Monday, June 01, 2015

Clint Watts: 'We have met the enemy, and he is us'?

Clint Watts

Recently in Geopoliticus: The FPRI Blog, Clint Watts asks, "Are We Our Own Worst Enemy? The Problems in Countering Jihadi Narratives and How to Fix Them." I was particularly intrigued by one approach he describes as a way to discourage the radicalization of Muslims by the Islamic State:
Pinpoint Vulnerable Audiences: Identify those radicalizing online communities of ISIS enthusiasts most attracted to ISIS content . . . . Develop engaging "telenovela" style defector video content: Defector accounts . . . remain the most effective counter narrative . . . . [The] ISIS defector content must be able to engage the radicalizing individual[s] and sustain their attention. I . . . propose the development of three dramatic retellings of actual defectors and foreign fighters lost amongst different jihadi conflicts, illuminating ISIS and al Qaeda's betrayal of their own principles and troops. I would script out three, "telenovela" style videos that would initially stand-alone but would later be networked together . . . . [These] videos would not be fiction, but instead dramatic retellings of actual debacles involving foreign fighters. I'd recommend . . . three movies . . . describ[ing] the treachery of three fratricidal jihadi campaigns:
Tentative Title: "Fitna" – Jabhat al Nusra and ISIS foreign fighters killing each other in Syria

Tentative Title: "Bandit" – AQIM's fracturing, infighting and criminality as they are overrun by French forces in Mali.

Tentative Title: "Ansaris and Muhajirs" – al Shabaab's killing off of their own foreign fighters and clan based infighting inside the group.
Each of these movies would be provided in different languages to more directly appeal to specific radicalizing audiences and they would illuminate several themes of folly and despair encountered by actual foreign fighters embroiled in these jihads.
How would these stories be shown? As follows:
Each of the videos would follow a similar build up . . . . The videos would need to appear, in at least the first three episodes, to be somewhat sympathetic to joining a jihad - tracing the introduction, immersion and initial reception of a foreign fighter. After three episodes, dreams of jihad glory would fade as softer themes undermining ISIS enter the storyline - foreign fighters participating in criminal activity for example. As the story continues, the video would shift to real stories of horrid ISIS behavior - barbaric torture, sexual enslavement, killing of innocent women and children. The video series would conclude with a foreign fighter watching the fratricidal killing of a fellow foreign fighter at the hands of a corrupt jihadi leader. The foreign fighter would manage to defect from ISIS to return home, finding he had shamed his family.
Are these movies fiction? No, not exactly that, the "videos would not be fiction," rather, "dramatic retellings":
Engaging videos, mirroring the production format and quality of ISIS and describing the horrors experienced by ISIS defectors provide the ideal vector for engaging those in the 'Radicalizing' stage of ISIS recruitment.
In other words, dramatize the actual experience of disillusioned foreign fighters. Watts points out that such a program would not cost much, and hints that if the government won't, or can't, produce such a program, then perhaps someone private might fund one.

As for today's blog heading . . . well, I'm on a Pogo shtick.

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