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ISKP Ups Status in Global IS Media Ecosystem, Boosts Relations with Translation and Archival Platform
Two of the most significant, yet under-acknowledged, emerging entities within the greater Islamic State (IS) movement’s global constellation of media producers — the Islamic State Khurasan Province’s (ISKP) Al-Azaim outlet and I’lam Foundation translation and archival colossus — are rapidly becoming more interconnected, and elements of each appear to be increasingly coordinating with each other.
Throughout the Islamic State’s history, the movement has been buttressed by branch media outlets and aligned translation and propaganda groups. In recent months, it has become increasingly apparent that ISKP’s official media wing Al-Azaim and others, such as the infamous pro-Islamic State Halummu network, have been working with the IS media and translation archive platform known as I’lam Foundation.
Read Militant Wire’s report on I’lam Foundation here:
I’lam Foundation has become the premier source for Islamic State supporters to peruse multi-language translations of official IS materials. I’lam has links to several pro-IS media production outlets, but, as evidenced by the numbers, Al-Azaim has become a leading supplier for the network with contributions in six languages: English, Tajik, Uzbek, Persian, Pashto, and Uyghur.
ISKP’s Al-Azaim: From Local to Regional and Global
Over the last few months, the Islamic State Khurasan Province (ISKP) has made an aggressive push to expand its reach to a broader range of ethnolinguistic communities and has ramped up media production in an increased number of languages. ISKP’s strategy of regionalization and internationalization has largely run through its official branch media outlet Al-Azaim.
Al-Azaim began as one outlet amongst several but eventually became ISKP’s central propaganda organ and enlarged its scope to better cover local, regional and global issues, with multiple media and translation units working under its umbrella.
ISKP has historically put out content in Arabic, Pashto, and Dari; however, more recently, the branch has produced propaganda in an unprecedented number of languages including English, Urdu, Tajik, Uzbek, Russian, Farsi, Hindi, Malayalam, Uyghur, and possibly others.
The more global aspect of ISKP’s media strategy is represented by the drastic growth in Al-Azaim’s English language video and print materials. The group has rolled out its flagship Voice of Khurasan magazine series, has published books and statements, translations of official Islamic State media materials, and has provided video subtitles and voice narration in English, in a clear attempt to reach the global masses.
ISKP has multiple translation methods, which include tapping the organization’s human capital who have specific language skills and allowing pre-established networks to publish under the Al-Azaim umbrella.
I’lam Foundation dates to at least August 2021 and is purposed to support the Islamic State by acting as a repository and distribution channel for propaganda and translations, plus raising funds via cryptocurrency, to support the group’s operations. The site provides access to an archive of the Islamic State’s past print, audio, and video media content in various languages and features regularly updated translations of new materials.
I’lam has successfully distinguished itself by establishing a currently-active dark web channel that remains available to users when its surface websites are taken down due to terms of service violations, government counter-terrorism actions, distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, and so on.
The group posts IS propaganda in numerous languages, including Arabic, English, French, Spanish, Indonesian, Persian, Urdu, Russian, Pashto, Hindi, Uzbek, Bengali, Somali, Tajik, and others.
Until now, it was unclear how exactly I’lam’s translation publishing process worked, but recent evidence collected by Militant Wire sheds new light on some aspects of the operation. It appears that at least one method of I’lam’s translation archiving includes transfer from outside entities. Recent communications in ISKP and pro-Islamic State online channels indicate that Al-Azaim and Halummu are working with I’lam in some way to provide the platform with English language content.
However, Al-Azaim is differentiating itself as a lead partner of I’lam by distributing translations not only in English but also in Tajik, Uzbek, Persian, Pashto, and Uyghur.
I’lam Foundation and Al-Azaim Telegram Relations
I’lam Foundation’s Telegram channels have made it very clear that the group is gathering and receiving translated materials from ISKP’s Al-Azaim outlet.
On May 3rd, I’lam’s English language channel stated: “the I’lam Foundation announces the launch of a channel on the Telegram platform, specialized in publishing what is issued by the Central Diwan of Media, translated into English, quoting from the Halummu and Azaim foundations — may Allah reward them with good.” Then, a few weeks ago, an I’lam Foundation group posted a Voice of Khurasan magazine issue using the exact text format ISKP uses and listed I’lam’s name alongside Al-Azaim.
Further evidence shows that the channels of Al-Azaim’s Tajik unit share the same admin with at least two I’lam Foundation Tajik language channels as well as other Tajik pro-IS groups, such as Sadoi Shaykh. This is strong evidence that the groups have at minimum direct collaboration, but the relationship could also be more centralized with shared resources beyond translation, such as fundraising and web hosting.
On the face of it, this is I’lam Foundation’s professed gathering of translated documents from Al-Azaim. However, I’lam’s consistent and timely collection and archiving processes indicate that the group is able to quickly and consistently access ISKP’s various media distribution channels (different Al-Azaim media units have their own channels for specific languages), which is often a time-consuming and patient process given the frequency at which the channels are suspended. The ones that avoid suspension are often set to private and require short-lived invite links to access. The likelihood is that the groups share the material directly in back channels.
It is also notable that pro-ISKP and official Al-Azaim channel descriptions and administrator account profiles often include links to the I’lam page categories of their respective languages. Additionally, these channels quite often share I’lam links.
I’lam Foundation is performing increasingly important services for mostly non-Arabic speakers and those who lack easy access to official IS propaganda and historical content. Al-Azaim, though distinct as an official branch media wing of ISKP, is further becoming part of the global collective “influencer” ecosystem comprised of loosely connected, affiliated, or generally known pro-IS media groups that regurgitate, recycle, and produce propaganda for the “jihadi joe.”
As I’lam rises and its relationship with and reliance upon ISKP strengthens, Al-Azaim is growing its profile and has indeed become an increasingly critical player in internationalizing the global IS movement itself, evidenced in the somewhat-independent release of propaganda material, multilevel relaundering of IS content, and fusing efforts with like-minded entities to enhance their growth and outreach.