As Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced he would step down on Monday, social media erupted with supporters of the Islamic State terror group claiming the resignation as a victory for ISIS.
An Arabic-language hashtag, which can be translated as “#IslamicStateOverthrowsAmericanSecretaryOfDefense,” was a hub of jihadi activity on Twitter Monday, demonstrating the breadth of a sometimes-bizarre Islamic militant internet culture.
Many users shared a looping Vine video of Hagel, in a Nov. 19 interview with CBS, calling ISIS “so well-organized, so well-trained, so well-funded, so strategic.” A common Arabic caption accompanying the video is “share this: what the Secretary said before he resigned.”
— خبّاب ! (@Khbab_4) November 24, 2014
Another wrote, “Victory is near, all kingdoms! Your Aunt America shows her weakness,” with an sequence of emojis depicting a U.S. flag surrounded by knives, and an animation showing a jihadi flag planted in Iraq spreading a “shockwave” to the entire world.
One picture photoshops Hagel’s head onto the jumpsuit-wearing body of one of the Westerners executed on video this year, asking, “who’s next?” (RELATED: Islamic Militants Use Twitter App To Help Take Over Iraq And Syria)
A satirical image often circulating alongside the hashtag depicts a glum Hagel with the Arabic phrase “screw you, Obama,” intentionally misspelled to imitate an Iraqi accent.
The phrase mimics a meme from this summer, taken from a video in which a young Iraqi soldier’s last words before execution at the hands of ISIS are “screw you, Maliki, I’m innocent” or more literally, “may God neglect you, Maliki.” Since then, the phrase “screw you, Maliki,” often in an Iraqi accent, has become a byword for Sunni discontent with the rule of Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who resigned in September partly due to an inability to competently fight back against ISIS.
ISIS’ use of social media has been controversial since it first began its push across Iraq in June. While some researchers and open-source intelligence analysts have insisted that terrorists should be allowed to use popular networks in order to facilitate information-gathering, others have pushed for Twitter and other networks to be more aggressive in shutting down accounts that promote extremist views. (RELATED: ISIS Now Threatening Twitter Employees For Shutting Down Terrorist Accounts)
Meanwhile, official and unofficial ISIS online media operations continue, and for now, Hagel’s resignation seems to have given them the upper hand.
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