Sneaky ISIS, Very Sneaky

Deadly weapon: Propaganda

Screen Shot 2014-10-29 at 6.57.19 AMISIS 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, 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’.

Mohammed Hamzah Khan
Mohammed Hamzah Khan

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:

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 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:

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?



7 thoughts on “Sneaky ISIS, Very Sneaky

  1. This is a great post! I had no idea about the media war. It is crazy that the CIA has a fake twitter and that the US is trying to fight the propaganda war. It is also crazy that so many Westerners are joining! Just overall mind blowing.

  2. The fact that they are gaining members so easily is eye opening, and quite frightening. They definitely are taking advantage of vulnerable groups. When I was reading this post, I could not help but to imagine a group of individuals being brainwashed.

  3. There is a general opinion that ISIS and other terrorist organizations are run by unintelligent people but this article is just one way that disproves that idea. I don’t know if the world has ever seen such impressive utilization of social media to recruit for a terrorist organization before ISIS but it is a strategy that is working very well. I’m not sure what measures can be taken to stop the effectiveness of social media recruitment but something needs to be done soon.

  4. This is an amazing blog topic. I really enjoyed reading about it. I never knew there was such a fight with ISIS and its propaganda. I would agree that America is lacking with its fight in the media right now. I know many of us were not aware there was this huge ISIS presence in the media. I read an article about all of the websites where ISIS members have been recruiting young men and young women to join their fight. This article shows how smart ISIS is. Many think they are dumb and unorganized but their actions with propaganda show they aren’t.

  5. Wow, watching that propaganda video made my stomach turn. It is frightening to me how easily people can be influenced my social media. I was shocked when I read how many westerners are joining what they think to be “their call of duty”.

  6. There are always both positive and negative effects to every new technology and trend, and nothing demonstrates that more than social media. It’s especially scary that many people, especially young people who are desperate to fit in, use social media as an outlet to find acceptance. It makes it so easy for ISIS propaganda to find its way into their minds. I still find it hard to understand why so many young Westerners are intent on joing such a group as ISIS. Do you think they truly support its ideaology, or is it more of a statement of resistence and disapproval of Western ideals?

  7. I think the fake ISIS twitter is interesting because it just goes to show that there is literally a fake twitter for everything. I think that there will never be a way to completely wipe ISIS out of all social media. They could try and monitor and remove ISIS related accounts, but there would be nothing stopping ISIS from just starting a new account.

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