Existence of ISIS was candidly snubbed as a mythical existence of an imaginative mind, or in other cases it was considered an idea that could likely be tackled before it reaches its fruition, keeping in view world’s super power and the allied countries taking the cause of eradication of ‘Islamic’ terrorism as a matter of serious challenge. It is unbelievable to be told, rather to acknowledge that an organisation known for its universally reprimanded brutal practices, legitimately and explicitly disowned by any religion in the world, has not just thrived to its full potential, it has done so right under the nose of the allied forces claiming to be fighting against terrorism.
Bilgen (2012) described whether in the past or in the present, terrorists have been using media for their own benefits. Media is one of the source through which terrorists gather information, get attention, and also use it for the advantage of their operational efficiency, fund-raising and recruitment. Media on the other hand also gets attention of people, which plays an important role in increasing the rating of the channel and in amassing maximum number of audience. Moreover, media cover terror events so that more and more people become eager to obtain information about the happening.
Jarab (2005) described that media pays special attention to extreme terrorist activities not just because reporting of terrorist incidents is the duty of media, but also to captivate the public with the drama that surrounds the incident. Part of the aim of terrorist organisations is to attract attention throughout the world. On the other hand, right of information and expression of media must not be affected because it is the media through which public gets informed about matters concerning them, involving terrorist incidents plus threats, the reaction and reply that the country and the international community gives to them.
ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) came to be known as a new bogeyman for the world which has still not extricated completely from its predecessor Al-Qaeda. ISIS has proclaimed to have established or seeks to establish a self-style Islamic caliphate claiming Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as its chieftain. An insidious organisation that has spread its message through social media and gained popularity for its brutality has least to do with Islam, the religion to which they claim association. It is indeed a challenge for the world at large, but the Muslim community in particular finds itself in disarray, being namesake associated with a group that does nothing good to offer in return. ISIS has contributed more to anti-Muslim hysteria.
The globalised world has increasingly become tech-savvy. It has produced several technological advancements upgrading to faster means of communication, easier circulation of information across the globe, free movement of individuals in a border-less world and unhinged sharing of ideas. Even though, it has made life easier for the most of the population of the world; it cannot be ruled out that over the period of time it has created negativity to a greater degree. Establishing the fact that means of communication could bear mounting impact on world stability, as it is observed that the greater and freer the means of communication have become, greater have become the challenges to world peace.
Below mentioned are some such advancements of a globalised world that pose a greater challenge to world peace:
Brain drain is a slang term for a significant emigration of educated or talented individuals. A brain drain can result from turmoil within a nation, from there being better professional opportunities in other countries or from people seeking a better standard of living. Globalisation has undoubtedly benefitted the western world, economically powerful countries more than developing countries. A large number of young and educated population of these countries has been able to find better opportunities in the west, therefore, causing human capital shift from third world to the first world, leaving an intellectual vacuum, and not enough human resource for growth. However, host countries have benefitted greater from the foreign expatriates working in various fields of development.
Technological advancement, specifically in the realm of communication has caused great instability in the world. Wiki leaks and its descendants have caused regime changes, revolutions have been triggered in regions causing chaos and violence through social media campaigns. Technological advancements not merely caused problems in the political world; it has made weaponry and wars much more sophisticated and much more brutal than they were before.
Wars have been strategized with great investment in countries or regions that are politically weaker but resourcefully rich. Resource rich countries have become a pawn or mere puppets in hands of the west with minimal development at home, while resources are being plundered by foreign invaders. An example is of African countries, some Middle Eastern countries could be cited here as well that have opened their eyes to globalisation of power politics.
Terrorism with obfuscated purpose, but many political agendas has emerged as a challenge that has caused suffering beyond measure. Every time an act of terror or shooting occurs, Muslims closely watch the news with extreme trepidation praying that the suspect has no communal affiliation. This is not because these terrorists are likely to be Muslim but rather because in the instances where they happen to be, we see amplified mass media coverage and unjustified hatred towards Muslims.
It is clear up to this point that globalisation has paved for several chaos situations in the world, an ascending character of negativity, hate-speech and sentiments of divisiveness, multiplication of endorsements to violence are few of the many outcomes of media, specifically social media, as we see and experience today. However, today’s world of religious extremism and terrorism has not been particularly known for its relation with establishing social media affinity in the past in contrast to what is being witnessed now as new age terrorism in the shape of ISIS.
The question is legitimate enough to be pondered and to be understood that ISIS is capable of feeding off young peoples’ sentiments by portraying to them an idea of a fantastical superhero clerical regime through its well-organized media strategy. About few years ago before the ISIS barbarism was not fully revealed to the world, there were several online sources that were selling sweat shirts with IS regime map, showing young peoples’ infatuation with the idea.
Strange as it may sound but ISIS is more foreign to Islamic nations than to the young Muslim population living in un-Islamic nations. The philosophical explanation to this theory is quite reasonable from close quarters as it explains the victimization of Islamic nations specifically by foreign media and challenges posed by terrorism and insecurity within the Muslim community, which have instilled a need for stability greater than ever before; the desire for normalcy within Islamic polity reigns higher than desire to associate themselves to an emerging fanaticism. However, young people living in foreign non-Muslim countries find the need for a saviour in the middle of growing victimization, confusion and alienation. The media cells of ISIS have been able to target that population, and recruiting them which results into a more tech-savvy team.
According to research conducted by the Washington Institute, ISIS enjoys practically no popularity in Egypt, Lebanon, or Saudi Arabia, but the report is in stark contrast with an August poll on the same topic for ICM, which found that 7% of citizens responded favourably to the Islamic State in Britain. In France, the figure was dramatically higher, with 16% of French citizens saying they have a positive opinion of ISIS, spiking at 27% for those who are aged 18-24. In Germany, it was far lower, with around three percent expressing a positive view.
The power of media cannot be overlooked, while the use of social media by the young people has increasingly become a challenge that is not easy to tackle, therefore, a state level monitoring on social media and a balanced news media reporting is need of the time. China and North Korea where freedom of information is barred are demonized and depicted as fascist regimes; nonetheless, these two are still unharmed from the menace of terror emanating from globalised mediums of communication. Extra ordinary challenges require extra ordinary action, therefore, state level monitoring of media to bar spread of extremism is highly mandatory.
Syeda Aminah Gilani is a Lecturer of Political Science, and has initiated an academic program on Terrorism and Counter Terrorism at the Kinnaird College for Women in collaboration with National Counter Terrorism Authority Pakistan (NACTA).