Attacking ISIS: Fighting a Mental Virus
In 2015, the world witnessed a string of catastrophic terrorist attacks in places like France, Denmark, Tunisia, Lebanon, and as of last month, the United States. These heinous strikes have been carried out or inspired by members of the extremist militant group known as ISIS, whose aim is to establish a global Islamic dictatorship by waging holy war on the rest of the world. In order to develop an effective strategy for fighting ISIS, we must recognize that we aren’t just at war with a group of terrorists. We are also at war with a radical ideology that functions like a parasitic mental virus.
This virus takes over a host–in this case, one’s brain–in order to spread itself while often damaging or even killing its carrier in the process. In a strong sense, the ideology itself is also a terrorist, as it hijacks the minds of individuals and modifies them in ways that change their behavior. By mentally overriding the biological programming that instructs humans to survive and reproduce, this self-replicating ideological virus causes people to commit media-grabbing suicidal attacks in an effort to achieve symbolic immortality.
Stopping Digital Transmission
Prior to the existence of modern information technologies, the transmission of ideological viruses occurred slowly and over short distances only. But unlike previous terror groups, ISIS primarily spreads its message through the Internet by disseminating its propaganda via social media, chat rooms, forums, and online videos. So in addition to gaining intelligence on how ISIS members operate on the ground–i.e., how they make their weapons, how the coordinate their attacks, etc.–we must learn how —> Read More