An all-out fight against the Islamic State will have to expand to the informational war that the jihadists seem to be winning so far with savvy social media and stomach-turning but slick execution videos, security analyst and covert warfare veteran Tony Shaffer told Newsmax TV
"This is a war of ideas," said Afghanistan veteran and retired U.S. Army Lt. Col Shaffer, telling "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner that "we've got to start doing what we call counter-messaging" because right now the Islamic State (ISIS) is "basically ruling the information sphere unencumbered."
Story continues below video.
Note: Watch Newsmax TV now on DIRECTV Ch. 349 and DISH Ch. 223
Get Newsmax TV on your cable system — Click Here Now
"They understand how to manipulate our thinking and our culture," said Shaffer, author of "Operation Dark Heart,"
about his black-ops experience in Afghanistan.
Graphic footage of a Jordanian pilot
being burned alive also serves as a "recruitment video" for would-be jihadists, he said.
While the video galvanizes the civilized world, it also reaches a receptive audience, said Shaffer, who described the would-be caliphate rulers in Iraq and Syria as "playing to their base."
"This video, as horrific as it is, actually does appeal to a certain percentage, a certain sect, of the Muslim faith," he said. "Primarily those who have come up through the most extreme version of Sharia."
"So much of what they're going for is this image of the 'strong horse,' " said Shaffer, explaining that "so much of the Arab culture, in particular, respects the strong horse."
He said the video is also "meant to frighten" adversaries in the coalition against the Islamic State — "to show any pilot who goes down, who is shot down or crashes, 'This is your fate.'"
Shaffer praised Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby for recognizing the importance of war of ideas against ISIS and "doing his best to get the word out." But he criticized the Obama administration for lacking a comprehensive strategy — for either physical or informational combat.
"For goodness sake, we have the best, the brightest, Special Operations operators in the world," said Shaffer. "If you let go the dogs of war, you would be amazed what they could do."
He also said the U.S. needs to lead a "realistic coalition of conventional forces," a NATO-like contingent, made up of troops from throughout region, but with Americans in the mix. He scoffed at the idea of training and arming 5,000 "so-called moderate rebels" in Syria.
In the meantime, President Barack Obama's decision to forgo a relentless Special Ops campaign against the jihadists "is a political issue," he said.
"Essentially it's LBJ in Vietnam all over again," said Shaffer. "President Obama, who has no military background, is making all these calls like he's a qualified quarterback when he's not."
© 2022 Newsmax. All rights reserved.