Supporters of the Islamic State terror group made a desperate attempt to hijack online discussion of unrest in Baltimore in order to win recruits for their cause.
Arabic and English-language Twitter hashtags for the events in Baltimore included arguments from the group’s members and supporters Monday and Tuesday. IS’ propaganda strategy includes contrasting its putative multiracial Islamic utopia with the “criminal” injustices of the West — including racial disharmony in the U.S.
But in fact, there is evidence the organization still favors fighters and leaders of certain national and ethnic backgrounds. In a case last year, an Indian recruit returned to his home country after facing racial discrimination in the group’s territory. (RELATED: Indian ISIS Recruit: They Made Me Clean Jihadi Toilets)
The jihadis’ tweets included claims that “we have no difference between black or white,” transcribing the word “Islam” as an acronym for the words “I Support Love And Making peace.”
— غامضـ في قمة وضوحهـ (@dr53aa53880) April 28, 2015
However, the group’s behavior includes absurdly harsh treatment of those who fail to adhere to its stern brand of Sunni Islam, including plenty of Muslims whom they declare “apostates” for living under democratic or “un-Islamic” governments. By their standards, those Muslims are no longer considered members of the religion, and therefore acceptable to target for killing. (RELATED: ISIS Has Too Many Sad Single Jihadis)
Another supporter shared a photograph of a young female protester holding a placard, explaining the unrest in Baltimore had to do with “structural racism in a country built on black slavery.” The user used a common online abbreviation for an English profanity to emphasize that the protester’s message was “deep asf.”
— JOIN IS NATION (@JoinISNation53) April 28, 2015
IS’ racial diversity was also a common theme, with Twitter users showing the varied makeup of the group’s members and calling racism “a capital crime.”
— Harün (@maybeharun) April 29, 2015
Still others were more heavy-handed, demanding protesters “Give ur BAYAH [pledge of loyalty] TO the RIGHTFUL CALIPH.”
— ۩ ʌʙū ʌʀsʟāɴ ۩ (@TruthfulKnight3) April 29, 2015
Foreign Policy pointed out in its latest round of messaging, IS supporters cast black Americans less as victims, its strategy in responding to last year’s events in Ferguson, Mo., and more as potential rebels, prepared at any moment to form an insurgency and topple the tyrannical U.S. government. (RELATED: China, Russia And Iran Lecture The US On Human Rights)
Members of the group also used the hashtags for the group to spread information unrelated to the events in Baltimore, in attempts to confuse and distract those following genuine news from the city.
And as reporters began recognizing the trend, IS-sympathetic Twitter users began to tweet links to articles like this one, calling their online tactic “the raid on the hashtag” and unironically translating headlines such as “Islamic State militants boast better race relations than U.S.”
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