The US State Department recently released a propaganda video in English to counter gains made by the Internet-savvy militant group Islamic State. Yet the use of the extremist’s own violent footage may have the opposite effect, critics say.
The video, “Welcome to ‘Islamic State’ land,” is part of the State Department’s ‘Think Again Turn Away’ campaign and aims to speak to potential young Muslim recruits for Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIS or ISIL). The militant group, formerly allied with Al-Qaeda, has gained stature through, in part, its social media presence and videos such as those marking the alleged beheadings of captured American journalists.
The US government’s video – released in Arabic in July and in English in late August – uses patchwork footage from, among other sources, Islamic State’s own propaganda videos that show crucifictions, executions, and other violence to depict IS as having an extremist ideology whose aggression is wielded against other Muslims, not necessarily Western symbols of domination.