I knew it was coming. After the Boston Marathon bombing and the arrest of terrorist Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, it took only days before he was being interviewed and photographed by a salivating media. He was not being portrayed as the cold, psychopath that he is, but as a sympathetic, misguided young man. Rolling Stone magazine scooped everyone when they splashed his face on the cover of their magazine with headlines calling him a “popular, promising student who was failed by his family, fell into radical Islam and became a monster.” At least they used the word monster.
When I saw the cover of the magazine I was shocked to see how they had gone to such great lengths to turn this despicable human being into an air-brushed, soft-focused, GQ version of a Middle Eastern Justin Beiber. With his designer T-shirt, tousled hair and pouty lips, he was the image of the “bad boy” every girl wanted and every boy wanted to be. Plus, he was on the cover of Rolling Stone: the premiere magazine in the world of music, media and entertainment. This was when I realized that there was a conscious effort being made to make terrorism “cool” and “sexy.”
Now, here we are today, shocked to see and hear a YouTube video showing an ISIS terrorist shrouded in black with his face covered, cutting the head off of an American journalist. The executioner spoke in a British accent, and now the British government is almost positive that he is a 23-year-old British-raised rapper who left his parents’ million-dollar home in London to fight for radical Islam in Syria. Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary is a homegrown jihadist who is the son of an Egyptian militant facing terrorism charges in connection with the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings.
Abdel Bary, using the name L. Jinny, had his music and songs featured on the BBC’s Radio One Extra. His lyrics spoke of being addicted to alcohol and crack and also about his hatred for the West. Still, he was popular and became “cool.”
The terrorists have begun to use rap as a way to entice young Americans to step up and join the jihad in the Middle East. They are also showcasing toys, clothing and promising them a life of adventure and challenge if they join the holy war. “Jihad Cool” has a variety of rap artists, T-shirts with pro-terror messages and other items to entice young Americans to join ISIS and engage in the “fun of guerrilla war.”
Social media is the primary way to reach these young people who have been raised in America on a diet of violent video games, graphic film images, hatred spewed from rappers and a general disregard for women. For the vulnerable ones, this is a salvation to them, and they are joining up in record numbers, according to some reports.
A simple exchange of tweets and an uploaded video done professionally with an enticing message is all it takes in the digital age we live in to recruit disgruntled, unhappy teens or 20-somethings looking for adventure. There are influential tweeters like social media operator Shami Witness whose popularity has soared since the recent territorial expansion of ISIS. He tweets out words and images that appeal to foreign fighters in large or small towns all over the United States. Just like video games, the tweeters can connect up with like-minded players and plan their strategies.
There is no way at this point to control the massive amount of information that is uploaded daily and spread out across the world by the likes of ISIS. Already, the computer-savvy leaders are finding ways to go even further underground to avoid detection by intelligence agencies or law enforcement. The disseminaters are growing, and they are communicating with our youth who believe that jihad is “cool.”
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