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Metaphysics and strategic analysis

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[yt_dropcap type=”square” font=”” size=”14″ color=”#000″ background=”#fff” ] S [/yt_dropcap]peaking about metaphysics today seems almost an insult to the standard Western culture, all based on Reason and Feeling and on empiricism without a subject. On the contrary, this does not happen in the political civilizations currently emerging in the world. Inevitability pertains to losers while the culture of reality transformation pertains to winners.

And currently the West is an Accident compared to the great phenomena of global change, halfway between a Chinese empire emerging victoriously from the post-1989 Americanization and the Russian Federation creating an unavoidable and leading role for itself in the Middle East.

The losers believe only in few obvious facts, while the winners bend them to their will.

In China, in the military academies and intelligence services’ specialization schools, Taoist and Confucian traditions and classic martial arts – designed to fight both against the external and the internal enemy, the old empirical self – are taught.

On the other hand, as René Guenon used to say, the Tao is the esoteric aspect of exoteric Confucianism.

It is worth recalling that the spiritual Knowledge is always linked to a warrior culture: the Taoist-Buddhist Hagakure of Japanese Samurai is at the origin of classic geopolitical analysis, with the still very useful book entitled Dai Nihon by Karl Haushofer, the founder of German and European modern geopolitics.

Or it is linked to Sun Tzu’s “Art of War”.

The Soviet intelligence defectors were particularly surprised that in the US and NATO military academies there were not those classics they had to carefully analyze.

Historical science is Wisdom and therefore it combines a multiple and value-based dimension with the collection and analysis of facts.

Furthermore, in India, the Hindu religion is particularly widespread among young people living in the cities, while governments use the Hindu tradition to rebuild an identity-based political culture.

In Russia, the traditional Slavic nationalism of the Orthodox Church currently merges with Vladimir Putin’s Eurasian project.

When the Russian leader went to visit Pope Francis, he brought as a gift the icon of Our Lady of Vladimir, namely the holy image that Stalin secretly flew over Moscow in the hardest moments of the Nazi siege.

Finally nothing can be understood of Iran’s politics and strategy without the Twelver Shia Islam of today’s Iran.

The fact that the Twelfth Imam, a descendant from martyr Husseyn Ali, returns – as he has always been alive – to the visible world and converts to Islam the whole world, as well as Christians and Jews, by definitely destroying the Antichrist’s works, is a myth that tells us more about Iran’s foreign policy than a thousand descriptions of its missiles and weapons.

In short, the laicité that the West is flaunting from the rooftops, as if it were some kind of novelty, is a sign of weakness, not of strength.

It is accounting, not mathematics.

Those who are currently winning the globalization war always unite the people around myths, strong ideas, symbols, rituals and identity, while those who are losing the “Third World War in pieces” – just to use Pope Francis’ phrase – live their own history according to the Enlightenment myth. Indeed this, too, is a myth.

In fact, while it is believed that only myths and religious identities lead to wars, as claimed by the theorists of contemporary laïcité, it should be recalled that – in the case of the great slaughters of history – the revolutionaries waged war against the Europe of Kings under the tripartite motto Freedom, Equality and Brotherhood, thus turning a nation of 27 million people, as was France at the time, into a wasteland inhabited by approximately 9 million people.

The same holds true also for the Bolshevik Revolution which, according to the speech delivered by Solzhenitsyn before the Duma in 1994, upon his return to Russia, exacted a toll of 60 million victims in the period between the beginning of “Trotsky’s coup” and the end of Stalinism.

The current myth of laicité is a myth whereby, before the 1798 French Revolution, there was “darkness” while, after the largest massacre in modern history, the Enlightenment – and hence Reason – would come, thus destroying every myth – and hence Metaphysics, foolishly considered similar to Religion.

Hence, a value-based curvature of foreign policy emerges: if “they”, namely the emerging countries’ peoples, are as “we” are, enlightened and rationalist, it is fine, whereas if they are still in the grip of old myths there can only be war.

Just think of the fact that decades of war have left Afghanistan still in the hands of the Taliban or that the actions in Iraq have created a failed state which currently only serves the interest of the Iranian leadership.

While, as you may recall, in 2003 the US Governor of Iraq, Paul Bremer Lewis, adapted the chaotic flow of vehicles in Tehran to Boston’s traffic rules.

The West has long been viewing the Other as if he/she were himself/herself, obviously a more “primitive” and less “secular” Self.

And this is the biggest mistake, the pathological narcissism of the West which, in politics, leads to the same situations as those occurring in psychology: a “grandiose” self, leading to manipulative tactics vis-à-vis the others.

In fact, the West interprets the jihad as if it were “terrorism”, while the Islamic “holy war” certainly uses terror, but as part of its strategy, not as an end in itself.

“I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieved, so strike them upon the necks and strike from them every fingertip!” (Sura Al-Anfal 8:12).

But, if we studied the traditional Islamic law compared to jihad, at least 32 major rules from the Qur’an and an endless number of interpretations would further complicate the practice of the “holy war”.

In the Sunni tradition, the jihad is always defensive, but it is anyway intended to expand the community of believers. It is a complex political theology that does not only regard war as such, but also propaganda, Islam’s internal organization, its economy and its law in peacetime.

How can we indicate the Other as simple and primitive, when Islam, in its ferocity, is organizing an entire society against the “infidels”, by using the oil market, soft and hard propaganda actions, demographic penetration and a very wise manipulation of the most helpless and unarmed Western political system?

Moreover the West interprets Putin’s new Russia as a return of the Stalinist and Communist repressed aspects, thus forgetting that a country with eleven time zones and over 24 ethnic groups spread over 17 million square kilometers must be ruled in a centralized way or cannot be ruled at all.

Would a Eurasia “of autonomies and self-governments” – as unfortunately envisaged by Zbigniew Brzezinski some years ago – be more democratic and less dangerous for the Eurasian peninsula, namely for us?

Later the United States thought that the forced liberalization, developed in Yeltsin’s time, would lead Russia to be a peripheral country, but it was wrong.

While, as likely, the KGB defector to the USA, Anatoli Golytsin, was not entirely wrong, his theory developed in an old and useful book entitled New Lies for Old is that supposedly the USSR transformation and the end of the CPSU were carefully planned within the KGB First Chief Directorate.

Destroying the Party that blocked the State, bring fresh capital where there was none any longer and make Russia participate in the new “great globalization game”.

Clearly a country such as Russia cannot be studied by only checking – with the famous Reason – what the record of “democracy” or “human rights” is.

In the case of China, after an initial period in which Westerners were inebriated for the implementation of liberalizing reforms – because they believed them to mark the end of the Communist system – later they realized that the Four Modernizations of Deng Xiaoping (and, earlier, by Zhou Enlai) saved the Party from collapse, while the Chinese society remained strongly and often spontaneously Communist.

Hence there is no correlation between the “bourgeois” – and hence enlightened – “freedoms” and the political system, as indeed Benedetto Croce had already taught us.

Nevertheless, how can we avoid this “critical” and rationalistic thinking in foreign policy, which make us not understand the Other and obliges us, as Westerners, to always accept the fait accompli?

Etymologically krisis is the act of discerning, separating, judging and assessing.

Criticism and critique comes from krino, which is the art of judging – based on the values of beauty, justice and goodness – works and actions, as well as the people performing them.

However, how can the firm principles, the initial and final values of the kritikè teknè, namely the art of separating and hence judging, be created ? Obviously, metaphysics does so.

The West – and hence certainly Heidegger was not wrong – is characterized by the forgetfulness of Being in its “concealment”, which reveals itself only in its appearing, in its being temporary “semblance”.

Like a wave reveals the sea or the wind tells us about the air, by making us perceive and feel it.

Therefore, according to our interpretation, the Western krisis is currently lacking because its kritikè teknè has forgotten its foundations, the criteria which enable it to operate by separating appearances and leading them back to an original and initial principle.

As Wisdom, and not teknè, art and technology, philosophy is not only theoretical, abstract and hence partial knowledge, but it means knowing simultaneously “for us” and within the “actual reality of things”, which are both useful for fully guiding our lives.

Therefore foreign policy cannot be judged only based on one single aspect – be it military, economic or diplomatic – but by comparing all the aspects of a phenomenon.

In this regard, for example, suffice to think of the current Chinese rearmament, which is relevant both for domestic policy and for the Chinese project in the Pacific region, and finally for protecting the future Belt and Road Initiative, etc..

If we rationalistically consider one single aspect – the first which springs to our mind or we like – we isolate it and make it absolute, we only create a new myth, not a manifestation of Being.

Hence, metaphysics prefers an overall and global vision, the search for the cause or reason why – since nothing ever appears without a reason or, more exactly, a cause, and every cause always prompts the same metaphysical question: “why is this happening or is so and not otherwise?”

Moreover metaphysics knows that things and events have a meaning.

For Husserl, who was Heidegger’s professor, the distinction between sense and meaning “responds to the distinction between experience and what is lived and experienced” – hence, along the lines of his professor, in his book Being and Time Martin Heidegger tells us that the “sense is the possibility of action offered by the world we understand”.

Hence no formulas good for each phenomenon, for each partial unveiling of Being, as always happens in rationalistic geopolitics – in this regard, just think of Russian “militarism” or “bottom-up” democracy in the Maghreb region, which has strengthened al-Qaeda rather than the usual “pluralists” – but phenomena interpreted according to their sense, i.e. according to the scope of the objective correlations they generate.

Certainly, today metaphysics does not enjoy a good reputation. The Enlightenment has hidden it, more or less in the same way as the tutor in Rousseau’s Emile, or On Education cunningly and artfully hid, in the woods, the tools that the protagonist believed to discover by chance.

It is worth recalling that the term was coined in the first century A.D. by Andronicus of Rhodes, who had placed – in the library of Alexandria – Aristotle’s books on the “first philosophy”, namely metaphysics, after those on Physics, tà metà tà physikà.

Metaphysics – in Aristotle’ meaning, that the position chosen by Andronicus of Rhodes entails – goes beyond physical research by using the same methods as those used in research among particular beings.

In this connection, Giorgio Colli would have said that in the “Greek wisdom”, i.e. among the Pre-Socratics – the Being needed a faculty other than research into the world but, unlike modern rationalism, Aristotle’s intention is to use the investigating rationality in the whole sphere of Being.

Hence our knowledge is always abstract and there are no primitive or original languages – or even more inherently “true” languages than others – as the logical neo-Positivists and hence also the Empiricists imagined.

There exists no original or essential fact around which all the others are structured, as thought by all those who imagine an action from which everything begins – be it the liberation of Paris on August 25, 1944 or the signing of the “short armistice” in Cassibile on September 3, 1943.

There is no objectively original fact – only the rationalists and wizards believe so.

Hence we extrapolate from the “metaphysical” analysis what is common to various facts; later we check the story of these facts and their actual connection. Then we extract-abstract from the various phenomena studied what can be subjected to a rational analysis, i.e. their number and their form.

Finally, we define the rules of things and of their being in that way and not in another and then we define their absolute necessity which – as also Kant taught us – cannot be based only on empirical experience.

Empiricism tells us about the constancy of phenomena, not about their necessity.

Hence we rise to metaphysics when we do not refuse to think specifically of the condition thanks to which we think everything else.

In historical terms, this means when we analyze all the contexts in which the facts occurred and, hence, their “not being otherwise”.

The metaphysical consciousness has no other objects than daily experience, this world, the others, human history, truth and culture.

However, instead of considering them as already existing, as empirical data available to everyone, or as consequences without premise – and hence as if they proceeded magically by themselves – metaphysics rediscovers their being alien to the world and the miracle of their appearing.

This means that metaphysics is the opposite of the “system”.

Therefore let us think about what might happen if we applied this way of thinking – not mutilated as the poor wretched rationalism of our times – to history and strategic analysis.

The perception and efficacy of all our evaluations would change: the Chinese policy, for example, would no longer be a sort of adaptation to the “market” economy, but the joint effort of a country to win the so-called globalization war.

Or the public debt would no longer be analyzed as an alternative between “austerity” and default, but as a universal financial market like that of all other securities.

And again, we would start to perceive – with “astonishment”, as Plato taught us, because reality is so and not in another way – the great future geopolitical tectonics, such as Africa’s transformation, the overlapping between technology and new mysticism or even the great subjectivization of our Western political culture, between Orwell’s 1984 and a new configuration of primary instincts.

Advisory Board Co-chair Honoris Causa Professor Giancarlo Elia Valori is an eminent Italian economist and businessman. He holds prestigious academic distinctions and national orders. Mr. Valori has lectured on international affairs and economics at the world’s leading universities such as Peking University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Yeshiva University in New York. He currently chairs “International World Group”, he is also the honorary president of Huawei Italy, economic adviser to the Chinese giant HNA Group. In 1992 he was appointed Officier de la Légion d’Honneur de la République Francaise, with this motivation: “A man who can see across borders to understand the world” and in 2002 he received the title “Honorable” of the Académie des Sciences de l’Institut de France. “

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How 4chan Radicalizes Youth and Grooms Them Towards Terrorism

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The image board was started in 2003 to discuss anime and various other topics but festered into a safe space for hateful rhetoric soon after. In the aftermath of yet another racially motivated mass shooting by a frequent user, its dangers have finally reached the mainstream.

4chan is an extremely unique website. It has been running since 2003, and over the course of almost 20 years, has influenced many internet memes and phenomena. However, in the wake of the European Migrant Crisis in 2015 and the 2016 Presidential Election, it became associated with white supremacy, especially on its /pol/ board. This hateful rhetoric festered, worsening in 2020 during the COVID pandemic and George Floyd protests. 4chan was sprung into the spotlight once again on May 14th, 2022, when a white supremacists livestreamed his massacre of a supermarket.

This attack, fresh in American’s minds, led many to question why 4chan is still allowed to exist. This comes after 4chan’s rhetoric inspired a 2015 mass shooting in Oregon and its users aided in the organization in the Unite The Right Rally and the January 6th Riots. Clearly 4chan is a hotbed for far-right terrorism. But why is this image board the way it is? The answer lies in its lax moderation of content.

Upon looking at 4chan, you will find it is mostly made up of pornography. However, if you go on the site’s /pol/ board, it does not take long to find the kind of rhetoric that radicalized the Buffalo shooter. One particular post I found featured a racist joke at the expense of Black people. Another was praising fighters in the Ukrainian Azov battalion while joking about killing trans people. Yet another post complained about an “influx of tourists” due to the Buffalo shooter, who they insulted with an anti-gay slur. These memes and jokes seem to appeal to a younger, perhaps teenaged audience. It is clear that they are still trying to recruit youth into their ranks even after the tragedy in Buffalo.

The content is, to say the least, vile. The fact that this stuff is permitted and encouraged by not just the userbase (which numbers in the millions) but also many moderators tells us that there is something fundamentally wrong with 4chan. In fact, copies of the livestreamed Buffalo massacre were spread widely on 4chan to the amusement of its userbase.

Many of the users on 4chan are social rejects who feel as if they have nothing to lose. They feel unaccepted and alienated from society, so they turn to 4chan. Many harmful ideologies, such as White supremacy and incel ideologies, seem extremely validating for these dejected youth.  Young, socially alienated men, who make up the majority of 4chan’s userbase, are also among the most vulnerable demographics for radicalization.

What can we do to prevent further radicalization of youth and deradicalize those already affected by harmful rhetoric? First of all, we need to either heavily regulate 4chan or have it shut down. There is no space on the internet for this kind of hatred or incitement to commit horrific acts like what happened in Buffalo. For those already radicalized, we need to perform a campaign of deradicalization among those affected by this rhetoric. But how can this be done?

4chan prides itself on anonymity, so it is difficult to figure out who uses it. Thus, education on radicalization and identification of propaganda is vital. This education should focus on adolescents mostly due to their predisposition towards radicalization when exposed to hateful rhetoric. While White supremacy must be emphasized, other forms of radicalization should be mentioned as well such as Jihadism and other forms of ethnic supremacy. Finally, tolerance must be fostered among all people, not just those at risk of becoming groomed into terrorism.

The age of 4chan has spawned many humorous memes, but it has since become a hotbed for hatred and terrorism. Since memes are able to convey dangerous ideas, websites like Reddit and Facebook need to be heavily regulated to prevent the dissemination of dangerous misinformation. It is unlikely that 4chan will ever moderate itself, as lack of strict moderation is its defining feature. Thus, it has overstayed its welcome and no longer has a place in today’s information-driven society.

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New ISIS Strategy and the Resurgence of Islamic State Khorasan

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ISKP Uzbek Jihadist

Unlike Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, the second late leader of ISIS, who was derided as a “secluded paper caliph” and “an unknown nobody” for his relative anonymity and non-publicity, the new caliph of the Islamic State, Abu al-Hassan al-Hashimi al-Quraishi, has apparently launched a new strategy to strengthen linkages to regional wilayahs (provinces) and boost the group’s global presence.

Indeed, during his short time leading the group (31 October 2019 – 3 February 2022), Abu Ibrahim al-Qurayshi never publicly addressed his followers, which negatively affected the coordination of the activities of Islamic State-Central (ISC) and its regional branch of the Islamic State Khurasan Province (ISKP). Although his killing during a US counterterrorism raid in northwest Syria in early February was a major blow to the global jihadi organization, the change in leadership nevertheless provided it with new opportunities to update its command-and-control, recruitment and propaganda campaign.

Predictably, Abu al-Hassan al-Hashimi al-Quraishi, the new ISIS overall leader, sees his historical role not only in ensuring the Caliphate’s continuity and avoiding its potential fragmentation but also in establishing a more direct and consistent command line between its core in Iraq and Sham and its Central and South Asian affiliates.

ISIS collage dedicated to rocket attack on Uzbek Termez

The new strategy of the Islamic Caliphate not only gave a new impetus to its Khorasan offshoot waging a holy jihad in post-American Afghanistan against the Taliban but also opened a new front line against the post-Soviet Central Asian regimes. Indeed, the analysis of ISKP activities revealed that the proclamation of Abu al-Hassan al-Quraishi as the new Caliph and the launch of a new campaign “Revenge Incursion for the Two Sheikhs” increased the combat capability of IS Uzbek and Tajik fighters, as well as strengthened the coordination of local language and IS-Central propaganda machines.

Notoriously, on April 17, ISIS launched the new campaign “Revenge Incursion for the Two Sheikhs” to avenge the deaths of the former ISIS leader, Abu Ibrahim al-Qurayshi, and his official spokesperson, Abu Hamza al-Qurashi, who were killed in a US raid in February in the northwest Syrian town of Atmeh. In his recent audio address, Islamic State’s new spokesman Abu-Omar al-Muhajir called on the Caliphate warriors to avenge the deaths of the former ISIS leaders by “painfully striking” the enemies of “al-mujahideen” and saying that if they kill, they should “kill by many.” This call was made to the group’s followers worldwide and asked them to remain patient, but also be ready when the “war” begins. Al-Muhajir called to expand the campaign “Revenge Incursion for the Two Sheikhs” to the territory of US, Europe and Central Asia, urging Muslims living there to follow the lead of past “lone wolves” who conducted operations that “filled with horror.” He asked them to repeat “lone wolf” operations by stabbing, attacking, and ramming, and drawing inspiration from recent attacks in Israel.

ISKP Threat to Central Asia

Among the first to support the Islamic State’s new ‘global offensive’ campaign were ISKP Uzbek and Tajik jihadists challenging the new Taliban government and dreaming of overthrowing the ‘Taghut (idolaters) regimes’ in Central Asia. Thus, inspired by the new Caliph’s new strategy, for the first time in the history of the Islamic State, they managed to conduct a transnational jihadi operation from Afghanistan to the territory of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

Initially, on April 18, 2022, the ISKP fired ten rocket salvos into the territory of Uzbekistan, which was successfully exploited by the Uzbek-speaking regional jihadi media and IS-Central’s propaganda resources as evidence of the opening of a “second front” in the Central Asian direction. Expert assessments clearly observed the good coordination between the IS-Central’s media and ISKP’s local jihadi mouthpieces, both in terms of Islamic ideological content and hierarchical sequences.

ISKP Uzbek nasheed performer Asadulloh Urganchiy

The Islamic State-Central’s Amaq News Agency reported that “Mujahedeen of the Caliphate have fired 10 Katyusha rockets at a murtad (apostasy) Uzbekistan’s military base in the border town of Termez.” The ISIS central media wing also released a photo and video of the projectiles to back its claims. Another IS-Central’s weekly al-Naba newsletter also widely covered the topic of rocket attacks by detailing how the projectiles were fired from Afghan territory on the Central Asian nation.

Following IS-Central official news agencies reports, IS-Khurasan Willayah’s local media outlets, such as Al-Azaim Foundation and Khurasan Radio, the Uzbek-language Xuroson Ovozi (Voice of Khurasan), Tavhid Habar (Tawhid News), Tajik-language Telegram channels Mujahideen of the Caliphate and The Army of the Victorious Nation published a series of audio, video and text messages in Uzbek and Tajik detailing the goals, causes, and consequences of the rocket attack. In particular, Al-Azaim Foundation glorified the rocket attack as “the heroism of the brave lions of Allah Almighty punishing the corrupt army of the murtad Uzbek government.”

The ISKP media outlets were extremely outraged by the Uzbek government’s denial of the rocket attack, claiming that nothing had landed on their territory. In response, pro-ISKP Uzbek, Tajik and Russian Language Telegram channels re-posted IS-Central’s statement, photos, videos of the attacker and a map marked with the possible rocket impact location in Termez.

Central Asian Salafi-Jihadi experts’ attention was drawn to a 24-minute audio address of Khuroson Mujahid, the leader of ISKP Uzbek group, whose speech style and ideological views strongly resembled the late ISIS chief strategist Abu Mohammed al-Adnani. His speech revealed that the ideological vision of ISKP Central Asian jihadists, staunch followers of Takfiri Salafism, is in line with the Islamic State’s global agenda. He considers democracy to be the religion of “murtad states” of Central Asia, the Taliban government and Pakistan. He believes that due to committing shirk (idolatry), deviating Allah and doubting Tawheed (God’s Oneness), the leaders of taghut countries should be killed.

Considering Khuroson’s oratorical skills, Takfiri persuasion and ideological savvy, it is quite possible that the ISKP recruitment and incitement campaign will intensify in Central Asia in the near future. Obviously, the engagement between IS-Central and ISKP in the military, media and ideological directions reached a new level in the more permissive operating environment of post-American Afghanistan.

On May 7, the ISKP carried out a second rocket attack, this time into Tajikistan. According to the Central Media Office (Diwan al-I’lam al-Markazi) of ISIS, “Caliphate’s fighters fired seven rockets from the Khawaja Ghar district of Afghanistan’s Takhar Province towards the Tajik military base near the city of Kulob.” The rocket attacks on the territories of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan for three weeks nevertheless mark a clear escalation by ISKP Central Asian foreign fighters from just hostile anti-five post-Soviet “murtad governments” rhetoric to direct militant action.

Notably, the methods of media coverage of both attacks and the engagement between IS-Central and ISKP’s local media resources were clearly similar. The algorithm of their actions was in line with the new ISIS strategy. Thus, IS-Central posted a brief information about the rocket attacks with video and photos, then the Tajik, Uzbek and Pashto-language local media resources of ISKP glorified the “warriors of Allah”. The Uzbek-language pro-Islamic State Telegram channels Islomiy Maruza Davat Guruh, Khuroson Ovozi, Tawheed news, the Tajik-language Telegram channel of Ulamoi Rabboni (إنَّ اللّٰهَ مَعَنَا) actively propagated ISKR rocket attacks, undermining the image and credibility of the military potential of Tajikistan and the Taliban.

These Central Asian pro-IS media resources, supported by IS-Central propaganda bodies and comprised of a constellation of official branch outlets, regional pro-ISKP groups, and grassroots supporters have become a prominent voice aggressively impugning the Taliban’s reputation in the global jihadi world. Such method makes it possible to preserve the hierarchical structure and maintain a uniform media strategy of the global jihadi group. This reflects that after the fall of the Caliphate and a series of dramatic losses of its leaders, ISIS has learned a bitter lesson and is now moving from centralizing power to strengthening its wilayahs.

Apparently, the ISKP seeks to broaden its appeal in Central Asia both through increasing cross-border attacks against Afghanistan’s neighbors and ramping up the production, translation, and dissemination of propaganda directed at Uzbek, Tajik, and Kyrgyz communities in the region. These rocket attacks and ISKP’s propaganda campaigns targeting Central Asians for recruitment are any indicators, the group has become a serious jihadi power challenging not only the Taliban government, but also the post-Soviet authoritarian regimes. Through its Uzbek, Tajik and Pashto-language Telegram channels, the ISKP is conducted an unprecedented activity to recruit Central Asian jihadi groups affiliated with al Qaeda and the Taliban, as well as new radical Islamists from the Fergana Valley.

Future of ISKP Central Asian Jihadists

Obviously, the ISKP is exploiting the US military withdrawal from the region and the Afghan Taliban’s deviation from the hardline jihadi concept by successfully portraying their government as a Pashtun ethno-nationalist organization rather than a bona fide Islamic movement.

In conclusion, it is to be expected that the ISKP will actively capitalize external operations to undermine the legitimacy of the Taliban government, which assured the US and Central Asian neighbors not to allow Afghan soil to be used to attack Afghanistan’s neighbors. Strengthening cross-border rocket attacks has already raised the morale of ISKP fighters and consolidated its support base.

Thus, the new Islamic State’s strategy to strengthen its offshoots in its provinces is quite capable to reestablish its positioning in the broader global jihadi movement, which we see in the example of IS-Khorasan Province.

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How Memes Can Spread Dangerous Ideas

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Internet memes are an excellent way to send powerful messages to millions of people. But what happens when they are used for malicious purposes?

Memes have been a means of transmitting messages for centuries, proliferating immensely in recent decades due to their mass proliferation through the internet and their ability to broadcast messages to a massive audience. They have quite a bit of cultural significance and can be based on almost anything, provided they achieve viral status. However, memes have been subject to abuse by malicious groups and actors.

From the Blue Whale Challenge, an internet challenge that resulted in multiple suicides worldwide, to terrorist organizations like ISIS, which use internet memes to recruit young people, memes can be used for malicious purposes. Even toxic subcultures like MGTOW serve as a pipeline towards the incel movement. Indeed, such male supremacist organizations are not strangers to using memes and viral media to propagate their ideas and recruit young men and boys to their cause. In fact, one influencer, who goes by Sandman MGTOW, often posts such misogynistic memes and videos on his Twitter and YouTube channel.

These kinds of memes are easily identifiable by their bias towards a specific issue and their often-political message. One great example of a meme that has been subject to abuse by malicious actors is Pepe the frog. Based on a character by Matt Furie, this meme was abused by the alt right, being depicted as controversial figures such as Adolf Hitler and Donald Trump. The meme was so badly abused by these far-right actors that it was listed as a hate symbol by the ADL.

Memes have also influenced major world events like the 2016 election in the United States and the Arab Spring revolutions in the early 2010’s, which garnered immense media attention through the use of internet memes and viral media. This shows that memes can have the power to influence elections (albeit slightly) and topple oppressive regimes. Being a powerful tool for spreading information, there is also the use of memes for spreading misinformation.

The COVID-19 pandemic mediated a sizeable but modest anti-vaccine movement in countries like the United States, Canada, and Germany. These anti-vaxx groups used social media like Facebook and Reddit to spread memes full of misinformation and pseudo-science It can also be argued that memes were effective tools in spreading misinformation around the elections of 2016 and 2020 in the United States. Memes, while powerful, can be used by malicious actors such as far-right groups and anti-vaxx groups to peddle false information. This has contributed to the US having a COVID death toll of over one million, higher than most other countries worldwide.

The world has progressed quite a bit in the information age. People are able to communicate ideas with millions of people worldwide in seconds. The proliferation if information has never been more efficient in history. That is why the threats that arise from the mass proliferation of memes and viral media are so dire. As was seen during the 2016 and 2020 US elections, COVID, and Arab Spring, memes can be spread to convey messages that can change nations, affect millions (perhaps even billions) of people, and topple dictators. It has become possible for people to change the course of history with a single tweet or a single meme on Reddit or Instagram going viral.

What can we do to stem the massive proliferation of memes that serve to recruit people into dangerous organizations and fill their minds with misinformation? The answer lies in how we confront our biases and how we detect misinformation. People need to be informed about how they can detect bias and propaganda, in addition to using independent fact-checking services. By identifying propaganda from malicious actors and misinformation from online groups, we can stop the spread of dangerous memes before they proliferate.

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