“To My Brothers in the West . . .”: A Thematic Analysis of Videos Produced by the Islamic State’s al-Hayat Media Center

This study examines videos produced by the al-Hayat Media Center, a branch of the Islamic State’s (IS) larger media campaign aimed more specifically at Western audiences. Using a thematic analysis approach, recurring themes of 10 al-Hayat videos were identified with conclusions made regarding the specificities of the message and the target audience. It was found that al-Hayat videos cater to potential Western recruits and sympathizers by portraying life in the IS as spiritually and existentially fulfilling, while simultaneously decrying the West as secular, immoral, and criminal. By utilizing well-produced propaganda videos that tap into the dissatisfactions of Western Muslims, al-Hayat was shown to deliver a sophisticated and legitimate message that may play a role in the larger radicalization process.

Tags: ISIS, Radicalisation, Thematic Analysis