Documenting the Virtual Caliphate
Principal Investigator: Mia Bloom, Georgia State University
Years of Award: 2016-2019
Managing Service Agency: Office of Naval Research
The so-called Islamic State, ISIS, or Daesh has a compelling story, coupled with a sophisticated ability to deliver it. But often overlooked are the underlying strategic elements that enable the group to land its propaganda messages so effectively. This narrative combines both positive and negative themes appealing to ideological and political supporters inside the areas it controls in addition to outside supporters. On a daily basis, the group posts and publishes images of civilian life, expands upon the concept of Islamic forgiveness and mercy, and highlights the camaraderie allegedly felt among its members. Crucially, ISIS does not just do this online—propaganda is equally as important in person in the Islamic State’s heartlands as it is on its members’ laptops and smartphones.
ISIS propaganda, which was produced at an ever-increasing level of sophistication, has not yet been systematically logged and archived, either by governments, academia, or other think tanks. Distinct from all other studies of ISIS media, this project will produce an updated, searchable database for future research. Furthermore, the project bridges existing Minerva-sponsored research in that it takes current projects beyond their scope and provides a measure of evaluation, validation, and verification of other projects’ findings. The result will be a living archive of the entirety of ISIS’ official multimedia content, including a searchable database of ISIS propaganda that contains news bulletins, photo-reports, videos, and documents. The project will analyze ISIS’ propaganda, tactics and long-term strategies, both qualitatively and quantitatively.
Owl in the Olive Tree posts
- Bloom, Mia, and Ayse Lokmanoglu. Forthcoming (2020). Conducting "Virtual Fieldwork" Monitoring ISIS Channels on Telegram. In Cautionary Tales: An Unorthodox Guide to Fieldwork, edited by Ora Szekely and Peter Krause. New York: Columbia University Press.
- Bloom, Mia. 2019. Women and Violent Extremism: Past and Future Face of Terrorism. In Enhancing Women’s Roles in Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism, edited by Sara Zeiger, Rogelio Alonso, Jose Herrera,and Lilah El Sayed. Amsterdam: IOS Press.
- Bloom, Mia, and Chelsea Daymon. 2018. Assessing the Future Threat: ISIS’ Virtual Caliphate. Orbis 62(3): 372-388.
- Bloom, Mia. 2017. Constructing Expertise:Terrorist Recruitment and “Talent Spotting” in the PIRA, Al Qaeda, and ISIS. Studies in Conflict and Terrorism 40(7): 603-623.
- Bloom, Mia, Hicham Tiflati, and John Horgan. 2017. Navigating ISIS’s Preferred Platform: Telegram1. Terrorism and Political Violence (July 11): 1–13.
- Veilleux-Lepage, Yannick. 2019. A Typology of Islamic State’s Social Media Distribution Network. In Media and Mass Atrocity: The Rwanda Genocide and Beyond, edited by A. Thompson. Toronto: CIGI Press. 453-482.