Listening to the news out of Iraq and Syria these days, you’d be tempted to think that ISIS was pretty much a thing of the past. Their caliphate has been shattered and the few places where they still hold any territory are marginal at best. Despite persistent rumors that the terror group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was killed in an earlier missile strike, we’ve more recently heard that he’s not only alive but crafting a new strategy to allow his group to continue to thrive even after the physical destruction of the caliphate. (Washington Post)
Despite such rumors, U.S. counterterrorism officials are convinced that Baghdadi is alive and is helping direct long-term strategy for the dwindling numbers of Islamic State fighters defending the group’s remaining strongholds in eastern Syria. The U.S. view is supported by intelligence intercepts and detainee interrogations, as well as writings and statements by operatives within the terrorist group’s network.
The evidence, while spotty and difficult to confirm, depicts a leader who has opted to make himself invisible, even within his organization — a decision that has drawn complaints from followers and arguably undercuts his ability to rally his beleaguered forces, terrorism experts say.
The major thrust of Baghdadi’s new mission allegedly focuses on communication. He needs to reach out to children, specifically, and disaffected younger adult Muslims, inspiring them to continue with isolated terror attacks around the globe. But how can he best do that? I’m starting to wonder if this guy is really such a genius after all because he apparently decided on Google Plus as his platform of choice. (The Hill)
Scores of pro-ISIS accounts and communities have found a home on Google Plus despite being purged from other social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, according to a review by The Hill.
The Hill found dozens of pages across Google’s social media platform that explicitly show Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) propaganda, give news updates directly pulled from ISIS media, spread messages of hate towards Jews and other groups or show extremist imagery.
The Google Plus accounts and communities sharing ISIS-linked content did little to hide their affiliation. Many openly professed their support of the terrorist group. In many cases, accounts featured the ISIS flag and pictures of ISIS fighters.
First of all, I didn’t think Google Plus was still active in the social media market. I know I had an account for a while but I barely used it. They supposedly stopped supporting it more than three years ago and Wired pronounced it dead at the time. But then again, maybe that’s what makes it ideal for ISIS. The platform is still out there, but not being supported. So there’s probably not many people (including at Google) looking at it. Is ISIS hiding in plain sight?
Let’s say this is true. (And from the look of some of the accounts they highlighted, it certainly looks plausible.) Rather than worrying solely about the remnants of ISIS, shouldn’t we be asking how Google didn’t pick up on this on their own? This basically means that they have enough free time to shut down conservatives with “dangerous views” but ISIS accounts don’t qualify as hate speech?
Get on the ball, Google. Solve some real problems rather than picking winners and losers in domestic politics. Oh, and you might want to bring back the “Don’t Be Evil” part of your mandate.