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Issue Two Of Magazine Published By ISIS Affiliate In Myanmar Focuses On Prisoners, Provides Monero Account For Donating Cryptocurrency

On May 10, 2021, the media outlet of Myanmar-based Islamic State (ISIS) affiliate Katiba Al-Mahdi fi Bilad Al-Arakan, released the second issue of its English-language Arkan magazine. Katiba Al-Mahdi is a Rohingya jihadi group active in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, also known as Arakan, which pledged allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Ibrahim Al-Hashemi Al-Qurashi in November 2020, although ISIS has yet to officially announce its acceptance of the group’s bay’a (“oath of allegiance”)[1].The first issue of the Arkan magazine, whose name, meaning “Pillars,” is a play on the word Arakan, was published on December 25, 2020.[2] ArRukn Media Center also published a 35-page book in English discussing Islamic traditions surrounding the Mahdi, a messianic eschatological figure, in February 2021.

Similar to other English-language pro-ISIS magazines, such as the Kashmir-based Voice of Hind, which has published 15 issues since February 2020, the Arkan magazine emphasizes basic matters of Salafi-jihadi ideology. One reason for this focus may be the limited inroads such ideology has made in non-Arab parts of the Muslim world, as well as an attempt to win hearts and minds by explaining ISIS ideology to members of persecuted Muslim groups, such as Muslims in Kashmir and Rohingya in Myanmar, and presenting the organization’s methodology as the key to solving their problems.

It should be noted that the official English-language ISIS magazines Dabiq, which published 15 issues between 2014 and 2016, and Rumiyah, which published 13 issues in 2016 and 2017, followed a similar method of devoting attention to ideology. The first issue of Dabiq announced the magazine will focus on issues of “tawhid [monotheism]manhaj [methodology]hijra [emigration from non-Muslim lands to Muslim ones]jihad, and jama’a [a group that unifies Muslims],” as well as featuring reports, photo articles, and news about ISIS.

The Arkan and Voice of Hind magazines are presumably published in English, rather than Arabic or local languages, to reach the widest possible audience consisting of both locals and Muslims in other areas. An Arabic-language magazine would be understood by few Muslims in Kashmir or Myanmar, while a magazine in Burmese, Urdu, Hindi, or Kashmiri would reach only a small niche. Publishing in English, which is widely used in India and Myanmar, enables these magazines’ message to reach both locals and the wider Muslim public.

This report will briefly review the contents of the issue. Detailed reports on some of the articles will follow shortly.

The 61-page issue, titled “Ahsan Al-Qasas” (“The Best of Stories,” a reference to Quran 12:3), emphasizes the plight of prisoners. The table of contents is placed against the background of the English version of a poster released in the official Arabic-language ISIS magazine, Al-Naba’, in January 2021, titled “We Have Not Forgotten You,” which was part of an ISIS media campaign calling attention to prison-break operations ISIS has carried out, while promising similar additional operations to free imprisoned ISIS operatives.

The final page of the magazine declares: “The mission of ArRukn Media Center is to convey the message of Katiba Al-Mahdi to the Muslims with the aim of unifying them under a Wilayah [province] of the Islamic Khilafah in Arakan. ArRukn Media produces written material on Tawhid, Hijrah, Bay’ah, Jihad, etc. The name ArRukn means Foundations or Pillar, which is derived from Arkanul Iman [the fundamentals of Islamic belief] and Arkanul Islam [the fundamentals of Islamic practice]. As Jihad is the peak of Al-Islam, it cannot be reached without laying a strong foundational base first. So, O Muslim Muwahhidin [monotheists]help us build a strong base from where we will raise the Flag of Laa ilaaha illa Allah [there is no one worthy of worship other than Allah] high with the permission of Allah the Most High.”

The end of the issue contains a poster praising those who donate to jihad and gives a barcode with a Monero address for donating cryptocurrency. The final page contains images of ArRukn’s previous publications and contains links to the group’s accounts on Element, Rocket.Chat, and other platforms, as well as a ProtonMail address.

The full text of this report is available to MEMRI Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor subscribers.

Subscription information is available at this link.

JTTM subscribers can visit this page to view the report.

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