Kittens – is there anything they can't do? The editors of Dabiq, the online magazine of ISIS, are hoping the power of pus- er, kittehs can give the bloodthirsty organization's image a much-needed boost.
The photo above appears in the 15th issue of Dabiq, illustrating an article titled “Contemplate the Creation” purportedly written by an ISIS member named Abul-Harith ath-Thaghri.
According to ath-Thaghri, he was on guard duty somewhere in war-torn Syria when he noticed a cat gingerly approaching him. The no doubt shell-shocked feline paused to consider “whether or not I was an aggressive or compassionate soul,” and evidently it decided on the latter as it then jumped into his lap.
The image seems odd, even bizarre to westerners accustomed to viral imagery featuring various barbarities conducted by ISIS – beheadings, burnings, the blowing-up of ancient monuments, and so on ad nauseum.
According to Shiraz Maher, Deputy Director of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation at King's College London, however, so-called “softer imagery” is actually quite common in ISIS propaganda directed at Muslims.
“What they want to suggest,” explains Maher, “is that they're an ordinary and typical state where the physics of everyday life ticks over like it would anywhere else in the world. They do this not only to project an image of success for their state-building project, but also to show they have a humanitarian side.”