Fighters of the terrorist group the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) – now simply known as Islamic State – are not only battling with Iraqi armed forces, but they are also spreading fear and recruiting new followers through propaganda warfare on the Internet.
In what appears to be a Twitter account run by ISIS militants, a threat was issued to the U.S. and its allies of dire consequences if they decide to launch airstrikes and send troops to Iraq again.
American people! Stop your warplanes! American tourists in all countries will be in danger #CalamityWillBefallUS— *جزراويــة * (@hnun321) June 27, 2014
This is a message for every American Citizen. You are the target of every Muslim in the world wherever you are. #CalamityWillBefallUS— خلافة♥ بنت الجزيرة (@LL5550) June 27, 2014
Threats were also sent to the accounts of congressmen and national security agencies as well as famous television hosts like Oprah Winfrey and Jimmy Kimmel, who have millions of followers on Twitter.
The controversial hashtag prompted responses from all over the world – especially from Americans, who responded by stating that they were not afraid of any threats.
And to counter this, an official State Department response from a verified Twitter account called "Think AgainTurn Away" replied to the militants’ posts.
@ThinkAgain_DOS, is an account devoted to fighting terrorist propaganda online.
The ISIS is being deemed more powerful and dangerous than the notorious al-Qaeda because their members are using new mediums, including the Internet, to intimidate enemies as well as to recruit new members – especially from the West. A Guardian article explains:
“ISIS's use of social media is so slick that it has made the group seem more powerful than it is. Coverage of its menacing online identity may have both obscured the role other Sunni groups have played in Iraq's insurgency – and made opponents wrongly assume that Isis has all of Iraq within its grasp.”
As of Tuesday, there had been almost 100,000 mentions of the hashtag, with 50 percent coming from Saudi Arabia and 23 percent from the US.
Whether Twitter will block the alleged militants’ accounts still remains to be seen.