(CNN) – Terror group ISIS is trying new recruitment and propaganda tactics. Its latest effort: a slick new online magazine. The ISIS end-game: apocalyptic battles between them and the rest of the world.
In the mind of ISIS, President Obama and John McCain are crusaders who will “bring about the complete collapse of the modern American empire.”
ISIS has published this vision in a slick online magazine called “Dabiq”, named for the town in northern Syria where the last Muslim caliphate flourished in the 16th century.
“The Islamic State uses a sophisticated propaganda campaign. They’ve got images here of fighters with explosions. And inter-mixed we’ve got important phrases here: ‘It burns the crusader armies’, with images of American soldiers.”
Another person portrayed by “Dabiq” as a “crusader”: Douglas Ollivant, an Iraq combat veteran and key adviser on the 2007 troop surge who appears regularly on CNN.
Under the heading “In the words of the enemy,” “Dabiq” cites an article Ollivant wrote in May about ISIS’s growing strength.
“Well, you have to be perversely honored that someone’s reading you. But at the same time, you’re being incorporated into their propaganda. We take them seriously, write about them seriously; and perversely they then twist this to their potential recruits and say ‘Look, you know, American analysts take us seriously.’”
“Dabiq” differs from another terrorist glossy, ‘Inspire’; that magazine, from al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, has manuals on how to make bombs and get them onto planes.
“This is very different. This is encouraging people to come, to recruit, and to join the army in Iraq and Syria, and fight.”
“Dabiq” has plenty of violent images to lure jihadists: the mutilated bodies of Muslims wounded and killed by western forces and their allies, but also of ISIS’s own victims.
In its most recent issue, the final section is dedicated to the beheading of James Foley, defending his murder as retribution for western military campaigns in the Middle East.
Another prominent feature in that latest issue of the magazine is a section on the philosophies of the ISIS leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Analysts say that is designed to set him up as the overall leader of jihadists worldwide, ahead of the likes of al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.