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IS threatens to 'raise flag of Allah' in White House


08-18-2014 10:35 BJT

Just before President Barack Obama threatened to launch airstrikes in Iraq on Thursday, the Islamic State warned they would strike in America. It said that the group will “raise the flag of Allah” in the White House. 

Here in Washington, and around the world, the Islamic State has been for months regarded as mastering social media to spread their messages.

This recent tweet from a follower of Islamic State showing the White House and the Islamic State flag on a smart phone was re-tweeted with the message: "We are in your state, we are in your cities, we are in your streets," playing on fears that sleeper cells could be operating in U.S. cities already. Like much on social media this could be bravado, but for Americans the Islamic State YouTube videos of beheadings and executions are especially chilling. When Islamic State leader, Abu al-Baghdadi, left an America-run detention camp in Iraq in 2009, his widely reported parting words for U.S. reservists were: "I’ll see you in New York."

Islamic State has gone beyond the social media-driven uprisings of the Arab Spring, using U.S. social media platforms such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter to recruit waves of new jihadists-and to frighten ordinary Iraqis and Syrians.

It also seems to be part of a media campaign to bolster their reputation as a ruthless, jihadist network that has eclipsed al-Qaeda in influence. That is debatable, of course, but it is now a widespread public perception stoked by endless tweets and HD videos.

Some Islamic State videos look professional, employing graphics, sophisticated editing techniques and soundtracks featuring regional music-the videos with English narrations instead of Arabic, perhaps, tailored to appeal to Western audiences.

And while the majority of the Sunni Muslim world reject the Islamic State’s methods, posting such videos gets them publicity notoriety and support from the extremist margins of Muslim society.

It is perhaps ironic that an organization that wants to take Middle Eastern society back hundreds of years to a faith-based caliphate is relying so heavily on 21st century digital technologies. 

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