Wednesday, December 30th 2015
Paul D. Shinkman, a national security reporter for U.S. News & World Report, summarized the “key points Western observers and policymakers will be considering as they monitor the terrorist network in 2016.” His article, “5 Things to Look For With ISIS in 2016,” appeared on the magazine’s website on December 28, 2015.
Shinkman wrote that the first four “key clues” will be “Retaking Territory, and Governing It,” “Expanding to Libya, a ‘Plan B,’" “Finding Unity in the War, and Choking Off the Extremists,” and “A Coordinated Attack on the U.S.” Here is his fifth key point:
Shutting the Islamic State Group’s Mouth
One of the extremist network’s greatest successes has been its use of propaganda, both to control those under its rule but even more potently to recruit disenfranchised young people from overseas, who continue to flock to its homeland.
Western security agencies remain befuddled how affluent young people see something in the slick messaging the Islamic State group puts forth, and its elusive use of social media as a way to directly connect with potential recruits.
The solution, however, cannot come from the U.S., as that would be too easily dismissed by extremist leaders who see America as the living symbol of everything they oppose. Instead, finding a solution must come from one of the other greatest holes in the anti-Islamic State group strategy, which is greater support from Muslim nations like Saudi Arabia and Jordan.
These nations have long been the recipients of U.S. military aid and support, and touted by President Barack Obama as evidence of the potency of the coalition he leads, even though the U.S. and its European partners carry out almost all of the military strikes. But questions among their top leadership of U.S. priorities, and the extent to which America is willing to go in the Middle East, has resigned them to focusing on their own internal problems, such as the refugee crisis spilling into Jordan or Saudi Arabia’s war in neighboring Yemen.
But, perhaps merely exposing the reality of life under the Islamic State group is the most potent form of counter-propaganda.
Reports have emerged from Iraq saying the Islamic State group has begun to ban access to satellite broadcasts for those under its control.
“We're starting to see a change in their behavior that may be related to some desperation,” Army Col. Steve Warren, a spokesman for the U.S.-led military coalition, told reporters Tuesday from his Baghdad headquarters. “They appear to be trying to hide information regarding the recent string of defeats as we continue to kill their leaders, to increase the security capacity of our regional partners and to strike them across the battlefield and all of their formation. It seems like they're beginning to feel the pressure.”