Deadly weapon: Propaganda
ISIS is taking over social media and recruiting men and women from all over the world, especially Westerners. How are they gaining so much support? Well, it’s quite simple. ISIS is very smart about who and how they are targeting Westerners. They use emotional appeal and cult-like deception to persuade young Muslims to join their fight. Recruiters have been discovered on websites like Ask.fm, a website used mostly by teenagers, where users are able to ask questions anonymously. On these types of websites, recruiters answer a wide range of questions to positively frame ISIS and spread information. They have also been found on other social media sites like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Their profiles include enticing pictures, some of which reflect warlike video games with a caption like, ‘this is our call of duty’.
Recruiters prey on younger individuals by giving members a sense of “life purpose” and “identity”. There is speculation that approximately five British individuals join ISIS each week, however, since they are not always caught it is hard to determine an exact number. So far, over a hundred Americans have been arrested trying to join ISIS in Syria. Just this past month, nineteen-year-old Mohammed Hamzah Khan, was arrested in the Chicago O’Hare International Airport while he was on his way to Syria. He is an American student who was dissatisfied with America’s actions against his ISIS brothers and sisters. In another incident, last week three teenage girls were stopped in Frankfurt, Germany while they were on their way to join ISIS. The parents of two of the girls found a note left behind, and the parents contacted the U.S. Consultant to detain the girls. Since they were caught, I wonder if they still support their decision to join ISIS? Young American and British Muslims are not the only individuals joining ISIS, but also Muslims from Canada, France, and more. ISIS recognition and support from these individuals is greatly attributed to ISIS’ social media presence.
This presence has caused ISIS to enlist in a propaganda war with anti-ISIS individuals. Through social media, videos have been shared that express membership loyalty. International members have been recorded burning their passports, which represents a permeate life with ISIS. Not only that, but ISIS has also created “Hollywood” like videos that depict the violent acts they are known for. Members show pride in their brutal tactics and incorporate explosions, shootings, and death in many of their propaganda videos.
Propaganda video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SRSotDDZSuU
Although anti-ISIS organizations are trying to counteract ISIS’ propaganda, ISIS’ social media presence remains strong. Apparently, the United State Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) created a parody Twitter account, called ISIS_fake, to down play violent attacks and undermine the Islamic State ideology. This account can be accessed at https://twitter.com/ISIS_fake. Ultimately, I do not believe this type of counterattack is effective, because I feel like the satire in the tweets devalues the importance of the ISIS issue. However, this belief is somewhat reflected in, “ThinkAgain, TurnAway”, which is Obama’s media campaign aimed at fighting ISIS propaganda. In these campaign videos, ISIS’ intentions are mocked and sarcastically toned. Some videos have been criticized as being “amateurish and ill-suited to their intended targets”. Here is an example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jfpPrq7rc5U&list=UUUjopo5TdYn5qGC5QmbkpcQ&index=3
As long as ISIS continues to have a strong social media presence, international membership will continue to grow. So far the United States has been fairly ineffective at combating ISIS propaganda. Is there a way to totally destroy ISIS propaganda?