Center for Strategic Communication

[ by Charles Cameron — how AQ messages potential ISers — as usual, when there’s an overlap between divergent ideas, I start thinking ]

Brubeck Berlin


I was reading, once again, today about the US social media campaign in a WAPo piece, Digital War Takes Shape on Websites Over ISIS:

Along with its surprising military success, the Islamic State group has demonstrated a skill and sophistication with social media previously unseen in extremist groups.

And just as the United States has begun an aggressive air campaign against the militants, Richard A. Stengel, the under secretary of state for public diplomacy, believes the United States has no choice but to counter their propaganda with a forceful online response.

“Sending a jazz trio to Budapest is not really what we want to do in 2014,” said Mr. Stengel, referring to the soft-edged cultural diplomacy that sent musicians like Dave Brubeck on tours of Eastern-bloc capitals to counter communism during the Cold War. “We have to be tougher, we have to be harder, particularly in the information space, and we have to hit back.”

Then I came across this quote from Thomas Joscelyn at LWJ, inder the header Analysis: Al Qaeda attempts to undermine new Islamic State with old video of Osama bin Laden:

Al Qaeda’s senior leaders have not directly addressed the Islamic State’s claim to rule over a caliphate stretching across large portions of Iraq and Syria. Instead, they have sought to undermine the Islamic State’s ideological legitimacy in a variety of more subtle ways.

Subtle, I like subtle. My question, as I juxtapose AQ’s approach with that of Richard Stengel at State, is whether there’s anything we can learn from our AQ adversaries about social messaging as CVE?

Maybe there is, maybe there isn’t — but “know your enemy” is a significant aphorism, and the juxtaposition of approaches is surely worth considering.


Just for the record:

I’ve said it before — I don’t really put much stock in solo “leading indicators” — I take much sharper notice when there are two indicators with a significant associative link or overlap between them.

And I’m not seriously suggesting the State Dept should be recording anasheed.