How effective are ISIS’ online recruiting videos?

My answer to:  How effective are ISIS’ online recruiting videos?

Answer by Vishu Menon:

They are more effective than you’d imagine. The results are out for all to see. Not because they’re very original or blunt, but because there are mobs of men and women who were subconsciously looking for an opportunity to maim and to kill.

Religions have been doing ‘online’ (putting the prospective recruit’s life online) recruiting from times unknown. Christianity took the lead a couple of decades after the death of Christ; Islam joined in six hundred years later. Ever since then there have been online and offline recruiting through threats, torture, persuasion, promise of money or promise of heaven, gruesome stories about even more terrible punishments in hell or on the day of judgment. In Hindu’s Bhagavad Gita, the brave Arjuna who initially refuses to kill his own kinsmen and teachers  is warned by the ‘Supre e Godhead” Krishna that if he didn’t fight and kill,  he would be inviting hell and notoriety; in Quran, those who refuse to fight and kill in the name of God is called a hypocrite; he would surely go to hell. In the Bible, Saul, who kills a whole kingdom, its men, women, children,  babies in the womb and the cattle spares the pleading king and a few prized cattle and  for which act of kindness and economic jurisprudence God personally removes him from the throne. The readiness population of total four billion Christians and Muslims  (who probably  include  a possible three billion who don’t dare admit they do not conform) and 800 million Hindus, not to forget the “Martial Race of 200 million Sikhs), all of whom are ready to pick up arms and kill in the name of religion/race/colour/nation shows the effectiveness and ease of such recruitment. Islamic State just happens to be the latest in the job with the latest in multi-media – E-mail, Facebook, Twitter and whatever. The West, led by the US which is ever in need of a weapons market gave rise to this Frankenstein. Propaganda of the cruelty of Al-Assad (which, unlike  Saudi Arabian cruelty) is another inspiration. Their effectiveness is mind-boggling. Their display of wanton cruelty is an additional impetus to those who would wish to join in.

It’s not too hard to find men and women, even girls of fifteen and sixteen, who are ready to leave their homes, schoolmates and friends, just to watch gory scenes and to participate in the action, promising to disembowel Bashar Assad they had not even heard of before and till they watched the latest online video. Killing looked good in movies and video games, but was even more alluring in real life. Notice that young Christian boys and girls from nice church-going homes suddenly find faith in a book they had never read, convert in a hurry, and take the first flight to Ataturk airport, thence to Syria and onward to death and enslavement in the hope to kill. Even in well-educated Kerala, where Muslim affluence is equal to or better than that of the Hindus, young men take circuitous routes to fight in Syria or Kashmir, never mind where, but kill one must. Even among the ‘tolerant Hindus under the new dispensation you have cow-protection  vigilantes who are ready to kill a man if the latter is alleged to have killed a cow. In Pakistan, Taliban has no problem finding candidates who are ready to shoot down young school kids in the name of an alleged revenge. That’s how it is so easy to recruit to kill.

Online recruitment attracts the better educated – it is easier to teach them the fine techniques of making bombs while also spreading the good word even further by social media. An educated young man in Kashmir became a hero to “freedom fighters” by calling for violence against the government routinely in the Facebook, taking a selfie of himself holding a gun and calling himself a commander of a violent Hizbul Mujahideen – ‘Party of Holy Warriors’. Though there was no record of this young man killing anyone, the Army hunted him out and killed him; a whole nation rejoiced in the death of the handsome baby-faced youngster most had never heard of before. But to five million youngsters, he has become a martyr.

Glory lies in dying while killing. That’s what one is taught from childhood. The killers are our heroes, even more so if they got killed in the process. See how men boast that they did it when there is news of a suicide-carnage in faraway France or Belgium or Nigeria. It is most unlikely that Osama Bin Laden was anything but a scapegoat; but he had no qualms about owning up the airliner-bombing of the Trade Towers. Hitler would have been a hero if he had won the war. Churchill who was directly responsible for the Bengal famine that cost 3 or 4 million lives is a hero because his side won.

Let me tell you how cruel one could get even without an online persuasion. I remember the date and time. It was the 20th of July, 1969. I had just put my pregnant wife and chatterbox of a four-year-old daughter to sleep, and was keeping awake with a noisy transistor radio, eagerly waiting for the moment Neil Armstrong would touch down on the moon. Suddenly, I heard this loud clap and shouts from outside.

Outside the gate of my house (which was not much of a gate). 20 meters to the right was a Gandhi statue. Young men would assemble around its pedestal and talk, sing and boast till late into the night. They were a nuisance, but the little town bore with them.

By Indian time, the date was shifting to 21st July. When I heard the shout and claps, I thought Armstrong had landed, and that the HF channel I had tuned in, partly drowned in static, was slow to catch on.

So I walked to the Gandhi-statue, something of a painted caricature in concrete of the man who preached non-violence. I hoped the boys had heard the latest – that the first human had landed on the moon safe and sound.

A tall young man was holding a street dog aloft, his arms stretched full-length; the dog twisting and turning in his hands. The boys who had collected around him were cheering and coaxing him. The dog yelped softly, pleading him to put it down.

The claps rose louder with the shouts. “You can’t do it, you coward,” challenged someone.

The young man holding the dog, goaded by the challenge, banged the animal down on the ground seven feet below with full force. The dog yelped softly, and tried to get up, probably hoping to run. The loud thud told me its belly must have burst

“Don’t do it,” I screamed, knowing well that it was too late. May be the poor bitch would live to take care of its pups if I stopped them now. It was a scavenging bitch who roamed our streets. My daughter told me that it had several days-old pups crawling over each other in a dry drain across the road. My baby wanted to adopt a couple of them (they’re so cute, she said, cuddling her own arms), but was sternly stopped by her mother. The bitch, all bones except for her several teats hanging down like dead bananas from a plucked bunch, was now lying on the road, its bananas spread out, unable to get up, even to yelp again.

“Don’t do it again. What did the poor dog do to you?”

“Kuch nahin. Bahut maja ata hai.” Nothing. It’s great fun.

“Then don’t do it again.”

The young men turned to me and seemed to hesitate. Then the one who had flung the dog, his eyes still on me, felt for the poor thing’s legs and defiantly lifted it up.

Kya karoge,” he challenged  me. What will you do?

“Maroge?” Would you beat us?

“ Behn Chod,  I’ll kill you,” I screamed, forgetting the danger and my pretence of good manners. Behn Chod meant sister-fucker, a very effective phrase to show how angry you are. They were at least five, and I was alone. I had a four-year old and a pregnant wife to take care of.

“Sala,” (meaning wifes’ brother, which is a milder abuse that showed how much anyone respected his wife) said the man with the dog, who threw it down again with lesser force and ran. In the streetlight I noticed bloodstains on his shirt. Others ran with him.

The dog tried to get up, but gave up the effort and crawled away to a side of the road, and lay down, obviously dying. There was little I could do, I told myself. A trail of blood and flesh that marked the way it had crawled made me want to retch.

All violent men are cowards. Yet to them violence comes easy. When you find mob fury, you get the feeling that the entire humanity is a huge bunch of blood-thirsty cowards.

When I returned to the radio, still shaken, Neil Armstrong was saying through the static: “One step for man, a giant leap for mankind.”

Some giant sleep I had witnessed that night.

Why does the God of the Bible, after so vengefully describing all the gory details of destruction and murders, whipping and stoning, raping and enslaving from ‘Genesis’ through ‘Judges’ finally lets His crying and pleading Son die a most cruel death at the hands of his own favourite race? It appeals, it satisfies a special craving. Islamic Quran and Hadith, Hindu’s Ramayana and Mahabharata, even Buddhist stories would hardly be read so widely if it wasn’t for the bloody violence they so poetically described. In church, the priest serves you Christ’s blood and flesh in the shape of wine and bread. Symbolic, but the bread and the wine still taste good, satisfy the soul: My God died for me, poor God, with what passion he wept all night. Please show me the thorny laurels that pierced his head and made his scalp bleed, the way He carried the heavy cross, how the men whom he healed taunted him and tortured him. Oh, God, even the thought is orgasmic.

Islam tells you to sacrifice what is dearest to you – so lambs are killed by their millions, their necks half-sliced in no hurry. When a butcher slices the neck of an animal, he whispers Bismillah – ‘In the name of God’. God loves sacrifice. Allah ko pyari hai Qurbani. He used to love human sacrifice, but now he lets you redeem your children with the blood of animals. But the new-born of an ass whom God doesn’t relish – you must break its neck. In Kodungalloor temple in Kerala, I followed my wife to face a goddess hidden behind rows of lamps inside a raised sanctum-sanctorum. . Right in front of us stood a man, raising a beautiful cockerel above his head to whet the goddess’s appetite.  I will kill this lovely bird, oh dear Mother, and let you share the pleasure. Grant me the promotion I so badly need. May be the goddess salivated.

So it’s not just the ISIS who loves to kill. Every day and night, Americans and their ‘Allies” deliver bombs on innocent civilians – men women children and babies in the womb as prescribed in the Holy Bible – and also on hospitals, old peoples’ homes and schools. Israelis love to destroy refugee camps in Plestine.  Not long ago in Vietnam, soldiers and officers would come to their bunks after a hard day’s ‘work’ and boast about the men and women they had shot. Got the bastard, was a favourite phrase when one chased a peasant from the air and blasted him with a massive airborne gun. Lieutenant William Calley had no remorse after killing in cold blood more than a hundred (possibly more than two hundred) unarmed Vietnamese men women and children (never to forget babies in the womb). A little more than a century before, hunting Injuns was a sport for the much celebrated Pioneers in Calley’s country.

Ramayana, the Hindu’s model scripture, tells us of the bravery of the god-hero who killed 14,000 forest dwellers (conveniently named demons) in one night to please the urban rishis (sages) who had gone to clear the forests and to live there in search of salvation. Murder of the indigenous did not start with the American and Australian whites, but their carnage was swifter and crueller with the newly invented weapons.  Indian heroes with modern weapons still kill the forest dwellers now re-named Naxalites or Maoists.  Their crime is wanting to save their land, their trees and their livelihood from the modern rishis. Sixty-nine years after India craved and got its Azadi (Freedom),  Indian soldiers are asked to shoot their fellow countrymen –  Kashmiri youth who screamed for Azadi. No one asked them what freedom it was that they wanted. They were shot with guns, and when the protests from the rest of the world became too loud, with pellet guns that inflicted grave injuries and blinding.

George Bush Senior showed no sign of remorse when he was told that a seventh fleet ship had shot down a civilian airliner with 290 passengers on board. In 1984, I had seen ‘peaceful’ Hindus stabbing, clubbing and burning their Sikh brethren. Later in Punjab, my wife and I travelling in a car with shaded windows escaped when Sikhs pulled out Hindus from a bus ahead of us, lined them up and shot them. Ambassador Haqqani of Pakistan tells a story when a couple of Pakistani soldiers sneaked across the border, killed three unsuspecting Indian soldiers, beheaded them and put the heads on show in a village square in Pakistan. Villagers lined up to see the heads. The body of a captured young Indian lieutenant was sent back to India, his eyes gouged out, his body bearing signs of severe torture. Indians caught a Pak soldier and killed him.  God knows the means they used, but announced that their comrade’s death was avenged. A million men and women (never forget the babies in the womb whose killing the Holy Book salivates over) gave up their lives or limbs in what George Bush called the collateral damage. ISIS has not been that skilful with their vocabulary.

Men and women in Pakistan stood around a couple of babies found abandoned by its unwed mother and stoned them (the babies) to death. Killing illegitimate babies is a sacred practice extolled by Hadith.  Stoning of a woman, whatever her crime or innocence,is not unusual in Pakistan, Iran or Afghanistan  always has a keen audience beheading-in-saudfor the loud wailing of the victim. In Northern India, young couples who married for love out of the caste folds are lured back, tortured and hung on the nearest trees while the villagers look on. Charles Dickens tells us that Britons would pay lawyers to let them watch a hanging. Till the nineteenth century, thousands of old and young women were burnt on the stakes alleging that they were witches.

Only recently, Indians screamed for the death of a Kashmiri youth  whose crime was never proved; the Supreme Court wrote with a flourish that though the evidence was insufficient to award him a punishment, but ““The collective conscience of the society will be satisfied only if the death penalty is awarded to Afzal Guru.”  He was hanged in secret defying all norms of the law, but mobs of ”patriotic Indians ‘ distributed sweets when they were satisfied that the man was dead.    A mob’s passion for murder needs no evidence; if the Supreme Court interprets it as collective conscience, there is no escape. Antonin Scalia, a celebrated Judge of the US Supreme Court ruled that is perfectly Ok to execute a person who was proved innocent – it does not violate the Constitution. “This Court has never held that the Constitution forbids the execution of a convicted defendant who has had a full and fair trial but is later able to convince a habeas court that he is ‘actually’ innocent,” he wrote with a full conscience. His honour did not lose his honour in the eyes of most Americans,

Soldiers kill their national enemies, but left to their own designs and power, they kill anyone. Have gun, will kill. The Holy Bible (Numbers 31:18) extols you to “”Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known man intimately.” Bible and the Quran remind you that virgins are great fun.  In Syria and Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan, Kashmir and North East India, this call by God is obeyed by men of all faiths – whether they have read the Holy Books or not. Rape is a sign of valour. After the act, you don’t just discard the victim to tell the tale. You kill her in unspeakable ways. Five men in a bus raped a woman in the presence of her helpless boyfriend, and finally pulled out her innards through her vagina. “We intended to teach her that an unmarried woman must not travel alone. The rest happened because she resisted the rape,” justified one of the accused in death row. I have not heard of an ISIS man raping his victim and then pulling out her innards through her vagina. May be that’s because he has more virgins (whom no man had known before – the divine words) to rape.

ISS is not alone, but its blood-chilling boasts and video recordings of cold-blooded killing hurt and rankles one’s conscience. I think it was John Kennedy who said it is difficult to stop a man from killing if he is ready to die in the process. Therein lies the success of this heinous pack of hyenas -some of them females and kids. When ISIS it is defeated in one place, someone raises his head elsewhere in its name and kills a couple of dozen each time. By all means, they must be stopped and eliminated.

Islamic State and its online propagandists, I assure you, have a short lifespan, but the ideology of xenophobic and faith-based genocide would live on, along with the holy scriptures of man. As ISIS goes down, it would have raised many other murderous gangs – and we see it is not alone even now. You already have killers named Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, Lashkar e- Toiba, IRA, FARC, Hezbollah, Taliban, Netanyahu and his henchmen, ISI, SIMI, Harkat-Ul-Mujahideen, Babar Khalsa, Bajrang Dal, Shiv Sena, Gau-Rakshak (Cow-protectors) – the list is endless.

But don’t forget the most dangerous and the most powerful of them all with the highest online literacy and the best propaganda skills – the United Killers of America.

How effective are ISIS’ online recruiting videos?


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