The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has extended its battleground to include social networks so that the entire world can witness its brutality.
Toby Harnden of Real Clear Politics
reports that the militants recently posted a gruesome beheading of an Iraqi officer in front of a cheering and screaming crowd on YouTube and jihadist websites.
On Thursday, another ISIS video appeared. "This one was entitled 'There is No Life Without Jihad.' In it, two friends from Cardiff are seen speaking in English. 'We will go to Iraq in a few days, and we will fight there, Allah permitting,' one of them vows," Harnden said.
The videos have been shared on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #AllEyesOnISIS and are used to recruit and to terrorize opponents, Harnden reports.
They are using Twitter to help raise money from donors in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the Middle East, and an app called "Dawn of Glad Tidings" helps push ISIS' Twitter feed and includes embedded advertising.
Followers have been encouraging ISIS to carry out killings and post pictures of the heads of those executed so that the world can see them.
"These are not times to be gentle or merciful," one supporter tweeted, according to Harnden.
Stephen Kappes, a former deputy director of the CIA, compared ISIS to the ruthless Bolsheviks and said, according to the report, that it was "capable of more violence and [was] more predatory than any terrorist group we've seen in the post-9/11 environment."
Now there are fears that social media may encourage retribution beyond the borders of Iraq and Syria.
Harnden said a British fighter named Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary is also a 23-year-old former rapper from Maida Vale in west London.
"The lions are coming for you filthy [infidels]," he tweeted. "Beheadings in your own back yard soon."
Harnden adds that while the ISIS fighters probably number no more than a few thousand, "their psychological operations have reinforced their strength. So has their willingness to consolidate ground taken in the Sunni bastions of Tikrit and Mosul while advancing toward Baghdad."
He quotes Kappes as saying this is a group who cannot be negotiated with. It is "an evil force ... They can only be stopped by force."
reports there were more than 67,000 ISIS mentions on Twitter last week.
"Everyone needs a social media campaign today, even political movements in the Middle East, it seems. The type of highly focused marketing and social media community building as exhibited by ISIS is something that brands strive for to get their message across," Dinah Alobeid, of social analytics company Brandwatch, told the site.
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