'Think Again, Turn Away': The State Department's Response-in-Kind To ISIS Marketing

It is now agonizingly clear to all of us that ISIS uses social media well. Along with the beheading videos, ISIS has pitched Somali-American teenagers in Minneapolis with what UMass Lowell Professor Mia Bloom calls “a potent combination of Somali patriotism and pride to engender guilt that can only be redressed through mobilization. Specifically, recruiters explain that those in the Somali Diaspora are a let-down to their countrymen and that there is nobody else who can help save them.” 

President Obama told Chuck Todd on Sept. 7 that “we need a much more effective counter-narrative [to ISIS]. And it can’t come from us.” But some of it is coming from us, and well that it is so.

The State Department Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications, with more than 50 on staff, monitors ISIS marketing and tries to do what their name says. Their current campaign, “Think Again, Turn Away,” includes a video which graphically documents Muslim-on-Muslim violence in support of the argument that if you go to fight for ISIS, you will either kill your own kind or be killed. I do not know how the center goes about its work (which may partly be a good thing; stealth counts). But it is apparent that numerous social media accounts have been established and are being filled regularly and capably with on-message content. 

This work strikes me as a valuable component of any anti-ISIS strategy. May Congress double its budget.

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