Talk about a flawed strategy! Obama is doing everything he can not to bomb these terrorists so they’re growing and rowing..They have propaganda centers in Iraq, Syria and Libya! Yes, Obama wants to study them a little more…how crazy is that?
In a secret project tied to the overall U.S. campaign against the Islamic State, intelligence officials have spent months mapping out known physical locations of media safe houses where the extremist group’s operatives are compiling, editing and curating raw video and print materials into finished digital propaganda products for dissemination across the Internet.
Most of the locations are embedded in heavily residential areas in Syria, Iraq and Libya and are not being targeted by U.S. airstrikes because of Obama administration concerns about civilian casualties.
The White House also has been pressing the intelligence community to continue studying the facilities for a deeper understanding of how the Islamic State and its media enterprises operate, the sources said.
While the White House, CIA and Pentagon declined to comment on the clandestine mapping project, its existence was revealed amid mounting debate over whether the administration’s strategy is robust enough for countering the professionalized blitz of digital propaganda that the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS and ISIL, is using to recruit fighters and radicalize supporters around the world.
The administration is engaged publicly in a dual-track approach that involves an interagency push to spread carefully crafted messaging online and through local partners in various corners of the world to counter the Islamic State, while ramping up pressure on American social media companies to block extremist content and links from their online platforms.
But critics, including a growing number of lawmakers on Capitol Hill and some current and former officials directly involved in the project, say the administration’s effort is badly mismanaged and underfunded, allowing the Islamic State to maintain a physical footprint of media production houses upon which creation of the terrorist group’s most influential products depends.
The propaganda operation’s vastness and sophistication are considered unprecedented in Islamic terrorism. Although its penetration across the Internet relies on a seemingly endless spray of links posted by the Islamic State on social media sites, it is the core media products that such links lead back to that analysts describe as most worrisome.
Twelve issues of the group’s official propaganda magazine Dabiq are now online in several languages, including Arabic, English, Russian, French and Turkish. The shiny content, organizational integrity and layout are more thorough and professional than those of many American newsmagazines.
More striking for the visually driven young audience are the dozens of highly curated recruiting videos that Islamic State operatives have produced using elaborate graphic animations, special effects, live-action speed edits and Hollywood-quality voice-overs.
Videos that have emerged in recent months are clearly bent on reaching an international audience way beyond the borders of the group’s self-proclaimed caliphate in Syria and Iraq. The first Chinese-language Islamic State video appeared online last week, replete with a theme song calling on Muslims to “wake up” from a century of humiliation.
The most recent English-language video circulated roughly a month ago. Not only did it go to staggering lengths to mock the U.S. military’s failure to contain the Islamic State, but a sober-voiced narrator also went so far as to taunt America over the sensitive issue of suicide rates among U.S. soldiers and veterans.
“You claim to have the greatest army history has known. You may have the numbers and weapons, but your soldiers lack good will and resolve,” the deep voice says in unaccented English. “Still scared from their defeats in Afghanistan and Iraq, they return dead or suicidal, with over 6,500 of them killing themselves each year. So while you go around cooking the facts on the results of your military airstrikes, we continue to haunt the minds of your soldiers and sew fear into their hearts.”
Animation-enhanced blood bursts and sprays across a white background in the video as gunshots ring out — a macabre display apparently designed to depict the suicides of American service members.
What is unclear is specifically where the video was edited. Intelligence officials say the final cut could have been produced and uploaded to an Internet host site by Islamic State admirers anywhere in the world.
“There are a number of ISIL supporters online that help disseminate propaganda or craft their own,” said one U.S. intelligence official, who spoke anonymously with The Times.
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