Saturday, 6 September 2014

Why ISIS flaunts its brutality

  • ISIS militants are getting increasingly tech- and media savvy
  • Some of their videos rival Hollywood features in production quality
  • Beheadings by ISIS have increased after al Qaeda disowned the group
  • “Our knife will continue to strike the necks of your people,” a militant warns Obama
One video shows more than 100 prisoners paraded across the desert in their underwear, then lying face down as militants unleash a hailstorm of bullets into their bodies.

Other images show crucifixions and public executions in towns overrun by terrorists.
Do ISIS’ videos mirror ‘Homeland’?
And recent footage showing the beheading of a second American journalist proves that ISIS wants to world to know how brutal it can be.
The insurgents are experts at using footage of their crimes as propaganda to terrify those who disagree with their radicalism and to threaten foreign leaders. The visuals are as much a part of ISIS’ terrorism as its bloody march across the Iraq and Syria.
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In the video of American Steven Sotloff’s decapitation, the executioner has a stern warning for the U.S. President:
“I’m back, Obama, and I’m back because of your arrogant foreign policy towards the Islamic State,” the man says in the video, released just days after fellow journalist James Foley was beheaded.
“Just as your missiles continue to strike our people, our knife will continue to strike the necks of your people.”
Even a 7-year-old child was photographed holding a severed head. The picture was reportedly taken in Raqqa, the ISIS stronghold in Syria, where the boy’s Australian father had taken his family to join the fight.
More decapitations
Publicized beheadings had actually stopped in years past
A decade ago, al Qaeda — the terror group that spawned ISIS — made headlines with a series of decapitations, including those of Americans Nicholas Berg and Eugene “Jack” Armstrong.
Top al Qaeda official Ayman al-Zawahiri criticized the gruesome antics, and the decapitations stopped. But al Qaeda has since disowned ISIS, and al-Zawahiri has not condemned Foley’s execution.
That means the beheadings could continue.
But it’s not just Western captives who fall victim. Last week, a Kurdish man was executed in front of a mosque in Mosul in a video called “A message written in blood,” notes Charlie Cooper, Middle East researcher at the Quilliam Foundation.
But because that message “was directed at the President of Iraqi Kurdistan, this particular piece of propaganda did not receive widespread coverage in the international media,” Cooper wrote in a piece for
“They have shown their willingness to kill anyone in their path — not just Americans, not just Westerners, but Iraqis of all faiths, of all sects,” U.S. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said. “They’ve shown their complete barbarism in doing that.”
The media’s role
Iraqi Shiite militia fighters fire a rocket toward ISIS positions outside Tikrit, Iraq, on Wednesday, September 3. Iraqi forces, aided by U.S. military airstrikes, have begun to make gains against terror group ISIS, which calls itself the Islamic State.An Iraqi fighter jet flies over Amerli, Iraq, on September 3. Iraqi forces recently broke the terrorist siege of Amerli from ISIS fighters.Iraqi volunteer fighters on Monday, September 1, celebrate breaking the siege of the Shiite town of Amerli. ISIS militants had surrounded Amerli, 70 miles north of Baquba, since mid-June.Iraqi Shiite Turkmen, mostly women and children, try to board an Iraqi Army helicopter aid flight bringing supplies to Amerli on Saturday, August 30.Kurdish Peshmerga forces stand guard at their position in the Omar Khaled village west of Mosul, Iraq, on Sunday, August 24. Kurdish Peshmergas fight to regain control of the town of Celavle in Iraq’s Diyala province on August 24.Peshmerga fighters stand guard at Mosul Dam in northern Iraq on Thursday, August 21. With the help of U.S. military airstrikes, Kurdish and Iraqi forces retook the dam from ISIS militants on August 18. A breach of the dam would have been catastrophic for millions of Iraqis who live downstream from it.Displaced Iraqis receive clothes from a charity at a refugee camp near Feeshkhabour, Iraq, on Tuesday, August 19.A woman holds her sister during a sandstorm at a refugee camp in Feeshkhabour on August 19.A fighter with Kurdish Peshmerga forces battles ISIS militants near Mosul, Iraq, on Monday, August 18.A Shiite fighter defends a post while backing the Iraqi army in its fight against ISIS militants south of Baghdad on August 18.A Kurdish Peshmerga fighter patrols near the Mosul Dam in Chamibarakat, Iraq, on Sunday, August 17.Smoke rises after a U.S. airstrike near the Mosul Dam on August 17.A Kurdish Peshmerga fighter prepares his weapon August 17 at a combat position near the Mosul Dam.Trucks carrying Kurdish Peshmerga fighters head to the Mosul Dam on August 17. From a position manned by the Kurdish Peshmerga south of Kirkuk, Iraq, Kirkuk Governor Najm al-Din Omar looks through binoculars toward Islamist jihadist positions on August 17.Kurdish Peshmerga fighters stand behind a sand barricade set up close to the village of Bashir, Iraq, on August 17. Kurdish Peshmerga fighters fire at ISIS in Khazar, Iraq, on Thursday, August 14. Volunteers of the Iraqi Red Crescent Society unload boxes of goods before distributing them August 14 to families who fled from ISIS.Displaced Iraqis of the Yazidi faith reach for bottled water at the Bajid Kandala refugee camp in Iraq’s Dohuk province on Wednesday, August 13.A Yazidi woman and children take shelter inside a tent at the Bajid Kandala camp on August 13.From the flight deck of the USS George H.W. Bush, which is in the Persian Gulf, two U.S. fighter jets take off for a mission in Iraq on Monday, August 11. U.S. President Barack Obama has authorized airstrikes against Islamic militants and food drops for Iraqis who are trapped by the militants.Displaced Iraqis of the Yazidi faith cross the Syria-Iraq border on Sunday, August 10.Iraqi soldiers fan out into a field in Jurf al Sakhr, Iraq, on August 10 after they reportedly pushed back Islamic jihadist fighters from the area. An Iraqi man inspects the debris of houses in Falluja, Iraq, after an apparent air raid by the Iraqi Air Force on August 10. An F/A-18C Hornet lands on the flight deck of the USS George H.W. Bush on August 10.An Iraqi Yazidi child, whose family fled their home a week ago when ISIS militants attacked their town, looks on at a makeshift shelter August 10 in Dohuk, which is in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region.Displaced Iraqis from the Yazidi community settle outside the Bajid Kandala camp on Saturday, August 9.Displaced Iraqis ride on a truck on a mountain road near the Turkish-Iraq border, outside Dahuk, on August 9. Thousands of Yazidis are escorted to safety by Kurdish Peshmerga forces and a People’s Protection Unit in Mosul on August 9. Humanitarian aid for Iraq is loaded onto an aircraft in Norton, England, on Friday, August 8. Pallets of bottled water are loaded aboard a U.S. Air Force aircraft in preparation for a humanitarian airdrop over Iraq on August 8.Smoke rises after airstrikes targeted ISIS militants outside the Iraqi city of Irbil on Friday, August 8.Kurdish Peshmerga fighters take position on the front line on August 8.Displaced Iraqi Christians settle at St. Joseph Church in Irbil on Thursday, August 7.Iraqi Shiite volunteers who have joined government forces to fight ISIS take part in a training session near Basra, Iraq, on August 7. Thousands of Yazidi and Christian people flee Mosul on Wednesday, August 6, after the latest wave of ISIS advances.Kurdish Peshmerga forces and members of the Syrian People’s Protection Units engage ISIS members in the Mahmudiye village of Mosul on Tuesday, August 5.Yazidi women who fled violence in Sinjar, Iraq, take shelter at a school in Dohuk on August 5.People in Mosul walk on the rubble of the destroyed Mosque of The Prophet Yunus, which is Arabic for Jonah, on Thursday, July 24.An Iraqi child walks through a displacement camp Saturday, June 28, in Khazair, Iraq.An Iraqi woman walks with her child outside of a displacement camp June 28 in Khazair.Peshmerga fighters check cars at the entrance of a temporary displacement camp in Khazair on Thursday, June 26. A group of women wait outside the temporary displacement camp in Khazair on June 26.Smoke rises in the Karakus district of Mosul as clashes between Iraqi forces and ISIS militants take place on June 26.Food is handed out at the displacement camp in Khazair.A child walks over discarded water bottles and trash at a registration area in the displacement camp in Khazair on June 26.Kurdish Peshmerga take their positions behind a wall on the front line of the conflict with ISIS militants in Tuz Khormato, Iraq, on Wednesday, June 25.Peshmerga fighters clean their weapons at a base in Tuz Khormato on June 25.Female Peshmerga between 18 and 45 years old form a special unit that is called to serve in any conditions. A soldier is pictured here on June 25.A woman gathers bread in a temporary displacement camp for Iraqis on Tuesday, June 24. An ISIS fighter takes control of a traffic intersection in Mosul on Sunday, June 22. An ISIS member distributes a copy of the Quran, Islam’s holy book, to a driver in Mosul on June 22. Members of ISIS patrol in Falluja on Saturday, June 21. “Peace Brigade” volunteers raise their weapons and chant slogans during a parade in the Shiite stronghold of Sadr City on Saturday, June 21, in Baghdad. The armed group was formed to protect Shiite holy shrines against possible attacks by Sunni militants.Iraqi men register to fight alongside security forces Friday, June 20, at a recruitment center in Baghdad.New army recruits gather in Najaf, Iraq, on Wednesday, June 18, following a call for Iraqis to take up arms against Islamic militant fighters. Soldiers with an Iraqi anti-terrorism unit are on guard June 18 in Baghdad.A Kurdish Peshmerga fighter injured in clashes with ISIS lies in a hospital in Irbil on June 18.An MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopter lands on the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush in the Persian Gulf on Tuesday, June 17.Newly recruited Iraqi volunteer fighters take part in a training session in Karbala, Iraq, on June 17.Iraqi tribesmen gather in Baghdad on Monday, June 16, to show their readiness to join Iraqi security forces in the fight against Islamic militants.Iraqi Christian children gather inside the Church of the Virgin Mary for prayers in Bartala, Iraq, a town near Mosul, on Sunday, June 15.Shiite tribal fighters raise their weapons and chant slogans against ISIS in Basra on June 15. Members of ISIS prepare to execute some soldiers from Iraq’s security forces in this image, one of many reportedly posted by the militant group online. CNN cannot independently confirm the authenticity of the images.A woman cradles her baby Thursday, June 12, at a temporary camp set up in Aski Kalak, Iraq, to shelter those fleeing the violence in northern Nineveh province.A girl fleeing from Mosul arrives at a Kurdish checkpoint on June 12.Iraqi men chant slogans outside of an army recruiting center to volunteer for military service June 12 in Baghdad.Kurdish Peshmerga forces, along with Iraqi special forces, deploy their troops and armored vehicles outside of Kirkuk, Iraq, on June 12.Children stand next to a burnt vehicle during clashes between Iraqi security forces and ISIS militants in Mosul on Tuesday, June 10.Civilians from Mosul escape to a refugee camp near Irbil on June 10. Iraqis fleeing the violence wait in their vehicles at a Kurdish checkpoint in Aski Kalak on June 10.Iraq under siegeDoes ISIS’ brutality inspire recruits?
Cooper said the media has a responsibility to treat ISIS propaganda carefully.
“Every time a still or clip from an ISIS video is shown, the group gets what it wants: the oxygen of publicity,” he wrote.
“Of course, it is necessary that people the world over are aware of the atrocities occurring at the hands of ISIS, but journalists must be careful not to do the jihadists’ job for them.”
The decision on whether to publicize parts of the recent beheading videos have even divided journalists.
International broadcaster Al Jazeera said it had decided not to show any images of Sotloff from the video — a more conservative position than other TV networks.
“We suggest all media do the same,” Al Jazeera’s public relations account said via Twitter, using the hashtag #ISISmediaBlackout.
And while the video has been blocked from various video sharing platforms, they have also reappeared as many times, Quilliam senior researcher Erin Marie Saltman wrote.
She said that kind of trend “once again emphasizes that the new frontline for counter-terrorist practitioners is online extremism.”
Glossy recruitment tools
Part of the problem is the radicals are extremely tech- and media savvy.
“We are way behind. They are far superior and advanced than we are when it comes to new media technologies, social media, when it comes to video production qualities, and in disseminating their propaganda over the Internet,” said Maajid Nawaz, a former jihadi and author of “Radical: My Journey out of Islamist Extremism.”
Some videos used by the terrorists rival the production quality of Hollywood films.
One hourlong video shows a collection of bombings, executions, kidnappings and beheadings. As one roadside bomb blasts a vehicle into the sky, two men in the background of the video chuckle.
The recruitment tactics can be both blatant and subtle.
For about $10, supporters can buy a shirt with ISIS’ logo and phrases such as, “We are all ISIS” and “Fight for Freedom, Until the Last Drop of Blood.”
And it may be no accident that a militant with a British accent fronted the video of Foley’s death.
That kind of tactic could inspire more foreign jihadists, a former ISIS fighter told CNN.
“It is possible that the goal was to project the image that a European, or a Western person, executed an American so that they can showcase their Western members and appeal to others outside Syria and make them feel that they belong to the same cause.”
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