The head of Air Force Central Command reported that an online selfie of an Islamic State militant led to airstrikes on a base held by the group “in less than 24 hours.”
Air Force Gen. Hawk Carlisle said in recent remarks that airmen at Florida’s Hurlburt Field were scouring open-source online feeds when they found a photo of “some moron standing at this command” and “bragging about the command and control capabilities” of the group.
He declined to provide further details about the site’s location, but said that “about 22 hours later through that very building,” three Joint Direct Attack Munitions — guided bombs — demolished the base.
Airstrikes have been a key component of the otherwise limited U.S. campaign against ISIS. Meanwhile, the group has gained ground in both Syria and Iraq. In Syria, it has begun to contest control of Aleppo, the country’s largest city. And in Iraq, it recently pushed government troops out of the city of Ramadi, bringing it ever closer to the capital in Baghdad. (RELATED: US Embassy Accuses Syrian Regime Of Supporting ISIS Advance)
Meanwhile, Islamic State fighters and supporters continue to be active on social media, tweeting their opinions on everything from unrest in Baltimore to their interest in marriage. Besides the abundance of unofficial online activity, official Islamic State channels have proven to be savvy marketers, adapting their message for dozens of demographics based on native language and motivation to fight. (RELATED: US-Accented Podcast Is Tip Of ISIS Marketing Spear)
Many say that Twitter and other private social media companies ought to ban all supporters or members of violent terrorist groups. But the fact that publicly visible online activity tipped off the U.S. Air Force is compelling evidence for those who say that social media can be a powerful tool to acquire information on terrorist operations and take action against them.
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