IS – the changing presentation in cyberspace.
There are signs that the IS message and its tactics have changed since the group’s bloody emergence in June 2014.
In 1996, Major General Charles Dunlap, who subsequently served in Iraq and Afghanistan, predicted that terrorists would try to influence Western policy by executing people live on the internet. Speaking to London’s PassW0rd radio show on Resonance FM in 2014, General Dunlap warned that IS’s objective was to use psychological warfare to deter action.
“In 1996 I was trying to anticipate what I saw as a trend in how adversaries would confront high-tech powers, and I thought they would focus, as seems to be the case, on trying to psychologically impact the large democracies, and developed countries as opposed to physically defeating them,” said General Dunlap, a distinguished military thinker who, in a presentation at an information warfare conference in Brussels in 1996, also predicted the emergence of new ‘charismatic leaders’ such as ‘Jihadi John’ who would be able to exploit the media.
“I think the terrorists are trying to intimidate the West and use the same tactics that have been successful locally, in Syria and in Iraq. I think that they have made a rather profound miscalculation because of the recent acts in particular, because the recent acts, the beheadings, have been so horrifying to the West that it’s helped solidify the political support that might not otherwise have existed for confronting them,” said Dunlap.
As a result of the revulsion in the West and more importantly from Islamic states and even Al Qaeda, IS has now moved away from focussing on such barbarous images but is still intent on pushing out the core IS message.