There is not a single mention of Guantanamo Bay, which President Obama says is a recruiting poster for ISIS, or of Donald Trump, who Hillary Clinton says is the biggest recruiter for ISIS.
The contents of Dabiq exposes the error of assuming that the extremism of Islamists is a byproduct of anger over perceived mistreatment of Muslims by the U.S. The Islamic State does see anti-Muslim sentiment as suiting its purposes and it does cite actions by the U.S. to justify its views, but the foundation of their ideology is an Islamic interpretation. The worldview, including its political grievances, are shaped by those detailed interpretations presented in Dabiq.
ISIS spent more time justifying the killing Shiites than any other enemy, by far. The biggest point of emphasis was that Shiites qualify as apostates and not as fellow Muslims, and therefore any and all of them can be killed. The emphasis suggests that ISIS does not agree with the many Sunnis who consider average Shiites to be Muslims or, at least, not deserving of being murdered.
Taking aim at Afghanistan, Pakistan and Kashmir.
This issue of Dabiq goes the extra mile to make the case that ISIS is setting up a functional state in Afghanistan and western Pakistan. A significant amount of space is dedicated to presenting the area as ISIS’ biggest opportunity for growth. A minor mention was made of “pleasant news” coming from Kashmir soon. It appears that ISIS is hoping to present itself as the Sunni shield against the Indian Hindus, much like it presents itself as the Sunni shield against the Shiites in Iraq and Syria.
ISIS repeatedly refers to the Taliban as the “nationalist Taliban” (ISIS holds that nationalism is incompatible with Islam). It also accuses the Taliban of not implementing sharia, betraying the faith by getting too cozy with Iran and being puppets of Pakistani intelligence.
This issue of Dabiq is also dismissive of Al-Qaeda’s presence in Afghanistan, saying it has only a few members there.
Assassination plots against Saudi imams.
One of the first declarations in this issue of Dabiq is a call to assassinate Saudi clerics. the Islamis State is hoping to win over followers of the Saudi brand of Islam (often referred to as Wahhabism) by claiming that the Saudi Royal Family and its supporting religious establishment are disregarding the guidance of Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab.
ISIS feels threatened by the argument that jihad is not permissible because it is counterproductive. This issue spends a noticeable amount of time deriding scholars who argue that Muslims should only wage jihad against its enemies when the time is right. The Islamic State argues for perpetual jihad against its enemies, saying that Allah will bring victory over any militarily superior enemy if the jihad is justified.
“Jewish” Shiites and the mahdi-messiah.
As it almost always does, ISIS ties its jihad to the fulfillment of End Times prophecy. A major portion of this issue claims that Shiite Islam was created by Jews pretending to be Muslims as part of a plot to corrupt the faith and divide the Muslim world. It says that Christianity was corrupted the same way.
It then goes further. Not only is Shiite Islam a plot of the Jews, ISIS claims, but the Jewish messiah and Shiite Islam’s version of the mahdi (the “Hidden Imam“) are the same person. This mahdi-messiah is actually the “Antichrist,” or the Dajjal.
In other words, in the minds of ISIS, never mind Israel’s worry about Iran’s pledges to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. Iran and Israel—Shiites and Jews—are one. And so the Taliban and other Muslims who play nice with Shiites are complicit with the Antichrist’s agenda.
ISIS doesn’t just make this up out of thin air. They argue their points theologically and devote a significant space doing so. The magazine even ends with a map of Iran and a hadith quoting the Prophet Mohammed as saying that the Antichrist (Dajjal) will be followed by 70,000 Jews from Isfahan, a city in Iran.
In sum, the key takeaway is that jihadists like ISIS will always believe the U.S. and others are at war with Islam no matter what we do because that “fact” is considered an inarguable part of doctrine and prophecy.
Clarion Project documents the Islamic State propaganda magazine in order to expose their hateful ideology. Read every issue of Dabiq here.
Ryan Mauro is ClarionProject.org’s national security analyst, a fellow with Clarion Project and an adjunct professor of homeland security. Mauro is frequently interviewed on top-tier television and radio. Read more, contact or arrange a speaking engagement.