Amid all the carnage and beheadings occurring on the streets of Mosul, Fallujah, and other towns and villages in Iraq, is a full-fledged public relations campaign to create an illusion. ISIS is going high-tech, using social media and the Internet to create an image they believe will help ‘mainstream’ them in the Muslim world. And which they hope will also help them in recruiting new followers to their bastardized version of Islam.
ISIS has begun to create the illusion that they are providing essential services in areas under their control. The same services they are responsible for destroying in their march across Syria and Iraq. A sleight of hand, a card trick craftily choreographed for the television cameras and any of their followers with a Smart Phone. With the images broadcast around the world.
Taking a page from the playbooks of Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Southern Lebanon, ISIS is using the visual media to create a narrative different from the brutal reality they represent. And looking to swell their ranks with the gullible who they hope will view them as ‘ISIS the Benevolent’.
Aside from lopping off heads and torturing and crucifying Christians, ISIS has been busy opening some food pantries, providing drinking water, and even disseminating some medicines to Syrians and Iraqi’s living in areas controlled by the brutal terrorist organization. Well-publicized efforts which create an illusion of ‘civic-mindedness’ in those occupied areas and elsewhere in the Muslim world.
The lesson Hamas and Hezbollah have learned so well is that when one provides the basic services or necessities of life, and is able to do it in a more efficient way than any existing or previous corrupt government entities can, those benefitting may be willing to overlook some of your less savory qualities.
With the Western-educated PR experts directing the message that is being disseminated, ISIS is betting that the harsh reality they offer will be overshadowed by the benevolent smokescreen they project.
As there already have been many, and undoubtedly will be more recruited to the ISIS mirage as a result of this public relations effort, once the reality sets in as to what is expected of a good little ISIS follower, some enthusiastic recruits may be looking for a way out the back door at the first opportunity.
Unfortunately there have already been a few fairly well known cases where young Western females who enthusiastically sought a place within the ISIS community have since regretted that decision. And unfortunately for them there is no way out. At least not with one’s head well-connected to the rest of their body.
Those who have become disillusioned by the reality of evil will have learned a very hard lesson as well, that deserting ISIS is a whole lot more difficult than becoming an ardent follower. All public relations efforts aside, the reality is far different from the illusion that is being created.