Dusty Feet: The Postings of an ISIS Blogger

Donald Holbrook, James Hopkins, Christopher J. Barry 19 Oct 2022

Keywords: ISIS, Syria, terrorism, propaganda

He was credited with having compiled the “Lonely Planet guide” to joining ISIS, yet little is known of the remarkable stories told in Zafirr Golamaully’s series of blogs called ‘Dusty Feet’. In this research paper we retell these stories, of an individual’s journey to join, dwell with and fight for ISIS. As we describe these accounts, we discuss their significance as informal reflections seeking to reach Western audiences and draw them into a radical milieu supporting Islamist militancy. We argue that these accounts are important for three reasons: they highlight the role of informal communication in legitimising and promoting terrorism; they illustrate how such communication contributes to notions of a jihadi community that combines the virtual and physical, where real experiences imbue online outreach efforts with credibility; and they constitute innovative attempts at bridging cultural domains, linking the austere and heavily theological representation of ISIS with ironic, often humorous messaging designed to appeal to Westernised youths.

Related Readings:

Binder, L., and Gluck, R. Trends in Islamic State’s Online Propaganda: Shorter Longevity, Wider Dissemination of Content. Perspective, The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism, 5 December 2018

Ginkel, B. van. Responding to Cyber Jihad: Towards an Effective Counter Narrative. Research Paper, The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism, 31 March 2015 

Schmid, A. P. Challenging the Narrative of the “Islamic State. Research Paper, The Internatinoal Centre for Counter-Terrorism, 4 June 2015 

Dawson, L. L. A Comparative Analysis of the Data on Western Foreign Fighters in Syria and Iraq: Who Went and Why? Research Paper, The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism, 10 February 2021.