Renee Viellaris, Neil Doorley, The Courier-Mail (Brisbane)
ISIS terrorists now have a higher brand recognition than the Vatican after spending millions on a slick social media and public relations campaign.
The shocking finding yesterday revealed in global state leadership rankings has disgusted Australian police and lawmakers, who are struggling to stop foreign nationals from joining the murderous regime.
Former US deputy assistant secretary of state for public diplomacy Colleen Graffy [on Graffy, see] said yesterday the terrorist regime was manipulating the global news media.
“These results show that IS now has a higher international brand recognition than the Vatican, eclipsing a 2000-year headstart by the Papacy,” Professor Graffy said.
“IS has managed to magnify its image by manipulating the global news media — starting with using their preferred branding: ‘Islamic’ and ‘State’ when they are neither.”
The Abbott Government has warned ISIS is running a sophisticated online war that includes the release of about 100,000 pieces of propaganda every day.
Queensland Deputy Police Commissioner Ross Barnett said ISIS was “reviled” across the world.
“If they have a brand it is instantly associated with murder, barbaric cruelty, tyrannical oppression of civilian communities and irreversible destruction of antiquities,” Mr Barnett said.
“Their infamy cannot and should not be legitimised in any way by being compared with organisations like the Vatican.”
Professor Clive Williams, from the Centre for Policing, Intelligence and Counter-Terrorism at Macquarie University, said he was not surprised by the findings.
“Islamic State and its predecessors have been around since 1999, so for me it’s not anything new, it’s just since 2013 it has become slicker in their appeal to a wider audience, and having the brand and having the black flag is all part of that.
“People would recognise that flag if you waved it in the street in most places nowadays, but clearly they have been very successful in promoting that.
“They are the first extremist Islamic group to set up their own territory, because al-Qa’ida never did that. Islamic State is holding itself up as the organisation that now has land, has set up a government system, and is now in the process of setting up local provinces around the world, so it is a different approach.’’
The leadership ranking, developed by WorldPR, is based on research and provides a snapshot of where 193 countries and 18 autonomous territories stand on their “visibility or conspicuousness on the world stage”.
Australia is ranked No. 4 on the western perception index, behind France, Canada and China.
WorldPR chief executive Patrick Robertson said yesterday that the findings were concerning.
“It is deeply disturbing to see a terrorist group adopt the mantra of a sovereign state and seize global media attention through the acts of barbarism,’’ he said.
The Courier-Mail revealed last week the Australian Defence Force had launched a social media account to challenge lies being spread by online supporters of ISIS.
ISIS has used its glossy magazine, DABIQ, to urge deadly, simplistic lone-wolf attacks against Australians.
Its fourth issue, released last year, said it would conquer Rome.