There is no doubt in my mind that ISIL is an adaptable enemy and, like any creature trying to insure its own survival, has made adapted to deceive its enemies and elude destruction.
Perhaps recognizing that there will always be a slice of the population that will believe what it wants to believe and who can be easily swayed, the group has turned its video strategy around by using a journalist prisoner spokes person, John Cantlie. (See http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/19/world/middleeast/british-hostage-warns-the-west-in-new-isis-video.html?_r=0; which is also the photo source).
Cantlie is a prisoner and while clearly under stress, he comes across in a matter of fact like manner. According to the NY Times article Cantlie promises that there will be further videos coming along that will help explain the ‘truth’ from ‘the other side of the story’.
The video is anything but homemade. The quality is good and there is a news-like professionalism to it. The implications of the video are important.
1. The Internet is a global medium, one whose images are credible to at least a slice of the audience.
2. If you are hoping to influence people that you are merely being an objective speaker, professional caliber production is a must.
3. Personifying your cause with a likeable spokesperson is a solid and proven technique.
4. If you promise more, you will need to deliver.
5. This propaganda offensive will likely result in attitudinal gains by the enemy.
6. Direct countering may be not be productive because the affected audience will believe only what it wants to.
7. The technique is a good one and may be adapted for friendly usage. This might be appropriate in looming urban battlegrounds where credible spokes people may be able to directly influence the population on behalf of the coalition.
8. PSYOP Task forces must have preplanned how to produce their own videos and must have skilled personnel working with spokespeople to insure they are at their best.
9. Contracting with professional studios and production resources close to the battlefield may make more sense than reach-back if the appropriate resources are available.
Let’s see what the next installment will bring.