ISIL propaganda targets World Cup fans

The extremist group has at times co-opted the football tournament's Twitter hashtag to spread jihadist messages, some of them gruesome.

By Aditya Surya for Khabar Southeast Asia in Jakarta

July 09, 2014
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A Middle East extremist group is trying to exploit the World Cup's global popularity by injecting its propaganda into Twitter conversations around the tournament, young Indonesians say.

  • An image disseminated on Twitter by the jihadist Al-Baraka news site allegedly shows prisoners in the custody of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants on June 12th in Nineveh province, Iraq. ISIL uses social media to attract potential jihadists. [AFP/HO]

    An image disseminated on Twitter by the jihadist Al-Baraka news site allegedly shows prisoners in the custody of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants on June 12th in Nineveh province, Iraq. ISIL uses social media to attract potential jihadists. [AFP/HO]

In disseminating jihadist messages via the social media tool, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and its supporters have co-opted "#WorldCup2014", the hashtag used in online chatter about the world's most popular sporting event.

A hashtag is a simple way to start an online dialogue among Twitter subscribers about common interests. It groups together Twitter conversations about a popular topic, and directs online traffic toward related discussions.

But in this case, ISIL, which is also known as ISIS, is lumping together its own hashtags – such as "AllEyesOnISIS#ISIS" – with the World Cup hashtag in an apparent attempt to expose football fans to its propaganda.

Indonesian youths say they have seen tweets in which ISIL laces its messages with the hashtag for the World Cup.

Among them are Dewi Sulistyorini, a graduate student at the University of Indonesia and Central Jakarta resident Muhammad Yuri Fatahilahi (called Fatah), 16.

"They continue to make calls to the public for jihad," Dewi told Khabar Southeast Asia.

"Therefore, everyone who is interested in '#WorldCup2014' will find ISIL's propaganda, including graphic pictures of victims or calls for jihad, stories about their fighting experience while in Iraq or Syria, and similar messages," she said.

Fatah said he had come across examples in Bahasa, Arabic, English and other languages.

"Therefore, I think this is a time for Indonesian authorities to be aware of this new method. Hopefully, the National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) and the Communication Ministry will continue to follow up on this," he told Khabar, adding he'd also seen calls for jihad or to help ISIL, posted on Facebook and YouTube.

"They (jihadists) try to recruit people by providing graphic pictures. For example, a few days ago, I saw a posting made by a Malaysian jihadist uploaded on Facebook. It was a bloody hand; the poster said the event was after he [had] killed one Shia in Syria. Many of my friends were commenting on this," Fatah said. "Some were amazed; some were scared."

Indonesian jihadists have one purpose, terrorism expert Solahudin said.

"They want to establish an Islamic caliphate. Many of them use radical websites, including al-Mustaqbal (owned by Jemaah Islamiyah spiritual leader Abu Bakar Bashir) and VOA Islam to support ISIL.

"Beware of this propaganda," he told Khabar. "Our history is different. Islam has coexisted in Indonesia with other religions and we should continue to do so."

Reader Comments
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    • suharyanto
      July 16, 2014 @ 12:07:08AM
    • As far as I know, we have gone too far from the fundamental principles of the Qur'an, such that violence has become an option for some of our brothers. How beautiful it would be if Islam were associated with hard work, forgiveness, courtesy and free from imposition, for Allah Himself will decide. My hope is that fellow Muslims can understand and share information on the content of the Qur'an. have a nice Ramadan.
    • ashari
      July 9, 2014 @ 02:07:06AM
    • We should always think with a clear and cool head before acting. The emergence of various movements within Islam itself gives rise to negative perceptions in Islam. We would benefit by discussing things together and if a consensus cannot be achieved, leave it behind. Goodbye.

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