WATCH ABOVE: The American government is rolling out its own message on social media to counter the jihadi propaganda that has hooked so many disillusioned, young men. As Jackson Proskow reports, it’s a bold move but will it work?
YouTube has strict guidelines regarding videos depicting gruesome scenes of death and violence such as those posted by the Islamic State (IS).
But one video containing images of decapitated heads, crucified corpses and public executions has remained online since it was uploaded on Aug. 22.
This one was put out by the U.S. State Department.
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IS —also referred to as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria or ISIS —holds nothing back in its brazen propaganda campaign, regularly posting graphic footage of beheadings, mass killings and torture online.
The State Department appears to be attempting to give the militant group —and others like it — a taste of its own social media medicine.
The video, an Arabic version of which was posted a month earlier, is a part of the State Department’s “Think Again Turn Away” campaign aimed at dissuading the potential recruitment of foreign fighters, as well as responding to militants with a social media presence.
“Run, do not walk, to ISIS land. Come over. For as Syria is no longer for Syrians, Iraq is no longer for Iraqis,” the video captions read before suggesting you can learn skills such as blowing up mosques, setting off suicide bombs and “crucifying and executing Muslims.”
The full video can be viewed here. WARNING: Graphic content.
The campaign, which also uses the verified @ThinkAgain_DOS Twitter account and a companion Facebook page, comes out of the State Department’s Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications (CSCC), formed in 2010.
“Terrorist organizations use the Internet to propagandize and recruit across the globe. So prevalent are extremist websites that they have been described as a ‘virtual caliphate’ in cyberspace,” Chairman Ed Royce said in a 2012 statement before the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade.
According to a New York Times article, State Department analysts target men between the ages of 18 to 30 in the Middle East and East Africa, interacting in Arabic, Somali, Urdu and Punjabi. The English-language program began in Dec. 2013, the Times reported.
Since ramping up tactics in English, CSCC has used the @ThinkAgain_DOS Twitter account to share articles and anti-terrorist memes, but also call out those that glorify extremist actions.
Much like tweets coming from IS fighters, or those from other groups such as al-Shabab and Jabhat al-Nusra, the @ThinkAgain_DOS Twitter account doesn’t hold much back when it comes to graphic material.
Here’s a look at some of their tweets.