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ISIS, VITUAL TERRORIST PROPERGANDISM AND SRI LANKA..!


2019-06-30 8190

EVOLUTION FROM AL-QAEDA TO NATIONAL THAWHEED JAMA’T

The Islamic State (IS) also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is a Salafi militant organization whose goal is the establishment and expansion of a caliphate. IS has its origins in the early 2000s, when Abu Musab al-Zarqawi began training extremist militants. Zarqawi’s militants became a major participant in the Iraqi insurgency during the American occupation, first under the name Jama’at al-Tawhid wa’al-Jihad and then, after swearing fealty to Al Qaeda, as Al Qaeda in Iraq. Facing backlash from the community and increased security from U.S. and Iraqi forces, the group faced decline until 2011, when it began to grow through its involvement in the Syrian Civil War. In 2013, it changed its name to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Over the course of 2013 and 2014, it quickly took over territory in Syria and Iraq.

In addition to its rapid expansion, ISIS has also drawn attention for its public beheadings of Western captives and its large contingent of foreign fighters. On the ground, IS has fought Syrian government forces, Syrian rebel groups, the Iraqi military and militias, and the Kurdish peshmerga. The U.S. began airstrikes against the group in fall 2014. In addition to its rapid expansion, ISIS has also drawn attention for its public beheadings of Western captives and its large contingent of foreign fighters. On the ground, IS has fought Syrian government forces, Syrian rebel groups, the Iraqi military and militias, and the Kurdish peshmerga. The U.S. began airstrikes against the group in fall 2014.

First attack of October 28, 2002 by the Members of Jama'at al-Tawhid wa'l Jihad (which would later become AQI and then ISIS) assassinated US-Aid officer Laurence Foley outside his home in Jordan followed up with many attacks. In May 23, 2017: An ISIS operative named Salman Abedi detonated a bomb at an Ariana Grande pop concert in Manchester, United Kingdom (23 killed, 250+ wounded). And Christ church incident in New Zealand and at last the Easter Sunday bomb attack made in Sri Lanka killing more than 300 people. This information shows the art of the bombing of the ISIS having a major potential in starting from Middle East followed up with Europe, New Zealand and also South East Asia. After being analyzed, India is having the most possibility for an attack in the near future.Examining the Hidden facts of these organizations will ease the conclusions

HIDDEN FACTS ON ISLAMIC TERRORISM

The Islamic State emerged in 2014 as a unique phenomenon in the Middle East, creating a multitude of serious threats to international security. Due to its vast military potential combined with its radical ideology, it became one of the most successful belligerents in the war for al-Sham. As McCants stressed, “the new caliphate was expansive and flush with weapons and cash . . . At its head was the self-styled caliph Ibrahim al-Baghdadi . . . Baghdadi’s followers inside the caliphate numbered in the tens of thousands. Thousands more applauded him in Europe and the Middle East.1 At its peak it conquered territories in Syria and Iraq, which were comparable in size to the United Kingdom, with a population of approximately 10 million. Financial assets under its control were estimated to exceed 2 trillion U.S. dollars. 2It also held authority over numerous Islamist terrorist organizations active in the Middle East, Africa, the Caucasus, as well as Central and Southeast Asia. In effect, “the most dominant and resourceful jihadist organization”3 of its time.(Ashour and Daesh)

One of the key factors which allowed it to amass this unprecedented potential was an online propaganda campaign of exquisite quality.4 Williams, 2013 rightly argued that it was “central to its ability to recruit new members, intimidate its opponents, and promote its legitimacy as a state.”5 The excellence and reach of various cyber jihadist materials published online by the “Caliphate” since the turn of 2014 outpaced all other Islamist terrorist organizations. As Gartenstein-Ross, Barr, and Moreng observed, it employed a number of common themes in its Internet campaign, such as the “winner’s message,” depicting IS “as an unstoppable military force capable of defeating all enemies,” discrediting rival jihadist groups, spreading misinformation, delegitimize- ing political Islamist groups, and exploiting sectarian tensions as well as divisions between Muslims and the West.6 Other frequent tendencies apparent in its propaganda at the time included presenting hijrah to the Islamic State as a religious obligation, promoting jihad as a form of adventure, and depicting the caliphate as an Islamist utopia.7

However, since 2015 the Islamic State has suffered a number of painful defeats from the Kurdish, Syrian, and Iraqi forces, supported by the U.S.-led coalition and (in the case of the Syrian Arab Army) Russia. After early but symbolic losses in Kobani and Manbij, 2017 proved to be a turning point for this terrorist organization. In July, Iraqi armed forces, after a prolonged and bloody battle, took back the caliphate’s main stronghold in Iraq—Mosul. Its capital in Raqqa, being the cornerstone of its influence in the Levant, fell shortly afterwards at the hands of the Kurdish-dominated SDF troops.8 These setbacks, as the RAND Corporation report indicated, have been experienced by the caliphate not only in Syria and Iraq, but also in Afghanistan, Egypt, Libya, and Nigeria. The huge decline in population and territories controlled by the IS since late 2014, according to its authors, prove that “it is on a path to collapse.”9 Its situation is also aggravated by the fact that tens of thousands of its members were killed in airstrikes and battles, including multiple key figures.10 By the end of 2017, the organization had lost about 96% of its territory. At the beginning of 2018, only about 7000 of IS’s loyalists and 3000 of its fighters remained in the Levant. This constituted a significant drop in comparison to 2015, when according to careful estimates, about 30,000 jihadis fought for Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.11 Despite some minor and short-lived achievements, it is only a matter of time before the IS will cease to control the rest of its territories in Syria and Iraq. It is worth mentioning that there is an ongoing discussion among academics on what the future of this group will be. On the one hand, according to Nance and Sampson, “the destruction of ISIS will be a historic achievement but the by-product will be a less centralized terror group that will rely much more on inspiring terror attacks rather than planning them and deploying cells.”12 They argue that it will reemerge as a “Ghost Caliphate” with a strong reliance on digital propaganda.13 On the other hand, McCants noted that “the disappearance of a jihadist statelet doesn’t mean the disappearance of the jihadists. They will continue to wage insurgencies, taking advantage of the political instability and social unrest that gave rise to their statelets in the first place.”14

In this context, the cyber jihadist machine15 of the Islamic State is also suffering a serious crisis nowadays due to the elimination of many of its most skilled propagandists by the U.S.-led coalition and the introduction of highly efficient solutions to counter radical Islamist content on the Internet.16 Nevertheless, Daesh still possesses some of the best capabilities among terrorist organizations to produce and distribute online materials which inspire, radicalize, or intimidate audiences. Considering the approaching fall of the caliphate as a territorial organization, it is necessary to explain how this period of prolonged defeats has been presented by its online media outlets, as this issue has not yet been thoroughly analyzed by the academic community. Thus, the primary goal of this paper is to understand the most evident propaganda methods and leading themes exploited in the recent issues of the Islamic State’s flagship Anglophone magazine Rumiyah to downplay its increasingly visible crisis.

In other words, it attempts to investigate the techniques of “damage control” used by Daesh’s text propaganda to maintain its former efficiency in influencing Internet users. In order to reach this goal, both quantitative and qualitative content analysis was exploited. The qualitative content analysis was based on elements of the theory of propaganda. To be more specific, the study has exploited the classic framework of propaganda devices, elaborated by the Institute for Propaganda Analysis (IPA). IPA identified seven means of influencing audiences: name-calling, glittering generalities, transfer, testimonial, plain folk, card-stacking, and bandwagon.17 Some of these devices, such as card-stacking—which is manifested in reliance “upon half truths, distractions, and omission, using ‘under-emphasis and over-emphasis to dodge issues and evade facts’”18—by definition constitute a great tool for damage control, which could potentially be used to influence the opinions and beliefs of the caliphate’s followers. Among these strategies, it is examined the internet propagandism by social media platforms.

SOCIAL MEDIA AND ISIS

The Internet is a transformative technology that terrorists are exploiting for the spread of propaganda and radicalizing new recruits. While Al Qaeda has a longer history, Islamic State is conducting a modern and sophisticated media campaign centered around online social networking. Similarly, Thawheed Jamath leadersused social media to promote there hate and violence through social media. Apart from that, “Mysterious Muslim Crypt app helps Jihadists send Covert messages without any clue to a third party.

Social media has given terrorists the ability to directly come into contact with their target audience and either spread terror or recruit. In fact, ISIS has been repeatedly described as the most adept terrorist group at using Internet and social media propaganda to recruit new members . Several studies have looked into how ISIS operates on platforms like Twitter but little has been done to quantify their true reach and impact. While there are many factors that could have contributed to their success – such as gaining territories on the ground and appealing to the communities where they operate – quantifying the impact of their social strategy is still crucial for a better understanding of their operations

The importance of social media in projecting violent extremist propaganda and recruiting foreign fighters is well documented. Despite territorial losses and repression of civilian internet access, ISIS will likely continue to seek to leverage individuals' increased ICT usage in Africa and the Middle East to attract new followers. As ISIS attempts to regroup and recuperate, investigating its strategic use of ICT in its communication with civilians could be important to understanding the group's plans to regain territorial control through the support of local populations and the recruitment of new fighters( Antonia, 2018) all over the world including the Asia Pacific Region and Influenced Sri Lanka as well.

ISIS IN SRI LANKA

Vishal Arora says that, the Islamic State terror group choose Sri Lanka because “ this tiny island nation has largely been non-aligned in its foreign policy and is nowhere on the global radar of the fight against terror” .a local radicalized group, called National Thowheed Jamath (NTJ) which was born in 2014, a splintered faction of the hard-line Islamist organization called Sri Lanka Thowheed Jamath changed Sri Lanka Up Side Down On April 21, 2019 by NTJ’s nine suicide bombers, including a woman, struck two Catholic churches in and around Colombo and an evangelical church in the eastern city of Batticaloa as well as three Colombo hotels frequented by Western tourists, killing at least 257 people, mostly Christian worshipers, and injuring around 500 more. A local Muslim extremist group now stands accused of the worst attacks since the end of Sri Lanka's civil war in 2009 and one of the world's worst since 9/11 - but little is known about them. Before the attacks the NTJ had been accused of promoting Islamic terrorist ideology, and had been known for vandalising Buddhist statues on the island.

Aljazeera says that, Police suspect the NTJ of having international ties. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group has claimed responsibility for the bombings. Glenn Carle, a former Deputy National Intelligence Officer for transnational threats at the CIA, said while little was known about NTJ's membership, its size was likely modest compared to the SLTJ. Muslims make up only 9.7 percent of Sri Lanka's population, and Carle said the NTJ appeared to be "very small" in size.

"The group is reportedly led by an imam who has been trained or influenced by Wahhabism. However, its foreign ties are surmised and not known," Carle told Al Jazeera. Dr. Rohan Gunaratna, a Singapore-based security expert, said the Sri Lankan group was the ISIS branch in Sri Lanka and perpetrators were known to have links to Sri Lankans who travelled to the Middle East to join the terror group in Syria and Iraq.

Arab news also referred to Zaharan who is one of the main hate speakers of Thowheed Jamath also known as Zaharan Moulvi is said to have belongs to an average middle class family and was supposed to be a loner who radicalized young people under the guise of conducting Qu’ran classes and Was preaching hate on social media, who has followed his studies in the Kaththankudy. Thowheed Jama’ t is an extra territorial extremist group which also cross the border to India as Tamil Nadu Thowheed Jamath (TNTJ) actively engages on social media to propagate the message that violence of any form is not tolerated in Islam (Vikram Rajakuma). Furthermore, the TNTJ also holds talks and conferences regularly to promote the correct understanding of jihad that is depicted in the Quran (Socialpeek.com 2014).Therefore, this article could be concluded as follows,

CONCLUSION

The current crises in Sri Lanka and all the countries in the world is that ISIS and its following extremist Islamic Organizationshas started Capitalizing on their growth ( Awan, I. 2017). Isis are now increasingly fighting an online cyber war, with the use of slick videos, online messages of hate and even an app that all aim to radicalize and create a new generation of cyber jihadists. These modern day tools are helping Isis spread their propaganda and ideology to thousands of online sympathizers across the world. Indeed, the group has actively been using social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to recruit new would be members. This is being done through images and the streaming of violent online viral videos filmed and professionally edited that are targeting young and impressionable people. Portraying a glamorized and ‘cool’ image, Isis fighters are beginning to act as the new rock stars of global cyber jihad. The Internet therefore is becoming the virtual playground for extremist views to be reinforced and act as an echo chamber. Online hate is being used by groups such as ISIS and Thawheed Jama’t for a variety of reasons such as recruitment and propaganda.

 

 

Aparrajitha Ariyadasa
(LLM in Commercial Law (Colombo), Post. Grad. Dip.in. IP Law (Wales)B.Sc (J.pura), B.Sc. (OUSL),
Legal Consultant, Senior Lecturer in Commercial Law, International Commercial Arbitration, Cyber Law, International Human Resources Management, Company Law, Criminal Law ( NSBM, ICBT, SLIIT, ,Plymouth (UK), London Metropolitan University (UK) Attorney-at-Law, Senior Counsel, Arbitrator & Senior Partner, www.atdlegalassociates.com
 

 

 

 

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