— The Erimtan Angle —

(28 July 2014)

‘After ISIS slaughters its last victim; after they blow up the last mosque; they will leave nothing behind but tears and rubble (6 Oct 2014)’.

As penned by ABC’s Ali Weinberg: the “Obama administration’s new drive to battle the ideology of ISIS using social media is falling short of expectations and its potential because the White House was late to the game, disregarded the work of the previous administration and hasn’t properly funded the effort, some experts and government officials say. A major part of the new anti-ISIS tactics, run by the State Department’s Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications, is an English-language social media campaign called “Think Again, Turn Away,” which features rapid responses to pro-ISIS rhetoric and sarcastically toned YouTube videos intended to mock ISIS’ fundamentalist intentions. Some of the videos have been criticized as amateurish and ill-suited to their intended targets. One recent “Think Again, Turn Away” video facetiously urged would-be jihadists to “run, don’t walk” to join ISIS and kill fellow Muslims. Tweets from the campaign’s Twitter handle, clearly branded a U.S. government effort, frequently include images, like an old picture, tweeted on Sept. 11 of this year, of the late Osama bin Laden hiding in his compound with the words “Would you throw away your life for those who hide far away?” Such a tactic may have been effective with core al-Qaeda operatives, but less so with the more diffuse groups of today, critics say. The tone and content of the “Think Again, Turn Away” postings do not appeal to the campaign’s key demographic, said James Glassman, the Bush administration’s last Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs who worked with the 2008 Obama team as it transitioned into office, and who championed the use of diplomatic resources to counter extremism, in fact helping start a more informal version of the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications”.[1]

‘Established in 2010, the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications (CSCC) is an interagency unit based at the U.S State Department which aims to coordinate, orient, and inform government strategic communications activities directed at audiences abroad designed to counter the appeal of violent extremism’.[2] ‘The Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications (CSCC) was established at the direction of the President and the Secretary of State to coordinate, orient, and inform government-wide foreign communications activities targeted against terrorism and violent extremism, particularly al-Qaida and its affiliates and adherents. Executive Order 13584, signed by President Obama on September 9, 2011, provides policy background and assigns interagency responsibilities to CSCC. CSCC is guided by National Strategy for Counterterrorism and operates under the policy direction of the White House and interagency leadership. The Coordinator reports to the Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and works closely with the Coordinator for Counterterrorism, other State bureaus, and many government agencies. CSCC liaises with agencies with domestic responsibilities to ensure coordination and consistency of message. Coordinator Ambassador Alberto Fernandez leads an interagency staff drawing on whole-of-government knowledge, skills, and resources. CSCC is comprised of three interactive components. The integrated analysis component leverages the Intelligence Community and other substantive experts to ensure CSCC communicators benefit from the best information and analysis available. The plans and operations component draws on this input to devise effective ways to counter the terrorist narrative. The Digital Outreach Team actively and openly engages in Arabic, Urdu, Punjabi, and Somali to counter terrorist propaganda and misinformation about the United States across a wide variety of interactive digital environments that had previously been ceded to extremists’.[3]

[1] Ali Weinberg, “Obama’s Anti-ISIS Social Media Strategy Panned as Inadequate” ABC News (01 Oct 2014). http://7online.com/news/obamas-anti-isis-social-media-strategy-panned-as-inadequate/333110/.

[2] “Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications (CSCC)” Institute for Strategic Dialogue. Counter Extremism. https://www.counterextremism.org/resources/details/id/404/center-for-strategic-counterterrorism-communications-cscc.

[3] “Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications” The U.S. Department of State. http://www.state.gov/r/cscc/.

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