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ISIS and the Militant Jihad on Instagram

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Authors: Anne Speckhard and Molly Ellenberg

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria [ISIS] is notorious for its slick propaganda videos and effectiveness at online recruitment, particularly on social media, of men and women all over the world to fight for and live under their Caliphate. Now with the territorial defeat of ISIS, its recruiters continue to be prolific online, encouraging supporters to hope and work toward the Caliphate’s return and to seek revenge on those who destroyed it by mounting attacks at home. While ISIS’s activity on Facebook and Twitter, as well as encrypted apps like Telegram, has been studied extensively, there is a dearth of information about their activity on Instagram, a platform increasingly used by young people vulnerable to ISIS recruitment. This article provides a brief examination of ISIS supporters’ activity on Instagram, even in the face of takedown policies, and also briefly discusses the possibilities of using a counter narrative video ad campaign on the platform to intervene in and prevent ISIS recruitment.

ISIS has long been noted for its superior use of social media, resulting in an unprecedented recruitment of foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs). As of 2020, over 45,000 FTFs had traveled from all over the world to fight with ISIS or live under the ISIS Caliphate in Syria and Iraq. This number peaked between 2014 and 2016, when ISIS was at the height of its reign of terror and has declined since ISIS’s territorial defeat and the 2019 fall of the Caliphate. Yet ISIS still continues to recruit online, urging supporters to seek revenge for the destruction of the Caliphate and conduct attacks in their home countries while waiting and working for the resurgence of the Caliphate. As recently as March and May 2020, ISIS released propaganda videos touting their battlefield achievements in Syria and Iraq, respectively, portraying graphic footage of Syrian and Iraqi soldiers being slaughtered while also calling for revenge against the countries that helped defeat ISIS territorially.[1]

For years, ISIS would blanket the Internet with their high-quality, professionally produced propaganda videos and written content and then use the immediate feedback mechanisms of social media to swarm in on and “love-bomb” anyone who liked, retweeted, commented on, or otherwise responded to their posts. In this manner, ISIS cast a wide online recruiting net but devoted their time and energies trying to seduce further those who showed interest and vulnerability to their online propaganda. Today’s online experience with video chat, online telephoning and text messaging allows ISIS’s online recruiters operating in at least 25 different languages to create deep and meaningful relationships with those on whom they are able to home in. As they do so, they artfully identify and meet the specific needs of their prey, creating intimate relationships and crafting individualized message that promise dignity, purpose, hero status, love, or anything else sought by the recruit should they attack on ISIS’s behalf or travel to fight for them. Due to this advanced recruitment strategy, ISIS was able to attract a significant amount of foreign terrorist fighters solely online, with no face-to-face recruitment. [2]

Because ISIS has been so prolific and so effective at using social media to radicalize and recruit, policy makers, scholars, and practitioners alike agree that effective efforts to prevent and counter violent jihadist extremism also require a social media aspect. Jihadists’ use of myriad platforms, including Twitter, Ask.fm, and Telegram have been studied extensively, and counter narratives have also been used in online campaigns created and posted by government and non-governmental entities, with mixed results, on a variety of platforms. [3]

The International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism [ICSVE] has over the past five years created and built its own counter narrative program, titled Breaking the ISIS Brand Counter Narrative Project, which features 194 short video clips of ISIS and al Shabaab insiders denouncing the group, and TheRealJihad.org website that features additional counter narrative material and resources to prevent and intervene in ISIS’s recruitment. ICSVE has also extensively studied online engagement with their and others’ counter narrative materials. It is clear that the most successful counter narratives are emotionally evocative, use credible insiders to deliver the message, and recognize the grievances that viewers may feel in a manner that creates rapport with the viewer rather than mocking the jihadist narrative, condemning those interested to join, or simply promoting pro-democratic, pro-secular society messages. These latter messages may not resonate with someone who has felt discriminated against as a Muslim immigrant, or individual of Muslim immigrant descent, or as a Muslim convert in the West. ICSVE has also learned from studying multiple campaigns that viewers not only watch the Breaking the ISIS Brand counter narrative videos in significant numbers, but are also moved to engage with the posts, through reacting, commenting, sharing, and saving them, and that viewership can be greatly increased by shortening the videos to one minute and then directing viewers to a website (YouTube or the ICSVE-run TheRealJihad.org) where they can watch longer videos and engage with other counter narrative materials and resources.

Although ICSVE’s Breaking the ISIS Brand counter narratives have been successful in the aforementioned ways, it is critical that ICSVE and others working in preventing and countering violent extremism keep up with current social media trends, just as ISIS does, in order to be able to prevent and disrupt their recruitment, especially of young people. Thus, an examination of social media usage among young people is required. In Europe, where ISIS is still actively recruiting and able to move some youth into attacking at home, ICSVE has also been campaigning against them while watching which platforms are being most used by both European youth and ISIS. In the EU, similar to the U.S., Instagram usage is outstripping Facebook and growing for youth, particularly among people younger than 34.[4] This is opposed to Facebook and YouTube still being the platforms of choice among youth in countries in other parts of the world, such as in the Middle East, though Twitter has fallen in popularity among Middle Eastern youth since the height of ISIS’s online recruitment.[5] In 2017, Instagram was the third most popular social media platform in the EU, after Facebook and Google+.[6] Anecdotally, police and security forces in the Netherlands expressed a worry that the youth most vulnerable to radicalization would not be reached through Facebook, as even if they do have accounts, they are much more likely to be active users on Instagram.[7]

Surprisingly, the specific relationship between Instagram and terrorist recruitment has not yet been studied. While there is extensive literature on militant jihadism and other types of violent extremism on Facebook, Twitter, and Telegram, Instagram is typically mentioned only as an example of a social media platform rather than a unique medium for promoting ISIS and militant jihadist propaganda and for terrorist recruitment. This paper begins to delve into the issue of if and how Instagram is being used by ISIS and other militant jihadist groups.

Identifying ISIS and militant jihadist Supporters on Instagram

Identifying those supporting jihadist ideology and groups on Instagram is a relatively simple task. By searching on Islamic terms and names often associated with ISIS, like khilafah, tawheed, and dawlah and even Awlaki, many posts including those hashtags appear, as they were posted by users with public accounts. Among these, most public posts did not include explicit advocations of militant jihadist violence, but rather promoted conservative views such as the requirement for women to be fully covered in niqab, with the implication that women who show their faces at all were sexually promiscuous and that unmarried women who interacted with men were asking to be sexually assaulted. While these views are not necessarily extremist, there could then be found among them ISIS supporters who posted more violent and extreme ideas on their stories or secondary private accounts which made it clear they sympathize with ISIS.

For instance, one commonly shared meme on public pages contrasted “The Hijabi Queen,” a woman who has never had sex before marriage and dresses modestly, with the “Western Thot [Internet slang for a slut or whore],” a woman who is seen as “a pump-and-dump” and “has slept around with countless random guys in her youth, then settles down with someone she’s not even attracted to.” The conservative Muslim woman is portrayed respectfully while the Western woman is dehumanized and degraded, which is not itself violent extremism, but in some cases, it relates to violent suggestions for dealing with Western women’s violations of the poster’s conservative views. For instance, one account posted a photo depicting a man asking, “Is burning the only solution for the feminists?” and another responding, “So it seems. So it seems.”

Other posts advocated violence against members of the LGBTQ+ community, especially during the month of June, which is Pride Month in the United States. Many of these posts appeared at first to advocate tolerance and acceptance of homosexuality until one looked more carefully at the details of the photos:

The photo above was posted by an account which frequently posted other homophobic content and advocated a broad expansion of the global Caliphate but did not believe that ISIS was the group capable of doing so. This view is akin to many others supportive of militant jihad and the idea of an Islamic State Caliphate but who are opposed to ISIS’s propensity for attacking other Sunni Muslims.  Below are some posts of memes illustrating such views.

More violent content criticized the relatives of victims of the mosque shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand for forgiving the white supremacist terrorist instead of punishing him according to shariah. Other posts refer to takfir, which is the extremist Islamic practice of excommunicating others for not following their extremist interpretation of Islam, a common practice in ISIS that included the claim that those takfired should be executed as infidels. An example of a post including a meme promoting takfir refers also to the taghut which are, according to ISIS, tyrannical powers that deny and defy Islam, and mushrik, meaning those who reject the oneness of God and who are idolaters. The post is here:

Other posts were anti-Semitic memes accusing figures like the Rothschild family and George Soros of creating the COVID-19 pandemic and inciting race wars which could be found on both far right and militant jihadists sympathizers accounts, again not necessarily denoting militant jihadist sympathy per se. However, among these were also Muslims who appeared to be ISIS supporters based on a video of a man preaching the “ruling of caliphate.”

The account mentioned above, which appears to be an ISIS supporter, posted a meme depicting various high-profile media personalities with Stars of David on their foreheads, below a photo of Jacob Rothschild holding a fan of cash, with an illuminati symbol on his forehead. The title above the photo reads, “The media moguls are highly-paid agents of Rothschild Zionism, hired and paid handsomely serve their global agenda [sic].”

Under the hashtag taghut, denoting tyrannical powers who deny worship of anything other than God and defy Islam, many Instagram users posted photos of Arab leaders, most notably those from Saudi Arabia, accusing them of hypocrisy and Westernization which aligns with the jihadist messaging from al Qaeda, al Shabaab and ISIS, but does not necessarily mean they are militant jihad or ISIS supporters themselves. Messages warning followers not to participate in democratic elections were also posted with the taghut hashtag although this could also be seen as a very conservative, but nonviolent, Salafi view.

One such post featured a Guy Fawkes mask next to the words, “Dumb politicians are not the problem. The problem is the dumb kuffar [disbelievers] that keep voting for them.” The caption specified the leaders of Pakistan, Turkey, Bangladesh, and Saudi Arabia as polytheists and their supporters as kuffar. The same account posted photos accusing Bill Gates of injecting people with the COVID-19 virus in order to sell them a vaccine; referred to Jews, Shias, Sufis, Brelwees [sic], and Christians of being idol-worshippers; and declared takfir on Congresswoman Ilhan Omar for her participation in the U.S. government. Many photos posted by the account featured firearms, though the poster stated that they did not support ISIS specifically.

Of the public accounts that did explicitly advocate for violent jihad, most did not mention ISIS, which may be due to the profile owners’ concerns about avoiding takedowns. Rather than directly mentioning ISIS, they posted photos and quotes from ISIS and al Qaeda English-speaking ideologue Anwar al-Awlaki or exaltations of the Taliban, which seemed to be a far more socially acceptable group, or safer to explicitly post, than ISIS within the jihadist sphere on Instagram.

One post featured a video of Anwar al-Awlaki speaking about jihad, captioned, “Beautiful beautiful reminder, Whoever is going to follow a path should follow the path of the ones who’ve died.” Another post on the account featured only the bottom half of al-Awlaki’s face, presumably to avoid takedown software, as the caption began, “Kuffar deleted this post.”

Another account was dedicated entirely to posting al-Awlaki quotes, with a link to a collection of audio lectures in the bio. According to the account holder, he or she was posting the quotes on behalf of jihad and linking to the audio lectures because “YouTube is deleting the videos of the Sheikh cause [sic] it contains Islam in its purest form.” While many of al-Awlaki’s early videos do address many matters about life in Islam, his later videos promoting endless jihad with the West are the actual reason his videos have been taken down.

One of the most prolific Taliban-supporting accounts frequently posted violent and graphic videos as well as photos boasting of the Taliban’s success. For instance, one photo was accompanied by the caption, “Taliban Lions captured a checkpoint in the Antan area of Siagard in Begha Parwan province, killing and wounding soldiers and looting a large number of arms. Allab Almighty gives us enough weapons in one post to suffice to conquer a large bases… [sic].”

The same account frequently expressed anger toward ISIS, however, citing an oft-referenced conspiracy theory that ISIS was created by the United States and Israel to destroy the Muslim people.[8] The photo below was posted alongside a caption claiming that Edward Snowden had revealed that Abu Bakr al Baghdadi is really a Mossad agent named Elliot Shimon.

There were, however, a few public accounts that were clearly and unashamedly pro-ISIS. Most focused on the women imprisoned at the al-Hol camp in Syria. One account was even purportedly run by women in the camp who raised money through other accounts to finance their escapes. These accounts threatened punishment for the unbelievers who held them captive and yearned for the return of the Caliphate.[9]

An account seemingly run by a woman in al-Hol wrote, “Remember my sisters no matter what state we are in, no matter what the world think of us. The world still trembles at the mention of us, we have left a deep scar that will never heal and we remain a thorn in the side of kufr.”

One account posted in English, Arabic, and German, raising funds to be smuggled out of Camp al-Hol. This account also provided links to other accounts, which posted links to a PayPal account where supporters could donate to the women or write them letters. On June 12th, 2020, one of the associated accounts posted a video claiming that it was taken while the women were leaving the camp. The account also posted graphic photos of bloodied male faces, claiming that “some sisters from the camp recognized their husbands and their husbands were in Hasakah prison.” There were multiple riots and attempted escapes at Hasakah the days and weeks before these photos were posted. The primary account has either been deleted since then or has blocked the account through which ICSVE was following it.

Another account run out of al-Hol, which was not associated with the German account mentioned above, posted in English only. The account posted about fundraisers through Telegram, but did not link to the fundraising websites themselves, likely to prevent the websites from being taken down. The account also lauded ISIS fighters who were captured in ISIS’s last stronghold of Baghouz, fighting until the very end. They also posted about teaching their children to throw rocks at the camp guards and referred to Camp al-Hol as “the cradle of the new Caliphate.” This account has also either been deleted or blocked the account through which ICSVE was following it.

Most accounts that openly supported ISIS were private, though many of these could be identified as likely ISIS followers by a black flag emoji and an index finger emoji in their bios, both common but not unique symbols for ISIS. Notably, proponents of other jihadist groups like the Taliban did not use these symbols in their bios. These pro-ISIS accounts posted photos of weapons and included more provocative messages, such as those denouncing others as unbelievers, in their Instagram stories. Some photos also included selective Islamic scriptures arguing for severe punishment of unbelievers which also aligns with ISIS ideology. Many accounts also posted black and white videos of men with guns on horses with the identifiable black flags of ISIS and women dressed in niqab, expressing nostalgia for the Caliphate. One account even included a story called “44 Ways to Support Jihad,” which included, “Praying to Allah to reward you with martyrdom,” “financing a mujahid [a jihadist warrior] ,” and “arms training.” Another account was dedicated to inspiring hope for the resurgence of the ISIS Caliphate. Under a photo of Bashar al-Assad, the user commented, “The oppressive rule of these tyrants is on its last legs. Their nations are failing, the people want change. The Khilafah is coming very soon, as prophesized. Why don’t you help re-establish it?” Another post read, “The Khilafah state could easily liberate all oppressed Muslims and protect every Muslim living within it. It’s that simple.” Another account used a photo of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as his profile picture and posted videos of sermons on his story, as well as other videos praising ISIS fighters and promising that “Allah will grant you victory.” Another post by the same account featured a drawing of the ISIS flag over the earth. Many of these accounts accepted follow requests from the ICSVE-run The Real Jihad account, likely without looking at the account’s posts, which all contain counter narrative material.

It should be noted that many of these accounts are taken down within weeks of discovering them, although new and similar ones quickly replace them. In the study of terrorist activity on social media, Instagram may well be a new frontier where younger people are able to post anonymously about their violent extremist beliefs. The Instagram “Discover” page also serves as an echo chamber for these individuals, suggesting posts and accounts to follow that are similar to accounts one already follows. Indeed, many of the accounts followed by The Real Jihad were found not by searching on hashtags or perusing other users’ lists of followers, but by simply looking at the “Discover” page without searching anything at all. Thus, as soon as a user reacts to a militant jihadist account, he or she will be recommended to follow other such accounts and will not be exposed to any counter arguments unless accounts like The Real Jihad insert themselves into the echo chamber by tagging counter narratives with militant jihadist hashtags.

Research on Instagram in Regard to Terrorist Propagandizing and Recruitment Strategies

Most research on the impact of Instagram focuses on the different communities that exist on Instagram. While some communities, such as those promoting body positivity among young women,[10] bond users together through prosocial means, other communities allow users to unite in promotion of maladaptive behaviors such as self-harm[11] and excessive reassurance-seeking.[12] Because terrorist recruitment online involves aspects of marketing as well as promotion of maladaptive behavior, some studies of Instagram can be applied to its utility for terrorist recruitment and opportunities for preventing and countering radicalization. For instance, a 2016 study of Dutch teenagers and young adults found that while young people were more likely to express negative emotion on Facebook and Twitter, they were more likely to express positive emotion on Instagram. However, they were most likely to express any emotion, positive or negative, on WhatsApp, likely due to its double-ended encryption that makes users feel that their expressions are more private and secure. The authors of the study concluded that users felt stronger ties to Facebook friends (a reciprocal relationship) than to Instagram followers (a non-reciprocal relationship), thus enabling them to disclose more private negative emotions.[13] These results suggest that Instagram may be an effective platform to attract the initial attention of targets for counter radicalization, but they should be then redirected to a platform that allows for more freedom to express negative emotions and the potential to build a more personal relationship. Whether or not ISIS has learned this yet is unknown, but the results nevertheless provide lessons for counter narrative campaigning and suggest that attracting attention on Instagram may be possible, but moving the viewer to a platform where more intimate relations and fears, doubts, and needs can be expressed and hopefully answered in a way that redirects the user away from violent extremism would be beneficial.

Pittman and Reich (2016) posited that because Instagram is an image-based platform, it is better equipped to reduce loneliness among adolescents and young adults than text-based platforms like Twitter. The study noted that Instagram posts with faces (i.e., selfies or photos of groups of friends) were 38 percent more likely to be “liked” and 32 percent more likely to receive a comment than other types of photos, such as those of food or landscapes.[14] Thus, decreased loneliness related to Instagram use may similarly confer the sense of belonging and significance, such as the idea that one is worthy of being noticed, that is often an integral part of terrorist recruitment, even if use of the platform does not allow for the development of emotionally intimate individual relationships. The latter can be developed by instructing those whose attention has been captured and who begin to feel a sense of being noticed and belonging to migrate to other more intimate platforms and apps.

Instagram’s utility for organizations, rather than individuals, has also been examined. In ICSVE’s preliminary counter narrative campaigns on Instagram the account running the counter narrative ads, @TheRealJihad_Official, is a business account and is not made to look like an individual user. Thus, it is important to understand how businesses and organizations in general are able to engage followers on Instagram. One study in Finland found that users were most likely to engage with brands on Instagram when the brands’ content was personal and emotionally evocative.[15] The same has been found in studies of ISIS’s online recruitment as well as studies of counter narratives.[16] Among Kuwaiti banks, Instagram has been found to be most effective in image building and communication, rather than establishing relationships, and that banks are able to gain the trust of their followers by invoking religious themes.[17] Although the Instagram ads discussed in the present study were not run in the Middle East, many were targeted toward Arabic speakers. It is therefore critical to understand the cultural aspects of engaging with organizations on Instagram, namely, the suggestion of the Kuwaiti study that Arabs are less prone to interact directly with an organization on Instagram and are more likely to view the platform, with respect to organizations, as a one-way communication medium. Still another study of brands on Instagram found that consumers were more likely to trust brands if they perceive the brand’s benevolence and integrity, and if the brand is endorsed by “Key Opinion Leaders.”[18]

ISIS recruiters have utilized these factors well. By stoking distrust in Western governments in the mainstream online media, they also contrast their own claimed shariah-based values and build up their own reputation for integrity. For instance, by emphasizing the atrocities of the Assad regime,[19] they portrayed themselves as benevolent. Finally, by invoking trusted jihadi narratives, such the idea that Muslims are under attack by the West, the idea that defensive jihad is required and that jihad is obligatory for all Muslims, alongside the promotion of suicide terrorism as a type of Islamic “martyrdom,” sometimes via fatwas by Arabic scholars or sermons by Anwar al Awlaki for English speakers,[20] they ensure their followers that they have been endorsed by trusted and credible sources. As such, a key aspect of the counter narratives presented in this article is the use of ISIS defectors, returnees, and imprisoned cadres as credible, reliable speakers who have suffered some of the same grievances as viewers and sought justice by joining ISIS, to deliver an honest, benevolent message and warnings to those thinking of following their same path to destruction.

A Possible Instagram Counter Narrative Strategy?

ICSVE has over the past two years, in partnership with Facebook, run over 125 campaigns in countries and languages all over the globe with good success in reaching the target audience and engaging them with the Breaking the ISIS Brand Counter Narrative videos. It is only recently that ICSVE started counter narrative campaigns on Instagram. While the full-scale ICSVE study of running counter narratives on Instagram has been submitted to a scientific journal, some brief results can be relayed here.

Given that we are easily finding outward expressions of support for ISIS, it was not difficult to identify a target population for the ICSVE counter narratives and build a following of accounts that would be viewed as legitimate for people who are in the process of being radicalized toward militant jihad and thus target them with counter narratives. ICSVE researchers were able to identify potential ISIS supporters on Instagram through their bios alone, meaning that one does not have to request to follow a private account in order to determine whether that user can be considered a likely ISIS supporter. Moreover, there is evidence of a large jihadist-supporting community on Instagram, although many of its members do not openly profess to be ISIS supporters. Thus, those aiming to counter militant jihad generally would be wise not to focus solely on ISIS, lest they be dismissed by supporters of the Taliban, al Qaeda, al Shabaab, and Kashmiri militant jihadist groups who support violence but denounce ISIS.

While the counter narratives used in ICSVE’s first campaign were specifically ISIS-focused and aimed at the general population in numerous EU countries, future campaigns may be hyper-targeted at those people more vulnerable to terrorist recruitment.[21]

Running counter narrative videos on Instagram is a slightly different process than running Facebook ad campaigns. On Instagram, users are wary of interacting with accounts that appear to not be run by engaged, active Instagram users, even if the account belongs to a business. Thus, before running the campaign, ICSVE staff set up the @TheRealJihad_Official Instagram account and attempted to amass followers by posting daily, at noon, links to articles on TheRealJihad.org, photos with quotes from ISIS insiders denouncing the group, and links to other ICSVE counter narrative videos on YouTube. The account also began following a number of accounts with jihadist content, in order to legitimize itself among the intended audience. Jihadist accounts were found by searching various hashtags such as #khilafah, #dawlah, and #tawheed. At the outset of the campaign, the account followed 75 Instagram users and had five followers. By the middle of the campaign, the account was following 104 accounts and had 60 followers, many of whom were members of the target audience, thus demonstrating the ability to ingratiate itself within the pro-ISIS community on Instagram.

Already, photos and quotes from ISIS defectors, returnees, and imprisoned cadres have been posted on The Real Jihad Instagram account daily since the account’s inception to position it as a credible account with postings of potential interest to the target audience. It should be noted that all ICSVE counter narrative videos have ambiguous names that could be considered pro-ISIS, and most have thumbnails taken from actual ISIS footage that has been used to illustrate the speaker’s story, which denounces rather than supports ISIS. These posts have sparked likes and a few comments, including one ridiculing the defector for expecting a life of luxury in ISIS instead of jihad. Another user sent a direct message to The Real Jihad, accusing the account of using a fabricated hadith, arguing against the Islamic tenet that the most important jihad is that being against one’s own whims and evils, rather than against outside enemies. ICSVE’s Islamic scholar responded by pointing out the user’s use of a straw man fallacy, explaining the correct translation and meaning. The user was not able to refute the scholar’s argument, responding simply, “Allah knows best.” Other users direct messaged the account asking for more links to the counter narrative videos, which is a positive sign of engagement among the target audience.

The counter narratives were run in Germany, France, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden, Greece, and Italy, all countries from which individuals had traveled to join ISIS in Iraq and Syria. All of the counter narrative videos used were one minute long and featured ISIS defectors, returnees or prisoners speaking about why they joined and what they actually experienced while in ISIS, and finally denouncing ISIS as un-Islamic, corrupt, and overly brutal at the end of the video. Each of the videos featured an ISIS member who had traveled to ISIS from the specific country in which the video was run or a nearby country (for example, the speaker in the video shown in Austria was from Germany). The speakers in the videos told their stories in different languages, but each video was subtitled in the dominant and minority languages used by Muslims in the countries in which they were run. They were run for 13 days, from May 15 to May 27, 2020.

In general, the results of ICSVE’s first campaigns were positive in terms of being able to create an account that could reach the target audience and engage them to a certain extent.  However, there are concerns that need to be addressed. One is that through the comparison between this Instagram campaign and the identical campaign run on Facebook a few weeks prior, it is clear that one-minute videos do not have the same capability to retain viewers on Instagram as they do on Facebook. This may be because videos on Facebook can be up to four hours long, so users who are accustomed to seeing longer videos on their feed may not get bored as easily, or may check how much of the video is left after watching for 10 or 15 seconds and, seeing that less than a minute remains, decide to finish the video instead of scrolling past it. On Instagram, however, videos cannot be longer than one minute. Therefore, users who are accustomed to watching videos for only a few seconds may not have the patience to watch a one-minute long counter narrative video.

In order to remedy the poor viewer retention on Instagram, future campaigns will feature photos and even shorter videos, likely utilizing ICSVE’s digital posters.[22] These posters are photos of the ISIS defectors, insiders, and imprisoned cadres featured in the counter narrative videos, alongside emotionally evocative quotes about their lives before ISIS and their experiences in the groups. These posters have gained some traction among The Real Jihad account’s regular followers and will therefore likely spark high engagement in an ad campaign.

In summary, ICSVE has been able to determine that Instagram is being used by individuals whose accounts suggest that they are ISIS supporters, and even ISIS members themselves, and that it is possible to reach and target these accounts with counter narrative campaigns. However, our first campaigns taught us that it is critical to carefully determine the best ways to expose both those who are ISIS supporters and those vulnerable to ISIS recruitment to countering arguments in a way that is engaging and emotionally evocative. Likewise it is necessary to keep in mind that Instagram is unique platform where users are more likely to expect to see extremely short videos and photos with less discussion occurring. Our continued work on the platform and future studies will keep this in mind and focus on increasing viewer retention and effectively providing counter arguments to jihadist ideology through photos and videos that are only a few seconds long. Our first campaigns were an important step toward learning if we could utilize counter narratives effectively on Instagram, which differs quite a bit from Facebook in terms of expected mediums and audience. It is clear from our research that Instagram is being used by those supporting, and even members of, ISIS as well as other militant jihadist groups and thus there is a strong need for counter narrative campaigns to be put in place to disrupt and prevent ISIS and other militant jihadist recruitment on Instagram.

The International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism thanks the Embassy of Qatar in Washington, D.C., Facebook and the European Commission’s Civil Society Empowerment Programme for their generous support of our research, creation of counter narratives and counter narrative campaigns on Facebook and Instagram. This article was partially funded by the European Union’s Internal Security Fund — Police.

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[3] Yayla, Ahmet S., and Anne Speckhard. “Telegram: The mighty application that ISIS loves.” International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism (2017).; Al-Rawi, Ahmed, and Jacob Groshek. “Jihadist Propaganda on Social Media: An Examination of ISIS Related Content on Twitter.” In Cyber Warfare and Terrorism: Concepts, Methodologies, Tools, and Applications, pp. 1442-1457. IGI Global, 2020.; Speckhard, Anne, Ardian Shajkovci, and Lorand Bodo. “Fighting ISIS on Facebook—Breaking the ISIS brand counter-narratives project.” International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism (2018).; Shane, Scott, and Ben Hubbard. “ISIS displaying a deft command of varied media.” New York Times 30 (2014).
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[5] AW Staff. “Social Media Use by Youth Is Rising across the Middle East: AW Staff.” Arab Weekly, January 26, 2020. https://thearabweekly.com/social-media-use-youth-rising-across-middle-east.
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[14] Pittman, Matthew, and Brandon Reich. “Social media and loneliness: Why an Instagram picture may be worth more than a thousand Twitter words.” Computers in Human Behavior 62 (2016): 155-167.
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[16] Speckhard, Anne, Ardian Shajkovci, and Lorand Bodo. “Fighting ISIS on Facebook—Breaking the ISIS brand counter-narratives project.” International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism (2018).
[17] Al-Kandari, Ali A., T. Kenn Gaither, Mohamed Mubarak Alfahad, Ali A. Dashti, and Ahmed R. Alsaber. “An Arab perspective on social media: How banks in Kuwait use Instagram for public relations.” Public Relations Review 45, no. 3 (2019): 101774.
[18] Che, Jasmine WS, Christy MK Cheung, and Dimple R. Thadani. “Consumer purchase decision in Instagram stores: The role of consumer trust.” In Proceedings of the 50th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences. 2017.
[19] Speckhard, Anne and Ellenberg, Molly (May 12, 2020). How Assad’s Atrocities Became a Powerful  Motivator for Terrorist Recruitment. Homeland Security Today
[20] Speckhard, Anne. “Recruiting from Beyond the Grave: A European Follows Anwar Al-Awlaki Into ISIS.” Homeland Security Today, April 28, 2020. https://www.hstoday.us/subject-matter-areas/counterterrorism/recruiting-from-beyond-the-grave-a-european-follows-anwar-al-awlaki-into-isis/.
[21] Speckhard, Anne, Molly Ellenberg, Haider Shaghati, and Neima Izadi. “Hypertargeting Facebook Profiles Vulnerable to ISIS Recruitment with ‘Breaking the ISIS Brand Counter-Narrative Video Clips’ in Multiple Facebook Campaigns.” Journal of Human Security (In Press).
[22] “Memes – ISIS Defectors Speak Out.” ICSVE. Accessed July 13, 2020. https://www.icsve.org/project/memes/.

Author’s note: first published in Homeland Security Today

Anne Speckhard, Ph.D., is an adjunct associate professor of psychiatry at Georgetown University School of Medicine and Director of the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism (ICSVE). She has interviewed over 500 terrorists, their family members and supporters in various parts of the world including Gaza, the West Bank, Chechnya, Iraq, Jordan, Turkey, the Balkans, the former Soviet Union and many countries in Europe. She is the author of several books, including Talking to Terrorists and ISIS Defectors: Inside Stories of the Terrorist Caliphate. Follow @AnneSpeckhard

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China and Russia’s infiltration of the American Jewish and Israeli lobbies

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 – First: The reasons for the registration of (Communist Lobbyists in the Middle East in the United States of America) in the database documents of the US Department of Justice

 – Second: Did Washington actually seek (with the help of Jewish and Israeli lobbies) to lure the Arab communists into it to prevent Chinese and Russian communist influence in the Middle East?: Iraq as a model

– Third: The establishment of Chinese liberal democratic parties in the United States of America and the Chinese Communist Party allowing them to practice their activities legally and freely inside China until today: the (Chinese Qigongdang Party) as a model

   Despite the strangeness of this previous analysis of the Egyptian researcher, she relied on it through the proof of the relationship of (Jewish lobbies in the United States of America to the opposition communists in Iran and the Middle East), and from here came the Egyptian researcher’s question, about:

  Do China and Russia have a role in supporting the polarization of the oppressed communists from inside Iran and the Middle East in general, planting them in Washington, facilitating and drawing a plan for their relations with the (Zionist lobby and the various Jewish lobbies) within the United States of America itself, and infiltrating all American official circles, to present the communists in the Middle East as persecuted in their homelands in the Middle East?

 Thus, (the Jewish lobby and all the well-known Jewish and Israeli institutions in the United States of America present these communists fleeing from their homelands to the major American institutions as persecuted communists in the Middle East). The most important question for the Egyptian researcher remains, about:

 (Why did the oppressed communists and leftists in Iran and the Middle East choose to flee to the heart of Washington as a superpower that sponsors liberalism around the world and is the most resolute and strictest in the face of the flow of communist ideas). And does it have anything to do with the future Russian and Chinese policies to infiltrate Washington itself and the communist thought to penetrate the Jewish lobbies inside American Trans (the game of spreading Chinese and Russian communist ideology within the major American political institutions).

 Perhaps it is a new global analysis that has not been addressed by any Arab research with analysis and study, but what attracted the Egyptian researcher is her precise area of expertise and her PhD study thesis was on the Chinese political affairs, and the role of the Chinese Communist Party in the political and economic reform issues, and thus the extension of the Egyptian researcher’s interests in studying the history of communists around the world, especially the closest to the region of the Egyptian researcher in the Middle East, Israel, Iran and Turkey as regional powers that seek to support or gain their influence through two unrelated mechanisms, either:

 A) Closeness to Washington and its liberal ideas, and the rejection of Chinese and Russian communist ideas and doctrine

 B) Or by defying Washington and applying pressure towards it by rapprochement with the communists of Russia and China, and thus challenging those liberal ideas and American democratic values ​​that Washington always seeks to promote globally.

  So that some would not accuse me of drawing features of unreasonable or unimaginable relations between (the Communists and the Jewish lobby in Washington through the support of China and Russia together), then the question I had about:

  What is the position of the United States of America and its institutions towards the Jewish lobbies within it regarding the facts of the Chinese and then Russian communist penetration of its institutions with the help and close support of the Jewish and Israeli lobbies most closely related and close to the American administration and the major American institutions themselves?

 – Based on these questions, the Egyptian researcher will analyze the following main elements to understand these new global relations that have not been searched for academically and globally, through:

 – First: The reasons for the registration of (Communist Lobbyists in the Middle East in the United States of America) in the database documents of the US Department of Justice

   Perhaps the “Pilgrimage to Washington” project, which is meant to cover the activities of the Middle East lobbies in the United States, and most of the information in the report is based on documents from a database of the US Department of Justice, which follows the Foreign Agents Registration Act, which is known as “Fara”, which Lobbyists are required to disclose their activities and funds, and all documents are available for browsing on the Internet.

  Through the Egyptian researcher following the previous American report, she was able to find a new relationship that proves the registration of (communists from the Middle East as independent lobbies in the US Department of Justice, and their relations with Jewish and Israeli lobbies inside the American interior itself).

  Looking at the previous US archive of Communist records, we will find that (the documents of the US Department of Justice explicitly refer to the intense political activity of the opposition communist parties in the Middle East inside Washington with the help of Jewish and Israeli lobbies).

   By tracing the relations of the communists in Washington, we will find that, according to the official American data issued by the US Department of Justice, we will find a record of building relations between the Middle Eastern communist parties in Washington and the United States, and building influence networks with politicians in the US Congress and the US State Department itself, with those communist parties communicating  Right-leaning research centers on the American interior, and they have a special influential relationship, according to the American database of the US Department of Justice, with (the Israeli lobby in Washington).

 Hence, the official US reports themselves present a comprehensive and detailed picture of the activities of communist and leftist parties coming from the Middle East, such as the Kurdish party opposing Iranian policies in the world of lobbies.

  The documents indicate that the (Kurdish Communist Party opposed to Iran) contracted with (IF International) to penetrate the corridors of Washington itself through the gate of the Jewish and Israeli lobbies in Washington.

  The files of the US Department of Justice indicate that the opposition communist parties authorized official representatives of their parties in America to establish close relations with the US government with the help of the powerful and most influential Jewish lobby with the help of Israel, and the most significant question mark is the increase in the total payments of these Middle Eastern communist parties inside the US of thousands of dollars per month  Including the expenses of opening representative offices for its parties there.

  For example, we find a document issued by the US Department of Justice on January 2, 2019, in which (the opposition Kurdish Communist Party in Syria and Iran) contracted with the company (IF International), as a well-known international American lobbying company, and among its well-known clients in the Middle East:

  The Syrian Democratic Council, which is the political wing of the (Syrian Democratic Forces), known as the “SDF”, as one of the largest armed Kurdish factions stationed in northern Syria and supported by the United States.

 The services provided by (IF International Company) to those communist, left-wing Arab, Middle Eastern, Iranian and Kurdish opposition parties in their homelands in the Middle East are summarized in:

 1) Communication and pressure on Congress, especially with congressional staff working in the State Department and the armed forces.

  2) Communicating on behalf of those communist and leftist parties with right-leaning think tanks in general, or funded and supported by the Israeli lobby.

 3) In addition to (IF International Company’s keenness) to facilitate communication of communist parties and movements from the Middle East with the largest internationally known Israeli lobby in Washington, known as (AIPAC), and the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee.

 The company of (IF International) is owned by the well-known Jewish American citizen (Eyal Frank), a political consultant who worked for political parties, and has long experience in the field of political pressure, as “Eyal Frank” previously worked in major companies, such as: (Mercury – Qorivs), and he worked as a legislative assistant in Congress between 2000-2002.

   The total payments of the communist and leftist parties from the Middle East to the mentioned American company amounted to thousands of dollars per month, according to its documented documents registered in the (US Department of Justice).

 – Second: Did Washington actually seek (with the help of Jewish and Israeli lobbies) to lure the Arab communists into it to prevent Chinese and Russian communist influence in the Middle East?: Iraq as a model

   The issue of the penetration of communist influence in the Middle East in general and in Iraq in particular is one of the most important issues that have attracted the attention of the United States of America, due to the important strategic location of Iraq in the Middle East, as it is one of the most important centres of oil production in the region and the world, despite the presence of Iraq within the accounts of the American strategy before World War II, however, America’s large entry into Iraq actually began after (the emergence of the communists on the Iraqi political scene) after the 1958 revolution, and this is a piece of information that was overlooked and ignored by most Arab and international research and studies.

  Then the political weight of the (Communist Party in Iraq) began to weaken after the Baathists took power following the movement of November 18, 1963. However, as a result of the intensive arrests and continuous pursuit of members of the Iraqi Communist Party and its organizations, the Iraqi communist and leftist movement subsided, even if it did not end or completely died.

  During the 1967 war between Iraq and Israel and Iraq’s entry into it, the Soviet Union tried to get closer to Iraq, but the American weight was stronger, which caused the collapse of the rule of (Abdul Rahman Aref) in 1968, and the Iraqi political arena was almost completely emptied of the communists.

  What caught the Egyptian researcher’s attention and curiosity was what many American presidents have repeatedly said about their “willingness to fight a third world war if they had to, so that Iraq or the Middle East in general would not be a foothold for communism”.

 Hence, the Egyptian researcher stopped at this previous phrase in research and analysis, regarding:

  Her research on the reasons for the absence of Iraqi, Kurdish, Iranian and Arab communists.

  Then suddenly the Egyptian researcher stopped at the presence of Arab, Iranian and Kurdish communist parties and the Syrian opposition within the American interior itself, which prompted the Egyptian researcher to have a theoretical hypothesis:

 Did America seek to get rid of the influence of the communists and the Arab leftists, especially the Iraqis, the Iranians, the Kurds and the Turks in the Middle East in the face of the Soviet Union and later Russia after its disintegration and China, by inviting them – that is, the communists of the Middle East region – into the United States of America itself and facilitating their unspoken assimilation into the (Liberalism intellectual agenda), and then waiting again to use them against Chinese and Russian influence in the Middle East again?

 Then the Egyptian researcher thought about another theoretical hypothesis that was not put forward at all, which is:

 Did Russia and China, through the Jewish and Israeli lobbies in the American interior itself, seek to re- polarize these communists fleeing their homelands in the Middle East once again and recruit them to serve their interests in the United States of America in the face of Washington itself?

 Which is what the Egyptian researcher could call the theory (playing with toys or returning the game with another game).

  Perhaps the most important thing I relied on in my previous analysis was (the presence of dozens of communist and leftist Arab, Iranian, Kurdish and Turkish parties that are actually opposed inside the American interior), and the emergence of communist names, especially Kurdish, Iranian and Syrian, once again as influential and influential elites in Washington itself.

   And I think that (the game of the Chinese and Russian communist penetration into the American interior is a completely logical game from my point of view), it is not an unlikely game as some will accuse me, after the American political elites and the most prominent American politicians point completely accusing fingers at (the corruption of the ruling Communist Party of China, and talk about the communist and liberal ideological war between Washington and Beijing)

 Perhaps one of the most prominent things that stopped me in this context is the accusation by prominent officials in the American administration itself and in the centers of American rule of the Communist Party of China that it is the cause of the spread of the Corona virus, or the cause of the deterioration of the world and so on. It is a sign, despite its strangeness – but it is understandable to the Egyptian researcher due to her academic research and analytical specialization on that very crucial point – regarding the export of American politicians that the hostility between the United States of America and China is not political, but has become (ideological dispute or ideological war) in the first place.  This raises many questions about:

 (The American, Chinese and Russian play and hack each other through the communist and liberal ideological gate in the face of each other)

 And even the most dangerous proposition went too far, about: Beijing and Moscow unilaterally inviting a number of American politicians to visit their countries and meet their officials in the form of announced unofficial visits. In fact, accusations were extended during the US presidential elections period by supporters of the former President (Trump) to investigate the reasons for inviting (Joe Biden), the current US president to China, and meeting with its officials and praising them, at a time when he assumed the position of responsibility in the administration of former President (Barack Obama).

 Rather, the accusations of the candidate’s supporters (Trump) at the time went even further, accusing (Biden) of working for the Communist Party of China, based on the reasons for his previously unannounced visit to Beijing, and whether he was the favorite communist candidate in Beijing and Moscow?

 Here, we must consider this future game between all its parties, regarding:

 (They accuse each other of adopting a Chinese or Russian communist agenda, or a hegemonic US imperialist liberal agenda seeking world domination)

 It is a matter or a proposal that has become new in its context, and from here I can almost imagine according to this proposition: the extent of the American determination to transform the competition between China, Russia and Washington from being (a political war or just a legitimate political competition for leadership of the new world order to an ideological war or an ideological and ideological competition) between communists and liberals around the world)…and this is where the danger lies, or less the danger of the proposition with which Washington started its game with China, regarding:

 Distracting the attention of the whole world and even its peoples and broadening the base of accusations from political affiliation in favor of the Chinese and Russian alliance together or the US to adopting communist ideology, ideas or values ​​in the face of its liberal or American democratic counterpart, and this proposition is what Washington insists on in all global circles.  This raises many questions about:

 The reasons for the presence of former Arab, Iranian, Turkish and Kurdish communists in Washington itself and the penetration of its political institutions, the reasons and the extent of their relations with the Jewish and Israeli lobby, and what is most dangerous to me and what concerns me personally and academically, are:

 The extent of the relationship between China and Russia in penetrating the communist and leftist lobbies in Washington by supporting those same Jewish and Israeli lobbies in the American interior, and thus the response of the American game itself by luring and protecting communist lobbies in the United States of America, and using them at an appropriate time to confront the agenda of China and Russia through the adoption of China and Russia for these communists who  Washington adopts them in its lands under the pretext of protecting them from the persecution of their homelands to which they belong, especially in the Middle East, as we mentioned.

– Third: The establishment of Chinese liberal democratic parties in the United States of America and the Chinese Communist Party allowing them to practice their activities legally and freely inside China until today: the (Qiqongdang Liberal Democratic Party of China) as a model

  Perhaps this information came as a surprise to many – in the Arab world and from non-academics and specialists in Chinese and communist academic studies around the world – who are not aware of the existence of (eight parties operating within Chinese society itself that follow American liberal democratic values, including parties founded by expatriate Chinese who lived in the United States). The United States of America itself, then they returned and settled inside China, and they were allowed to engage in their opposition party activity.

 Perhaps the most prominent Chinese liberal democratic party founded by a group of Chinese expatriates inside the United States of America itself is (the Qigongdang Party in China), which was founded in the city (San Francisco) in the United States of America by Chinese expatriates who were living within the same American society, most of whom are university graduates.  And when most of them returned to the bosom of the motherland in China, they submitted an official request to establish this party, and the surprise to them and to the American observers was that the official Chinese authorities missed their American counterpart that opportunity, by allowing the ruling Chinese communist authorities to practice their activities according to the scope of the similar liberal democratic party practice.  With those American values ​​that they brought back from abroad, i.e. from the United States of America itself, and carried them into Chinese society, this party is practicing its activities completely freely until this moment with the knowledge of the Chinese authorities without any harassment mentioned by the testimony of its members.

 The Egyptian researcher analyzed this very important point that (the Chinese authorities have succeeded in missing the opportunity for Washington to allow the return of these Chinese expatriates, most of whom studied in American universities and were saturated with liberal American culture, by giving them the freedom to establish a liberal democratic political party in China itself).

  Currently, the (Qiqongdang Liberal Democratic Party of China) consists of Chinese personalities from the middle and upper classes, most of whom are expatriates or Chinese immigrants who have returned to the country. After returning to their homeland in China, these expatriates and immigrants were able to attract their Chinese parents and friends to participate and become members of this party.  And expanding its base, despite following the approach and philosophy of American liberal democratic values ​​that are different from the communist approach that the majority of Chinese owe.

  On the other hand, the official Chinese authorities also allowed the licensing of (seven other parties) that follow the same liberal democratic values, in addition to the (Qigongdang Party) as we mentioned, and all of them were allowed to operate officially and legally in China, bringing the total of those liberal democratic parties in Chinese society (eight liberal parties  Chinese democracy), which is as follows:

 1) (Taiwan Democratic Party Self-Government League): It is located

 In (Hong Kong), however, his official headquarters has moved from (Hong Kong) to the Chinese capital, Beijing), and many information about him and his most prominent current activities and the names of his most prominent members are available in the archive of the well-known (China Network) website.

 2) The (Jiusan Association Party): which focuses on the need to implement democracy within Chinese society.

 3) (Chinese Association Party for the Development of Democracy): which raises the slogans of (implementing democratic policy in China, reforming Chinese authority, and then returning power to the Chinese people themselves). This party is currently adopting an agenda dominated by (the blending of American liberal democratic values ​​with Chinese socialist values), by promoting the adoption of the (socialist democracy model).

 4) The (Chinese Democratic Party of Peasants and Workers): which is based on the slogan of (establishment of the power of the Chinese people), and most importantly, its current constitution expressly provides for the acceptance of (the leadership of the Communist Party of China), and welcomes the cooperation of all liberal democratic parties with the ruling Communist Party in China, according to  The mechanism or system of (political consultation), according to what is recorded in the a well-known (China Network Website Archive) in China.

5) (KMT Revolutionary Committee Party): whose members adopt the liberal democratic doctrine, noting that (KMT) itself is an old party that was overthrown by the ruling Communist Party in China, but it is a group of old party members who wanted to work legitimately under the supervision of the same Chinese state, and applied for the founding of the (KMT Revolutionary Committee Party), and the official Chinese authorities immediately approved their request, and its members currently adopt the principles and slogans of (Unification of China), and include members of the upper and middle levels or classes in the Chinese society mainly.

  6) (Chinese Democratic National Building Association Party): The political advocacy of this party is to guarantee the basic political rights of the Chinese citizen, protect the human rights of citizens, protect and develop national industry and trade, and oppose the rule of the (old Kuomintang Party), that was overthrown by the ruling Communist Party in China. There are many data published about him, according to the official Chinese media.

  7) (Chinese Democratic Front Party League): bearing the name of (Chinese Democratic League), officially recognized by the Chinese authorities, which began its political activity as a joint political organization of parties and political forces calling for democracy, and was welcomed by the ruling Communist authorities in China.

  Hence, we find that the Chinese official authorities had (a future view in their relationship with the United States of America as a global hegemon that seeks to spread its liberal democratic values ​​around the world), by allowing the return of its Chinese citizens from the United States of America and giving them the right to exercise their political convictions in complete freedom within the framework of the state and the law and the prevailing Chinese constitution, while ensuring the freedom to exercise their own liberal democratic political beliefs and ideology under the supervision of the Chinese authorities at home. And it is the most dangerous and most important point that all of us should stop at, which indicates a (Chinese foresight regarding its future relationship with the world and the American values ​​themselves).

  Hence, the ruling Chinese communist authorities raise in the face of the United States of America and the West themselves critics of its political practice under the slogan of (political consultation between the political parties in China, and collective consultative decisions), which means: those decisions taken by the ruling Communist Party after consulting (the Eight Liberal democracy Parties) in the Chinese society, and this is one of the most prominent points of intelligence in the mechanism of exercising governance in China, by allowing the absorption of those opposition political entities and parties as long as they submit an official request to work within Chinese society itself under the supervision of the Chinese state itself.

  This is what Washington fears when other Chinese expatriates submit the similar requests to the American authorities to allow them to establish communist and left ideological parties within the American society, expand their membership base by attracting and recruiting new members, and push those communist and leftist parties with Chinese communist ideology to compete in the future in the American elections by the Chinese or Russian financial fund raising.

  Through the previous analysis, the Egyptian researcher concluded that the current competition between the United States of America, China and Russia is no longer a political or even economic and cultural competition as much as it is a tacit recognition by Washington itself and its politicians that it is (an ideological and doctrine competition between the American liberal values ​​and Chinese communist values).

  By shedding light on what is happening inside the American interior by polarizing the communists themselves to work under the supervision of the American authorities, and the Chinese attracting these liberal democrats with American orientations to work inside communist China officially, it becomes clear to us that it is (an ideological game that has been preparing for many years between the Americans and the Chinese Communists).

  In the same context, the same idea invokes me in the Arab context and in the Middle East itself, is it possible to expand the base of real partisan competition between those with liberal and communist values ​​in our countries, or does the scale tilt only in favor of American liberal democratic values, despite criticism of the American policy itself in our Arab countries?

  And my last and most serious question remains in this new future analysis of the Egyptian researcher, and it is the inevitable question that I have no choice but to ask without searching for an answer to it, which is:

  Can China and Russia intervene to finance and establish Arab communist and leftist parties and in the Middle East in general, and even around the world under supervision of African, Arab, Latin and other governments closely related to China to expand the base of communists and bearers of communist tendencies at the expense of American liberal values?, It is the question of the future that we should all keep towards the future.

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The New World Order: The conspiracy theory and the power of the Internet

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“The Illuminati, a mysterious international organisation made up of the world’s top political and social elites, controls the workings of the entire world behind the scenes”. This is the world’s most famous conspiracy theory about the New World Order.

For hundreds of years, legends about the Illuminati have been spread and many people currently believe that the Illuminati still exist. It is believed that the Illuminati operate in various fields such as global politics, military affairs, finance and mass media and control the historical process of the entire world.

The ultimate goal is to establish a New World Order. Nobody can prove it, but many people believe it. This is the greatest paradox about conspiracy theories.

In the 2009 film, Angels and Demons – based on Dan Brown’s best seller of the same name about Professor Langdon, played by Tom Hanks – the story of the Illuminati, who supposedly originated in Europe during the Age of Enlightenment, was recalled. There were physicists, mathematicians and astronomers who questioned the “erroneous teachings” of the authority of the Holy See and dedicated themselves to the scientific field of the search for truth.

Eventually, the Illuminati were forced to become a clandestine organisation and have continued to recruit members for hundreds of years to this day. In Angels and Demons, the historical facts are clearly questionable, and the movie appeared after the great economic crisis of 2007-2008.

The New World Order conspiracy theory has been circulating for a long time and is full of mysterious theories that, however, convince many people who are powerless and dissatisfied with the current state of the world.

The Illuminati, who advocate the establishment of a New World Order through the planning of a series of political and financial events (the financial tsunami of 2007-2008 is said to have been planned by the Illuminati), attempt to influence the course of world history, and ultimately establish an authoritarian world government.

Supporters of the New World Order theory believe that even the powerful US government is now just a puppet government. While another “shadow government” made up of a few people makes decisions that will change the fate of the planet.

You might think that all of the above is just crackpot theories. Many people, however, believe this is true. According to a 2013 poll conducted by the Public Policy Polling Foundation, 28% of US voters believe that the New World Order is actually taking hold.

Brian L. Keeley, a professor of philosophy at Pitts College who devotes himself to the study of modern conspiracy theories, believes that an important feature of conspiracy theorists is that they cite some trivial and overlooked incidents and then propose a perfect explanation compared to an embarrassed official response. The reason why the conspiracy theory explanation can be widely disseminated is that it has no argumentation process to deny. It is just a judgement that jumps directly from hypothesis to conclusion. In the argumentation process, it is only a subjective interpretation of the event.

Nevertheless, for the public that does not fully understand the incident, the conspiracy theory provides an “explanation” for the unknown part of the said incident, and this “explanation” cannot be denied (because its very existence is not corroborated by real arguments and facts). It is therefore recognised as a valid argument by many people.

For example, no one has substantial evidence to prove that the Illuminati actually exist, but no one can prove that the Illuminati are purely fictitious. Therefore, you cannot deny their existence because their existence is “perfection without evidence”.

Columnist Martha Gill wrote in The Guardian on the subject, describing the Illuminati as the most enduring conspiracy theory organisation in world history.

“Conspiracy theories relating to the 1969 moon landing mission, the Kennedy assassination, the 9/11 attacks, etc., are all limited to a specific time and place. But conspiracy theories supporting the existence of the Illuminati can connect them. Anything about these connections, however, is difficult to prove”. In other words, the supporters of conspiracy theories may have common imagination and attribute everything to this organisation, so that every irrational phenomenon in the world can be explained.

Although no one can prove the real existence of the Illuminati, there is actually an alleged “global shadow government” in the world whose name is the Bilderberg Group. The Bilderberg Group holds an annual world-class private meeting and participants include elites from all walks of society such as government, business, media, science and technology.

Known as the “World’s Most Mysterious Conference”, the Bilderberg Group invites various famous political and economic figures to participate in its meetings every year.

Prince Bernhard van Lippe-Biesterfeld (1911-2004) held the first meeting in 1954. As the venue for the meeting was the Bilderberg Hotel in Oosterbeek, that name was used as the name of the group.

The existence of the Bilderberg Group is not a secret, but the content of the topics discussed at the Conferences is absolutely confidential and mainstream media cannot report on the content of the meetings.

The Bilderberg Group issues a press release every year to introduce the Conference participants and the outline of the topics discussed. Over the years, participants have come from many places, including Prince Philip of Edinburgh (1921-2021) of the British Royal Family, Crown Prince Charles, former British Prime Ministers, French President Macron, German Chancellor Merkel, former US Presidents Bush and Clinton, and even Bill Gates and other Internet giants. There were also Italians, as reported years ago in a newspaper of our country.

The 2018 Conference was held in Turin, Italy, in June. According to the description on the Bilderberg Group’s official website, the main topics included European populism, the development of artificial intelligence, quantum computer technology and the “post-truth” era. Obviously the actual content and results of the meeting’s discussion have never been reported.

Therefore, the Bilderberg Group has naturally become a locus where conspiracy theorists want to draw material. They describe the Bilderberg Group as true evidence of the theory that a very small number of elites controls the world, and the participants are planning a New World Order.

On the subject of strange things, let us give some examples. In June 2018, the British Royal Family was also caught up in conspiracy theories. When Prince Harry and his wife Meghan attended a show, they were caught on camera motionless, like two stiff and dull robots. Later related clips went viral on the Internet and netizens were in an uproar: many people believed that the distinguished members of the Royal Family were actually robots developed by high technology.

However, the management of the London museum, Madame Tussauds, later explained the mystery by stating that Harry and Meghan were only played by two actors who wore extremely high-realism wax masks on their faces – all to promote an exhibition of wax statues – and inadvertently caused an uproar.

In that short video, Harry and Meghan did not change their facial appearance and their expressions were stiff just like robots. Consequently, conspiracy theorists used this as evidence that they were robots secretly built by the British Royal Family.

This argument is an extension of the ‘trivial evidence’ mentioned above. The argument proponents ignore any argumentation process and directly draw the final conclusion through the above stated “trivial evidence”. This conclusion is highly topical and quite appealing. With the fast spread of the Internet, the “quick truth” will naturally be recognised and sought after by many people.

I think many people still remember the “Mandela effect” that spread wildly across the Internet in the early years as a false memory. The name “Mandela effect” is believed to have come from Fiona Broome, a self-described “paranormal consultant”, who created a website called the “Mandela effect”. Supporters of the ‘Mandela effect’ claim to “remember” that former South African President Mandela died in prison in the 1980s. But in reality, after being released from prison, Mandela served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999 and died in December 2013.

So why should anyone believe this seemingly absurd statement? The Internet has become a support platform for a lot of false content, fake news, as well as unreasonableness and lack of justification. When someone shared that ‘false memory’ with others on the Internet, many people believed it to be true, and even suddenly recalled having that memory: “Mandela died in prison that year”.

As a result, lies inconsistent with facts continue to spread. The lie is repeated thousands of times and many people consider it to be the truth: this learning phase is the first misleading rule on the Internet.

In the Internet era, multidimensional and multiplatform features have generated a number of online “malignancies” of conspiracy theories. Moreover, their dissemination ability is not limited to “believers” only. Since online social media provide a widespread and wide dissemination platform, one passes it onto ten people, ten spread it to a hundred, a hundred to a thousand, and so it goes on in geometric fashion, thus turning a ‘hot’ topic on the Internet into an absolute truth. Those who want to believe are naturally prepared and willing to do so. Moreover, these false opinions on the Internet may even have an impact on the real world.

For example, at the political level, everyone can now comment and participate in the online arena. For politicians to get the right to speak and set the agenda, the key is to rely on the public’s direction on the Internet. The Internet discourse has become the dominant factor of the political storytelling, and not vice versa. The characteristics of social networks are precisely the breeding ground for conspiracy theories.

The Internet is easy to spread among the public and it is exactly the breeding ground for conspiracy theories.

Nowadays, conspiracy theories are enough to influence politics and even political developments. A specific conspiracy theory gains a number of supporters through the Internet that promotes it to become a highly debated topic among the public. Consequently, it enters the real political arena coming from the virtual community and its influence can change the direction of governmental decisions.

Looking at it from another perspective, when conspiracy theories are put on the Internet and continue to proliferate – regardless of whether the Illuminati exist or not – they are enough to establish a New World Order. The real-world public opinions, as well as the composition of opinions and the basis of social discussions are changed, and thus world’s countries, politics and rulers are affected.

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USA and Australia Worry About Cyber Attacks from China Amidst Pegasus Spyware

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Pegasus Spyware Scandal has shaken whole India and several other countries. What will be its fallout no one knows as we know only tip of iceberg. Amidst Pegasus Spyware Scandal USA and Australia both have shown serious concerns about Cyber Attacks on US and Australian interests. Both say that China is hub of malware software and both face millions of such attacks daily.

I am trying to understand why a software is needed to spy on a particular individual when all calls, messages, data, emails are easily accessible from server. In most of cases these servers are located in USA and some cases these are located in host country. In certain sensitive cases Government Agencies have their own server like Central Intelligence Agency and hundreds of other agencies and military establishment world over including India. Now point is who installs those servers.

A couple of years back I had talked to Mr Mike Molloy who is Chief Executive Officer of Orion Global Technologies previously known as Orion SAS. He had explained me how his company installs servers in host countries on request of private or gov bodies. He talks about contract and trust. That means even when a company or Gov buys a server or software for designated uses the “Secrecy” Factor remain on discretion of company which has supplied server or software.

Now  if all data, e-mail, chat, messages, calls are accessible to Gov as per law and technology (Through Server all components of Communication are accessible and thats why  me and you see start seeing call recording of a person even after many years later), I am unable to understand why a Gov will be needing a software to Spy on any one.

Now coming to where Australia and USA wants to carry the whole debate.

Australian Foreign Minister Sen Marise Payne said, “Australian Government joins international partners in expressing serious concerns about malicious cyber activities by China’s Ministry of State Security.

“In consultation with our partners, the Australian Government has determined that China’s Ministry of State Security exploited vulnerabilities in the Microsoft Exchange software to affect thousands of computers and networks worldwide, including in Australia. These actions have undermined international stability and security by opening the door to a range of other actors, including cybercriminals, who continue to exploit this vulnerability for illicit gain”, She further added.

She opined, ”The Australian Government is also seriously concerned about reports from our international partners that China’s Ministry of State Security is engaging contract hackers who have carried out cyber-enabled intellectual property theft for personal gain and to provide commercial advantage to the Chinese Government”.

She warned China by saying, “Australia calls on all countries – including China – to act responsibly in cyberspace.  China must adhere to the commitments it has made in the G20, and bilaterally, to refrain from cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property, trade secrets and confidential business information with the intent of obtaining competitive advantage”.

On other hand USA’s The National Security Agency (NSA), Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) released a Cybersecurity Advisory on Chinese State-Sponsored Cyber Operations. National Security Advisor said, ”Chinese state-sponsored cyber activity poses a major threat to U.S. and allied systems. These actors aggressively target political, economic, military, educational, and critical infrastructure personnel and organizations to access valuable, sensitive data. These cyber operations support China’s long-term economic and military objectives”.

The information in this advisory builds on NSA’s previous release “Chinese State-Sponsored Actors Exploit Publicly Known Vulnerabilities.” The NSA, CISA, and FBI recommended mitigations empower our customers to reduce the risk of Chinese malicious cyber activity, and increase the defensive posture of their critical networks. 

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