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I don’t want to fight with ISIS. But I can see why their online campaign is convincing

20 June 2014

3:51 PM

20 June 2014

3:51 PM

Yesterday evening, I returned home, made a cup of tea and slumped down to catch up on the day’s news. A piece on Twitter caught my eye. Posted by Channel 4, it was titled ‘#Jihad: how ISIS is using social media to win support’. Click. Soon I was learning about how ISIS was calling for global support via a sophisticated social media campaign, branded the ‘one billion campaign’. Click, click. Onto YouTube, where I found graphic videos recorded and uploaded by ISIS members. Click, click, click. Ten minutes later, and I was on Twitter, being recruited by jihadis to come join them.

Clearly, I am not about to head to Syria or Iraq. But I was struck by how quickly I found material asking me to show support and help the cause. If I was an impressionable young Muslim man, perhaps I would have found it alluring. I came across a podcast uploaded by the British jihadi Abu Summayyah al-Britani, which suggested that fighting in Syria was better than playing Call of Duty.

The imagery ISIS promotes is also absorbing, in a dark, sinister way. The black and white flag is the new Jolly Roger; balaclavas and AK47s the new uniform. ‘Come fight with us, brother’ it screams. It looks dangerous and exciting. This belligerent propaganda has zipped round the world at an unprecedented speed. It’s a potent mix of graphic imagery and piratic behaviour blended with a fanatical message. It’s hard not to look, no matter how much you try.


The message is important too. As Douglas Murray discussed in The Spectator in January, the Middle East is now inflamed by religious sectarianism. ISIS – with its message directed at Sunni Islam – calls for a religious conflict that hopes to re-align the Middle East. It asks Muslims to identify with a sect, and do their duty for it. ISIS’s focus on establishing an interconnected state may seem like a more attainable goal then al-Qa’eda’s more nebulous version of jihad.

The recruitment process is astonishingly brazen, there for everyone to see. I began to wonder what my search terms might suggest to someone at GCHQ, keeping tabs on things. It probably looked like I was considering signing up. But given how easy it is to come across ISIS’s promotional material, there must be plenty of other people who also look like they are about to sign up. I was simply curious, but buried within the growing mountain of material about ISIS, there will be intelligence available. Intel about people heading to the Middle East. Intel about people planning to maim and massacre in the UK on their return. ISIS’s audacious use of social media suggests the sheer volume of search terms may act as a cloak for anyone heading out there. Let’s hope our intelligence services are able to filter out the noise.

And just to make it very clear, I have absolutely no intention of joining ISIS. The GCHQ dude lurking behind the postbox on Old Queen Street can be deployed elsewhere.


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Show comments
  • dontknowifwewillsurvivethisbut

    Beheading an innocent child, man or woman simply because you are deranged and evil is a convincing online campaign. What planet are you from. Beheading,killing, raping and terror are a convincing online campaign! Your parents must be proud of you.

  • cromwell

    I don’t want to fight with ISIS. But I can see why their online campaign is convincing’
    Because your scared, if you disagree with Muslims you end up dead.

  • cromwell

    I don’t want to fight with ISIS. But I can see why their online campaign is convincing’
    What a load of rubbish!

  • Coleridge1

    If disaffected Moslem youth in Tower Hamlets want to go and fight jihad in Syria or Iraq, we should be encouraging them to do so. Hopefully many won’t be returning.

  • jesseventura2

    Other than living and breeding like dogs what is the aim of these head bangers?

  • tjamesjones

    kind of like a cr*p version of the SS.

  • Hayekian

    I imagine the appeal of Call of duty would quickly return once the opposing side started blowing your arms and legs off or if captured started attaching wires to your genitals and torturing you. However lets hope that the crazies fall for it and, if they have to come back, they do it in body bags.

    • jesseventura2

      How many of these vermin will be allowed to return and claim disability benefits?

  • Jeremy Fletcher

    The incredible thing is that there are influential politicians arguing that we non-muslims should be picking sides and embroiling ourself in this orgy of inner-necine violence

  • Sun Wukong

    It seems obvious to me – we want as many would-be Jihadists reached with all invites and recruiting tools as possible – hopefully baiting them into buying those 1-way tickets to Northern Iraq. They stay and die, stay and use their time not-on-us or maybe make it convenient to be carpet-bombed by us if and when need be. Am I right people?

  • fathomwest

    These killers need not bother with Twitter or any online service just send a video to SKYNEWS they will show it time after time then get their correspondents to talk amongst themselves on what message the terrorists are sending. So giving them hours of world wide coverage. When are this government going to crack down on this assistance to terrorists?

  • BoiledCabbage

    Good reasons to deploy the RAF to bomb ISIS…….

  • victor67

    So ISIS are the greatest threat to our National security. Lets double the defence budget and give MI5 unlimited powers, or are our exalted leaders trying to scare us and prepare us for the next little ME adventure.
    Lets keep it in perspective ,they are a rag tag bunch of alienated young muslims with too much testosterone and not enough common sense. They need to be managed but spare us the hysterics.

    • La Fold

      “A rag tag bunch of alienated young muslims” who control an area larger than Scotland and with more oil too.

  • dado_trunking

    Faqinelle, how to talk up a non-story over and over again from different angles.
    What is the ‘British’ cause in Syria or Iraq?
    What do we want of these people?
    Why does it matter what resident non-doms et al support or not support? Curtail extremism is of course the answer.

    Yet, did you/your pals in the newsrooms not support the bombing of Assad a few months back? Has it occured to you that it could in fact be *you* who is on a watch list already? … (!)

  • Donafugata

    Supposing that some disaffected Muslim youth responds to this appeal and goes to Iraq or Syria or any other hellhole, how does he choose which side he’s fighting for?

    The propaganda would imply that it is a struggle between Islam and infidel but it is a war between Shia and Sunni.

    Go ahead, kill each other and don’t come back.

  • HookesLaw

    You can see why propaganda can be convincing? I’m amazed.

  • Donafugata

    Using social media for recruitment is all very well but it also identifies the jihadis.

    If the Home Office had any sense it would, on their return to the UK, either imprison the traitors or confiscate their British passports and send them back on the first available flight.

    I would favour the second option, let them eliminate each other.

    • Alexsandr

      cancel their passports while they are fighting. then they cant come back.

      • telemachus

        Fergus converted me to that view yesterday

      • Penny

        In a video I part-watched (too psychotic for my tastes), ISIS members were tearing up their passports in a “we’re not part of our respective nation states, we’re the Ummah” kind of way. When – and if – British lads find the psychopathic behaviour on offer too much, and if they’ve torn up their passports, returning to the UK may not be an option. At least, not without having to re-apply, which in itself should trigger a red light.

    • BoiledCabbage

      When was the Home Office ever competent at this sort of thing ? Or, was there a time when the Home Office was not incompetent? Maybe under the Tudors?

  • Ian Walker

    “…impressionable, young Muslim man…”

    How sexist! Or are women too smart to be duped, and it’s only the poor testosterone-driven saps who could fall for it?

    • telemachus

      Women are not recruited to Jihad

    • Liz

      In general, yes.

      As perusal of the news any night of the week will show you.

      • balance_and_reason

        white widow….and many suicide bombers.

        • Liz

          About 3.

  • DorothyLAlbright

    Ten minutes later, and I was on Twitter, being recruited by jihadis to come join them.

    • HookesLaw

      Can’t they find anybody locally? Anybody spot the weakness in their support there.

  • London Calling

    Isis will use social media to exceed their aims, not surprised there, what is worrying is the spread of Islamic extremism in Iraq which threatens all the hard work done in Iraq to bring about peace in the region………….fascism is what Isis are about and they will gain many followers to their cause, the west need be prepared as doing nothing is not an option, we need to fight this extremism wherever it brews as they are like locusts wgo threaten world peace everywhere……………

    • Sentinel

      “all the hard work done in Iraq to bring about peace in the region”

      Please enlighten me … who were these actors and what did they do?

      • London Calling

        some kind of peace..however bombings have been regular in iraq, so peace is questionable I agree …………..

    • London Calling

      Note……….the extremist are not Muslim and neither do they represent Islam………..

      • William Haworth

        So we’re always told. Any evidence for that?

        Like the ‘Million Muslim March for Peace’ that recently wound its way through Bradford, Blackburn, Birmingham and Luton?

        If they say they’re Muslims, I believe them. Why should I not?