As I discussed yesterday, I have been dutifully searching for secret Daesh websites on the Darknet to nail exclusives. And yet I am finding far, far more luck on the regular Internet with websites out in the open.
And once again, I have found a few treasure troves of information, including two Daesh websites that are hosted on WordPress, the same website hosting this blog: https://akhbardawlatalislam.wordpress.com and https://isdarat2016.wordpress.com.
Indeed, it might not be in Daesh’s interest to keep their web presence a secret, as they want to disseminate propaganda to be seen by many people (the “akhbardawlatalislam” blog claims to have almost 7 million hits).
But one subset of people are not looking at the propaganda too carefully: the news media. This is based on the fact that a fraction of the propaganda material readily online receives coverage. For example I unearthed this batch of propaganda photographs published 19 days ago, and reverse image searches by Google Image and TinEye did not uncover any news website having published these photos; only Daesh websites, like the two on WordPress.
I have a feeling that these sites might be an ongoing source of material for this blog, maybe even more than Donald Trump, as the WordPress sites above are updated multiple times a day, and even offer e-mail updates (something this blog has scarcely offered).
So while Thought Front might not be the very first to release these pictures, or even the first to do so on WordPress, nonetheless this appears to be both the first news website and first English language website to do so.
So what are in these propaganda photos? It’s literally nothing special: mundane pictures of everyday life in the Islamic State, showing people happily going about with their days, receiving food relief and infant formula, doing bureaucratic paperwork, and even trimming a palm tree. And this is hardly a new phenomenon: Daesh has been doing these types of photos for months, including pictures of themselves fishing.
Does this mean everything is fine and dandy in Daesh territory, and the outside world is being brainwashed? Of course not. These are obviously staged pictures, not unlike the propaganda material the Nazis produced showing Jews enjoying their lives in concentration camps.
Meanwhile, the courageous journalists at Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently have been risking (and losing) their lives to cover the reality of living under Daesh hegemony. They describe it as hellish and Orwellian. Anything someone does and says may be scrutinized and determined to be “blasphemous” and requiring punishment: the details of your clothing, what you say, what you buy, even where you direct your eyesight. And it is almost impossible to leave.
Meanwhile, food prices are going up thanks to bombings, while Daesh imposes new taxes on goods and cuts people’s salaries. Reports say people are starving to death.
It all makes for a lethal vicious cycle. According to an unverified RBSS report, a man in the marketplace cursed out loud over the high price of tomatoes, prompting a Daesh fighter to detain and punish him, prompting the man to curse at Daesh, followed by the man being executed
Regardless, here is the batch of 19 day-old propaganda photos, plus palm tree-trimming photos published today, discovered by Thought Front.
All photographs are the intellectual property of Daesh, and information I see online suggests that they encourage distribution of their works. Nonetheless if the copyright holder objects to my use they are free to contact me and ask that it be taken down.