U.S. official urges allies to combat IS ideology

Associated Press

Kuwait City — The retired American general in charge of coordinating the U.S.-led coalition’s fight against Islamic State militants on Monday urged Arab nations and other allies to do more to combat the group’s extremist ideology.

Speaking at a gathering of coalition partners in the oil-rich Gulf nation of Kuwait, retired Gen. John Allen said coalition partners must “clearly, forcefully and consistently” reject the group’s ideology.

“It is only when we contest ISIL’s presence online, deny the legitimacy of the message it sends to vulnerable young people and expose ISIL for the un-Islamic cult of violence it really is … that ISIL will truly be defeated,” he said, using an alternate acronym for the Islamic State group.

The Islamic State group has seized large portions of territory in Iraq and Syria and declared a self-styled caliphate, or Islamic state, in areas under its control.

It has embraced social media platforms such as Twitter and YouTube to promote its conquests, inspire sympathizers and attract new recruits.

It produces online magazines and polished propaganda videos that make use of multiple camera angles, computer graphics and Hollywood-style editing. One video released by its Al-Furqan media arm earlier this year even included aerial footage apparently shot from a drone over the Iraqi city of Fallujah, which it now holds.

Allen characterized the fight against the IS group in the communications sphere as a crucial element of an overall strategy that also includes confronting it militarily and attempting to cut off its finances.

Besides host Kuwait, Monday’s meeting included representatives from other Gulf nations such as Qatar and the United Arab Emirates — countries that are playing a role in military operations to combat the group.

Allen separately held talks with Kuwait’s emir, Sheik Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah, during his visit.