Have you heard that ISIS operates a luxury hotel? And that it's running an equal-opportunity jihad, offering deaf and hearing people alike the chance to fight and die in its terrorist war?
At least, that's what ISIS wants you think — as this amazing video from the Wall Street Journal, which compiles images from ISIS propaganda videos filmed in the Iraqi city of Mosul, shows:
The footage is unbelievable — literally. ISIS wants you to think Mosul under its rule is a glittering five-star paradise, complete with balloons and carnival rides. But everything we hear from other sources about life in Mosul and other ISIS-controlled cities suggests the opposite. The water and power systems barely function. Public hospitals are chronically short on medicine. Beheadings are "routine."
ISIS produces propaganda like this because it's critically important for the group to maintain a positive public image. ISIS's international recruiting message depends on it being the Islamic State: members need to make it look like their so-called caliphate is actually a functioning society to persuade Muslims around the world to give up their lives and fight for the cause. They need to think they're fighting for a better world, one promised to them by God.
Some international ISIS recruits try to flee back home when they discover that the harsh reality of life with ISIS doesn't match the utopian vision they were promised. But that's harder than it sounds: according to a February estimate from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, ISIS had executed around 120 of its own fighters — most of them foreigners trying to leave.