Is there an ISIS crisis in cyberspace?

ISIS has a slick and professional presence in cyberspace, and it attracts men in their 20s, but neither fact helps us fight it; the fact that would is the true nature and name of the enemy.

Is slick messaging the secret to ISIS' success?
Is slick messaging the secret to ISIS' success?

CHARLOTTE, N.C., July 10, 2016 — During a hearing Wednesday, Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said, “I think we’re in a crisis mode. This online messaging is a huge part of the radicalization effort.”

Here we go again, blaming everything except the real problem.

Portman, chairman of Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, is not entirely wrong. Social media networking does indeed play a major role in winning converts to Islamic jihad. But that that is not the primary source of recruits, and we still have not recognized that basic fact.

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Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly took President O’Bama to task this week, as much as any mainstream journalist dares, but even O’Reilly ultimately missed the point by continuing to make a distinction between Islam and “Radical Islam.”

Islam and Radical Islam are one and the same. They are inseparable whether we like it or not. That is where both O’Reilly and Portman derail themselves.

ISIS has made one innovation; it has elevated the propaganda game by using slick photography, proper English in its communications and a sophisticated knowledge of how the internet works to attract young recruits. ISIS is far ahead of America and other Western nations, not because we lack the skills or do not have the ability to compete, but because we fail to acknowledge that there is a problem and what it is.

Until that happens, and it will not so long as Obama is in the White House, nothing is going to change and the crisis will only grow larger.

Meagen LaGraffe of the U.S. Department of State’s Global Engagement Center said, “The quality and volume of violent extremist messaging has advanced dramatically.”

Breitbart News reports that many comments made during the hearing “appear to contradict what their colleague Brett McGurk, President Barack Obama’s special envoy for the U.S. led coalition against ISIS, told lawmakers nearly a week ago.”

At that time McGurk said, “As ISIL loses leaders, territory and resources, its message appears to be having less resonance online. Pro-ISIL content is down and anti-ISIL content is up.”

If only it were true. But how can we know the truth when the media refuse to do the necessary investigative journalism to report the story? Is any of this beginning to sound just a smidgeon like the news we used to get from Vietnam?

The metric is questionable anyway. Counting emails to determine whether ISIL is up or down has nothing whatsoever to do with combating the true enemy, which is Islam itself.

The statistics that came out of the hearing showed that the greatest percentage of people influenced by the Islamic State’s messaging was males in their mid-20s. But didn’t we already know that? Is that any great revelation?

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“While the U.S. government has a good message to tell,” testified LaGraffe, “we are not always the most credible voice to tell it.”

Another understatement if ever there was one.

Consider that a video placed on the internet by ISIS looks almost identical to the video games young people play for hours on end, and then explain how the U.S. government is going to get through to them with its “good messages.”

Until the United States is willing to stand up and define the enemy for what it really is and to explain to young people the true consequences of a life of jihad, the “adventure” is going to sound far more romantic than anything we can devise to counter it.

Obama is in denial. He refuses to accept that an acknowledgement of “Islamic jihad” is real and that his far-fetched notion of Islam as a “religion of peace” is unrealistic.

Until that happens, ISIS will remain in front in the cyberspace war and there is nothing we can do about it.

Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award-winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe. Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (

Read more of What in the World and Bob Taylor at Communities Digital News. Follow Bob on Twitter @MrPeabod

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