ISIS

ISIS Fans Take To Tumblr To Blog And Spread Jihad

The Islamic State's Tumblr network continues to call for lone wolf attacks and entice fangirl bloggers as ISIS accounts elsewhere are shut down

Nov 27, 2015 at 10:00 AM ET

The world of jihadi fan blogging is alive and well on Tumblr, where ISIS bloggers call for lone wolf attacks and girls crush on hunky fighters who cuddle kittens.

Unlike Facebook or Twitter, it appears Tumblr doesn’t automatically delete shared posts from banned accounts. Tumblr blogs such as radicalized kittens are able to circulate instructions for teens to sneak away from their parents and cross the Turkish border to join the Islamic State, long after the original publisher has been shut down.

Vocativ’s analysis of Tumblr posts demonstrate the skill ISIS continues to master in reaching across various social media platforms with savvy users who propagandize and recruit for the group. When foreign administrations as well as the White House talk about battling ISIS on social media platforms, this medium is only one example of the challenges they continue to confront.

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Tumblr only recently removed the blog of Dutch ISIS militant Israfil Yilmaz, whose outreach account answered reader questions for over a year. The same user name appeared on Reddit several days later claiming to be an ISIS militant whose social media accounts keep getting blocked. In his Ask Me Anything he argued that ISIS launched attacks only against countries whose governments are part of the global effort to defeat the group. “Give me 1 example of a county not at war with the Islamic State which the Islamic State has attacked or declared war on? What now?” he wrote.

Yilmaz was one of many multilingual bloggers on Tumblr trying to gather supporters from around the world. A user who calls himself “Dr. IS” is still answering questions about healthcare in the Islamic State on his blog. Other general accounts encourage volunteers to keep posting propaganda despite Anonymous cyber attacks to shut them down. The blogger behind “Musings of a Lioness” wrote: “The Islamic State said that we the media correspondents are Mujahideen too. So whatever happens remember Allah is with us and we have Allah so we have everything.”

One of the most popular ISIS blogs is salma-alansariya. It recently published an essay arguing that lone wolf attacks are an Islamic tradition stretching back hundreds of years. The blog urges Tumblr users in the West to plan their own terrorist attacks by saying: “You are living in a place where you can cause great harm to the enemy, the means of harming them are many, so seek assistance from Allah, and do not be weak and you will find a way.”

Some of ISIS’ most active Tumblr promoters are distant fangirls, who may not initially be ISIS fans but become increasingly radicalized as they blog about jihad’s romantic, cat-friendly lifestyle, replete with images of hunky fighters.

One who calls herself Al-Amriki (the American) is a 19-year-old vegan. She posts pictures of Islamist militants, often with flowers and animals, romantic poetry about jihad and heart-shaped ISIS trinkets. According to her ask.fm page, she’s had over a dozen Instagram accounts banned. She has also purchased several guns.

She routinely circulates posts by the ISIS Tumblr network and has gone from criticizing the group to saying ISIS fighters are the celebrities she’d most like to meet. A research blog that mentions her previous ask.fm page (also deleted, like her Instagram accounts, while her Tumblr blog remains), claims her mom confiscated her passport as a precaution.