We need to demonstrate that ISIS is isolated from the larger Sunni world.
ISIS uses social media to recruit fighters. True. But it is also true that countless people living under their control don’t have cell phones and other outlets to the outside world. Women are barely able to go outside. Entire Islamic nations block websites that are critical of Islam.
So in addition to using our using counter-social media against ISIS, we need to use old-fashioned psyops.
Here are two examples of the effectiveness of the old way of communicating.
A translation of a leaflet dated March 1918 from American Germans asked Germans in the old homeland to break from its government. Reports say this “propaganda” demoralized many Germans. Berlin was besieged by revolutionaries. Armistice was declared in November of that year.
Newspapers and leaflets were dropped from Air Force B-29s at 20,000 feet. They deployed millions of leaflets, covering whole Japanese cities. The Office of War Information dropped 63 million “paper bombs” informing the Japanese about the progress of the war and giving advanced warnings to thirty-five targeted cities. “Postwar surveys showed that the Japanese people trusted the accuracy of the leaflets and many residents of the targeted cities prepared immediately to leave their homes.”
So how does all this apply to ISIS territory?
Over 176 Muslim (and some Western) jurists, scholars, professors, and Imams signed a 2014 open letter to Dr. Ibrahim Awwad Al-Badri, alias ‘Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi,’ leader of the ISIS “caliphate.” They cite many passages from the Quran, the Sunnah (traditions) and the earliest caliphs. They call him illegitimate. They even have a prophecy that mentions a rising evil connected to a black flag.
The coalition, such as it is, against ISIS needs to shrink the letter down to one page, listing the main points, including the signatures of prominent Sunni scholars (no Shi’ites or Westerners), especially those who are specialists in Islamic law at universities and Imams over big, influential mosques.
Then the coalition must air drop hundreds of thousands of these leaflets on ISIS cities. This will have a great impact against al-Baghdadi and his regime of terror. His thugocratic theocracy needs to be isolated from the large Sunni world. It stands against him.
We already dropped leaflets warning oil truckers to stay away from their vehicles. They fled, so it worked. We need these people to carve out their own destiny and overthrow al-Baghdadi. So I hope we hear no more outlandish tough talk of killing family members, as if we’re directly targeting them.
Empty, shrill rhetoric from inexperienced candidates is detrimental to our war effort.
This article first appeared at American Thinker on December 17, 2015, and has been updated here.