Despite the extensive amount of damage thatRussia and the United States inflicted upon ISIS in Iraq, Syria, this terrorist organization seems to be determined to compensate its losses. The Times notes that according to its sources in the Islamic State, an emergency mobilization has been declared across all the territories occupied by ISIS. Under these circumstances a special attention has been recently paid by ISIS radical militants to the propaganda war it has been waging in order to attract new followers both form Western and Muslim countries.
Last year the BBC published a pretty detailed and comprehensive study of the internal propaganda of the Islamic State. According to this study, a half of the massive amount of units of propaganda that ISIS releases, depicts brutal executions and rigid violence, while the other half depicts scenes of everyday life. ISIS propagandists are convinced that attempts to show that the Islamic State is fulfilling all the functions an actual state would must attract to the maximum number of new followers into ISIS ranks. Those propaganda pieces show routine social activities: classes in schools, medical procedures at hospital, marriages, and the seemingly serious religious educational lectures being delivered to the population to ensure the observance of moral principles. The Time would note that such pieces have proven to be pretty effective.
However, one should note that such propaganda campaigns haven’t been invented by ISIS. They have already been used by the Taliban pretty extensively, which allowed it to receive a considerable amount of support from the population of Afghanistan due to its ability to restore order in devastated areas. It should be noted that the both Hamas in Palestine and Hezbollah in Lebanon received a universal approval of the population of the above mentioned state by spending a lot of effort and money on charitable projects, such as the construction of schools, libraries, hospitals, shelters, and even the organization of sporting events.
Under these circumstances it’s not hard to understand why the ISIS propaganda campaign has been so successful in attract new supporters into the ranks of this terrorist organization. What’s curious is that young and inexperienced souls are not the only ones that are being tricked by ISIS propaganda, since the older generation is often seeking refuge from the sins of today’s Western world. Those sins are being pushed upon all states by Washington’s desire to introduce the so-called ‘multiculturalism’ and ‘American-style democracy’, which corrodes the traditional social and family values.
Therefore, it’s hardly surprising that a number of countries across the globe have come to the conclusion that if they won’t be able to find a way to counter ISIS propaganda, they won’t be able to prevent this terrorist organization from strengthening . People that have already fallen victims to this propaganda are convinced that the rule of the Islamic State is a perfectly viable option if it promises the rule of traditional values and stability, which cannot be found in the modern Western society.
For instance, France would have to admit that it has failed to provide an adequate answer to this propaganda campaign, since over 1,700 French citizens have joined the ranks of ISIS making the country the largest European “supplier” of terrorists to Syria and Iraq. As it has been noted by Le Temps, the absolute majority of large terrorist organizations in the world have French subdivisions, France remains a reliable base of operations.
As it has been noted by the Liberation, the country with a handful of major media sources has miserably failed to raise anti-ISIS awareness which resulted in terrorist attacks in Paris. In January French Minister of Internal Affairs stated that the fight against terrorist propaganda has become a top priority for the country. The newspaper notes that the inability to choose priorities and blatant shortsightedness of the government have led to disastrous consequences.
It’s curious that a French government website Stop Djihadisme, launched back in 2015, is being completely outranked by terrorist propaganda sources that have much more content to attract the viewers with. A year after the launch of this project, Stop Djihadisme appeared on Facebook and Twitter, while ISIS over the same year uploaded 800 videos in 11 languages, 15,000 photos and has been running over 20 online journals.
In turn, the US State Department launched a campaign to counter ISIS propaganda back in 2013. The media campaign that was called “Think Again Turn Away” was supported by 60 employees of the State Department. The 6 million dollars allocated on this project by the US government allowed its employers to only get more some 23 thousand followers on Twitter. The stated aim of this campaign was to uncover ISIS lies and present the first hand evidence of the crimes committed by ISIS. In January 2016, the Global Engagement Center that is now being headed by the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michael D. Lumpkin. At the end of March the “Think Again Turn Away” campaign was brought to an end, as it been recognized as “senseless and useless.”
The budget of the Global Engagement Center, according to various sources, ranges from 10 to 20 million dollars. This time around, experts say, the State Department won’t be paying its employees for writing posts in English in various social networks, instead it’s going to hire foreign top bloggers and journalists, those people who are well-respected in the Islamic communities, who are going to produce materials that the Center would deem useful in the fight against Islamist propaganda. It is expected that the GEC will be helping authors to produce high-quality content in their native languages. The distinctive feature of this campaign, according to the calculations of the Center management – is to ensure that those counter-propaganda pieces are being distributed in various regions without any mention of Washington’s involvement in its production. A particular attention is going to be paid to the distribution of these materials via Facebook and Twitter.
To assess the prospects of this project, one should take a closer look at the figure of head of the Center – Michael D. Lumpkin. This former NAVY seal was born in 1964, he spent more that 20 years in the US armed, participated in a number of military operations in Panama, Afghanistan and Iraq. He was engaged in the creation of prisons for interrogation of high-ranking prisoners, prepared groups to operate in Afghanistan, and was in charge of drone strikes in Libya and Syria. Lumpkin’s final assignment in the military was in United States Special Operations Command Office of Legislative Affairs in Washington, D.C. where he served as liaison to the United States Congress on policy and appropriation issues supporting our nation’s Special Operations Forces. So now we are to see how he’s going to show himself “in the information battle for the minds of young people.”
Given the importance of strengthening of the fight against ISIS, all countries should aim to improve their counter-propaganda efforts, which should be a crucial part of any anti-terrorist operation.