The Islamic State Embarks on a Media Campaign to Counter Espionage

Mar 13, 2016

In the past week, the Islamic State's media branches have embarked on a campaign designed to sow fear among potential spies and foreign secret agents. On March 8, IS Al-Khayr Province (Deir ez-Zor Governorate) released a video titled "You Will Never Escape," threatening spies and agents who gather intelligence for coalition member states: "You can gather, plot, deceive, betray and convince yourselves that you will not be defeated. You will never escape." Two spies are later shown confessing that they divulged information on the Islamic State. They are then executed when an empty building where they are chained up is blown up.

Another video was issued on March 12 by the group's Euphrates Province in Iraq, showing the bodies of dead children, who were allegedly killed in a coalition airstrike. The video then shows the execution of three spies who are claimed to be providers of the information that led to the airstrike. The speaker threatens other spies that they will face a similar fate, but also calls on them to turn themselves in and repent. On the same day, IS Diyala Province in Iraq published a "photo essay" showing the capture and execution of a spy, who according to the group, was working with Iraqi intelligence. 

Information leakage has become a growing problem for the Islamic State. The most recent example is the huge batch of stolen documents with the details of 22,000 IS members that ended up in the hands of the Zaman Al-Wasl news website and Sky News. The Islamic State's enemies have been operating secret agents within the group's ranks for some time, and their crucial work is the source of valuable information about IS movements that provide targets for coalition and Russian airstrikes.