Focus attack on ISIS brand as well as military assets

John Sitkiewicz

Rather than pointlessly debate religion, those seeking to counter ISIS – the self-described Islamic State – should start describing and combatting it from a more nuanced angle.

Circumstances are now such that whether the civilized world likes it or not, ISIS is a brand – and a remarkably successful one at that.

Evidence to support that is absolutely stunning. For starters, in hardly any time at all, ISIS has completely dwarfed al-Qaeda as the world’s No. 1 terror outfit.

Make no mistake about it, the blood that ISIS was able to spill in Paris – the ease at which its members were able to slaughter complete innocents in a modern European metropolis – only ups their cred in jihadist circles. In a very sick and twisted way, ISIS are the true rock stars of the terror world.

What though specifically is it about the ISIS brand that makes it so appealing to thousands of admirers and sympathizers ripe for radicalization around the globe? Quite simply, ISIS is essentially reinventing how terror is conducted in the most brutal fashion, and more alarmingly, able to claim victories in the process.

With its attack on France, ISIS has truly achieved global reach well beyond its established caliphate areas in Iraq and Syria.

Its sadists operating throughout the Middle East continue to indiscriminately kill non-believers, take over territory in nation states, subjugate women, enrich themselves with black market oil, extort currency and oppress any thoughts of resistance using nothing less than brute savagery rivaling the seventh century.

But perhaps most troubling of all, ISIS thrill killers are effortlessly pushing their jihadist black flag-inspired propaganda globally throughout the pages of its own glossy magazine, professionally produced videos and social media networks in pursuit of more followers.

For those reasons, efforts aimed at militarily decimating ISIS should also focus heavily on delegitimizing its toxic brand globally at each and every possible opportunity.

For all intents and purposes, ISIS needs to start being thoroughly humiliated and denigrated on the battlefield and in social media – its preferred method of self-promotion – for all of the world to see.

Whether by fighter jet, surgical drone strikes, targeted assassinations or special ops missions, ISIS members and their sympathizers should be put on notice that the fanatical brand is unredeemable and will ultimately cause their deaths.

In addition to unleashing those lethal methods, other asymmetrical efforts – ranging from mass cyberattacks against ISIS-affiliated social media accounts and choking off the maniacal terror group’s illicit revenue streams – should also be employed to show how the advanced civilized world is resoundingly more technologically advanced than ISIS could ever even dream to be.

Most importantly, American and international media outlets should regularly roll news footage showing the demise of the ISIS brand – no matter how graphic or shocking – on broadcast and cable news shows.

Any brand can rise to unforeseen heights. Conversely, any brand can experience a fall from which it cannot ever hope to recover. Provided ISIS starts being brutalized and paralyzed by innovative Western technology, its brand – evil incarnate at the very core – can be put on an overdue journey straight into the abyss.

John Sitkiewicz is a metro Detroit writer specializing in business and politics.