By Michael S. Smith II

On 30 March 2015, DA’ISH propagandists were observed distributing links to Dabiq, issue 8. The cover of this issue conveys a message that highlights the group’s interest in expanding its presence on the African continent, where it is courting al-Qa’ida’s East Africa Branch, al-Shabaab: “Shari’ah alone will rule Africa.” An early article about al-Qa’ida’s allies in Syria also indicates the group intends to expand its operations there, perhaps due to increased pressure it is encountering in Iraq.

Screenshot: Article titled “The Bay’ah from West Africa” (
Dabiq 8)

Indeed, this issue of Dabiq showcases DA’ISH’s growing presence on the African continent. The fourth article in this edition covers the pledge of bayat issued to the terrorist group’s leader by the leader of Boko Haram, which could serve to expand DA’ISH’s influence capabilities in West Africa. Next, the editors highlight DA’ISH’s recent attack at the Bardo Museum in Tunisia, as well as the bombings of Shia mosques in Yemen. Pages later, a brief article discusses the jihad in Libya from the Libyan Revolution to the current stage, while characterizing the likes of LIFG emir Abd al-Hakim Belhadj and other Libyan jihadis as apostates for participating in the democratic process in Libya’s post-Qadhafi era. Then, one of the final articles included in this issue is an interview with “Abu Muqatil at-Tunusi,” which provides a more in-depth look at the group’s activities in Tunisia than the aforementioned article focused on the attack at the Bardo Museum. This article also touches upon Abu Muqatil’s time in prison in France.

Following the transcript of the interview with Abu Muqatil is a notice concerning a new video production, titled “Stories from the Land of the Living: Abu Suhayb al-Fransi.” Al-Fransi is allegedly a former French businessman who decided to leave behind the comforts of the West to join the Islamic State. Links to this roughly 15:30 minute video produced by DA’ISH’s al-Hayat media wing were also distributed by DA’ISH propagandists around the time they posted this edition of Dabiq online. Al-Faransi narrates his story in French; to broaden the reach of his message, English and Arabic subtitles are included.

Screenshot: Video featuring Abu Suhayb al-Faransi (aka al-Faranci)

Additional highlights from this issue of Dabiq include:

In the “Foreword” section, the glorification of Danish terrorist Abu Ramadan al-Muhajir, who was killed after executing an attack targeting Mohamed cartoonist Lars Vilks during an event featuring a debate concerning Islam and freedom of speech held in Copenhagen in February 2015;

An article concerning al-Qa’ida’s allies in Syria;

An article titled “The Lions of Tomorrow” that covers the role of the Islamic State’s child soldiers, the lead image of which is a still from the video featuring one such child soldier executing an alleged “Mossad Agent”;

Screenshot: “The Lions of Tomorroq” (
Dabiq 8)

An article concerning DA’ISH destruction of historic artifacts;

A two-page section concerning hijrah (emigration to DA’ISH’s so-called “caliphate”);

A brief bio of the deceased leader of the group of jihadis in the Khorasan region that pledged bayat to “Caliph Ibrahim”;

An advertisement for the recently-released video titled “A Message to the People of Kurdistan,” which features commentary from a DA’ISH member identified as “Bin Ladin”;

A lengthy article concerning Irja; and,

A four-page article allegedly penned by British journalist John Cantlie, who has been held hostage by the group for several years, in which Cantlie continues to criticize the West for its ineffective response to DA’ISH’s growth (screenshots below).

Unlike recent issues of Dabiq, this eighth issue is not used to put on display the group’s hostages, many of whom may have been killed during a Jordanian airstrike following the group’s release of the video titled “Healing the Believers’ Chests,” which documented the murder of Jordanian pilot Mu’ath al-Kaseasbeh. While Cantlie technically is a hostage, as with numerous other propaganda materials that feature his commentary regarding life in the “caliphate” and critiques of Western governments’ efforts to thwart the growth of DA’ISH, in this issue of Dabiq he is not shown wearing an orange jumpsuit, which hostages slated for execution by the group are normally forced to wear. Indeed, for the time being, it seems the group has opted to use him as a mouthpiece for propaganda materials. Whether Mr. Cantlie’s commentaries that suggest he may have become sympathetic to the group’s worldview are sincere is unknown. So too is the matter of whether or not DA’ISH intends to kill him.

Titled “Paradigm Shift,” the commentary piece attributed to Cantlie concludes with the following text and a lengthy Editor’s Note that provides clarification for a comment made by Cantlie therein:

War is entirely predictable in that it can only lead to one of two outcomes. Either one side emerges victorious while the other is vanquished, or some kind of truce is reached. It is the only way wars end1, and America and its allies will never win this war. They know it and everyone else knows it as well.

At some stage the only option that can prevail for America and the West is the sensible one.

1 Editor’s Note: A halt of war between the Muslims and the kuffar [in this case, Western powers fighting DA’ISH] can never be permanent …

Further processing to follow.

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