Baghdad, October 20 – Interrogation of captured Islamic State fighters has revealed that the chief factor behind their decision to join the movement was their frustration at being ignored on their blogs, American advisers in Iraq reported today.
US military officers assisting in the training, supply, and deployment of Iraqi Shiite and Kurdish troops told reporters at a press conference that a significant majority of Islamic State fighters captured on the battlefield were motivated to enlist with IS by the sense that not enough people were reading their blogs, and they felt the need to demonstrate to themselves and the world that they could in fact do something that makes an impact.
The finding has the potential to reshape the approach of many countries seeking to limit or cut off the flow of foreign fighters heading to Iraq and Syria, says Middle East analyst Hack Righter. “It turns out that the most effective means of depriving the Islamic State of its foreign recruits might well be giving young bloggers an audience,” he says. “The exact method to achieve that is not yet clear, but the path forward is clearer.”
Righter foresees European governments taking a top-down approach, favoring either a special agency tasked with reading, sharing, and commenting on blogs, or a grass-roots-oriented initiative aimed at enlisting thousands of citizens to devote several minutes a day to visit less-popular blogs and engage. A third possibility that he sees as more remote involves a European Union agency set up to handle those tasks on a continent-wide basis.
Beyond stemming recruitment to IS, the discovery carries implications for confronting the frustrated bloggers on the battlefield, says Tumblr Reddit, who studies social media and the military. “PsyOps is the obvious first candidate for this sort of intelligence,” he says, using shorthand for psychological operations. “It might be possible to dissuade large numbers of IS fighters from continuing to perpetrate atrocities by getting them to think their other creative efforts are gaining a following.”
Reddit stressed that the chief ramification of the revelations is that providing bloggers with the satisfaction of an expanding, engaged readership is in fact a national security issue with global importance.
“We can’t just ignore bloggers and think that everything will be OK,” he warns. “Global stability rides on giving them loads of attention.”
For more of David’s tastelessness, visit PreOccupied Territory.