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Is ISIS Creating a Caliphate Tourist Agency?

The organization's new social media campaign paints its territory as a beautiful, serene landscape. Come for the beheadings and fundamentalist Islamic beliefs, stay for the sunsets
Jan 05, 2015 at 9:41 AM ET
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The Islamic State’s propaganda effort is shifting gear—and dramatically softening in tone. The militant organization released another video over the weekend narrated by British captive John Cantlie. In the video, Cantlie strolls the streets of ISIS-controlled Mosul, Iraq, showing how placid, how peaceful the place has become. It’s a far cry from the videos of beheadings and military operations that the ISIS media machine used to make its name.

To kick-start the 2015 campaign, the terror group began publishing a photography series highlighting the beauty of natural landscapes and “normal life” in ISIS-controlled territory.

Mass executions and suicide bombings are out. In their place: romantic sunsets, abundant rivers and green fields. These photos aren’t unusual, except that they’re being published by one of the deadliest organizations in the world. Most of the pictures are distributed using the hashtag #PlacesUnderTheCaliphateRule. In these pictures, Syria and Iraq look more like Switzerland than a war zone.

Diyala province, north of Baghdad:

Al-khafsa, eastern Aleppo, Syria:

“Sunrise of a new day in Homs province,” Syria:

Aleppo, Syria:

Raqqa province, Syria:

Mosul, Iraq: