“They kill anyone who argues with them.”

In a CBS News article published Friday, a former ISIS soldier gives insight into the twisted depths of the organization.

While the Islamic State is losing territory, grasping for leadership and crumbling under the foot of U.S. and allied strategic campaigns, they still possess one of the most powerful weapons in any arsenal: Propaganda.

Recruitment and Retention

The organization’s ability to recruit and retain soldiers is unprecedented- their reach ever-expanding via social media and digital platforms. Thus, we are not only waging this war in the streets of Mosul, but in the dark, ambiguous, battleground of the minds of its agents.

“They said they were CIA agents, not journalists,” he said, “and they slipped a verse from the Quran into the video to justify the killings. No Muslim could object, or say this is wrong.”

The success in recruiting Muslim civilians—primarily military-aged youth—to become brutal agents of Islam, lies in the ability for ISIS leaders to tap into the teachings of Islam. They pervert the religion to fit the cause.

When framed as an order from Allah, as supported by “verse[s] from the Quran,” the clear atrocities of ISIS and similar organizations dull in their horror and are simply viewed as means to an end—that end being the global dominance of Islam.

“You Can Sit With Us”Social media communication

ISIS has the social-media savvy of a millennial in the popular crowd— playing on the vulnerabilities of outcast Muslim youth and inviting them to the “cool kids table.”  ISIS has incredible reach through twitter campaigns, YouTube Videos, and Facebook messages.  These flashy public displays draw users into more private platforms—like Snapchat, WhatsApp, and other encrypted communication technology, This allows recruiters to communicate with recruits, essentially undetected. It’s an age-old tactic, of which parents and gym-class lectures everywhere warned. Imagine a stranger luring a child into a car with a puppy or candy only to abduct the child. The recruiter lures his target from a public space into a private area of operations. The “puppy” in the case of online radicalization, is a promise of belonging and superiority. Come join, and “Best Muslim you can be!”

ISIS: Hotel California of Terrorist

“You can check in any time you like, but you can never leave.” – Eagles Hotel California

The former ISIS agent states: “There are many people in ISIS like me… Tens of thousands. If they’d known the truth they wouldn’t have joined.”

He managed to make it out– successfully smuggled from the organization. However, thousands like him remain in the hands of their brutal captors.

What this Means in the Fight Against ISIS

While we can argue over drone strikes and “boots on the ground,” we’re missing ISIS’s TRUE weapon of mass destruction. Until we cut off the source of its massive influx of human capital, ISIS  will continue to metastasize. Their reach spans across the globe—wherever there is internet access and a mind to control.



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