U.S. admits losing propaganda war to ISIL ‘fanboys’

Special to WorldTribune.com

The United States says it “ought to do better” to fight Islamic State of Iraq and Levant’s (ISIL’s) Internet propaganda machine.

U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter. /Reuters
U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter. /Reuters

U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, speaking at Ecole Militaire military college in Paris on Jan. 21, said the terror group uses the Internet “to give encouragement or even instruction to people who have already been radicalized, or radicalizing some of these poor lost souls who sit in front of a screen and fantasize about a life as a jihadi.”

While the only battlefield these ISIL “fanboys” may ever see is in a video game, they are adept at spreading ISIL propaganda broadly and quickly.

“If I could fight with them I would,” one ISIL fan in London said in a 2014 email to BuzzFeed.

The “fanboy” hasn’t joined the jihadists, but runs pro-ISIL Internet accounts from his family’s home. As quickly as authorities shut them down, he starts new ones. “I do what I can for them. I believe in their world vision,” he said.

Critics say the Obama administration has been on the losing end of the propaganda war since ISIL’s emergence.

“We ought to try to do better,” Carter said. “We’re having some success, we’re going to have more in the future, I would like to have even more, but democracies are slow, and they only tell the truth. And in a message-driven Internet world, that puts you at a structural disadvantage compared to people who are nimble, agile, and lie.”

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