Believe it or not, this story from an Air Force general has competition for that title. Gen. Hawk Carlisle told attendees at a recent breakfast meeting that the US military has ramped up efforts to get intel from social media in the war against ISIS. In one instance, a jihadi fighter decided to post a selfie outside a command center, which gave the terrorist lots of attention … most of it unintended:
In a speech sponsored by the Air Force Association on June 1 in Arlington, Gen. Herbert J. “Hawk” Carlisle, commander of Air Combat Command, said airmen in Florida were able to call in an air strike after finding an Islamic State “moron” talking about the jihadist group’s fighting abilities online.
“The [airmen are] combing through social media and they see some moron standing at this command,” Carlisle said, as the Air Force Times reported. “And in some social media, open forum, bragging about command and control capabilities … And these guys go, ‘Ah, we got an in.’”
After some sleuthing, not described by Carlisle, the airmen located the building and destroyed it with joint attack direct munition — more or less, smart bombs.
“About 22 hours later through that very building, three JDAMS take that entire building out,” Carlisle said. “Through social media. It was a post on social media. Bombs on target in 22 hours. It was incredible work, and incredible airmen doing this sort of thing.”
It’s an interesting story, but also a perplexing one. Perhaps the Air Force feels that Americans need a morale booster, a reminder that ISIS and its fighters aren’t invincible, and this certainly qualifies. On the other hand, do we want to let ISIS know that we have that kind of granular attention on social media? This story will have ISIS looking to harden its OPSEC, certainly, or perhaps even look for ways to exploit that for some disinformation. Maybe the next selfie will show a fighter outside of a school, or outside of a holding zone for Western hostages. It doesn’t sound like a bright idea to broadcast the particulars of this “victory,” but maybe the Pentagon has seen ISIS already absorb the lessons from that “moron.”
The Pentagon can be forgiven for thinking Americans need a little more good news. ISIS has continued its expansion in Iraq and Syria, and they’re not the only ones finding life a lot easier in the Middle East:
Al-Qaeda affiliates are significantly expanding their footholds in Syria and Yemen, using the chaos of civil wars to acquire territory and increase their influence, according to analysts, residents and intelligence officials.
The gains have helped the terror group’s affiliates become major players in the countries and have complicated efforts to resolve the conflicts. Al-Qaeda offshoots could also be gaining sanctuaries to eventually plan attacks against the United States and Europe, analysts say.
In Syria, al-Qaeda’s wing, Jabhat al-Nusra, plays a leading role in a new rebel coalition that has captured key areas in the northwestern part of the country. In Yemen, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has seized parts of the country’s largest province, territory that includes military bases, an airfield and ports.
But hey, we got the “moron” taking a selfie!
As far as the worst selfie concept ever, I’d have to give this one the edge over close competition from Alameda, California. A high-school teacher offered extra credit to students who managed to take a selfie with their parents’ sex toys:
Sounds like there’s more than one moron involved in that story.