ISIS’ selfie debacle may give Americans a quick laugh since the “moron” DAESH commander managed to make his base a target for the U.S. Air Force, but the fallout from this incident may actually hinder the United States in its fight against the Islamic State.
In a related report by the Inquisitr, an ISIS tank laden with explosives managed to kill almost 50 Iraqi security officers.
General Hawk Carlisle, commander of Air Combat Command, explained in a speech how ISIS’ selfie photo managed to provide the invaluable intelligence that allowed bombs to destroy the target within 22 hours.
“The [airmen are] combing through social media and they see some moron standing at this command,” Carlisle said during a speech in Arlington, Virginia. “And in some social media, open forum, bragging about command and control capabilities for Da’esh, ISIL, And these guys go ‘ah, we got an in.’ So they do some work, long story short, about 22 hours later through that very building, three JDAMS take that entire building out. Through social media. It was a post on social media. Bombs on target in 22 hours. It was incredible work, and incredible airmen doing this sort of thing.”
The U.S. military says that ISIS’ selfie was one of many 1,700 photos, videos, and other publications that are part of a social media effort to recruit new jihadists by propaganda. Their Twitter accounts even promote ISIS cat photos, which attempts to humanize the jihadist fighters by using kittens and cat memes. Some photos have even proven how ISIS’ selfie sticks are used in their beheading videos.
Even though it’s propaganda, the American military also considers any photos taken by the Islamic State as potential intelligence material, which takes the fight onto the internet.
“Our ability to change the way they fight and change the way they mass is pretty impressive,” Carlisle said, according to the Air Force Times.
At the same time, the U.S. General admits that “being able to identify the enemy is a challenge” despite the U.S. Air Force constantly flying intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance flights over the battlefield. ISIS’ selfie photo may have identified one target through an alternative means of intelligence gathering, but since this incident has been well-publicized it is hard to believe that DAESH’s leaders will not change the way they fight.
Writers at Hot Air point out that the reaction to current reports on ISIS’ selfie is the high likelihood of a valuable source of intelligence drying up. While they blame Carlisle for talking too openly about how the ISIS selfie helped the U.S. Air Force, they also point out that the global media has also become an intelligence source for terrorists.
“It just seems to me that there’s far too much chatter taking place in the government, the military, and a media system which can’t even envision exercising any restraint in the name of national security…. There are too many people inside the administration and in the military who are too quick to speak on background to reporters. And the press, never wanting to miss an opportunity to be first out of the gate, runs each and every tidbit they can find.”
There is also good reason to think that DAESH will actively respond to reports on ISIS selfie debacle by implementing major changes in their methods. According to Michael Steinbach, the assistant director of the FBI’s counter-terrorism division, encryption technology has given ISIS a “free zone by which to recruit, radicalize, plot, and plan.” But since the U.S. government has publicly discussed the possibility of inserting surveillance backdoors into social media and smartphones, leaders in the Islamic State have already banned the usage of Apple iPhones since they realized certain GPS features would allow them to be tracked. In a similar manner, it’s possible the DAESH leaders may use any future ISIS selfie photos to their advantage on the battlefield.
This possibility has not been missed by those on social media, with this comment by Facebook reader Jim Low explaining how ISIS’ selfie debacle could be turned around.
“So, now they know how we accomplished this. Next, ISIS will post a similar selfie at a building they want destroyed and we will destroy it for them.”
In the worst case scenario, another future ISIS selfie photo could be planted so that the U.S. Air Force targets a location filled with civilians. Such a hypothetical scenario could provide plenty of fodder for ISIS’ future propaganda efforts, with DAESH being able to brag, “Who is the ‘moron’ now?”
[Image via PetaPixel]