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The ISIS Social Media Attack

Another beheading claim and ISIS’s use of social media in its grab for power.

This still image from an undated video released by Islamic State militants on Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, purports to show journalist Steven Sotloff being held by the militant group. The Islamic State group has threatened to kill Sotloff if the United States doesn't stop its strikes against them in Iraq. Video released Tuesday, Sept. 02, 2014, purports to show Sotloff's murder by the same rebel group. (AP)

This still image from an undated video released by Islamic State militants on Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, purports to show journalist Steven Sotloff being held by the militant group. The Islamic State group has threatened to kill Sotloff if the United States doesn’t stop its strikes against them in Iraq. Video released Tuesday, Sept. 02, 2014, purports to show Sotloff’s murder by the same rebel group. (AP)

Another beheading of an American journalist by ISIS.  Steven Sotloff, 31.  The orange outfit.  The killer in black.  The desert.  The knife.  It’s hideous, stomach-turning.  Beyond infuriating.  And it’s on the web.  Social media.  This summer, ISIS has rampaged across the desert, taking turf, claiming a “caliphate,” slaughtering.  It has also rampaged across social media.  Using the platforms that lifted pro-democracy forces in Egypt’s Tahrir Square, this time to raise a reign of terror.  This hour On Point:  the ISIS onslaught, and the use of social media in its bloody grab for power.

— Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Scott Shane, national security reporter for the New York Times. (@ScottShaneNYT)

Zeynep Tufekci, professor in the school of information and library science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Faculty associate at the Harvard Berkman Center for Internet and Society. (@zeynep)

Patrick Skinner, director of special projects for the Soufan Group. Former CIA Case Officer. (@SkinnerPm)

John Arquilla, professor and chair of defense analysis at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School. Author of “Worst Enemy: The Reluctant Transformation of the American Military” and “Insurgents, Raiders and Bandits.”

From Tom’s Reading List

BBC News: Steven Sotloff: Islamic State ‘kills US hostage’ — “An Islamic State video has appeared which purports to show the beheading of Steven Sotloff, a US journalist being held hostage by the militants.Mr Sotloff, 31, disappeared in Syria in 2013. He appeared at the end of a video last month which showed fellow US journalist James Foley being killed.”

New York Times:  ISIS Displaying a Deft Command of Varied Media — “The extremists who have seized large parts of Syria and Iraq have riveted the world’s attention with their military prowess and unrestrained brutality. But Western intelligence services are also worried about their extraordinary command of seemingly less lethal weapons: state-of-the-art videos, ground images shot from drones and multilingual Twitter messages.”

The Daily Beast: ISIS is Using Social Media to Reach YOU, Its New Audience — “The migration from Internet chat forums to social media platforms came late to jihadists, but they’ve adapted skillfully. A strategy developed over years has evolved into a sophisticated campaign and now, at the center of the world’s attention, ISIS is using its skill to communicate directly to an American audience.”

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