Sunday, October 4, 2015

Quotable: Gary Anderson on Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s use of psychological warfare

Saturday, October 3rd 2015

ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi “seems to have borrowed some elements of the warfighting styles of the Prophet Mohammed and Genghis Khan as well as the some political-strategic approaches of Lenin and Hitler,” according to Gary Anderson, a retired Marine Corps Colonel and adjunct professor at the George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs.  In an article posted on the website of Small Wars Journal on August 13, 2015, “Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and the Theory and Practice of Jihad,” he judged that “Whether these were adopted from a study of history or the serendipitous outcome of pure talent is somewhat irrelevant,” he adds.

Use of Terror and Psychological Warfare as Supporting Arms.  The previously mentioned use of executions to induce the enemy run rather than stand and fight is a form of tactical psychological operations.  On the strategic level, al-Baghdadi makes adept use of information warfare to include sophisticated humor.  After his forces captured much American material, Baghdadi’s propagandist personnel photo chopped Michelle Obama’s famous picture holding up a placard with the “# Bring back our girls”.  The modified ISIS Twitter hash tag read “# Bring back our Humvees”.  His sophisticated internet and social media based recruiting campaign has brought foreign fighters flocking to his banner to include many European Muslims and a considerable number from the United States.  The fact that these volunteers hold passports from the countries in question is an ominous omen for the future.

The great Khan spread his propaganda message by rumor and fifth column plants disguised as merchants; al Baghdadi uses the social media and the web.  His web site recently posted a video with graphic and horrifying images of government soldiers and Shiite militiamen being executed.  This is obviously having a chilling effect on the morale of the government security forces.

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