Written By: FA ME
ISIS Propaganda and its use of social media, made it one of the biggest organized terrorist group in the world. Giving it superiority over its predecessor “Al-Qaeda”, who is yet still effective in causing damage, but not effective in gathering supporter around it. ISIS has always displayed sensitive issues while using the video propaganda, this includes pushing forward with their savage and cruel machine to intimidate and put fear in the hearts of those who fight ISIS – like beheading foes and spies, burning enemies and drowning them, and executing attacks on barracks and some strategic locations in Iraq and Syria.
Their propaganda videos also include some philanthropic works which they do during certain occasions, such as Eid Al-Adha, where they present offerings from slaughtered animals to feed needy families. They also present videos about bread production in different areas in Syria!
I believe ISIS has two different “Messages” from their own videos, in which they target two different audience. The first is the internal audience, including those who have been trapped in a fight between ISIS and governmental authorities in Syrian and Iraq, and had no other choice but to escape. While they are escaping and seeking refuge in different parts of Iraq and Syria, they are being enticed to see their country-people who have lived under ISIS and how they are being treated in good manner (at lease what these videos show) – adding to that, the lack of services they receive in their destination and the uncertain future that they are facing (these people are mostly Arabic language speakers). ISIS focuses on the bread, as one sample of greater meaning they send to others, that their land is the land of plenty and abundance.
The second message they send is external message – specifically aimed to the West, and these messages include two branches A) To make intelligence communities busy and amazed by their propaganda so they won’t have time to search and execute any operations that eliminate ISIS danger, and this explains the variety of videos they send in different languages from different locations. This also includes messages that put fear in the hearts Western People, and an attempt to deter anyone trying to be part of a campaign, especially ground campaign, because this threatens ISIS the most, and I believe that this “type” of message has played great role in convincing congressmen and President Obama not to send troops on the ground, but only assisting with certain number of experts to help Iraqi forces, for instance!
B) To attract, recruit, and push the “Zeal” of Muslims sympathizers with ISIS around the world, this is why we see them speaking in different languages, interviewing different people from different countries. But there is this video in particular that caught my attention, which is titled: Auha Al-Lajee (O Refugee) – which is addressed to those refugees crossing by boats to Europe and other parts escaping conflicts and violence in Syria and Iraq.
This video was about 11 minutes, and used two main languages subtitled in Arabic, one of these languages was Russia, and the other was Turkish. Looking closer to the video and repeating it couple of times, I have came to certain conclusions which I will explain later in this article.
The video started with some devastating reports taken from Al-Jazeera and other Arabic channels, in which they show how hard it is to cross the sea and borders to get to European countries. In contrast, ISIS video showed kids playing, and head of families speaking about how good their life is under ISIS, and that they escaped bombing by Kurdish Forces.
The interviewed family members were claiming that they have escaped to Tal-Afar a town close to Mosul, they also have excessively thanked ISIS for their help and support. They also renounced and criticized Refugees who are leaving the land of Islam to the land of Kufur “Infidels” – and that is the main goal of the video.
Bu what is so significant about the two languages? As a speaker and expert of few languages – I see it very critical to associate languages with the geopolitical factors surrounding it. And I also believe that ISIS as a sophisticated terrorist organizations, is going to characterize this feature of referring to certain languages to serve their own purposes!
What do we know about Russian Language? and Why ISIS is using it this time?
Russian speaking fighters among ISIS are the highest number of foreign fighters, as it appears from the speaker, his accent and as they noted he is from Dagestan. Muslims of Dagestan are well known for their separation in 1999 from both Chechnya and Russia, and the Muslim body in that country started calling for a holy war against the Russian Forces. Dagestan’s Muslims, who tend to follow sufism combined with local tradition, generally steered clear of Chechen-style separatism, but after the late 1990s, radical and militant elements said to be linked with the more fundamentalist wahhabist tendency began to gain in influence.
Estimates of 2014 say that the largest number of foreign fighters among ISIS come from Russia, they believed to be from Kyrgyzstan, Chechnya, and Dagestan. ISIS rely on fighters from Russia, and there are several reason to that, first is their knowledge in the area and the kind of weapons used in Iraq and Syria (Mostly Russian) – and also the poverty and deprivation that these countries live in made them easy target for ISIS recruiters. In addition to other reasons as well.
Here comes the second part of the video – where people are talking Turkish language. This part was established on how bad the Western countries are, they have aimed to undermine all efforts made by European countries to assist refugees who are crossing from Turkey! This is why Turkish language is used here, and as I see it, there are two main reasons they used this language:
- Many refugees die on the Turkish shores in their attempts to cross the sea, and they know that most of the smugglers are taking advantage of them and stealing their money and leaving them to an unknown destiny. I have lived in Turkey for about 2 years, and most of the smuggling networks are either monitored/supervised or run by Turkish Intelligence, and in the recent years they have done very little to prevent this phenomena from happening. One of the reasons is putting pressure on the European Union to include Turkey in that effort to fight smuggling and illegal immigration, and eventually to include Turkey to the European Union.
- The second point relates to the first, but in different way! ISIS is seeking counter immigration to its territories by calling upon people to “Immigrate” to Syria and Iraq. Their message is, Turkey is the best spot to do this business “Smuggling/Immigrating”. Their propaganda is aiming to show the difference between people leaving the Islamic land and face death on the seashores, and between people fighting “infidels” and living in peace. In short, they are calling for more terrorists to join!
I still believe that their propaganda messages can be always intercepted and abolished by establishing centers in the countries where these terrorists are “immigrating” from, and if they are not immigrating, they are committing all these atrocities and terrorist acts against their own citizens. Global intelligence cooperation is not enough to stop the flow of ISIS terrorists, everyday there is new generation of ISIS being born and created somehow, somewhere. Therefore, fighting intellectual ideas is the most effective fight against ISIS propaganda!
* Chart & Statistics ( http://www.statista.com)