The most prominent strategy for how to counter an insurgency is “to win hearts and minds. Once the battle for popular opinion is won, they will provide the government with the information it needs to effectively prosecute these wars and the insurgency, starved of support, will wither away.
This week in PD, the world witnessed the propaganda of violent extremist groups, including the Islamic State.
Anyone with a brain or a heart cannot help but be deeply disturbed by the unending and seemingly accelerating torrent of grim -- sometimes horrifying -- stories emanating from the Middle East. This week's gruesome, heartbreaking news of the beheading of American photojournalist James Foley is shocking evidence to this effect.
The Islamic State’s “A Message to America,” showing American journalist James Foley’s final moments, is vile and horrifying. Significantly, unlike the early propaganda of Al Qaeda, this video is also professionally cut and edited. It is the sort of thing engineered to achieve rapid, viral spread on the open internet. It also represents the main weapon the Islamic State is increasingly employing to great effect against the West.
Every week residents in the town of Kafranbel in Idlib, north west Syria, release a photo or sign related to current events in an attempt to draw the world’s attention to the ongoing civil war in their country.
In addition to pictures of mass executions and beheading videos, the Islamic State also puts out propaganda magazines containing stories about stoning adulterers and joining the jihad — all wrapped in a package with high production values.
The number of foreign fighters who have flooded into Syria throughout the past three years now exceeds the total number of jihadists who fought invading Soviet troops in Afghanistan in the 1980s, according to a report by the Soufan Group.