Iraq’s media may have unwillingly assisted the so-called Islamic State in spreading its gruesome propaganda releases, writes Al Monitor’s Mohammed Salih.

He says many of Iraq’s media outlets have “failed, to varying degrees, to exercise the due level of editorial diligence” and “sometimes ended up unwillingly acting as a force multiplier to allow IS to reach millions more”.

Ali al-Sarayi, editor-in-chief of Iraqi Media House, told Al Monitor that Iraq’s media outlets “think by running such propaganda, they will gain more sympathy for IS victims and demonstrate IS’ atrocities and violence to the audiences. But the outcome is perhaps the opposite because at the end they are propagating IS’ power and viciousness. [This] was apparent in the widespread sense of fear among many sections of Iraqi society when IS expanded into the country in mid-2014. Many civilians fled and members of the security forces did not put up much resistance as IS’ reputation for brutality had preceded it”.

Twana Osman, chairman of the Nalia Media Group, said they never show graphic videos or photos because they are “obviously meant for psychological warfare”.

“We are in a state of war with IS,” he said. “If we run those materials, we will assist IS to achieve its political and psychological objectives. Before IS’ expansion in Iraq, the group had already won the media [war] by making us all so scared of them. We had contributed to that victory unknowingly by spreading their propaganda.”