Monday, March 17, 2014

Fighting Terrorism One Tweet At A Time

Updated June 13, 2014

Now that ISIS has taken over Mosul and other key areas of Iraq, this posting is particularly pertinent.

There's a new high tech weapon in America's battle against terrorism and insurgency around the world and  it consists of 140 characters or less.

Here it is:

That's right.  The U.S. Department of State is now using Twitter to fight terrorists everywhere with their ThinkAgainTurnAway Twitter account.

So far, State has tweeted 371 times and has a whopping 799 followers, including Anonymous Operations, Syrian Freedom, the Wilson Center and a wide range of Americans and non-Americans from just about any background you can think of.

As background, please keep in mind that ISIS stands for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (aka Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant).  Here is a screen capture showing the State's flag:

This terrorist group first appeared in 2004 in Iraq, composed of Sunni Muslims who targeted the Iraqi government and American forces; its original name, the Organization of Monotheism and Jihad, was not exactly a captivating moniker.  After several iterations, the organization changed its name to ISIS to reflect its involvement in the Syria civil war.  ISIS is an affiliate of al-Qaeda and its key desire is to unite the world's Muslims under one Islamic state that is ruled by sharia law.  It is currently attempting to build a proto-state along the boundary between Iraq and Syria where there is a concentration of Sunni Muslims.  It has an estimated 7000 fighters in Syria who are both fighting the Assad regime and attempting to solidify their grip on towns and cities behind rebel/anti-Assad lines.  Doula News English is part of ISIS.

Now, let's look at some of the tweets from the Department of State to see the approach that they are using to discourage terrorists and terrorism.

Here's a photo posted on JustPaste.It and Twitter by Doula News English/ISIS:

Doula tweets "Commander Abu Omar Chechen - may Allah will protect him"

In response, State tweets "And who will protect the Syrians from him and the other foreign mercenaries of #alqaeda and #Assad".  For your information, Omar al-Chechen or Abu Omar al-Shishani was born in Georgia (birth name Tarkhan Batirashvili) and was a sergeant in an intelligence unit of the Georgian Army.  During the summer of 2013, he was named commander of the northern sector of Syria.

Musa Cerantonio tweets this photo of the ISIS flag made by his daughters and tweets "Made this a while back with my beautiful daughters while playing with clay together":

In response, State tweets "How many daughters will not be able to play with their fathers because of extremists using this flag?".

Shami Witness tweets this photo along with the caption "Danish fighter of ISIS, Ingmasi who stormed Iraqi intelligence HQ":

In response, State tweets "Another person deluded by #alqaeda hatred and brainwashing, another wasted life for a lost cause".

Here's State's latest weapon against al Qaeda:

This tweet is supposed to scare people straight:

One more.  Here is a rather sobering photo of a ball bearing bomb along with the caption "gifts to bashar forces":

In response, State tweets "How many innocent civilians will die when this bomb detonates?  #alqaeda won't care".

The arm of State that is responsible for ThinkAgainTurnAway is the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications or CSCC.  CSCC was founded within the Department of State in September 2010 with the mission of co-ordinating moves against anti-terrorist groups and other extremists on the internet using the Digital Outreach Team (DOT).  DOT's mandate is to "directly "counter the al-Qaeda narrative and propaganda in interactive digital environments".

While it is interesting watching State trying to counter tweets made by terrorists, one has to wonder just how effective this tactic is.  I rather doubt that it has converted one single terrorist to State's way of viewing the world.  I suspect it will take far more than a stick or a stone from State to change the mind of a person that is willing to sacrifice their life for the sake of what they believe.


  1. Obama, either a terrorist or an impotent coward

    1. Says the brave anonymous person on the Internet. lol