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Combat kittens & hipster jihadists: ISIS target kids to spread their cause

Published time: August 20, 2014 13:15
Islamic State propaganda appeals to recruits and threatens enemies.

Islamic State propaganda appeals to recruits and threatens enemies.

Islamic State members may hate Western culture, but they are quick to embrace Western technology that helps spread their message far and wide. The militants’ social media offensive ranges from videos of beheadings to pictures of cute jihadist kittens.

Apparently the IS (formerly ISIS/ISIL) realizes the importance of social media to win public support and are no less active on Twitter than activists of the so-called Arab Spring were just three years ago.

It’s hard to quantify this, but Middle East experts say the numerous videos of summary executions of captured Iraqi soldiers have played a significant effect in demoralizing the Iraqi army.

While threatening their enemies, they are also luring allies and potential recruits, demonstrating their martial prowess. The IS released an hour-long movie featuring slow-motion explosions and other special effects, reports RT’s Gayane Chichakyan.

“Kids are the best medium for them. Ten years old or 11 years old. In a few years they will be able to carry arms and they will be already well indoctrinated with this violent pursuit of their goal,” Ashraf El-Bayoumi, a professor at Alexandria University, told RT.

And it’s not only Arab teens whom the IS want to see in their ranks. Their activists distribute leaflets in London openly calling to spread the caliphate across the world. They are also targeting the English-language part of the World Wide Web, with fighters’ blogs and selfies, and motivational posters.

Among the propaganda material spread on the internet there are pictures aimed at western audience. One is promoting violent jihad as “our Call of Duty” – a reference to the popular computer game. Another says, “You die only once, why not make it martyrdom?” a message that somebody experiencing teen angst may find quite appealing.

There is also a ‘hipster jihadist’ – an IS fighter who reportedly graduated from a Cairo University and joined the militants – whose cutlass-wielding photo made ripples across the internet.

Other militant groups have long been using social media for their propaganda, but apparently the Islamic State is the most active and skilled in this regard.