Conducting an Information War against Islamic Extremists


2014-09-27 By Ed Timperlake

ISIS is a brutal force, which asserts that only they have the right to rule in the Middle East and beyond.

We can call them extremist; but that is not enough.

We need to engage in the battle of ideas as well for it is Western secularism and tolerance which is the enemy, not “Jews” or “Christians,” Shiites or Sunni; it is about power dominance via exploiting ideological purity and mobilization of the “faithful” to achieve the purity of rule desired by the ISIS leadership and followers.

Canon Andrew White discusses conditions in Iraq. Listening are Dr. Sarah Ahmed, and Museum's Chief Program Director, Sarah Ogilvie. Credit: U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
Canon Andrew White discusses conditions in Iraq. Listening are Dr. Sarah Ahmed, and Museum’s Chief Program Director, Sarah Ogilvie. Credit: U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum

The week of September 7, 2014 there was an eventful one in Washington DC with many religious leaders trying to bear witness to horror and while forging a unifying message to engage on moral grounds against ISIS.

Seeing ISIS viciousness and deadly intentional “way of war” has now justified a worldwide response to engaging in combat.

Air strikes and whatever is yet to come shows the ability to fight them.

It is in the non-kinetic Information War (IW) aspect of this 21st Century fight that needs to be understood and discussed.

Currently, there are several data points of IW progress to date that must be put in context.

In early August 2014 we had the opportunity to interview Joseph Kassab to discuss a coalition of Christian organizations.

ISIS is clearly targeting the Christians for ideological reasons; when you want to establish a medieval theocracy you want to create the politics of ethnic elimination of your “enemies.” The U.S. stands for secularism in Iraq; ISIS is on a clear direct collision course with U.S. preferences and policies.

As one can see in the above link Senator Cruz was engaged very early in Conference prep and Joseph Kassab is a very smart decent and well-intentioned man.

The stated goal of the event was very direct:

“For too long, Westerners have stood by, silent or unaware, while Christians and other groups in the Middle East have endured discrimination, persecution, and religious cleansing.”

Senator Cruz was well in his right to focus on all those “Christians and other groups” being attacked by killers wishing to not just kill but eradicate them from the face of the earth including Israel and all Jews.

You never invite someone to dinner in America to vilify and boo in a public forum, we are just not that kind of nation. Unfortunately this happened at the dinner event for the conference.  Putting it in the past is probably best so as to not allow a PR victory by what appears to be a few IW savvy individuals who for whatever reason who wanted to fracture the unity of purpose of an important and courageous Conference, remember it was during the week of Sept 11.

“Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) is headlining a conference on Wednesday funded by a controversial Clinton donor that will feature pro-Hezbollah and pro-Assad speakers in Washington, D.C.

Meanwhile during the same eventful week Canon Andrew White, known as the Vicar of Baghdad and Sarah Ahmed a Muslim from Iraq visited the Holocaust Museum.

It was a very powerful show of unity of purpose and sends out a powerful IW message.

Canon White brings his personal witness to death and destruction in today’s Iraq to a very important place in America.

The Holocaust Museum stands as a lasting reminder that pure evil does exist and must be identified and stopped.

It is a sad place but also a place for hope and IW action.

For example during the visit there was a news item telling all visitors that the Khmer Rouge Generals, thirty years after being responsible for the killing fields of Cambodia, were being brought to trial.

The museum is an ever vigilant remembrance, but of an ongoing nature.

Sarah Ahmed, the assistant to Canon White, was also on the visit and is a remarkable person and true hero.

Like Canon White she is in a city, Baghdad, where many are targeted for death because of their religious beliefs. She was fearless in speaking out about the impracticality of having a dominant religious leadership running a nation.

She also mentioned pure corruption, often over looked in understanding events in the Middle East.

It was a powerful week for a Religious IW message.

Looking at an earlier statement of another religious figure speaking out against the actions of ISIS:

All this gravely offends God and humanity. Hatred is not to be carried in the name of God. War is not to be waged in the name of God.

On Friday, the pope named Cardinal Fernando Filoni as his personal envoy to Iraq.

Plans are also being made for a meeting in Rome, probably in September, of all the Vatican’s diplomatic representatives in the region.

The aim is to organize support for those who have been forced to flee the jihadists.

The National Catholic Reporter captures with great clarity the moral conundrum of the Pope and the Catholic Church and combat action, it is explained very well in the following story:

“Why Pope Francis supports limited action against Islamic State”

Finally, in IW against ISIS agnostics and atheists have to be taken into account. For some all religion and references to God is pure fairy tale fiction. It is not to say they would see ISIS, a religious force, also being a very real secular threat. It is just a religious message on the bases of a higher moral authority might not resonate.

So the dilemma can be simply put: how to craft a unifying message that can establish common ground for action against Islamic fanatics targeting western secularism and tolerance?

Such a message would need to unify Christians Jews and atheists and even allow Muslims to agree with and that is the crux of the IW battle.

On January 6 1941 President Franklin Roosevelt gave his State-of-the-Union Speech and he brilliantly articulated “The Four Freedom Speech

  1. Freedom of Speech
  2. Freedom of Worship
  3. Freedom from Want
  4. Freedom from Fear

America was not yet at war, but Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia and Imperial Japan were all showing their abject hatred personified by the word Freedom. The genius of President Roosevelt’s speech is that it was not a battle cry for war it was a statement of principle for all humanity to rally around.

It is a perfect list to capture the goals of why a Nation and people can and should fight to defend four elegant and essential freedoms that can make the world a better place.

Just identifying and reaching back to The Four Freedoms is not enough. Instead use it as a simple litmus test. Every organization and person mentioned above including atheists in understanding the horror and goals of Islamic fundamentalism can embrace the Four Freedoms, it is in their DNA.

The critical test is what do with Islamic Organization who wish to send a message of peace and their agreement with The Four Freedoms.

A very simple test has just been identified by a very powerful and successful world class PR Firm Burson-Marsteller LLC who have arranged to represent for a fee the Ennahda Party of Tunisia:

Just released government filings reveal that the PR agency has been hired to improve the foreign image of Tunisia’s Ennahda Party, the Muslim Brotherhood of Tunisia. They will “arrange meetings between Ennahdha representatives and stakeholders” and provide Ennahda “support on media and stakeholder outreach in advance of upcoming elections.”

A simple question, which would clarify the situation can be posed and answered:

Would the Ennahada Party accept the Four Freedoms? Would Iran? Hamas? Hezbollah? The Islamic Society of Boston?

Would CARE, The Council on America-Islamic Relations “Making Democracy Work for Everyone” support ALL Four Freedoms?

If CARE would just do that it would be a tremendous IW victory against fanaticism in whatever form it takes.

Let an IW battle begin in support of the Four Freedoms and let a public record be established.