US Fights ISIS Propaganda —With Propaganda
State Department has gotten into the business of posting graphic videos
By Shelley Hazen,  Newser User
Posted Sep 8, 2014 1:08 PM CDT

(Newser) – A new YouTube video depicts ISIS in all its brutality, but this time ISIS isn’t responsible—bizarrely, the US State Department is, the Washington Post reports. Mock recruitment video "Welcome to ISIL-Land" is 69 seconds of graphic violence meant to undermine the abundance of ISIS online propaganda. The message: ISIS casually kills innocent Muslims and they'll kill you, too. Using footage shot by the group—including mosques blown up by suicide bombers, crucified bodies, severed heads, whippings, and executions, as per the New York Daily News—the video is aimed at young and disaffected Western Muslims, who are "potential recruits, potential sympathizers," says a department spokeswoman. Some 100 Americans have already joined ISIS, adds CNN.

So far, the video hasn't proven popular, with only 42,000 views since July—far less than the execution of journalist James Foley. But ISIS is a formidable online adversary, proving itself "successful and effective … at using propaganda, particularly social media," one terrorism expert tells the Post. And then there's this problem—potential ISIS recruits are "enthused by videos of executions and suicide bombings, not deterred by them," says one expert. The YouTube video is part of a wider campaign to battle ISIS on those platforms, the US posting opposing messages on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr in various languages. The department acknowledges the latest video's flaws: "We poke holes in their narrative, try to turn the tables. You’re not going to get a knockout blow," says an official.