PhD (Internal) – University of Copenhagen

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Simone Molin Friis

Simone Molin Friis

PhD fellow

Short introduction

My research focuses on international security, political violence, visual communication, and militant imagery. My current project examines the virtual, online dimension of the war against the Islamic State. More specifically, my project explores how the Islamic State mobilizes media, visual communication and spectacular displays of violence as a political strategy, as well as how the group’s images and videos have impacted security debates in western societies.

I have conducted empirical studies of the structure of the Islamic State’s media campaign, the group’s execution- and recruitment videos, the use of online mobilization, and the role of the Islamic State’s images in public security debates in the West. Finally, I am currently working on a study of the attempts at countering the Islamic State’s online communication.


Islamic State; militant communication; execution videos; (online) radicalization and mobilization; images and western security debates; virtual warfare; public displays of violence; spectacles and aesthetic politics.

PhD project 

‘Terror, Violence, Imagery: Exploring the Role of Staged Violence, Terrorist Spectacles and Visual Propaganda during the War against the Islamic State'

Supervisor: Professor Lene Hansen

Selected output 

Article on the Islamic State's use of execution videos (published in European Journal of International Relations):                              

Article on the role of the Islamic State’s beheading videos in security debates in the United Kingdom and the United States (published in International Affairs):

Chapter on the Islamic State's use of media and violence (published in the Danish edited volume from DIIS, 'Splittelsen i Global Jihad', edited by Manni Crone).

Funding and Affiliation

I am a part of the International Relations group at the Department of Political Science.

My research activities are part of the project “Images and International Security” led by Professor Lene Hansen. Images and International Security was launched in 2014 and is funded by the Danish Council for Independent Research. The project is devoted to building new theory and empirical insights on why and how images influence international relations (for more information see

I am affiliated with Centre for Advanced Security Theory (CAST).


Visuelle Mediers betydning for krig og konflikt (Autumn 2015): 

The Syrian conflict: Emergent security phenomena and analytical approaches (Summer 2017, with Maja Greenwood): 

Social Media 

Latest op-ed: ’Islamisk Stats medie-jihad er mere end brutalitet’, 

Primary fields of research

  • International Relations and Security Studies.
  • Islamic State (media, videos, communication)
  • Execution videos and beheading videos.
  • Terror and spectacular violence.
  • Political violence, imagery and visibility.
  • The Islamic State, The War on Terror, and the Syrian conflict.
  • Modern warfare and contemporary media.

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