Role of ‘New Media’ in Asymmetrical Warfare And ISIS

As the proliferation of cell phone technology increased by mid 2000s, so did the rise of new media in terms of first hand cell phone videos and images that could be immediately published on the internet on various blogs and sites (like youtube, liveleak etc). The birth of twitter (2008) and instagram (2010?) led to the creation of social media.  The growth of these new mass media has played a heavy influence in insurgencies across the globe.

From Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel vs Hamas, Russia vs Ukraine, the ‘Arab spring movements in 2011 in Egypt, Libya and Syria  they have played a heavy role instigating these events and also influencing viewers behind their computers. In the case of the Arab spring movements that occurred through the Middle East, protests from the local populous began against the existing dictatorships were galvanized by the use of social media as images and videos of governments’ heavy crackdown fueled the fire for these protestors.  While some of the protests were suppressed (Kuwait, Tunisia, Bahrain), some led to an overthrow of the previous regime of Egypt under Hosni Mubarak and ousted the regime of Muammar Gaddafi of Libya, while one led to the civil war that is now engulfing Syria.

So how does the new media influence and alter the course of history in our world?  The advert of new media lets both sides but primarily the least powerful combatant/insurgents bring in a new angle to the viewership of non-participants around the globe. It enables an insurgent group or a non state actors to change the narrative and the gravity of the conflict to population half a globe away. It also third parties not involved in the conflict, to provide information and communications between non state actors and the local population. The proliferation of new media has become a major factor in the success or failure of these uprisings in the Middle East because it now allows new media to reach its supporters or neutral viewers of these conflicts, who are now in some way playing a role in these uprisings. It also allows these non state actors and even a single individual, to portray the plight of these groups against heavy government crackdown to the outside world to gather support and involvement of other state actors in their conflict. The NATO bombings of Libya and the support of the Free Syria Army by Western and Middle East state actors are prime examples of the role of new media.

While one could argue that new media has shed a light of these conflicts and has been a positive influence throughout the world, it also fuels the fire for terror groups throughout Syria, Iraq, Africa, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The growth of new media has some role in the proliferation of Islamic terror groups in these nations.

It started early back in 2004 when video clips of IED attacks against American soldiers in Iraq began circulating around various websites including liveleak. As attacks continued and the insurgency grew over the years, various Islamic groups began to use the new media to gather support, involvement of these viewers and broaden their core of supporters throughout the world.

Fighting in the name and defense of Allah, various Sunni groups have propped up in Syria. Now I will preface and say that by the end of US involvement in Iraq in 2011 most of these active Islamic Sunni groups were defeated while some crossed the border and into Syria and starting fighting the Shia led Al-Assad Government along with the Free Syria Army. One of these groups is the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Founded in 2006, they were called the Al Qaeda in Iraq fighting against American soldiers and bombing both Sunni and Shia populations of Iraq. The Anbar awakening led to their ouster from Iraq and onto Syria.

By 2013, their vicious attacks and massacres on both Sunni and Shia population of Syria that it led to the condemnation of ISIS by both the Afghani Taliban and Ayman Al-Zawahiri, leader of Al-Qaeda. In June 2014, they returned to Iraq overrunning major cities of Iraq-Mosul, Tikrit with virtually no opposition from the Shia led-American trained and funded Iraqi Army.

ISIS have used social media as a medium to broadcast their various activities and theology. They have uploaded high quality combat footages of their attacks-IEDs, close combat encounters, ambushes- on Syrian and Iraqi Army on Youtube and liveleak while also uploading brutal execution videos of civilians (including the execution of a one year old child) and Prisoners of Wars from both nations. But it isn’t just video platforms they use to ‘spread their message’. They have used Twitter to post images of their activities in addition to gathering financial support (by posting links to website for donations). They have also developed an app for twitter where users of the app would get a notification of a tweet from their various twitter handles. You have the option of choosing it in Arabic or English. They have their own monthly published jihadist magazine that consist of news from various ISIS battlegrounds as well as publications of support from various sympathizers of their cause from around the world.

But these aren’t some vapid radicals behind these new forms of media. Most of the social media platforms are created and managed by radicals who were born in the Western World (most of them from Europe). And in some of the twitter and instagram accounts, it’s clearly visible. Some of their members involved in Syria often tweeting images of stray cats with nifty captions Western foods they miss easting and sometimes tweeting about missing home.

In a bizarre way, they have created their own social construct that is catered to their own perceived social reality. We all know their rationality. They want to create a caliphate instilling a strict Sharia law across the Middle East. Most of us would regard this group as a religious sociopathic thugs having no sense of humanism. The use of suicide bombings, summary executions while posting images and tweets on their social media handles depicting charity towards the local Sunni population and tweeting original cat memes. It just makes you ponder for a second if some of these insurgents have emotions and empathy.

The role of media and new media has changed the course of history. Anyone with a television and computer can view any conflict with a click of a button and both sides in a conflict have equal footing in this never ending battle for support from humans around the world as well as the hearts and minds. This is the world we all live in for better or for worse.

Sources Cited

http://strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pubs/parameters/articles/2012autumn/metz.pdf

http://smallwarsjournal.com/node/11414

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/media/digital/2014/06/24/How-has-ISIS-conquered-social-media-.html

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2014/06/isis-iraq-twitter-social-media-strategy/372856/

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jun/23/who-behind-isis-propaganda-operation-iraq

http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Peace/2014/06/26/ISIS-Now-Selling-Jihad-With-Twitter-Account-Full-of-Adorable-Kittens

http://www.buzzfeed.com/jonstone/foreign-jihadi-fighters-in-iraq-and-syria-keep-tweeting-pict

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Role of Media in Modern Warfare

Wars have been fought since the dawn of man. Man has fought for food, resources, land, women, in the name of countless Deities, revenge, freedom, independence and the list goes on. The two most devastating wars-World War I and World War II- was fought in an age where it took a while for different mediums (pictures, newspapers and news clips) to the doorstep /theatre near the viewers. The Vietnam War brought the daily war report at 6.30pm to every television sets in the US and by Operation Desert Shield and Storm, viewers saw war updates every 6 hours. The attacks on September 11th 2001 brought a whole new angle and coverage of the attacks like never before. Most people who were watching the coverage after the AA flight 11 attacked the North Tower proceeding to watch live footage of UA flight 175 striking the South Tower. Living in Kuwait in 2001, I vividly remember coming home around 4.45pm (local time) to turn on the news (daily routine for me) to watch the horror. Like me, millions of Americans and probably millions across the world were glued to their television for hours.

Coverage of Operation Enduring Freedom (invasion of Afghanistan) were limited similarly to the coverage of Operation Desert Storm mainly because the location of Afghanistan and limited use of embedded reporters with U.S. and NATO soldiers.

That all changed in 2003. By March 19th 2003, the invasion of Iraq (operation Iraq Freedom) loomed. Various news outlets had embedded reporters along with their live broadcast crew with American and British forces and a few were send to various regions of Iraq prior to the war. It started off with the live coverage of B-52s taking off from a jointed USAF/RAF base near London and eight hours later on March 21st, the skies of Baghdad light up and thus began the commencement of “shock and awe”. As bombs and cruise missiles struck their targets in and around Baghdad, they were being live broadcasted around the globe. The ground invasion began, viewers around the globe often caught a glimpse of a live armored invasion all the way to Baghdad. They also watched live events of Iraqi civilians going through their daily lives as battles were being fought nearby and the take down of Saddam Hussein’s statue near Firdos Square in downtown Baghdad.  Another live coverage of a war (embedded reporters with the Israeli ground forces along with live feed of the bombing of Beirut) took place in July of 2006 when Israel invaded Southern Lebanon in retaliation of a non state actor group-Hezbollah-for their cross border attack.

Here are some videos of live coverage of OIF. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R30cbnkMG3s

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dCyDYrD4vKw     

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wss_urnuB7o

Pd.Id

All around the country in bars, nightclubs, and on college campuses, date rape drugs are very common. Most of these drugs have no taste and no smell and can often be hard to identify. To completely avoid being drugged with date rape drugs, the only thing you can do is refuse any and all drinks that are offered to you. To help prevent this problem in the future, a group from Toronto has created a pd.id or personal drink ID to help identify if your drink contains any drugs.

The pd.id has built in sensors and tests the light spectrum, conductivity, and temperature of any drink. The user can submerge the tip of the device into the drink for a few seconds. The pd.id compares the scanned sequence against a local database of drink profiles. The pd.id lights up either a green or red LED depending on the safety of the drink. If the light is green, the drink is safe to drink and if the light is red, the drink is not safe to drink. The device can be rinsed clean and used up to 40 times on a single battery charge. This pd.id can also link up to iOS, Android, and Blackberry phones to provide the user with a more in depth explanation of what was found in the drink. This pd.id offers way more variability and reliability against a variety of drugs whereas the current single use drug tests for drinks only test again certain drugs.

Currently the company is working on raising enough money to fully release the product in April of 2015. If the team can raise $250,000 the team will donate 100 units to an international women’s cause. If the team can raise $500,000 they plan to create the ability to test the nutritional value of your drink, which can be helpful especially to diabetics who have concerns over sugar levels. And finally if the team reaches $750,000 they will work to create a system that can report the unsafe situations and establishments in which unsafe drinks are reported.

For an individual to get one of these devices it will cost at least $100. The team is also offering plans for companies to donate large sums of money in order to provide at risk areas with these drink monitors. If a company donates $50,000 the company will get to pick a university to have these monitors donated to and used for freshman orientation packets.

In my opinion this device seems like a very good idea. As a college student, I feel like this could prevent many issues. At bars and at parties drinks can often be left unattended or even brought to you by a stranger. Having this device would make it easy to discretely determine if your drink had been compromised. I think this device can help empower both men and women who could potentially be in harms way. I also think the donation program is an awesome way for companies to get involved in the community and help prevent date rape and other drug related harm.

Technological Singularity

In a class I had taken previously we discussed the topic of technological singularity and I think it definitely has a place here in this blog. “Technological singularity is a hypothetical moment in time when artificial intelligence, human biological enhancement, or brain-computer interfaces will have progressed to the point of a greater-than-human intelligence, radically changing civilization, and perhaps human nature.” In this class we read a story that was published in 1989 called “The Gentle Seduction” by Marc Stiegler, in this story we followed a woman who was skeptical about technology and gradually became accepting of it. Little by little she would use body enhancing technology to cure the effects of aging, then to improve her mind, then to travel through space leaving her body behind, and eventually relinquishing her individual mind to join the collective mind of the rest of the human population. There was no death, you could engineer your children to be perfect instead of having a natural birth. I found this amazing because this story was written 25 years ago and there is already technology being developed that is in the story that didn’t exist then. Singularity is a concept I find terrifying, however, if the human race stayed away from everything we were frightened of we wouldn’t be living here in this country with the freedoms we enjoy every day. We would likely be ruled by one empire or another. A lot of the luxuries and scientific knowledge we have access to today would not be here and everyone may still be ruled by the beliefs of some religious empire that demonized and shunned scientific findings and progress. So even though singularity scares me, it also excites me and is something I hope I get to live to see. Hopefully, it’s a bright future and not one that resembles the matrix where we are farmed or where we are enslaved by the very machines we create. I would be excited to experience the moment when I can go to the store and take a pill that will cure all of my ailments by releasing a million tiny nano bots into my body. I want to be able to have instant access to knowledge i would like to know instead of having to look it up on my computer, having a way to just know and have that information somehow “beamed” to my mind. Nano bots have already been created. We have 3D printing and even 3D printed buildings. We have holograms that we can interact with. We have cellphones that connect us to every bit of information we could want that we keep in our pockets. All of this technology that we have has been developed in the last 40-50 years. I don’t think it’s too farfetched an idea that technological singularity can occur. It may not happen the way it is depicted in “A Gentle Seduction” but I believe that the point where technology starts developing at an exponential rate is not far off. It only takes about six months for the new model gadgets get announced from when the previous models were released and it seems like that time frame is getting shorter and shorter. I can’t wait. 

Technology Dependent

The culture we live in has a heavy dependence to technology and getting new technology. When I hear about people standing in line for hours or even overnight just to get the newest item or latest edition. Even if they have never tried it or know anyone who has. This makes me think of how all the other ways technology controls human behavior. I cannot think of a time where I voluntarily went without my phone. Heck a lot of the times that I am not supposed to have it I sneak and look at it anyway. I use a computer at work and I have no clue how I would successfully do my job without using the internet. Even when it comes to school I much rather type a paper than to hand write one. Another piece of technology that I am dependent on is air conditioning. At my grandmother’s home she does not have air conditioning I actively avoid going over there on hot days during the summer.  During this class when we had to give up something it was a bit challenging to give up my phone. Now that I think about it more I wish I would have given up TV I notice I have it on a lot, even if I am not watching it. I will turn on the TV put it on mute then do homework and not even pay attention to the TV. I tried to turn it off but it felt weird sitting without it on. People went years without TV or electricity.  Today we have electricity and grew up on it so we are used to having it around. Cars are another technology that I am dependent on. I do not live close to where I work or go to school so I need a car. We have new technology already being created and still holding on our previous technology. As time goes on we are becoming more and more dependent on them while still looking for new technology. In some cases the new technology replaces the old but in others it is just an addition. We constantly are upgrading our technology. We have to have the newest version. I recently purchased a new smart TV and I love it, the features on it I just could not pass up. I like it way more than my previous TV it’s bigger and has more features.  If this company who makes TV would not have felt the need to upgrade their TV’s. New technology is constantly advertised it looks nice and has great features that people did not even know they wanted until it was put in front of them.  This class has really made me consider how much I depend on technology. I think from this point forward I will pay more attention to what technology I use and purchase. Also I want to ensure that I take some time away from technology from time to time and cautious of the new technology I get.

Synthetic Leaf

Recently scientist have created a synthetic leave that could create oxygen for long space travel and possibly allow habitation of distant planets with no oxygen. The leaf is made from silk proteins and uses very little energy to create oxygen and is also very light weight, just like a regular leaf. The leaf just needs light to create oxygen, also just like a leaf. It was created by Royal College of Art graduate Juilan Melchiorri. The leaf creates oxygen just like any other leaf, through photosynthesis. She set out to create a device that would use the exhaled carbon dioxide by astronauts into breathable air. The funny thing is it really does look and feel like a leaf, which would make adapting to it much easier. The leaf is fairly expensive to create and it seems like a lot will be needed in order to create a breathable area. This is just the beginning for oxygen in space, if they can mass produce this synthetic leaf or create something like this on a larger scale, living on another planet besides earth is not a too far off idea. The leaf its self will be able to save NASA money by allowing astronauts to use a smaller amount of compressed oxygen, and then using light and the exhaled carbon dioxide to keep recreating an endless source of oxygen.
The leaf can also be used on earth to help improve urban lighting, ventilation, and decrease pollution. This could actually be used in very dense areas such as china’s major cities and any other major cities. The leaves would help create more oxygen and could be places when trees cannot be. This will allow cleaner air and possibly a reduction in air pollution. The leaf has so many uses and can only help the environment, it takes almost no energy, only light, and someone breathing around the leaf for it to activate. The leaf is still in test phases so we do not know the true potential of the leaf, but hopefully it could help eb a means to an end of air pollution.
This is an amazing idea, with all the problems earth is facing, this could help humans move or separate to a different world, allowing the human race to reduce the amount of pollution, and other problems we have caused. This is just the first step and will take many many years before scientist will be able to create a reusable ecosystem like the one we have on earth, but this will allow our space programs to go further than we ever thought, and for a cheaper price. Hopefully this graduate student can get more funding to help save our world. It is crazy how a simple thing as a synthetic leaf could have such a huge impact on our lives in just the short future. It is great to see people who really do care about our earth and see something become so helpful, instead of people just looking to create something that will earn them money.

Computerized OGTs

We all remember taking those Ohio Graduation Tests in high school. Waking up early to go sit in a class and write a test for two hours. Well that all is going to change for the high school sophomores in the 2015-2016 school year. The Ohio Graduation Tests are going to be replaced and it will actually be tougher than the old Ohio Graduation Tests (And I’m pretty sure this is the only thing that got WORSE for students after my high school class graduated from my high school). This new test will measure if students are ready for college or their future careers. Michael Sawyers, Ohio’s acting superintendent of public instruction said that this effort is to help ensure all students in Ohio leave high school with the necessary knowledge and skills for college or their future careers.

Two years ago, Ohio decided to create a more challenging test required for students to graduate high school. The amount of students taking remedial courses in their first year of college inspired Ohio to increase the minimal requirements needed to graduate so students will be better prepared for college. Students will now have to take a college readiness exam along with 7 (yes, 7) end of course tests in social studies, English, math, and science. End-of-course exams will be required in English one, English two, and English three, algebra one, geometry, algebra two, biology, physical science, American history and American government. All of this in the hopes that students will become more successful, but as always, no guarantees. This school year, the common core classes in high school will become more rigorous to accompany these new tests.

In addition to the new graduation tests in high school, a new third-grade reading guarantee will require that students reading below grade level will receive additional help services and if these services do not help, the students will be held back a grade. The state will also be issuing A-F report cards to schools and educational districts to provide feedback on their performance. The state of Ohio will also pay for students to take the ACT, a test currently required for college admissions.
How does this relate to our class? Well, the new exams are going to be completed on computers. When taking tests, I prefer them to be paper and pencil, an older technology. Taking tests online has too many possibilities for error for my preference. I would fear the test would not submit or my computer would shut down or other various errors.
Another issue with this new test that I have questions about is the use of technology. Will all the schools in Ohio be able to provide the computers necessary for all of the students to take the tests? I know in my high school for example it would be hard to provide students with enough computers to all take the test at the same time. This new test is just another step in computerizing more of the education process.