The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) is taking to Twitter to get their jihadist message out, using the worldwide popularity of the World Cup as a means of pushing their radical propaganda.
The Independent reports that several accounts linked to ISIS have begun using popular World Cup hashtags in hopes of taking their message worldwide. The use of such hashtags as #Brazil2014, #ENG, #France, and #WC2014 has proved a simple but effective means of reaching millions, the faux World Cup tweets linking followers to various jihadist material, including recruitment videos produced by British and Australian radicals.
One account, @Alnhim, this weekend tweeted a link to the recruitment video entitled “There Is No Life Without Jihad”, featuring three Britons including Cardiff medical student Nasser Muthana, with seven World Cup-related hashtags.
The hashtag campaign has extended beyond World Cup links; in recent weeks, ISIS has also targeted the English Premier League clubs. Tweets with the league’s hashtags have linked to recruitment material featuring beheadings and other atrocities performed by extremist fighters in Iraq and Syria.
As The Independent reports, the Twitter propaganda strategies of ISIS is part of its "all-encompassing" media strategy which, along with its recent territorial gains in Iraq, has helped it quickly become a world-leader in the jihadist and caliphate movements:
The use of Twitter hashtags is just one part of an increasingly sophisticated social media campaign by ISIS as it seeks to capitalise on its dramatic territorial gains in recent days and establish a puritanical Islamic state or “caliphate” across a swathe of Sunni-majority Iraq.
The militants have developed an Arab-language Twitter app which updates users on the latest ISIS developments but also requires signatories to surrender a large amount of personal data and gives the terror group the power to send tweets from that individual’s account.
Charles Lister, a terrorism expert at the Brookings Doha Centre, said the ISIS had developed an “all-encompassing” media strategy which was allowing it to outperform longer-established extremist groups in its search for recruits and publicity.