The US State Department has adopted some unconventional tactics to combat ISIS, the Islamic group making headlines recently for its onslaught against Iraq’s government forces. Among the unlikely strategies adopted by the US appears to be online trolling.
Using a variety of tactics, both the US government and even groups loosely affiliated Anonymous are fighting back against the radical Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (now rebranded as simply Islamic State), which has swept through a large swath of northern Iraq in recent weeks. While politicians argue about the possibility of a military response and additional US troops have been deployed to bolster Iraq’s military forces, a group at the State Department are attempting to combat the growing online threat of the radical group.
Using techniques that in any other context might be considered “trolling,” the State Department’s Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications is searching Twitter for users promoting the ISIS ideology, or urging others to join the jihadist group. Responses complete with graphic images are then posted to offer an opposing viewpoint counter to the narrative put out by the radical’s online strategists.
Since September 2011, the US has used this strategy to counter the recruiting of individuals by ISIS to fight in the civil war in Syria. With the spillover into Iraq now threatening to plunge the wider Middle East into conflict, however, their efforts are being ramped up.