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Information Operations (IO)
and the Islamic State (IS)

There is no doubt the the Islamic State (IS) has an effective Information Operations (IO) strategy. The organizations agile and effective use of social media is far beyond that of the United States and its allies in the conflict with the Islamic State. This page will provide links to information, websites, documents, publications, and news reports about the Islamic State IO strategy and campaign of the Islamic State as well as the participants aligned against IS.

To buttress its information operations campaign the Islamic State has hijacked the legitimate demands of Sunnis who are persecuted and discrimated against by the Syrian and Iraqi regimes. While conservative Sunnis do not like the tactics or methods of IS they do appreciate the protection offered from the Shiite regimes they oppose.


U.S. Organizations Countering the IS Narrative

Radicalization and Extremist Messaging Group (REM) of the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC).

Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications (CSCC) of the U.S. Department of State.This center is charged with countering terrorist messaging.
www.state.gov/r/cscc/

Think Again Turn Away Twitter. The CSCC established a Twitter account named "Think Again Turn Away" at @ThinkAgain_DOS that attempts to counter the ISIS message.

Think Again Turn Away Facebook. The CSCC has established a Facebook account that provides an anti-ISIS message.

Counterterrorism Communicatons Support Office (CCSO) of the Department of State. A temporary organization that performs the specific project of supporting agencies in the Government-wide public communications activities targeted against violent extremism and terrorist organizations.


Open Source Intelligence

Intelligence analysts can monitor the social media of an adversary to build a picture of an insurgency, terrorist group, or enemy force. On one hand, social media helps the Islamic State spread its message, recruit members, and solicit funds and support; but on the other hand, it puts information out on the Internet that can be used by intelligence analysts. For instance, intelligence analysts can use photos and messages on social media to identify targets that airstrikes can be employed against. 1.


Papers and Publications about IO and the Islamic State
(listed in chronological order)

Quiggle, Doyle. "The ISIS Beheading Narrative", Small Wars Journal, February 26, 2015. This article identifies the plotline of the ISIS beheading narrative - reasoning that if we want to undermine and neutralize ISIS Internet recruitment propaganda then we need to understand how and why their symbols appeal to their target audience.
http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/the-isis-beheading-narrative

Bjelopera, Jerome P. Countering Violent Extremism in the United States, Cogressional Research Service (CRS), February 19, 2014.
http://fas.org/sgp/crs/homesec/R42553.pdf

The White House, Executive Order 13584 -- Developing an Integrated Strategic Counterterrorism Communications Initiative, September 9, 2011. This executive order assignes responsibilities to the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Center (CSCC) and establishes the Counterterrorism Communications Support Office (CCSO).
www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/09/09/executive-order-13584-developing-integrated-strategic-counterterrorism-c


Videos about IO, Social Media and the Islamic State

May 7, 2015. Jihad 2.0: Social Media in the Next Evolution of Terrorist Recruitment, U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs. Peter Bergen, J.M. Berger, Mubin Shaikh, and Daveed Gartenstein-Ross testify.
www.hsgac.senate.gov/hearings/jihad-20-social-media-in-the-next-evolution-of-terrorist-recruitment


News Reports about IO and the
Conflict with the Islamic State

June 4, 2015. "Islamic State has an English-language radio broadcast that sounds eerily like NPR". By Swait Sharma, The Washington Post.

June 3, 2015. "Terror on Twitter: How Islamic State uses social media to draw recruits". The Christian Science Monitor.

June 3, 2015. "Islamic State's command of social media called unprecendented". McClatchy DC. The IS is successful in appealing to the underdog and 'lone wolfs'.

June 3, 2015. "Using Violence and Persuasion, ISIS Makes Political Gains". By Anne Barnard and Tim Arango, The New York Times. A combinatioin of persuasio and violence helps ISIS position itself as the sole guardian of Sunni interests in the Middle East.

May 8, 2015. "In a propaganda war against ISIS, the U.S. tried to play by the enemy's rules." By Greg Miller and Scott Higham, The Washington Post. The writers examine attempts by the Pentagon and State Department to counter radical Jihadist IO to include operations by the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications or CSCC.

February 18, 2015. "How the U.S. plans to dampen ISIS' online message". AOL.com News.

February 18, 2015. "Appointment of Rashad Hussain as United States Special Envoy and Coordinator for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications". U.S. Department of State Media Note.

December 30, 2014. "The Pentagon Still Doesn't Know How to Fight Jihadists on the Battlefield of Ideas". Overt Action. In the fall of 2014 MG Michael Nagata, SOCENT commander, received some attention after some of his statements went public about the lack of understanding about the ISIS movement.

September 5, 2014. "Defeating the Jihadist Narrative". Overt Action. The writer explores the IS narrative - a simple plea for Sunni Muslims to defend innocents from the wolves of President Assad, Hezbolllah, and Iran. He offers some simple catch phrases that can be used against the IS message such as "Only Fools Go to Syria", "You'll Kill Fellow Sunnis - Not Defend Them", "You're Walking Around with a Bulls-Eye on Your Back", and more.


 

Endnotes

1. The commander of U.S. Air Combat Command indicated that some targeting can be attributed to IS IO activities in "Carlisle: Air Force intel uses ISIS 'moron's' social media posts to target airstrikes", Air Force Times, June 4, 2015.
www.airforcetimes.com/story/military/tech/2015/06/04/air-force-isis-social-media-target/28473723/

 

 

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