Although the (Dis-)Believers Dislike it: a Backgrounder on IS Hostage Videos – August – December 2014

With the beheading video of U.S. photojournalist James Foley, the Islamic State (IS) initiated a hostage video campaign that received tremendous coverage in the international news media. This backgrounder highlights the most important aspects of IS hostage videos with a particular focus on their media strategic functions, which, in part, stand in sharp contrast with strategic guiding principles voiced by traditional Jihadist ideologue such as Ayman al-Zawahiri – exposing the growing rift between the IS and Al-Qaeda. Providing examples from primary sources and identifying commonalities and differences to earlier hostage footage, the Research Note illustrates that the IS hostage video campaign is rationally calculated, multifaceted, and constantly changing.

Tags: Content Analysis, ISIS, Narratives, Violent Jihadism