ISIS began a new social media campaign on Sunday featuring Steven Sotloff, the American journalist being held captive. On the heels of the brutal beheading of James Foley, ISIS is using this campaign to get the United States to back off. The jihadist warned at the end of Foley's execution that the president’s “next move” would decide Sotloff’s fate.
The well-planned campaign—which includes pre-formulated tweets, images and instructions for dissemination, all under the hashtag #StevensHeadInObamasHands—is being rolled out in Arabic in an ISIS forum called al-Manbar, where the group tends to post publications and instructions.[…]
In a forum post, the group offered 13 different phrases to be published and tweeted, all of them using the #StevensHeadInObamasHands hashtag, along with a variety of images relating to the threat.
The tweets are often cross-tagged with popular tags to inject them into conversations in particular demographics. For example, several images we spotted are tagged with #AskRicky, which usually refers to Ricky Dillon, a teen YouTube star with over 1.6 million YouTube followers and similar numbers on Twitter and Instagram. Users scanning that hashtag will now, intermittently, see ISIS propaganda tweets in the same stream. [...]
The group behind the new campaign seems to be dedicated to English language propaganda for ISIS, and its use of odd cross-hashtags shows an understanding of how to connect with hitherto out-of-reach demographics.
Although the exact demands of the group are unclear, the suspension of air strikes, the release of high-profile prisoners, and several million dollars are thought to be what ISIS is seeking.