The State Department has released a graphic video called “Welcome to the ‘Islamic State’ land” marketed to would-be terrorists in hopes of thwarting future recruitment to extremist groups such as ISIS by using gruesome imagery and footage of violent acts.
The video, age-restricted on YouTube, is an imitation recruitment video itself, beginning with the words “Run do not walk to Isis land.” Following are clips of people being shot, thrown into ditches, whipped, beheaded, and crucified. “Come over for as Syria is no longer for Syrians and Iraq is no longer for Iraqis. Where you can learn new skills for the Ummah! Blowing up mosques! Crucifying and executing Muslims…plundering public resources,” reads the video.
The video was created for a State Department project titled “ThinkAgain TurnAway”. The campaign also created accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. On its Facebook page, the project stated that its mission is “to expose the facts about terrorists and their propaganda.” On its Tumblr page, its description is “some truths about terrorism”. The State Department considers social media to be an important tool in intercepting possible terrorists before they join extremist groups.
The “Welcome to the ‘Islamic State’ land” video is the most macabre example of the campaign showcasing terrorism; their Tumblr and Facebook pages and Twitter account provide reported examples of ISIS members changing their minds about joining the group and wanting to return home. The campaign has also shared photos of acts that they report to be ISIS members mistreating civilians.
Buzzfeed described the effort as “trolling terrorists” because the campaign uses social media to jeer the extremists; one example includes a tweeted photo of female Kurdish soldiers targeted toward ISIS. One unintended consequence that major media outlets have yet to discuss is the possibility of the satirical recruitment video becoming lost in translation.