Perhaps it sounds glib to talk about the branding of an extremist Islamist group responsible for the deaths and oppression of thousands. But the branding or, perhaps more accurately, the idea of the Islamic State is exactly what attracts recruits and funding to the group. And even if its techniques have sometimes been crude, the Islamic State has clearly gone out of its way to promote its brand.
What’s really worrying is that despite all the confusion over its name, the Islamic State “brand” actually seems pretty solid — and worryingly global. It’s distinctive black-and-white flag was flown in London last week, and leaflets supporting it were handed out in the city’s Oxford Street on Tuesday. An American was arrested at a New York City airport this month after authorities were tipped off by his pro-Islamic State Twitter rants. The group has began publishing videos in Hindi, Urdu and Tamil in a bid to reach Indian Muslims. There are credible reports that the group is hoping to target Asian countries — and Indonesia is so worried that it banned all support for the Islamic State.