Media Roundup and Exclusive Excerpt from “ISIS Exposed”
The most difficult thing about writing my latest book, “ISIS Exposed,” was the constant updating. Each day, it seemed like ISIS and its Western supporters would carry out some new horrific atrocity that captured international media attention and repulsed the world–and that had to be included in the book.
Sure enough, as I made the media rounds this week promoting the launch of “ISIS Exposed,” video emerged of a 12-year-old boy –a so-called ISIS “cub”–brutally executing an alleged “Mossad spy.” The boy wore a stone-faced expression as he calmly shot his prisoner (a Palestinian Arab who had traveled to Syria and joined ISIS) in the head at point blank range.
The execution of a supposed “Israeli spy” sent a message from ISIS to its supporters around the world that while the Islamic State may be distracted by its ongoing battles in Iraq and Syria, it has not forgotten about Israel.
Indeed, ISIS has made clear that it covets Jerusalem. But that’s not all. While the vast majority of Americans view the image of a 12-year-old boy carrying out an execution as absolutely disturbing and repellent, it represented a propaganda victory for ISIS.
The Islamic State is appealing to Western youth and recruiting more Americans than any other terrorist movement in history. ISIS has revolutionized jihadi multimedia, appealing to radicalized young Muslims and interconnecting them with a manic social media campaign for which the group and its supporters blast out some ninety tweets per minute. And the sadistic violence is part of the appeal.
I’ve talked about all of this and much more this past week as I’ve appeared on radio and television programs around the clock promoting the launch of “ISIS Exposed.”
I kicked things off on March 9th on CBN’s 700 Club program (watch interview here) and then made the Fox News rounds in New York City, appearing with Sean Hannity, Brian Kilmeade, Lou Dobbs and Neil Cavuto (watch interview with Neil here).
I’ve also appeared on nationally syndicated radio programs with Dennis Prager and Mike Gallagher, among others, and seen “ISIS Exposed” profiled by Human Events, the Washington Times’ “Inside the Ring” column and in a Q and A with Townhall.com.
In the meantime, I somehow managed to pound out an op-ed for FoxNews.com about President Obama’s ridiculous assertion that the rise of ISIS is being driven by a lack of economic opportunities and “legitimate grievances” in the Muslim world.
The hard work is paying off. Throughout the week of March 9th, “ISIS Exposed” has occupied the number one spot in various categories on Amazon.com, including “National and International Security,” “Middle Eastern,” “Radicalism” and “Islam.”
The coming week promises more great interviews with Judge Jeanine on Fox News (March 14th in the 9 pm EST hour), nationally syndicated radio host Laura Ingraham (March 17th at 10:30 am EST), Glenn Beck on The Blaze TV (March 18th in the 5 pm EST hour), and Pastor Matthew Hagee at getv.org.
In the meantime, here is an exclusive excerpt from Chapter Five of “ISIS Exposed.” The chapter is titled “Jihadi Cool: Hip Hoppin’ and Head Choppin.” It explains how a combination of social media savvy and brutal savagery has helped ISIS become a global phenomenon and attract a broad and unlikely mix of young people from every corner of the globe, from professional rappers, to affluent suburban kids to medical students to business management majors. And yes, even hipsters:
The image of Islam Yaken mounted on a horse, brandishing a curved scimitar as he let out a war cry recalled the earliest days of Islam, when it roared out of the Arabian desert to conquer everything in its path.
Yet the photo of Yaken—which quickly became iconic among global jihadists after it was posted to his Twitter account in the summer of 2014— had a very contemporary flavor. It wasn’t just the rifle slung over his shoulder, or the storefronts in Raqqa, Syria, seen in the background. It was Yaken’s look. His flowing, corkscrew curls and stylish, black-rimmed glasses looked more suited to a SoHo coffee shop than the battlefields of the Middle East.
The jarring spectacle of a guy one step removed from skinny jeans riding on a horse and waving an Arabian sword provided major propaganda value for ISIS. Yaken perfectly epitomizes how the group has one foot planted in the seventh century and another in modern day popular culture: an irresistible combination for a growing number of adventure-seeking, tech-savvy Western extremists. ISIS killers will lop off your head and in the next moment tweet out a sardonic selfie on their iPhones.
Although Yaken is an Egyptian native who may have never even set foot in the West before traveling to Syria, his story is relevant here because it is so similar to those of an untold number of Muslims from Europe and the U.S. who have answered ISIS’s call. Yaken reportedly attended a private high school in an upscale Cairo suburb and earned a law degree from Egypt’s prestigious Ain Shams University in 2013.39 Fluent in English, French, and Arabic, he was a bodybuilding enthusiast who posted shirtless photos of himself on social media sites and enjoyed popular music. In a 2011 tweet, a still-secular Yaken wrote, “Kissing burns 6.4 calories a minute.” Talk like that in the Islamic State and you’ll be kissing your head goodbye.
It’s unclear where the cosmopolitan Yaken took a turn for the sinister. He is said to have been a supporter of Egyptian president and Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Morsi prior to Morsi’s ouster in 2013. Was Yaken radicalized, like so many young Muslims before him, by the Brotherhood’s violent teachings of jihad and martyrdom? Did Yaken, like another fellow Egyptian native, al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, grow frustrated with the Brotherhood’s slow-and-steady approach and their participation in the political process and yearn for violent confrontation and the immediate overthrow of non-Islamist Arab regimes?
If that was the case, he found what he was looking for in Syria, where ISIS was waging holy war not only against secular dictator Bashar al-Assad, but against anyone else—Muslim and non-Muslim alike—who refused to yield to the dark vision of ISIS.
“Islam Yaken’s story is freaking scary,” tweeted one former classmate of Yaken’s after the sword-waving photo surfaced. No scarier than that of the similarly fresh-faced Tsarnaev brothers, perpetrators of the April 2013 Boston Marathon bombings that killed three people and wounded some 264 more. The young pair sported a Westernized look and appeared thoroughly assimilated—at least, on the surface. Rolling Stone magazine even featured a photo of the younger brother, Dhokthar—then nineteen years old—on the cover of its August 1, 2013, issue staring straight ahead in a dreamy rock star pose, sporting a thin moustache and goatee and long, curly hair that partially covered his face. “The Bomber,” read the breathless caption beneath Tsarnaev’s photo: “How a popular, promising student was failed by his family, fell into radical Islam and became a monster.” Rolling Stone’s portrayal of a terrorist murderer as a sort of misunderstood, brooding teen pinup drew widespread outrage, including from Boston mayor Thomas Menino and several national pharmacy chains and New England–area grocery and convenience stores that refused to carry the magazine.
How long before Rolling Stone—which has essentially become a leftist propaganda rag masquerading as a serious music journal—features a glam cover with ISIS’s rapping jihadists, Abdel Bary and Deso Dogg, striking their naughtiest hip- hop poses? Think about it: whereas dreamy Dhoktar Tsarnaev possesses no known lyrical skills, the ISIS rappers were actual recording artists, which means Rolling Stone can even award their albums fawning five-star reviews! If you’re eager to give Islamic jihadists the rock star treatment for your impressionable young readers, it doesn’t get any more cutting edge than ISIS—masters of social media and thoroughly plugged in to the Millennial generation. From severed heads rolling to Rolling Stone: a natural progression for ISIS in today’s morally depraved media climate. Sales of Rolling Stone’s Tsarnaev issue, by the way, were double the magazine’s usual sales, despite boycotts from some national retail stores. Memo to ISIS: jihadi cool sells here in what used to be known as Western civilization.
I’d love to hear your thoughts! Feel free to leave a comment below and I’d love to weigh in.br> br> --