NATO STRATCOMCOE: Stop calling terrorists 'Islamic State'

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Western media and the general public should stop calling Islamist terrorists in Syria and Iraq 'Islamic State' and instead refer to them as 'Daesh',  experts at NATO's dedicated Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence (STRATCOMCOE) in Riga, said on Friday.

Speaking at a presentation of the centre's research on Daesh's use of social media to spread its message of global jihad Polish army officer Major Rafal Zgryziewicz, who has researched Daesh's information strategy for STRATCOMCOE said it was important for Western sources to be consistent in their usage.

“The name is the thing they really want to implement in our media. They want to be named as the 'Islamic State'. We did experimentation and we downloaded over 350,000 different accounts and tried to understand who is using 'the State of the Caliphate', who is using 'Daesh' and guess what – all the people speaking about them as a threat and a terrorist organization were using 'Daesh',"Zgryziewicz said.

“I don't want to call it 'Islamic State' because that's how they want to be perceived. It's important we all use the same name. We need to avoid playing their game,” he added.

“They want to be perceived as a real state, as a real country with leaders...but they are not.”

STRATCOMCOE director Janis Sarts said: “The wide diversity of words we use actually reinforces the words they want us to use, which is 'Islamic State' in Europe or 'The Caliphate' in Iraq.”

“They are creating a Utopia that does not exist and will not exist – and that's their major weakness.”

“By coordinating strategy on the ground with information efforts it is actually within reach to undermine Daesh credibility and their traction in the terrorist world,” Sarts said.

However Sarts also admitted NATO's analysts had taken too long to recognize the importance of the name: “We are in many cases behind the curve – we hope to remedy the situation with our existence,” he told LSM.

Sarts summarised the findings of STRATCOMCOE's most recent research in the brief interview below.

Janis Sarts on Daesh
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