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Salman Rushdie: ISIS’ Most Dangerous Weapon Is Media

Propaganda is nothing new — it’s as old as politics itself — but adding the connective power of the internet to the equation reveals an entirely new level of media that ISIS is all too happy to exploit. Rushdie’s latest novel is “Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights” (http://goo.gl/wxhVGA).

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Transcript – Well aside from the obvious thoughts of Isis which is horror and disgust I think we have to look at the fact that they’re so unusually good at using the media. That’s a great deal of their unique power is the way in which they can create themselves as the bogeyman, you know, and that they do it on purpose. It’s very – I mean even the chosen methods of execution, you know, are done for maximum shock horror value. You know you want to kill people you can do it very straightforwardly. You don’t have to go through this gruesome ritual that they prefer. And the purpose of the gruesome ritual is to be scary and it works very well. They also it seems to be extremely good at the recruitment video where they use all these techniques including music so in order to make themselves a very attractive proposition it seems to some kinds of young men and women. I mean the thing that mystifies me is the women, you know. I can understand that certain kind of disenfranchised alienated young men might think that it was heroic or glamorous to go off and fight this secret war or not secret war.

This war in which you are a secret fighter. I find it very difficult to understand the phenomenon of women defecting to enter the Isis zone because women are treated so shockingly badly there, you know. And that again goes to show the enormous effectiveness of their propaganda in overcoming the obvious facts about how women are treated which his basically as slaves. They’re certainly not given any kind of real dignity, you know. And again the propaganda is so effective that young women from all over the world seem interested to go. So I think you have to see it as a just in media terms as an enormously effective group. Much, much more so than any radical extremist group, I mean, in history. If you look back a bit and you look at things like the Baader Meinhof Group or, you know, The Weather Underground or whatever. They were lousy at communicating. Absolutely shockingly bad. And they certainly were not either able or interested to communicate their ideas in a way that were appealing, that was appealing to anybody. Of course they didn’t have these – the technology that is now available but what is interesting is not just that Isis is able to communicate so efficiently but that they can actually make themselves attractive. Given all the evidence piling up every day of their extreme unattractiveness to be able to overcome that by propaganda is quite an achievement.

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