Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Psychological Warfare Analysis of ISIS

Summer Robert
Staff Writer

Since the beheading of British aid worker David Haines and American journalists James Foley and Stephen Sotloff, was posted and available for streaming cameraman , Raad Muhammad Al- Azzawi was taken captive by ISIS. On Sept.  7, Al- Azzawi  along with 20 other residents of Al- Samara were taken hostage, for not agreeing to be employed by the terrorist organization. Even more recently, a French tourist on a hiking trip in Algeria was also captured by the newly identified british “executioner”, known as Jihadi John (recently speculated to be Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary). This a-typical behavior of beheading random victims may be an early sign of ISIS becoming more ruthless and less objective.  
While the intent of the beheading and kidnapping is clear, to stop the resistance the West has shown towards the creation of the Islamic State in Sunni areas of Iraq and Syria using fear mongering, Jeff Jacoby, blogger on the Boston Globe asks why beheading? 
The brutal technique used to gain the attention of the public by ISIS, was used by Al- Qaeda to butcher Daniel Pearl, Nick Berg, and construction contractors Jack Hensley and Eugene Armstrong (all of the victims mentioned were Americans). This seems parallel to Abu Bakr al- Baghdadi background in Al-Qaeda before establishing the splinter group ISIS. 
Shashank Joshi, a senior researcher at  Royal United Services Institute in London, speculates the horrific beheadings are used as a weapon of psychological warfare.
Asymmetrical warfare is when the military forces of one side of a conflict are larger than the other, forcing the “underdog” of the war to use unconventional methods to compete. This tactic is used in Israel, where Palestinians (the minority) use strategies based on terror to combat the Israelis’ superior, organised war machine. The Palestinians were armed with homemade rockets, while the US supplied the Israelis with F- 16 fighter jets, DIME bombs, helicopters, etc. Similar to Palestinians’ tactic, during the early 60’s the Viet Cong practiced “guerilla tactics,” such as using punji sticks (a booby trap stake made from wood or bamboo) and cutting off the hands of war prisoners along the Ho Chi MInh Trail.  Both asymmetrical warfare and guerrilla tactics would be appropriate to describe the atrocities performed by ISIS, but there is a silver lining. ISIS must feel outmatched by the United States to defy such human decency. Only the feeling of inferiority would inspire such drastic measures.   

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