Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Britain's Next Top Jihadi-Baddie

Recall, if you will, the heady days of 2004.  Unexpectedly, that batty old fossil Osama Bin Laden releases one of his Quail-In-Terror-Mortals videos, threatening vengeance and unrelenting fury from his Abbottabad hidey-hole and harping on about how Al Qaeda won't stop until it purifies the lands of Islam and obtains unlimited rice pudding, and so forth.

Few will remember this now, but the Guardian published an edited version of the speech, on the reasonable grounds that if we had to fight a global eternity war to the death, then it'd probably benefit us to get a good look at the enemy.

They got an almighty kicking for it, too.  Their reasoning cut no ice with the paper's critics, who immediately attacked the Graun for encouraging terrorism, promoting violent jihad and all that other fun stuff that a bunch of over-educated vegetarians and cycling enthusiasts definitely love to do, between yoga classes and holidays in Tuscany.

Similar followed when the Guardian later published screeds by the leaders of Hamas, on the not-entirely-spurious grounds that any future peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians would probably have to involve the largest, nastiest group of head-banging blowhards involved in the conflict, no matter how much anyone disliked the fact.  This earned the paper the type of boiling condemnation that Britain generally reserves for war criminals, child-murderers or politicians whose bows towards war memorials are perceived to be insufficiently reverential.

And yet, flash forward to today's papers, where the latest Islamic State propaganda video is splashed over every front page like an audition for Britain's Next Top Jihadi-Baddie.  Who is this heavily-accented, prisoner-shooting man of mystery?, the headlines demand.  Ooh, isn't he scary.

I've complained in the past about our complete inability to do even half-decent anti-IS propaganda, but today's effort is a worse own-goal than anything that I've seen so far.

You'd be forgiven for failing to spot this, but Islamic State is currently losing and is conceding ground with heavy casualties.  And not only is it losing, but it's losing to the Iraqi Army, of all of the conceivable humiliations.

This being the case, you'd think that we'd be able to resist, when the IS communications desk decides to distract us all with footage of Dickless Derek from Dagenham issuing threats and insults.

But nope - on the front page of every tabloid and broadsheet, there's Dickless Derek, enjoying his fifteen minutes of fame, while breathless text tells all about his dastardly deeds and menacing mumbles in minute detail.

I do have to ask exactly what it is that editors think they're achieving, by running this type of propaganda video on their covers yet again.  Are they reminding us that the enemy are terrible and murderous?  I think we've all got that point, by now.  Are they raising awareness of British recruits to the jihadi ranks?  Well, I think we were all aware of that, too.

For real, the only concrete effect that I can see is this - somewhere, some no-mark loser is looking at that picture of Dickless Derek intimidating the infidels and is thinking: That could be me with my face all over the paper.

Now, the press are free to run whatever stories they like but for myself, I'd prefer to see fewer rah-rah recruitment videos and quite a lot more unheroic lonely-death-in-Ramadi photos, or perhaps even a few clips of sobbing returnees telling everyone how cruel the Islamic State is to women, children and household pets.  A few more pictures of smiling, brazenly unveiled Kurdish women soldiers giving the thumbs-up next to bullet-riddled, black-clad militiamen, that kind of thing*.

Realistically though, there's probably more cash to be made by reprinting scary clips from execution videos, even if the enemy happens to be losing at the time.

The irony is that, for all the years of blah-blah complaints about the Guardian's attitude to terrorism, the Times, the Mail and the Sun appear to be doing a rather better job of recruiting for the jihadis than us pinkos ever could, and with considerably greater glee.

*This probably all sounds quite bloodthirsty but seriously, if you're going to run cheery war pornography about anything, this is one of the few contexts in which it's perfectly acceptable to do it.


Witchsmeller Pursuivant said...

Hamas.. the nastiest group of head-banging blowhards involved in the conflict? Surely that honour goes to Likud. They've certainly got the most blood on their hands.

gastro george said...

"And not only is it losing, but it's losing to the Iraqi Army, of all of the conceivable humiliations."

I'm not sure that I'd be as categorical about the winning/losing part here. We seem to have US-trained Iraqi forces advancing using significant US air strikes and Ramadi has been reduced to rubble in a similar way to US-destroyed Fallujah. If this was US troops doing this, I'm not sure we'd be talking about "winning".

ejh said...

Well the Spectator thinks they're losing which naturally leads one to assume that they're not.

Anonymous said...

ISIS has lost some territory in circumstances where there are ground forces who can work in cooperation with air-strikes, and where those ground forces can then create civic institutions that administer the regained territory. That applies in Kurdish areas, and (with a great deal of effort) something like that has happened in a few areas of Iraq. The conditions appear to not exist for most of the battle-front (which is what the argument about the 70,000 moderate fighters of the Syrian opposition was all about). While some elements of the Syrian opposition may be interested in serious negotiations to end the fighting in Syria, and to fight ISIS, there are some major elements who are not. ISIS continues to thrive, as far as I can see, by exploiting the conflicts between others, and by occupying areas that had little effective state control, and there is little sign that that situation has changed.