ISIS Is Winning the Twitter War

An ISIS propaganda poster featuring terrorist Omar Mateen, who killed 49 people in Orlando, Florida / AP

An ISIS propaganda poster featuring terrorist Omar Mateen, who killed 49 people in Orlando, Florida / AP

Washington Free Beacon, by Morgan Chalfant, Aug. 6, 2016:

Islamic State supporters have given the terror group an advantage over its opponents by out-tweeting critics, according to a new study.

While ISIS opponents outnumbered the group’s supporters six-to-one on Arabic-language Twitter last year, ISIS supporters “routinely outtweet opponents” and are better at using social media to propagate their message, according to a RAND Corporation study that examined ISIS Twitter networks between July 2014 and April 2015.

Researchers discovered nearly 76,000 pro-ISIS Twitter accounts using Arabic on the social media site, a marked increase over a 2014 estimate by the Brookings Institution of around 46,000 Twitter accounts used by ISIS supporters—communicating in both Arabic and English.

The RAND study found over 471,000 accounts dispersing critical messages about the terrorist group.

ISIS supporters tweeted 60 times per day on average, 50 percent more than their opponents.

“While ISIS supporters are outnumbered, it is clear that they are more active than ISIS opponents, as they produce 150 percent of opponents’ number of tweets a day. These results suggest that ISIS supporters are more energized than their opponent counterparts,” the researchers concluded in the study released on Tuesday.

“However, more than this, lexical analysis of the ISIS Supporters metacommunity demonstrates that ISIS supporters more actively adhere to good social media strategy by actively encouraging fellow supporters to ‘spread,’ ‘disseminate,’ and ‘link’ messages to expand their reach and impact,” the researchers continued.

ISIS has leveraged Twitter and other social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, and, to disseminate its message and reach potential sympathizers beyond its so-called caliphate in Iraq and Syria. From 2011 to September 2015, roughly 30,000 foreign fighters, including thousands of Westerners and hundreds of Americans, tried to travel to Iraq and Syria, many seeking to join ISIS.

An Alabama high school student who joined the terror group first made contact with ISIS members and supporters on Twitter, according to an interview published by BuzzFeed last year.

ISIS hacking groups have also used social media to promote “kill lists” targeting U.S. military officials, law enforcement personnel, and civilians.

The State Department said in June that ISIS posed the greatest global terror threat last year, noting that the group’s “propaganda and use of social media have created new challenges for counterterrorism efforts.”

RAND researchers analyzed publicly available Twitter data over a 10-month period to understand different communities talking about ISIS and develop recommendations for U.S. and allied efforts to combat the terror group on social media.

The Obama administration has struggled to counter terrorist propaganda online. In January, it overhauled its efforts to curb ISIS and other terror groups’ digital influence with the creation of a counterterrorism task force.

The State Department, which was widely mocked in 2014 for its “Think Again Turn Away” counter-messaging campaign, shuttered its Center for Counterterrorism Communications at the start of this year after an expert panel concluded that the U.S. government should not be so overtly engaged in information operations against ISIS.

The department replaced the program with the Global Engagement Center, which largely relies on foreign states to lead counterterrorism messaging.

Twitter began suspending ISIS accounts in March 2015, which may have resulted in a gradual decline of ISIS supporters, the RAND research indicated. Still, the organization’s use of social media has exacerbated concerns about its ability to inspire future attacks like the Orlando nightclub shooting carried out by ISIS sympathizer Omar Mateen in June. That attack killed 49 people.

Phillip Lohaus, a national security expert at the American Enterprise Institute, told the Washington Free Beacon that Twitter has been effective at cracking down on jihadist accounts, but that some supporters have found ways to direct individuals to ISIS resources without being flagged by the company.

“There are people who sympathize with jihadist groups, with ISIS, that are on Twitter and that know what boundaries not to cross, and therefore can serve as a conduit to point people toward certain resources or to get out messages that are sympathetic to ISIS if they’re not necessary inciting people to violence or things that Twitter would immediately kick them off for,” Lohaus explained.

He said that ISIS has used Twitter and other platforms to “create an online community” that the U.S. government has thus far been ineffective at countering.

“The way that the government has handled this so far has been to kind of send out a couple snarky tweets and they think that’s sufficient,” Lohaus explained. “The real issue here is that these jihadist groups are creating an online community. It’s not just that they’re just sending out all this horrible propaganda. It’s that they’re sending out things like poems, they’re sending out highly-polished videos, they’re sending out all kinds of essays that maybe are only tangentially related to extremists.”

The RAND study recommended that the State Department provide “social media trainings and other engagements” to ISIS opponents using Arabic-language Twitter to amplify their messages. “Of course, with al-Qa’ida and its affiliates counted among the ISIS opponents, care will have to be taken in selecting those suitable to train and empower,” the researchers noted.

RAND researchers also recommended that government organizations looking to combat ISIS with counter-messaging on Twitter should tailor their messages to target specific communities because the terror group’s Twitter community “is highly fragmented and consists of different communities that care about different topics.”

The U.S. military and State Department should also continue to highlight global atrocities committed by ISIS, the researchers wrote, highlighting data indicating that intense attention to such acts resulted in an influx of anti-ISIS messaging. “Note, however, ISIS clearly uses ultraviolence as a key component of its brand, and a messaging strategy, consequently, highlighting such actions risks playing into its hands,” they warned.

In addition to public social media platforms, ISIS has also turned to secure messaging platforms like Kik to communicate with potential supporters and fighters, which Lohaus indicated could be more of a threat than propaganda spread through Twitter.

“These are secured chat platforms where ISIS recruiters and propagandists can directly get in touch with youths or with anybody who might be interested in their cause,” Lohaus said, adding later that militants could leverage these platforms to call for future attacks against the West.

“There’s a whole section of communications in our society to which the government doesn’t have access and I think that we are already seeing Islamists exploit that, and I can’t imagine why they wouldn’t for operational things either,” he said.

YouTube bans video on Muslim Brotherhood, Sharia and Civilization Jihad as “hate speech”


Jihad Watch, by Robert Spencer, July 6, 2016:

Here is a full transcript of the video. Where is the “hate speech”? Where is there even any factual inaccuracy?

For the Left, truth is no defense. What they want to do is silence their ideological foes. That’s all. The problem with the increasingly mainstream concept that “hate speech is not free speech” is that what exactly constitutes “hate speech” is a subjective judgment, often based on the political proclivities of the person doing the judging. If a Leftist analyst who subscribes to the fantasy that the Muslim Brotherhood is a “firewall against extremism” is doing the judging, he may think that the information below is “hate speech,” while if someone who is aware of the true nature and magnitude of the jihad threat is the judge, he would more likely consider Hamas-linked CAIR’s “Islamophobia” reports to be genuine “hate speech.”

The concept of “hate speech” is, in reality, a tool of the powerful to silence and demonize their critics. It has no place in a free society. This action by YouTube is ominous in the extreme, and is almost certainly the harbinger of much worse to come.

You can still see the video on Facebook here, and here is the full transcript: “Killing for a Cause: Sharia Law & Civilization Jihad,” Counter Jihad, June 29, 2016:

What is Civilization Jihad? This video explains in three minutes.

We have a new video aimed at non-experts as an introduction to the basic ideas behind the Counterjihad. Please watch it, and share it with those whom you think need to see it. The text of the video is as follows:

Terrorism seems to be everywhere, and it’s getting worse. The bad guys have lots of names—ISIS, al Qaeda, Boko Haram—but they have one thing in common. They are all killing for a cause: Islamic Law known as Sharia.

Sharia is a return to medieval Islam. Sharia demands a Holy War calledJihad. The most widely available book of Islamic Law in English says: “Jihad means to war against non-Muslims.”

There are two kinds of Jihad. Violent Jihad is horribly simple, slaughtering innocents and forcing submission. Violent Jihadists want to conquer land for their Caliphate – essentially an Islamic State where Sharia Law is supreme.

But there is another kind of Jihad. In their Explanatory Memorandum, theMuslim Brotherhood, calls this, “civilization jihad,” saying, “The [Muslim Brotherhood] must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and ‘sabotaging’ its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers…”

Civilization Jihad has the same goal as the Violent Jihad—to conquer land for their Caliphate—but instead of waging war or staging terror attacks like their brothers in the violent jihad, these Civilization Jihadists wear suits and ties, and their work is much more subtle.

So what do they do? They file lawsuits for Muslim truck drivers who don’t want to drive beer. They convince schools to hold Muslim Day, where the girls wear head scarves and the kids say Muslim prayers. They complain when our government watches to see if their violent buddies are hanging out with them.

They call anyone critical of Islamic Law an “Islamophobe,” a term they invented to make people scared to speak out—like the neighbors of the terrorists in San Bernardino who knew something was wrong, but didn’t want to say anything because they’d be accused of profiling.

These bad guys have lots of names, too: the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR); the Muslim Student Association (MSA); Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). The Justice Department found that these groups were, in fact, started by the Muslim Brotherhood.

These groups like to say that terrorism has no religion, but only Islam has Sharia and Jihad.

Not all Muslims practice Sharia or support it, but an awful lot do. They believe that anyone who insults Islam can be killed; they believe thatwomen are property; that gays should be killed; and that little girls should be mutilated and forced to marry old men they’ve never men. These things are simply not allowed in our free society and are against the Constitution.

There are plenty of Modern Muslims who want to “live and let live,” but unfortunately the groups that speak most often for the Muslim community follow the medieval version based on Sharia.

They are working to make the US more like the Caliphate. They have to go.

ISIS-linked jihadis publish ‘hit list’ targeting US State Dept. personnel


The Foreign Desk, by Lisa Daftri, April 25, 2016:

ISIS-linked militants published an online ‘hit list’ targeting State Dept. employees and listing their personal information Monday, as seen by The Foreign Desk.

The group, United Cyber Caliphate, a self-proclaimed “hacking” group linked with the Islamic State, posted on their Telegram account a list of 43 government employees’ sensitive information, including home addresses, phone numbers and email addresses.

The list includes individuals from the State Dept. and Homeland Security, as well as the departments of energy, commerce, health and defense.

The document is entitled “wanted to be killed” and reads: “USA You are our primary goal. Your system failed to Tackling [sic] our attacks. Now we will Crush you again.”

Over the last few weeks, three ISIS-linked groups have merged together to compound their cyber and hacking abilities, forming the Caliphate Cyber Army (CCA), which has been taking on hacking groups like Anonymous and specializes in combating online threats to the Islamic State.

The group publicized the merger with an announcement in both English and Arabic:

After relying on Almighty Allah and by his grace, incorporation between Islamic State Hackers Teams to expand in our operations, to hit’em deeper. We announce our new team United Cyber Caliphate.

Previously, the CCA put out another “kill list” of 36 police officers in Minnesota.

They also had a miserable fail in attempting to hack Google, but instead went after an Indian business website called Add Google Online, a search engine optimization, (SEO) company for small to medium sized businesses.

Also see:

Social Media Emerges as a Valuable Terrorist Fundraising Tool

by Abha Shankar
IPT News
April 20, 2016

1493Social media has emerged as a valuable and effective fundraising tool for terrorist groups. The Internet’s easy access and relative anonymity allows terrorist groups to solicit online donations from both supporters and unsuspecting donors who believe they are supporting a humanitarian or charitable activity.

On March 22, for example, the Nafir al Aqsa (Mobilizing for Al-Aqsa) Campaign “to equip the mujahidin of Beit al Maqdis [Jerusalem],” posted (and suspended in the past day) a solicitation for funding under the Twitter handle @Nafeer_aqsa100. It cites a hadith – a saying attributed to Islam’s prophet Muhammad – that giving money to those waging jihad is as good as doing it yourself.


Nafir al Aqsa Campaign

To equip the Mujahdin of Beit al Maqdis

Equip a Mujahid

2,500 Dollars


Ammunition vest

Military clothing


Military boots

The Messenger of God (May God bless him and grant him peace) said: “Whoever equips a warrior in the way of God has himself fought, and he who supplies the needs of the family of a warrior has himself fought.”

The post lists a Telegram account “Nafeeraq” and email to contact the campaign.

Another post from March 23 (also suspended in the past day) solicits funds for jihad, listing the prices of a sniper weapon ($6,000), a grenade thrower RPG ($3,000), and PK machine gun ($5,500).

1495The solicitation campaign cites a statement from bin Laden: “I urge the youth and the sincere traders to seize this opportunity and undertake this sublime task of defending this religion and salvage this Ummah by supporting this Jihad and their properties and by exhorting and fighting against our enemies, especially in Palestine and Iraq.”

1496The Nafir al Aqsa campaign also solicits funds on YouTube.

1497In an April 2015 post, the Twitter handle @7sanaabil belonging to a Chechen jihadist group Jaish alMuhajireen wal-Ansar (“The Army of the Mujahidin and Ansar”) based in Aleppo, Syria, solicited donations for “Arming-Medical-Relief-Sponsorship” and “sponsorship of the families of martyrs.” The fundraising campaign uses Whatsapp and Telegram – mobile apps to receive and send text messages – to communicate instructions for transferring money. Jaish alMuhajireen wal-Ansar has pledged allegiance to al-Qaida’s Syria branch, the al Nusra Front.

An Aug. 21 post by @7sanaabil claims that “Jihad for money” trumps the interpretation of jihad in the Quran as a struggle for self improvement.

A recent report by the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an intergovernmental money laundering and terrorism financing watchdog, underscores the widespread use of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Whatsapp, Skype, and Telegram by terrorist groups and their financial facilitators to coordinate “large-scale and well-organized fundraising schemes” involving thousands of “sponsors” raising “significant amounts of cash.”

The challenge in slowing online fundraising “in an era when social media allows anyone with an Internet connection to set himself up as an international terrorist financier” was further highlighted by then-Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence and now CIA Deputy Director David Cohen in a March 2014 address before the Center for New American Security: “We see this activity most prominently in Kuwait and Qatar, where fundraisers aggressively solicit donations online from supporters in other countries, notably Saudi Arabia, which have banned unauthorized fundraising campaigns for Syria.”

A fundraising campaign tied to the al Nusra Front and led by Saudi Sheikh Abdullah Mhesne used the Twitter handle “Jhad_bmalk” to call for contributions “to support the Islamic battalions” by invoking passage 47:38 from the Quran: “Behold, you are those invited to spend in the way of Allah; but among you are some that are niggardly. But any who are niggardly are so at the expense of their own souls.”

Read  more

Islam and Police

unnamed (9)

By Counter Jihad, March 15, 2016:

In Rotherham, England, three men have been facing trial for leading an Islamic cell that arranged the rape of children for sixteen years.  Police are finally out in force in Rotherham, after having ignored the cell for those sixteen years in spite of repeated reports from citizens.  They are out in force now to resist “Islamophobia.”  How big a problem is Islamophobia in Rotherham?  Police reports say that relevant complaints fell in frequency last year in spite of the trial.

In the city of Paris, where two major attacks by Islamic terrorists last year killed dozens and led to worldwide condemnation, police are under fire for having targeted Muslims visiting radical Imams.  Police say the man leading the protests against them not only visited a known radical but “recently traveled to a part of Brussels where several of the attackers in the Nov. 13 Paris assaults had lived, and that he had five cellphones and four USB memory sticks in his possession.”  Muslims say this is an abuse of the emergency powers, and that police were “mean” and “scornful” in conducting the raid.

Now social media provides a new way for Muslims in Europe to shame the police into giving way.

Muslims in Europe are striking back on social media. They are publicly shaming police officers who allegedly use racial profiling techniques for stops and searches, posting detailed exchanges with said officers, and sharing photographic evidence of the damage done after what they describe as wrongful raids.

French journalist Driss Abdi took to Twitter to denounce what he called racial profiling at Munich Airport. “Racial profiling in Germany? Only one stopped exiting the plane, I guess I’m a bit too brown #racism #police,” he tweeted, alongside a photograph of a female police officer who appeared to be checking his data at the airport.

This tactic is likely to work.  The Muslim Brotherhood’s influence on Western governments mean that the French like the British are taking advice on how to deal with Muslim populations that presses the police to turn a blind eye.  Even in America, the Boston police commissioner went to a mosque that has produced a dozen terrorists and proclaimed that“ We’re all Muslims deep down.”  ISIS disagrees:  they just published a kill list of Minnesota cops.

Even Israel and India, two nations that have suffered intense Islamic terrorism, there is pressure from on high to increase Muslim representation within the police forces.  There is pressure to reduce surveillance, not to speak critically, and to regard the local population as the real threat — a threat against Muslims.

It is as if the terrorist attacks never happened, when in fact they have happened over and over worldwide.  Security cannot be improved if we cannot think and speak the truth.

ISIS expanding digital footprint with 90,000 Twitter accounts, counterterrorism adviser says

In this June 16, 2014, file photo, demonstrators chant pro-Islamic State group slogans as they carry the group’s flags in front of the provincial government headquarters in Mosul, Iraq. (AP Photo, File)

In this June 16, 2014, file photo, demonstrators chant pro-Islamic State group slogans as they carry the group’s flags in front of the provincial government headquarters in Mosul, Iraq. (AP Photo, File)

Washington Times, by Guy Taylor, March 8, 2016:

There are as many as 90,000 Twitter accounts associated with or sympathetic to the Islamic State terror group, whose digitally-savvy recruiting operation “produced nearly 7,000 slick pieces of propaganda” in 2015.

Such statistics were at the heart of remarks that Lisa Monaco, a top counterterrorism adviser to the Obama administration, made Monday as she emphasized the extent to which the global jihadist terror threat has evolved in recent years.

 “What distinguishes the threat today is that it is broader, more diffuse — and less predictable — than at any time since 9/11,” Ms. Monaco told an audience at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington.

“Where we once spoke of hierarchical ‘networks’ and ‘sleeper cells,’ much of the threat today is online, distributed across the globe,” she said in a speech likely to draw ire from critics, who claim the administration is failing to act on intelligence to crush the far-reaching media arms of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL.

The Washington Times reported in December on the existence of a secret project tied to the overall U.S. campaign against ISIS, in which American intelligence officials have effectively mapped the physical locations of media safe houses where the terror group is compiling, editing and curating raw video and print materials into finished digital propaganda products.

Most of the locations are embedded in heavily residential areas in Syria, Iraq and Libya and are not being targeted by U.S. airstrikes because of Obama administration concerns about civilian casualties, according to sources who spoke to The Times only on the condition of anonymity.

At the time, the sources said the White House was pressing on the intelligence community to continue studying the facilities for a deeper understanding of how the Islamic State and its media enterprises operate.

Ms. Monaco made no mention of the the secret mapping program in her remarks Monday, although she maintained that U.S. forces are “hammering ISIL on the ground.”

“In Iraq and Syria, coalition forces have conducted almost 11,000 precision airstrikes on ISIL,” she said. “Today, these terrorists have lost about 40 percent of the territory they once controlled in Iraq and 20 percent in Syria.”

But debate over the scope of propaganda spewing from the group remains heated in Washington. And Ms. Monaco seemed keen to put a fine point on it.

“They’re on Facebook. They’re on YouTube. There are something like 90,000 Twitter accounts associated with or sympathetic to ISIL, sometimes with 50,000 followers each,” she said. “Last year, ISIL produced nearly 7,000 slick pieces of propaganda, disseminated by 43 distinct ISIL media offices.”

“I remember only a few years ago, the counterterrorism community was worried about an al Qaeda affiliate distributing an online magazine via PDF file,” Ms. Monaco said in prepared remarks. “That looks like the eight-track tape version compared to what we’re seeing now.”

“With the click of a mouse, these Internet-savvy extremists are poisoning the minds of people an ocean away,” she added. “The FBI has investigated ISIL-inspired suspects in all 50 states. And this is not just an American or a Western problem — as we’ve seen from Nigeria to Indonesia, this is a global problem.”

While critics say President Obama should do more to prevent ISIS from maintaining a physical footprint of media production houses upon which creation of the terrorist group’s most influential products depends, Ms.Monaco argued that progress is being made in other ways.

She suggested the administration is succeeding by doubling down on its current dual-track strategy toward countering ISIS propaganda — a strategy that involves an interagency push to spread carefully crafted counter-messaging online and through local partners around the world, while also ramping up pressure on American social media companies to block extremist content and links from their online platforms.

“Tech firms like Facebook, Google, YouTube and Instagram have made significant strides — removing terrorist content that violate their terms of service and denying ISIL a digital safe haven,” Ms. Monaco said. “Twitter has suspended roughly 125,000 ISIL-linked accounts in just the past six months.”

“No amount of airstrikes — no amount of military power alone — can defeat these fanatics and their warped worldview once and for all,” she said. “The only lasting answer to hateful ideologies are better ideas. So, even as we target ISIL’s men and money, our final pillar recognizes that we must also confront—and defeat — their twisted message.”

Ms. Monaco pointed to the State Department’s recent creation of a new “Global Engagement Center, which will amplify and empower the voices of our international partners, from religious leaders to ISIL defectors.”

She also pointed to the administration-backed “Global Youth Summit” held in New York in September, in which “hundreds of young people, from 45 countries, came together to build digital platforms designed to help keep people off the dark road of radicalization.”

“They came up with incredible ideas — from supporting aspiring entrepreneurs to anti-extremist rap music,” Ms. Monaco said.

Obama Counter-Terror Adviser: Terror Groups Planning ‘Sophisticated and Coordinated Attacks’

Lisa Monaco / AP

Lisa Monaco / AP

Washington Free Beacon, by Adam  Kredo, March 7, 2016:

President Obama’s top counter-terrorism adviser disclosed on Monday that international terrorist organizations, including ISIS and al Qaeda affiliates, are “planning for sophisticated and coordinated terror attacks,” according to determinations made by the U.S. government.

Lisa Monaco, a top counter-terrorism adviser at the White House, warned that the risk of terrorism, both at home and abroad, has reached peak levels, with threat levels becoming “broader, more diffuse, and less predicable than at any time since” the 9/11 attacks.

“We continue to see planning for sophisticated and coordinated attacks, such as those in Paris,” Monaco said, referring to last year’s mass attack by ISIS in France. The United States also continues “to disrupt plots also from al Qaeda’s largest affiliate, the Nusra Front, operating in Syria.”

“What keeps me up at night is that this threat is unlike what we’ve seen before,” she added, referring in particular to ISIS.

The U.S. military and intelligence communities have faced difficulties in combatting the threat due in part to a rise in the number of small, undetectable terror cells and lone wolf radicals who are not formally affiliated with any particular group.

“Terrorism today is increasingly defined by small cells or lone actors, sometimes with little or no direct contact with terrorist organization,” Monaco said, referring to the recent terror attacks in San Bernardino, California.

“It was a starkly different kind of attack,” she said. “Simply put, the terrorist threat we confront today, almost 15 years” after the 9/11 attacks, “has evolved and done so dramatically.”

This new threat is personified by ISIS, which Monaco credited with refining “do it yourself terrorism.”

“The primary example of this new type of terrorism is the cancer of ISIL,” she explained. “ISIL has eclipsed core al Qaeda as the principle terrorist threat we face.”

With its “apocalyptic ambition and an unprecedented brutality,” ISIS is a threat “unlike what we’ve seen before,” Monaco said of ISIS, which was once described by the Obama administration as an amateur organization.

“ISIL is very different” from al Qaeda, she said. “These fanatics are online and on the ground. They are at once terrorists, insurgents, and bureaucrats.”

“The different threat that ISIL poses is a danger we cannot ignore nor underestimate,” she added. “This is not an entity we can accommodate. Today, ISIL, in all its manifestations—insurgent army, foreign fighter magnet, social media phenomena, external operations cadre—ISIL is the principle counter-terrorism threat we face as a nation.”

Social media poses one of the most complex problems for U.S. counter-terrorism officials.

ISIL has shown that it can successfully recruit and indoctrinate social media users, such as those on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, Monaco said, revealing that there are more than 90,000 Twitter accounts associated with or sympathetic to the terror group. Many of these accounts reach more than 50,000 followers.

“Through their use of social media, ISIL has distributed the threat globally,” Monaco said. “They can inspire sympathizers and adherents anywhere”

Al Qaeda also remains a challenge, despite taking a backseat to ISIS.

Al Qaeda continues to plan attacks on “American interests” and “has attempted to attack the U.S. multiple times,” primarily through its most dominant arm, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

The United States has devised new methods to combat radicalism, including “creating anti-extremist rap music,” Monaco said.

Monaco further disclosed that for the first time the Obama administration will reveal in the coming weeks a new report disclosing the number of combatant and non-combatant casualties from U.S. strikes since 2009. The figures will continue to be publicly provided on an annual basis.

The Obama administration has implemented a number of safeguards to prevent civilian casualties.

U.S. military pilots who have returned from the fight against ISIS have disclosed they were not authorized to drop up to 75 percent of their ordnance.

ISIS Fans Present: Lone Wolf Terrorism For Dummies

2016_03_03-TerrorismForDummies-Header2970745526Vocativ, By Shane Dixon Kavanaugh and Gilad Shiloach, March 04, 2016:

Jihadi wannabes inspired by the Islamic State’s brand of religious fervor andbrutal violence can now train like an ISIS militant from the comfort of their own home.

ISIS fans have surpassed their prior attempts to promote homegrown terror by crafting a sweeping handbook for so-called “lone wolf” extremists, Vocativ analysts discovered. This manual moves beyond bomb-making tips and calls for indiscriminate violence. To do the Islamic State’s bidding requires a radical regimen of religious indoctrination, weapons mastery and other militant tactics. And this one book lays it all out, step-by-step, in a fashion that calls to mind the popular For Dummies self-help franchise.

Vocativ analysts discovered the untitled tome on a Telegram channel dedicated to lone wolf terrorism in general. A published synopsis that accompanied the guide spells out its target audience.

“For every Muslim believer whose religion and holy places are being attacked, who see the killing, burning, displacing, terrorizing, capturing and torturing of Muslims, and whose heart wanted to revolt and take revenge but couldn’t find a way,” the synopsis says in Arabic. “For all those who wanted to join and make jihad for the sake of Allah. For those who want to be ruled by Sharia law and not live under the decay of democracy and the other laws created by man. For all those who love and support the Islamic State and see the ruthless Crusader campaign against it.”


A link from the post takes users to the material, a 1.6 gigabyte file that can then be downloaded as an interactive e-book. For easy reading and reference, the e-book is organized into thematic sections. It begins with a review of Islamic fundamentals as interpreted through ISIS’ radical lens, including discourses on Sharia law and jihad. After learning how to properly pledge allegiance to the Islamic State, readers receive a detailed rationale for why the terror group kills “infidels” and wages war against the West.

Those itching to learn how to fashion makeshift explosives or operate anti-aircraft missiles are also in luck. Sections of the guidebook give crash courses in basic chemistry, bomb building and the use of heavy artillery. One illustrated example includes a device similar to the one purportedly used by ISIS to down a Russian commercial airliner in Egypt last October, killing 224 passengers.

There are even step-by-step instructions within the material on what a lone wolf should do in the event that he or she is detained and interrogated by police (spoiler alert: don’t snitch).

An image of the latest ISIS-inspired lone wolf guide.

An image of the latest ISIS-inspired lone wolf guide.

ISIS fans have long been avid proponents of lone wolf terrorism, and that’s only intensified in the aftermath of the attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California, for which the militant group claimed credit. Through pockets of the dark net, social media and messaging apps, ISIS has weaned a generation of young jihadists on a diet of stomach-churning propaganda. Time after time, its militants have then called on those who are unable to join its jihad in Syria and Iraq to wage war at home.

Those efforts have hit some snags. In recent months, prominent social media companies, including Twitter and Facebook, intensified their efforts to crack down on terror-related material online. One recent study showed that repeated suspensions of English-speaking ISIS sympathizers on Twitter had effectively curbed their expansion on the social network and crippled the ability of some of the group’s most active supporters to spread their extremist message.

But ISIS continues to find new ways to target and recruit would-be terrorists online. Telegram, a lesser-known social messaging app, has been an especially rich platform. In the past, supporters have offered tutorials on manufacturing weapons and how to launch cyber attacks. And they’ve made repeated calls for targeted killings, including Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter’s Jack Dorsey. The lone wolf channel containing the ISIS guidebook has more than 1,100 members.

“There appears to be a permanent migration to Telegram seeing as there has been limited pushback from the company,” said Nicholas Glavin, a researcher on terrorism and social media at the U.S. Naval War College. But, he said, if Telegram changes its policies, “There’s no reason to believe Telegram is the final destination for ISIS sympathizers.”

Intelligence and federal law enforcement officials believe that ISIS will inspire more lone wolf terror attempts on U.S. soil. Last month, CIA Director John Brennan called such a thing “inevitable.”

Killing ISIS with Kindness

The Obama administration lacks a viable strategy for disrupting ISIS' use of social media to recruit members and disseminate its propaganda.

The Obama administration lacks a viable strategy for disrupting ISIS’ use of social media to recruit members and disseminate its propaganda.

MEF, by A.J. Caschetta
Independent Journal Review
March 3, 2016

The persistent and unprecedented failure of the Obama administration to conduct foreign policy in ways that promote American interests is baffling to most observers.

The impulse to offer succor to those who would do us harm became almost too absurd to parody when State Department spokesperson Marie Harf suggested in January of 2015 that ISIS could be disarmed with a jobs-for-jihadists program.

A month later, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest answered a question on counterterrorism by claiming that the administration was hard at work developing “some pretty sophisticated social media strategy.”

But it appears now that the administration is contemplating an even less confrontational approach – a widespread effort to “Like” ISIS.

This new low point in foreign policy thinking came in the person of Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, an Obama insider who was rumored in 2012 to have been on the short list for a second-term cabinet position. In a January 20, 2016 panel at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Sandberg offered what appears to be a new counterterrorism strategy – the “‘like attack.”

This amicable assault occurs when the forces of good wage battle against the forces of evil by flooding their Facebook pages with “Likes” and posting positive messages there. As Sandberg explained, “The best antidote to bad speech is good speech and the best antidote to hate is tolerance.” Illustrating her facile theory with an anecdote about a neo-Nazi party in Germany whose Facebook page was deluged with “Likes” and positive messages, Sandberg concluded triumphantly that “What was a page filled with hatred and intolerance was then tolerance and messages of hope.” Just like that.This new low point in foreign policy thinking came in the person of Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, an Obama insider who was rumored in 2012 to have been on the short list for a second-term cabinet position. In a January 20, 2016 panel at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Sandberg offered what appears to be a new counterterrorism strategy – the “‘like attack.”

Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, an Obama insider, has a plan for fighting ISIS with “messages of hope.”

Sandberg was very vague on how the “Like attack” would affect ISIS, and her implication that neo-Nazis and Islamists will react similarly to these social media stories betrays a shallow understanding of Islamism. Like her previous campaign to ban the word “bossy” (oddly similar to the Obama administration’s attempts to ban the words “Islam” and “jihad” from discussions of terrorism), any effort to prohibit something solely by proclaiming it prohibited has no chance of succeeding.

It is tempting to dismiss Sandberg’s folly as nothing more than the self-aggrandizing eccentricity of a billionaire tech guru, but she is taken seriously at all levels of the Obama administration, including the Department of Defense. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter calls Sandberg a friend and says she “has strong expertise in our mission.” Carter has implemented Sandberg’s “Lean In Circles” in the Pentagon. Her ideas are taken seriously by many Democrats, including Hillary Clinton.

The erstwhile New York Senator and Secretary of State, perpetual presidential candidate, and frequent advocate of the oxymoronic “soft power,” appears to be convinced of the thinking behind the Facebook fusillade. The former first lady often claims that effective foreign policy is simply a matter of rejecting what she calls “the clash of civilizations.” In place of the “hard power” implied in “clash,” she has lately taken to extolling the powers of love and kindness.

Her embrace of the pusillanimous outreach agenda has recently become even more pronounced. In a January 6th feel-good interview with Youtube luminaries GloZell, Shameless Maya, and Chriselle Limon Amanda de Cadenet’s Lifetime Network show, she channeled John Lennon with this deep analysis: “I really believe we need more love and kindness and nurturing in our country, and in the world.”

American interests will be far better served if the policy-makers in the next administration abandon the delusion that our enemies can be swayed, even defeated, by a display of our love. John Lennon was wrong: you need more than love.

A.J. Caschetta is a senior lecturer at the Rochester Institute of Technology and a Shillman-Ginsburg fellow at the Middle East Forum.

Steve Emerson says ISIS managed to get a senior IT official of a Western law enforcement agency to defect in the past year


IPT, by Steven Emerson
Interview on Fox Business Network
February 25, 2016

Stuart Varney: My next guest is the enemy of radical Islam. He’s received many death threats because of this. He lives much of his life in hiding. He has an Investigative Project to root out the funding and managing of deadly terror groups. Welcome everyone the Investigative Project guy, his name is Steve Emerson. Sir, it’s a pleasure to have you on the program. Welcome.

Emerson: Good to be with you Stuart.

Varney: There’s a bold statement I read from you – ISIS is ahead of us in technology. That seems incredible to me. Do you want to explain it?

Emerson: Well let me modify that. Let’s just say there’s a cat and mouse game and the mouse seems to be winning at this point. ISIS has been able to exploit its use of Western technology to the point of basically encrypting its communications, using American and Western technology to avoid being hit by drones, using American and Western technology and building logarithms to avoid being shut down by Twitter. Twitter shut down 15,000 accounts, but ISIS continues to send out tens of thousands of Twitter feeds. And in fact I have with me these manuals that we obtained from ISIS – I’m not going to publicly reveal them – but they reveal for example [that] “beginning in 2014 Twitter accounts connected with ISIS began tweeting technical information advising jihadists how to foil attacks by American drones, laser guided bombs and missiles.” The document, it’s pretty incredible.

Varney: How did they do this? Are they recruiting Muslims who are raised in Western technology culture? Is that how they’re doing this?

Emerson: Well they’re recruiting all types. They’re recruiting social media experts. Well first of all they’re recruiting soldiers and that’s one key to their success. So they’ve got a territory. They’re becoming a self-contained state with all the accoutrement of the state. They’ve got weapons, they’ve got territory, they’re starting to get their own currency, they’ve got money. And now they’re beginning to develop their own technology. They are recruiting [specialists in the West]; they deliberately focus on social engineering recruits in the West. And in fact [although] it has not been known publicly but they actually managed to get a senior IT official of a Western law enforcement agency to defect to ISIS in the past year.

Varney: That’s a big win for the other side. Steven Emerson I’m sorry it’s so short but you raise a very interesting point here. And we appreciate you being with us. Thank you.

Emerson: You’re welcome.


Twitter Puts Anti-American, Anti-Israel Group in Charge of Censorship

twitter-censorFrontpage, by Daniel Greenfield, Feb. 9, 2016:

Twitter has unveiled its creepily Orwellian “Trust and Safety Council” under the creepily Orwellian slogan, “When it comes to safety, everyone plays a role”. These groups will be helping set censorship policy for the site.

The Trust and Safety Council incorporates a laundry list of organizations, most obsessed with identity politics, bullying of hate speech, some of them more problematic than others. So while the Dangerous Speech Project suggests that countering speech is better than censorship, Twitter’s Trust and Safety Council also includes Feminist Frequency.

Stuart K. Hayashi had discussed the problems with Feminist Frequency earlier this year. Jonathan McIntosh, the man behind Feminist Frequency, is a radical leftist who has smeared American soldiers and attacked Israel and complained about people celebrating the death of Osama bin Laden. He attacked Charlie Hebdo after the massacre, ranting, “It’s telling that so many white folks are quick to jump to the defense of racist speech but can’t be bothered to fight institutional racism.”

Aside from McIntosh’s politics, it’s very problematic that a man who hates free speech this much will be helping set censorship policy for Twitter’s Trust and Safety Council.

Anita Sarkeesian, the front woman for Feminist Frequency, helped promote a UN Broadband Council report which quoted Lyndon LaRouche and was described by The Telegraph as a blueprint for internet censorship.

“Among other censorious suggestions, it openly urges governments to use their legislative powers and license only those Internet providers that “supervise content and its dissemination.”

This is a serious problem, especially since Twitter is putting political extremists with pro-censorship views in charge of censorship. And McIntosh has his own history of hateful views.

Twitter has forgotten that it owes its success to being an open platform. Turning it into a heavily censored forum moderated by radical leftists will alienate most of its global audience and kill its future.


Facebook On Incitement Against Muslims And Jews – A Tale Of Two Responses

224Islamist Watch, by Johanna Markind
originally published at Daily Caller
January 28, 2016

Although Facebook’s ground rules officially prohibit bullying, harassment, and threatening language, last year it received numerous complaints about online incitement. On January 18, Facebook launched an initiative to prevent anti-Muslim hate speech on its German platform. But, according to a lawsuit filed in New York state court and a highly-publicized “experiment,”Facebook has no problem with anti-Jewish incitement.

Last October 20, the German daily Bild printed a double-page newspaper spread documenting racist vitriol posted on Facebook against migrants. On November 10 – days before the Paris attacks – Hamburg prosecutors launched an investigation into Facebook for allegedly failing to remove racist postings. The investigation was reportedly motivated by concern over “how the country’s long-dormant far-right was using Facebook to mobilize” against the influx of refugees. In other words, it was motivated by concern over anti-Muslim and anti-Arab posts.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg vowed to create a "safe environment" for Muslim users.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg vowed to create a “safe environment” for Muslim users.

Perhaps stung by that criticism, mere days after two Muslims murdered fourteen people in San Bernardino, California, CEO Mark Zuckerberg vowed that Facebook would “create a peaceful and safe environment” for Muslim users.

On January 18, Facebook launched a Europe-wide campaign to “thwart extremist postings.” This was part of an agreement it reached with Germany. Steps Facebook has taken include hiring the German company Bertelsmann to monitor and delete racist posts to its German platform and funding non-governmental organizations devoted to countering online extremism.

There was another Facebook-related headline on January 18. NBC News reported that Shurat HaDin (an Israeli NGO modeled on the Southern Poverty Law Center) was crowdsourcing to raise funds for an ad campaign. Entitled “Zuckerberg don’t kill us,” the campaign is part of an effort to pressure Facebook not to continue tolerating posts inciting Palestinians to kill Jews. The recent wave of Palestinian attacks had killed 29 Israelis and injured 289 as of January 18.

According to Shurat HaDin, Facebook actively assists people inciting murderous attacks against Jews to find others who are interested in acting on the hateful messages by offering friend, group, and event suggestions and targeting advertising based on people’s online “likes” and internet browsing history. What is more, Facebook often refuses to take down the inciting pages, claiming that they do not violate its “community standards.” Last October, Shurat HaDin filed a lawsuitagainst Facebook in New York state court, seeking to enjoin Facebook from allowing the incitement to continue.

Shurat HaDin demonstrated Facebook’s bias by conducting an online experiment. On December 28, it set up two Facebook pages, one filled with anti-Semitic and anti-Israel postings, the other with anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian postings. The NGO then ratcheted up the incitement level with parallel posts to both pages, ultimately calling for death to Jews and Arabs.

Then, Shurat HaDin simultaneously reported both pages to Facebook. The same day, Facebook closed the anti-Palestinian page, stating that it violated Facebook’s community standards.

And the page inciting violence against Jews? Initially, Facebook refused to shut it down. Instead, it sent a message reporting that the page did not violate Facebook’s rules. Only after Shurat HaDin reported what it had done and media picked up the story did Facebook change its tune and closethe page, claiming the page did indeed violate Facebook standards, and that the earlier message to the contrary had been a “mistake.”

Now Israel is working to build an international coalition to pressure social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to take greater responsibility for content posted on them. Ideas under discussion include developing legislation to prosecute social media platforms for failing to keep calls for violence and hateful materials off their platforms. The idea has reportedly gained traction in some European countries.

Where is Facebook’s initiative to prevent anti-Jewish incitement on its Israel platform? Why is Facebook responding so differently to complaints about incitement against Muslims and Jews? Is it too protective of Muslims, or too callous toward Jews? And how many times will its hypocrisy have to be exposed before it begins applying its “community standards” evenhandedly?

Johanna Markind is associate counselor at the Middle East Forum

Kent State Professor Under Investigation for Link to ISIS

Julio Pino in Mecca, Saudi Arabia

Julio Pino in Mecca, Saudi Arabia

Clarion Project, by Ryan Mauro, Jan. 20, 2016:

Julio Pino, an associate history professor at the Ohio-based Kent State University is under investigation for possible links to the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL). Pino, who has a documented history of extremism, reportedly posted ISIS propaganda pictures on social media and may have been recruiting students for the terrorist group.

Shockingly, Pino is still teaching two classes this semester despite the investigation and his known extremism. Over 20 students have been interviewed and the investigation has been going on for about a year and a half. He has taught there since 1992 and converted to Islam in 2000.

In an interview after the news broke, Pino said he has not broken the law or encouraged anyone else to break the law. He said his freedom of speech should be respected and denied being under investigation or suspicion. When asked if he would say he’s a supporter of the Islamic State, he replied, “No, I would not say that.”

But his apparent Facebook page tells a different story.

A review of his Facebook page shows a history of troubling postings. His page says he studied “overthrowing the government” at UCLA, a description that could be brushed off as a joke if it weren’t for the reams of extremism he expressed.


In a May 2015 thread, he praised “Sheikh Osama” for “kicking off thisjihad” but said Al-Qaeda and Al-Qaeda’s Syrian wing, Jabhat al-Nusra should now join ISIS. He even portrayed ISIS as merciful towards its prisoners by offering them the chance to repent.


On at least two occasions in 2014, he posted ISIS propaganda photos. He sarcastically wrote underneath one, “Keep it a secret: That’s me on the left!”



He also posted propaganda photos of Hamas and young boys armed for jihad:



On February 16, 2014, he commented underneath a picture of him in front of the U.S. Capitol building, “I come to bury D.C., not to praise it.”


In a November 2013 thread, he recalled his time in the Arabian Peninsula and how “all I kept thinking about was Palestine and al-Shams and all the other jihad lands.” He said a Saudi in Mecca pushed him to leave, saying, “Go, get outta Mecca and just go, cause you look just like a jihadi and you just might be an AQ [Al-Qaeda] member, baby, go! You gotta go go go go go go!”


Kent State and the media have known about Pino’s extremism since at least 2002 when he wrote a letter praising a female suicide bomber in Israel as a “shining star.” He also asked Allah to “protect the soldiers of Islam fighting in Palestine” and argued that such terrorists should be called “martyrdom bombers.”

This isn’t even the first time he’s come up in a federal investigation. In 2009, the Secret Service confirmed it interviewed him. Two years prior, the school confirmed that he had written for a pro-Al-Qaeda website named Global War.

The website had pictures of a 9/11 hijacker and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, former leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq (the predecessor to ISIS). It described itself with the statement, “We are a jihadist news service, and provide battle dispatches, training manuals and jihad videos for our brothers worldwide. All we want is to get Allah’s pleasure. We will write ‘jihad’ across our foreheads and the stars.”

At another point, its homepage had the heading, “The worldwide web of jihad: Provocation, inspiration, and preparation for jihad. Manuals, videos, battle reports, building the Islamic resistance starts here!”


Pino-Jihadi-Website-2A columnist published what he says is an email from Pino praising the 9/11 hijackers as “martyrs.” The school took no action. He continued teaching and the extremism continued.

In 2011, he was again noticed after he shouted “Death to Israel” at a former Israeli diplomat speaking on campus.

On August 2, 2014, the History News Network published a rage-filled letter condemning supporters of Israel in academia as being complicit in the deaths of innocents. It ended with, “Jihad until victory!” The school condemned it as “reprehensible” because “we value collegiality and mutual respect. Assailing the public with broad statements of culpability violates these principles.” The statement did not address his call to jihad.

On August 8, 2014, published a threatening letter to the editor addressed to “a child, burnt by fire, in Gaza” that lamented that he’s been accusing of supporting terrorism and promising to “avenge” the child’s death:

“Forgive me, sister, if words are all I have to offer you today. At home I am accused of stirring hatred, promoting terrorism and maliciously accusing those who seek to harm you. My anger is only for the Evil Minded, and my sole purpose is to enrage the Good Ones of these United States to assemble in order to save you. We are the majority on this planet, not the earth-scorchers. We will protect you. We will avenge you, and our revenge will be your smile on the first day of freedom for Palestine.”

Since 2002, Pino has been blatantly expressing support for terrorism while representing Kent State University as a professor. He was presented to class after class as a trusted academic authority they should learn from.

All along the way, Pino has shielded himself by saying it’s free speech and that he is merely “explaining why” terrorism happens.

Universities with extremist professors need to ask themselves two serious questions: Is all free speech exempt from disciplinary action, even if it includes incitement to terrorism? And, do your students deserve better?

Gaffney: Shariah-Compliant Twitter

Arabic-Twitter-Getty-640x480Breitbart, by Frank  Gaffney, Jan. 3, 2016:

Twitter seems to think 2016 is 1984. It has welcomed in the New Year with a change in the rules governing all of its accounts that is reminiscent of Orwellian thought-control. Or at least that practiced by another, non-fictional totalitarian system: the Islamic supremacist program known as shariah.

Shariah’s adherents demand that no offense be given to them, their religion, deity or prophet. Now, all other things being equal, they are close to ensuring that none will be forthcoming in 140 characters.

If successful, contemporary Islamists will have achieved a major step towards a goal they have been pursuing through other means for nearly two decades: the worldwide prohibition of “defamation of religions” – read, Islam. In particular, since 2005, their proto-Caliphate – the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) – has been working through the United Nations on a ten-year plan to impose this restraint concerning freedom of expression on the rest of us.

In 2011, with the active support of the Obama administration, this gambit produced UN Human Rights Council Resolution 16/18. It basically gives the imprimatur of international law to Shariah’s demand that speech, books, videos and now Tweets that “defame” Muslims or their faith be prohibited.

In July of that year, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton implicated herself personally in this affront to our First Amendment guarantee of free expression. She launched with the OIC and the European Union the so-called “Istanbul Process,” a tripartite effort to accommodate the Islamic supremacists’ demands that Western nations conform to Resolution 16/18 by adopting domestic strictures against offense-giving to Muslims. 

On that occasion, Mrs. Clinton famously declared her willingness “to use some old-fashioned techniques of peer pressure and shaming, so that people don’t feel that they have the support to do what we abhor.” The message could not have been more clear to jihadists around the world: The United States was submitting to shariah blasphemy norms.

According to shariah, the proper response is to redouble the effort to make the infidel “feel subdued.” That means, worse behavior from the Islamists, not better.

Now, it seems that one of the greatest enablers of the global jihad, Saudi billionaire Alwaleed bin Talal, is seeing his substantial stake in Twitter stock translate into another breakthrough for Islamic supremacy: The suppression of Tweets that, according to the company’s new rule, involve “hate speech or advocacy against an individual, organization or protected group based on race, ethnicity, national origin, color, religion, disability, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran status or other protected status.”

To be sure Twitter is a private sector enterprise. It is, therefore, free to deny its services to those whose content it finds objectionable. At least, as long as it doesn’t try to deny service to approved “haters” like the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). This organization has deviated wildly from its early history as an effective advocate for civil liberties. Today, its invective-laced advocacy against individuals or organization who are supposed to enjoy “protected status” under our Constitution, namely that of citizens free to express themselves, can only be described as hate speech. Yet, the SPLC is embraced and even cited by the Obama administration and others among the leftists and Islamists who make up the “Red-Green axis” now feverishly working to silence any who they, as Hillary Clinton put it, “abhor.” (For more on this unlikely alliance, see Jim Simpson’s The Red-Green Axis: Refugees, Immigration and the Agenda to Erase America.)

What is particularly concerning is that the new Twitter rule sounds a lot like what is coming out of the Obama administration these days. See, for example, the Justice Department’s “Guidance for Federal Law Enforcement Agencies Regarding the Use Of Race, Ethnicity, Gender, National Origin, Religion, Sexual Orientation, Or Gender Identity.”

Speaking of the Justice Department, Americans who are inclined not to worry about losing the ability to Tweet their concerns about jihadism, shariah and anything else that might offend Muslims should bear in mind that Attorney General Loretta Lynch has put us all on notice that considerably worse may be in store for our First Amendment rights. Last month she told a Muslim Brotherhood-tied organization, Muslim Advocates: “Now, obviously this is a country that is based on free speech, but when it edges towards violence, when we see the potential for someone…lifting that mantle of anti-Muslim rhetoric…When we see that, we will take action.”

With Hillary Clinton’s prominent role in promoting restriction of free expression, and what appears to be accelerating momentum in the direction of ensuring conformity with shariah blasphemy restrictions, this would seem to be a good time for Republican presidential candidates – and the rest of us – to be expressing our adamant objections. If Twitter gets away with keeping us from doing it in 140 characters, we better make sure we do it otherwise, while we still can.


An ISIS fighter in Kobani, Syria

An ISIS fighter in Kobani, Syria

The Atlantic, by Simon Cottee, Dec.24, 2015: (h/t Cherson and Molschsky)

If you want to get a sense of what attracts westernized Muslims to ISIS, you could do worse than listen to one of its sympathizers, as opposed to its legion of opponents, who are liable to pathologize the group’s appeal as an ideological contagion that infects the weak, instead of taking it seriously as a revolutionary movement that speaks to the young and the strong-minded.

Check out, as just one of many examples, the Twitter user “Bint Emergent”: an apparent ISIS fangirl and keen observer of the jihadist scene. (Bint Emergent has not disclosed her identity, or gender, but bint is an honorific Arabic word for girl or daughter; like umm—mother in Arabic—bint features prominently in theTwitter display names of female ISIS sympathizers.)

“Jihadis,” she explains on her blog BintChaos, “look cool—like ninjas or video game warriors—gangstah and thuggish even—the opposition doesnt.” She concedes that “There aren’t a lot of jihadist ‘poster-girls’ displayed—they all wear niqab [face veil], but sometimes its tastefully accessorized with an AK47 or a bomb belt.” By contrast, “Team CVE [a reference to Countering Violent Extremism, or Anglo-American counterterrorism entrepreneurs whose role, state- or self-appointed, is to challenge “extremist” narratives],” consists “mostly [of] middleaged white guys with a smidgin of scared straight ex-mujahids [ex-jihadists] and a couple middleaged women.”

“Jihadis have cool weapons. And cool nasheeds [a cappella hymns],” she continues. They also have “young fiery imams that fight on the battlefield,” whereas Team CVE “has ancient creaky dollar scholars…” Most importantly:

[S]alafi-jihadism made being pious cool. It became cool to quote aya [verse] and study Quran. And CVE has absolutely no defense against this. … I love jihadi cant—dem, bait, preeing, binty, akhi [brother]… its like Belter dialect in the Expanse. And it borrows from all languages—because jihad draws from all races and ethnicities. The voice of youth counterculture and revolution for an underclass. Like ghetto culture in the US—the inexorable evolution of cool.

Bint Emergent reveals little to nothing about who she is, and without that critical context it’s difficult to assess her credibility. A lot of what she says in her blog posts is arcane and rambling, and she insists at the top of her prolific Twitter feed that “im not necessarily proforma pro- #IS”—a statement seemingly contradicted by the sympathetic tone she often adopts towards the group.

And yet Bint Emergent’s words, and especially her reflections on ISIS’s countercultural appeal to young people, are worth considering. “The bottom line,” she asserts in one blog entry, “is that the Islamic State is the classic scifi underdog battling a seemingly all powerful Evil Empire America against impossible odds—and in the very best scifi tradition—they are winning.”“Besides,” she observes in another entry, “IS [Islamic State] has a bottomless youth recruitment pool for the next 35 years, and like IS says, the fighting has just begun. You Are Not Prepared.”
She is scathing about U.S. counterterrorism efforts against ISIS, and dismisses the State Department’s “Think Again Turn Away” campaign as “the most utterly clumsy and doomed propaganda effort since sexual abstinence campaigns.”

In a blog post titled “Embracing Apocalypse I: the Islamic State and the Prophetic Methodology,” she expresses particular admiration for a black-and-white photo of an ISIS fighter on the streets of Kobani, Syria. He is nonchalantly holding a machine gun, with an arm raised triumphantly in the air. Behind him is a scene of utter devastation, in which orange flames—the only color in the photo—and thick smoke cascade from a truck and building. The fighter depicted is reportedly Abu Ahmad al-Tunisi. “This iconic photo,” she writes, “distills the whole conflict into one image for me. To glory in apocalypse, to embrace it…” It also distills a possible contradiction or discrepancy: Abu Ahmad al-Tunisi is wearing, in addition to a thick, righteous beard, what appear to be a pair of Nike trainers. Nike is a large American corporation, and the distinctive Nike swoosh is a symbol of American urban cool—or, at least, it used to be. Apocalypse, Bint Emergent goes on to say, unconvincingly, is “a wholly alien concept for the west.” But the idea of the righteous, brand-wearing badass certainly isn’t.

In a chapter on “Warrior Values” in John Archer’s edited collectionMale Violence, the psychologist Barry McCarthy cites the Japanese samurai as the most obvious exemplar of this idea: He is “unflinching in the face of danger, strong and energetic, cunning in tactics though honorable, proficient with his weapons as well as in the arts of unarmed combat, self-controlled, self-confident and sexually virile.”

 The cross-cultural appeal of this figure is hard to deny, as Richard E. Nisbett and Dov Cohen make clear in their study Culture of Honor: “The world over, men are sent out to sacrifice and to die, not for such purely instrumental purposes as deterrence; rather they are motivated by what they and the community expect good, honorable men to do.” “There is,” indeed, Nisbett and Cohen remark, “a romance and an allure to the Masai warrior, the Druze tribesman, the Sioux Indian, the Scottish chieftain…”
For those who are bewitched by it, there is also a romance and an allure to the jihadist warrior. In a recent article, “The Soft Power of Militant Jihad,” the terrorism expert Thomas Hegghammer touches on this and the wider “jihadi culture” of fashion, music, poetry, anddream interpretation. “Jihadis,” he writes, “can’t seem to get enough anashid [nasheeds]. They listen to them in their dorms and in their cars, sing them in training camps and in the trenches, and discuss them on Twitter and Facebook.” “Jihadi culture,” he elaborates, “also comes with its own sartorial styles. In Europe, radicals sometimes wear a combination of sneakers, a Middle Eastern or Pakistani gown and a combat jacket on top. It’s a style that perhaps reflects their urban roots, Muslim identity and militant sympathies.” Hegghammer concludes that, “As the West comes to terms with a new and growing threat … we are not only confronting organizations and doctrines, but also a highly seductive subculture.”The genius of ISIS propaganda is how skillfully it imbues the idea of jihad not only with traditional notions of honor and virility, but also a strong undercurrent of oppositional, postmodern cool.

CVE practitioners can’t possibly hope to challenge the glamor, energy, and sheer badassery of violent jihad as an ideal, still less the wider emotional resonance of the warrior ethos on which it draws. But they can reasonably hope to subvert ISIS’s claim to embody that ideal. What isn’t yet clear is at precisely whom CVE programs should be targeted, how their counter-messaging should be framed and delivered, and, crucially, by whom. Vague references to those “at risk of” or “vulnerable to” radicalization, and to “credible voices” who can offer alternatives, do little to help in this regard. Challenging ISIS’s bona fides as the true inheritor of jihad is also fraught with peril, in that it may play into the hands of other jihadist groups who profess that mantle. The bigger challenge—as Alberto Fernandez, the former coordinator of the U.S. State Department’s Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications, noted when I interviewed him earlier this year—is how to create a counter-narrative that is not merely negative but boldly affirmative, offering a vision that is just as exhilarating and seductive as that of jihadists. “The positive narrative,” he said, “is always more powerful, especially if it involves dressing in black like a ninja, having a cool flag, being on television, and fighting for your people.”

The problem for CVE is that in an ironic age in which few “grand narratives” remain, no one—except perhaps for the jihadists and their supporters—really knows what that narrative is anymore.

SIMON COTTEE is a contributing writer for The Atlantic and a senior lecturer in criminology at the University of Kent. He is the author of The Apostates: When Muslims Leave Islam.