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How to defeat ISIS propaganda war ? lessons from Bangladesh massacre
Saumen Sarker
How to defeat ISIS propaganda war ? lessons from Bangladesh massacre

Before starting this article, one point I would like to make very clear that all the terrorists and sick-brains who calls themselves ISIS, Al-Qaeda or even HUJI, Bangladesh’s JMB (Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen) do not belong to any religion at all, even though they call themselves Muslims but their misinterpretation of Islam religion is not supported by actual Muslims worldwide.

What is ISIS’s goal ?

Bangladesh’s massacre - Friday night’s assault on the Holey Artisan Bakery in the diplomatic district of Dhaka, in which at least 20 hostages and two police officers were killed, marks a scaling up of ambition and capacity for Bangladesh’s Islamist militancy, which has until now carried out pinpoint assassinations, mostly of critics of Islam and members of religious Hindu, Christian, Buddhist minorities.

Beyond Iraq and Syria, ISIS has no physical base anywhere in World, so ISIS solely relies on Facebook, Twitter type of Social media outlets to attract all kind of sick brains who believe that so called ‘Sharia Law’ or killing non-believers, moderate, educated people, even fellow Muslims is actual goal of Islam religion.

So ISIS’s goal is attracting all kinds of sick minds, mostly aimless Muslim youths who carries a smartphone in their pockets, English educated, preferably from affluent families so that these can be brainwashed within minimum time for maximum violence.

"They are all Bangladeshis. They are from rich families, they have good educational background," Bangaldesh Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan said of the seven attackers.

ISIS target audience

ISIS exists solely in internet social media other than only physical existence in Syria, Iraq’s rusty terrains, small cities mostly run by Saddam Hussein’s erstwhile army veterans aftermath of dictator’s era. US, Britain and other western powers are partially responsible for creating this unstable situation after Saddam era as middle east historically always stayed stable under autocracy – dictators like Saddam, Kings of Saudi Arabia always ruled by iron hand. Middle East society has no place for democracy, that’s a simple truth.

ISIS target audience is weak, sick minds, mostly disoriented youths, either failed in love, marriage, jobs, promotions or even suffering from inferiority complex. These mentally lonely Muslim youths take refuge into internet social media in search for a new identity. Once these sick youths exposed to ISIS barbaric videos and brain washing propaganda, then they firmly start believing that ‘Liberating world from Non-Muslims & establishing Sharia Law’ are their prime goals.

ISIS Propaganda

ISIS mostly runs their propaganda from 10 websites, then another 95 supporting websites to attract young, smartphone in hand, social media savvy but weak, sick minds across the world. Their propaganda basically centers around single topic that ‘How non-Muslims are destroying Islam’s existence – so, its your time to join JIHAD (Holy War) to pave your path to heaven.

ISIS fully relies on Internet and Facebook to run their worldwide JIHAD campaign of beheadings, brutality. In other words, its fair to say if Social media had not existed then world would have never seen the spread to ISIS’s barbarism across world.

A typical example is on Friday night at Dhaka’s Holey Artisan Bakery massacre scene, those homegrown terrorists were so desperate for Internet  fame that after killing the patrons, they asked the Bengali Muslim staff to turn on the restaurant’s wireless network. Then they used customers’ telephones to post images of the bodies on the internet so that their actions amplified on Facebook.

How to defeat ISIS ?

Fight against ISIS involves 90% Internet war and 10% physical war on ground in Iraq, Syrian territories.

Bangladesh attack is typical example where no ISIS terrorist expert flew down from Iraq to train these seven home grown terrorists. These are all local youths from affluent, smartphone savvy generation supporting ISIS ideologies, aligned to JMB (Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen). 

ISIS is a barbaric propaganda based virtual organization with no offices in Bangladesh, so these youths were brain washed by few local clerics and JMB operators, then hooked into seeing ISIS’s footage of ghastly beheadings, tortures in the name of Islam.

So, any State or Country decide to beat ISIS, these few steps will weaken JIHADI propaganda:

Step 1 :  Intelligence machineries should find out the funding sources of JIHADI organizations. Most of the internet based JIHADI organizations raise fund via Drug smuggling & Charity organizations. Various charities are set up for noble causes so that funds start pouring which are diverted for JIHADI propaganda, buying arms and supplying money to radical youths. All funding sources need to be crushed by force.

Step 2 : Governments, Large organizations should act smartly – for example, since decades China blocked google, yahoo, facebook, youtube all across the country, so one cannot see these sites in China.

In similar fashion, all 100 odd ISIS propaganda websites and their youtube channels can be blocked at country level or even at regional level by Network Security/Communication engineers. Not only that, Internetwork Expert Engineers can find out in Bangladesh or even in Tripura, which JIHADI sites are being visited by users from which geographical location, even from which building or even by whom at what time etc. So, Governments need to spend money on Internet monitoring and blocking all JIHADI sites.

Step 3 : ISIS kind of terrorist organizations are crippled if their propagandas are not reaching to target audience, so its very important that Governments, Law Enforcements work with Social Media companies like Facebook, Twitter and block all kinds of JIHADI propagandas.  Once reported, these companies take strong actions.

Step 4: Governments, Islamic religious leaders should work hand-in-hand and focus on real education rather than madrassa flavored teachings. Every Mosque should display a large banner outside saying that ‘Killing non-Muslims, innocents are not ISLAM, it’s a grave sin and Allah will send those criminals to hell”.

Imparting good school, college education is very important so that poor Muslims will not be victim of madrassa flavored education or brainwashing by fundamentalist clerics.

Back in 1998 at Hyderabad’s Lakdi-ka-Poool area, I went to meet my friend Bittu (Syed Maqbool Hussain) – we had a cup of tea and chatting front of a pan shop…a little Muslim boy of 9 to 10 yrs old, wearing skullcap and traditional dress was making pans like an expert adult …so after lighting up my cigarette I asked him which school he is studying ? How is he managing school and his family shop ? …little boy bluntly answered (in Urdu mixed Hindi )…”Saab, what study ? I memorized Quran since my childhood in Madrassa so that’s the all education in world…my education is complete.”

I felt sympathy for the poor boy and his future, Bittu smiled, told me that these poor Muslim families are burdened with poverty, no food at home, so they send their children to madrassas for free food and clerics brainwash them and their guardians beyond repair.

Bangladeshi forces stormed an upscale Dhaka restaurant Holey Artisan Bakery to end a hostage-taking by heavily armed ISIS inspired home grown terrorists early Saturday, killing six of the attackers and rescuing 13 captives including foreigners. The military said 20 hostages were killed during the 10-hour standoff, and a survivor’s father said the attackers spared people who could recite verses from the Quran.

ISIS driven global terrorism propaganda need to be neutralized by smart steps at different levels of Govt and Security organizations. 

Writer working as a Vice President in a leading US Bank. Also a Network Communications & Security Engineering Architect based in New York with 20+ yrs experience in Internetworking, Network Security and previously worked at General Electric, Cisco Systems, Bank of New York, Merrill Lynch, NYC Govt DoITT,  NEC , Hewlett Packard.

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