A plea by the leader of the Islamic State terrorist group for Muslims to fight on its behalf against “disbelievers” prompted many to respond online with defiance and sarcasm.
The audio recording of the leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, released last week on jihadi social media sites, was the latest attempt to lure would-be militants to fight for the Islamic State’s self-proclaimed caliphate.
“This isn’t just a new crusade, the entire world has joined forces against us,” al-Baghdadi proclaimed. “But don’t worry, our state persists and expands.”
The Twitter backlash, by Muslims and others, seems to have been prompted by Iyad El-Baghdadi, an Arab Spring activist from the United Arab Emirates who lives in Norway. El-Baghdadi posted translated excerpts from the Islamic State leader’s message on Twitter and encouraged his followers to respond by trolling the extremist group and its online supporters.
For days, Twitter users around the world have been making wisecracks at the Islamic State’s expense, sharing all of the things they would rather be doing than waging jihad.
“Too busy being part of a civilized and functioning society,” wrote Boorbuck, who added that the new season of “Sherlock” was more important.
“Sorry but I’m watching Star Wars, maybe tomorrow,” said Aim Amraam.
El-Baghdadi intensified his campaign after some news organizations mistakenly identified him as the Islamic State leader because his surname is similar.
This week’s digital skirmish is the latest in a long fight by Internet vigilantes to disrupt the Islamic State’s online propaganda.
“Basically, our work not only cripples their ability to spread propaganda, but also wastes their time,” a Twitter vigilante who goes by the screen name The Doctor told The New York Times in March.
The Islamic State has regularly used social media to spread its message, recruit fighters, and threaten “infidels” and other enemies. The insidious threat it represents appears to motivate Muslims like El-Baghdadi to take the battle to the extremists.