Presenting the Glossy Look of Warfare in Cyberspace – The Islamic State’s Magazine Dabiq

Author(s) Christoph Günther
Contact Christoph Günther, Leipzig University, Augustuspl. 10, 4109 Leipzig, Germany. E-mail:
Issue CyberOrient, Vol. 9, Iss. 1, 2015, pp. 130-157
Published May 10, 2015
Type Comment
Abstract Since Ramaḍān 1435 (June/July 2014), the so-called ‘Islamic State’ (dawlat al-islāmiyya, IS), the ‘State of the Caliphate’ (dawlat al-khilāfa), publishes a periodic magazine entitled Dabiq. This glossy outlet, produced and distributed by al-Ḥayāt, one of the movement’s media organizations, is widely disseminated on the Internet and forms part of IS’s advancement in the field of the media. Published in English and other European languages, it allows the movement to spread its messages to an international audience. This article analyzes and evaluates four issues of Dabiq published in English between June and October 2014.It argues that three aspects are crucial for framing the ideological justification of the movement’s warfare and help to rally support for their state-building project: the development and establishment of images of the enemy, the notion of ‘strangeness,’ and the call for emigration. Within this framework, the magazine intertwines textual and visual accounts of the movement’s physical and virtual battlefields and mediates these to a non-Arab speaking public. Thus, Dabiq is – chronologically, technologically, and ideologically – the most recent and very well elaborated attempt of the Islamic State at winning support among the broadest public possible on a global level. The article concludes that the magazine at large and the abovementioned aspects reflect both the ideological structure of the movement and its current situation in Iraq and Syria. Utilizing derogative images of their enemies helps the Islamic State both to maintain its claim for legitimacy and to position their adherents and opponents within a dichotomous ideological framework. On this basis, it calls its followers to immigrate to the land of the two rivers and the Levant in order to support the establishment of an Islamic State and eradicate nation state borders.
Keywords Islam, media studies, conflict, jihad