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Abstract:

This report breaks down the Islamic State’s media activities through a two-fold approach. First, it examines a small number of declassified documents captured from the group’s predecessors to provide a baseline understanding its present-day media structure and operations.  Second, through an examination of over 9,000 Islamic State official media products, this report offers detailed insight into what the group is saying and what a study of its propaganda can tell us about its strengths, weaknesses, and struggles. A number of findings emerge from these analyses. First, the Islamic State’s media network is adaptive and complex. Second, the group publishes products on a variety of themes, only one of which has to do with the violence for which the group is so well-known. Third, the frequency of the group’s products has declined significantly since its highpoint in the summer of 2015. Fourth, the Islamic State’s provincial media bureaus are not all equal in terms of their production content. Finally, although advances have been made in limiting the group’s media activities, there is still more than can be done to limit the group’s outreach efforts.

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