After Berlin, I recalled this broadcast on Swedish Radio just a few days ago. It would seem that the reverses they have suffered in Iraq and Syria and even Libya have caused a shift of focus within ISIS. A shift away from their dreams of establishing a Caliphate within their lifetimes to creating a parallel, segregated, Islamic population in Europe. Their focus has shifted from directing their European supporters to travel to the front line in the Middle East to instead, implementing terror attacks wherever they happen to be; in place, in Europe.
The Berlin terrorist is still at large. And so are many others – plucking up the nerve to kill indiscriminately. Berlin will be followed by other Islamic, Sunni Muslim, terrorist acts. Islamophobia is not the cause but the inevitable consequence. But a healthy dose of Islamo-skepticism – and amounting to terroristphobia – is absolutely necessary if Islamic terrorism is to be neutralised.
As the Islamic State loses territory in Iraq, Syria and Libya, the group’s propaganda changed. The terror group no longer invites their sympathizers to go to war. Reporter Fernando Arias is in conversation with Robert Egnell, a Professor at the National Defence University, about the terror group’s propaganda.
“It is too early to say what the effects are of the IS reversal of its propaganda”, says Robert Egnell. According to Robert Egnell propaganda has been important to recruit for the Islamic State and what they call their Caliphate. But now the propaganda has changed, he says, and points to three major differences with earlier:
- it has reduced in scale over the past year,
- it is more concerned with calls to take the fight where one is, and
- the positive images of the Caliphate has almost disappeared.
“It’s about being able to show a positive image that can attract. Previously, it has been the Caliphate and the dream of a better life, but it is difficult to show such images today when all the media coverage points to the contrary, and instead must then create success through terrorist attacks and publicise them” said Robert Egnell.
Several intelligence services report that fewer are travelling to Syria and Iraq, but we have yet to see the final effects of the reversal of IS propaganda on terrorists in place in Europe, according to Robert Egnell.
“We have had an increase of attacks in Europe, but it probably can not be linked so directly to just the propaganda, but it can probably rather be linked to a new IS strategy to focus on Europe”, he says.
Is it such a great difference that that people are now encouraged to carry out attacks at home instead of traveling to Iraq and Syria?
“Yes, it’s a very important distinction, and it is perhaps something to hope for. The threshold is much higher for committing acts of violence in the home country compared to follow a new dream of the Caliphate. This provided a kind of positive appeal to a certain type of people, and now there is only death and destruction (in the Caliphate). In a society they have grown up in, one can hope that the threshold (to act) is significantly higher than making the trip down to Syria and fighting for some ’cause’ “.
But the Caliphate dreams are certainly shrinking.