war against the Islamic State”, although they have long refused to admit it. Thus, Al Naba mocked the US victory over the Caliphate five years ago. ISIS claims that the crisis of the Kuffar (disbelievers or Christians) has arrived.

According to Al Naba, the Pentagon, in its monthly reports on its achievements in the fight against ISIS, proves exactly the opposite – the failure of the US in dealing with the Khilafah. “It’s hard for American Crusaders to understand the reasons for their failure because they measure jihad in terms of letters and numbers”, but Al Naba believes that “jihad is worship, faith, and a divine promise”.

In conclusion, the editorial called on ISIS propagandists to intensify their efforts in the media field and assured that the Pentagon and its Crusader coalition would be defeated not only in this world but also on Judgment Day.

Al-Azaim Foundation for Media Production, ISKP’s multilingual propaganda arm, fully endorsed al-Naba’s findings, gloating over the statement of CENTCOM commander. Pro-Islamic State local Telegram channels, “Xuroson Viloyati” in Uzbek and “Al-Azaim-Tojiki” in Tajik, also commented on it and speculated that “the fires of holy jihad will rise” as Gen. Kurilla requested more ammunition for airstrikes against ISKP.

“Uzbek Bahori va Vatan Buti,” another pro-IS Uzbek Telegram channel, derisively described a March report by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), which warned of the risk of an attack on Uzbekistan by ISKP. Judging by stormy discussions in Al-Azaim media units, rumors of a growing threat from ISIS-Khorasan inspired the group’s ideologists. It also testifies to the well-established coordination between ISIS-Central media and ISKP’s local propaganda machine, both in terms of jihadist ideology and its hierarchical subordination.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here