How Does ISS-K Benefit from Media?

By: Mazdak Parsi

The Islamic StateKhorasan (ISSK) has been dominating the news recently. Every day, there are reports of its involvement in terrorist attacks or foreign officials worries about its growing influence. As violence and insecurity in Afghanistan increases, the name ISSK is becoming more and more prominent in the media, as if it has taken over. Previously, the Taliban was the only group featured in news stories about violence and terror, but now ISSK is also featured alongside them. However, it does not matter to the media which group is responsible for more violence and terrorism; the mission of terrorists is to cause destruction and take lives, prompting the media to report on it.

The media often act in the interests of terrorist groups more than they realize, relying on dubious and unverified sources. Some of the news is even fabricated, and local journalists may exaggerate minor events in order to make money. For instance, a local reporter hears that thousands of ISS-K terrorists are moving into a certain district, but since he has not seen them himself, he goes to local sources. These sources also corroborate the rumors circulating in the city, based on unverified sources, and the reporter, eager for such news, creates a story and sends it to the media. The media then publishes the news or report, trusting that the local reporter knows his job well.

Sometimes, journalists political leanings can lead to the media being misinformed, as their extreme political desires are incorporated into their reporting, resulting in a blend of truth and falsehoods, where the latter is more prominent than the former. This is driven by their animosity towards the Taliban, and with this anger and hatred taking precedence, they also report on rumors from the city and the market and disseminate them. This is done so shrewdly that it can often be difficult, if not impossible, to identify its inaccuracy.

Furthermore, the media believe they are fulfilling their obligations by publishing such news, and are unconcerned with the potential negative repercussions. In reality, the media act in an impartial manner when reporting news, not out of benevolence. If the criterion is goodwill, the media should only report positive news and disregard the negative. The media are doing what state media do, which ultimately only pleases those in power. On the other hand, the media are not institutions that only deal with the pathology of events, which is not feasible to adhere to in news reporting.

Informing the public has two implications: one is to increase awareness, and the other is to inadvertently spread terrorism through an abundance of often exaggerated news about terrorist groups. Publishing too much news about ISSK alone is enough to demonstrate how the media can shape public opinion of this group. Even media outlets that promote liberal values can fall into the trap of unwanted propaganda for ISSK, and if combined with Afghanitype analysts, the consequences could be disastrous.

The typical and customary role of the media makes it difficult, and at times impossible, to prevent unwanted advertisements. People are eager for news and the media must present it without any errors. A political force can gain an advantage by dominating the news industry. This fixation can sometimes manipulate the media to the point that they do not know what to produce. It appears that the media will do anything to increase their credibility in the news industry.

The media are striving to gain audiences and to be liked and shared. The quicker the news is delivered to the audience interested in the latest news, the more likes and shares will be acquired, thus allowing them to stay ahead of the competition. Every year, the media invests a considerable amount of money into this endeavor in order to remain ahead of the others in the news race, or at least not to be left behind. News reporting works according to its own logic, however, this performance, like any other work, has consequences for people. Informing also has its darker and more harrowing aspects which are often overlooked. Negative news can take away one‘s peace of mind, making them pessimistic about everything. Especially, when encountering nonprofessional and yellow media, its hasty, imprecise, nonstandard, misleading, and even alarming news can cause immense distress and anxiety, resulting in one being fearful of the society in which they live.

In a society ravaged by war and corruption, where everything is in disarray, there is more bad news than good news. Fear replaces hope in such a situation, and the media, by reporting and analyzing events, often perpetuate fear and inadvertently bolster terrorism.

ISK, more than any other terrorist organization, has come to understand the role and importance of the media in modern life and is more adept at propaganda than the Taliban. They use the media to a great extent to instill fear and terror among the populace; from releasing videos of beheadings to displaying the persecution of their opponents in more heinous and horrifying ways than ever before.

ISSK is cognizant of the efficacy of utilizing the policy of fear against the people and other terrorist organizations. One of the methods that ISSK frequently exploits is the media. Even disseminating basic information about people being decapitated by ISSK can be more destructive than any other armament. The most critical purpose of the policy of fear is the psychological devastation of people, which results in the dissolution of their resistance and stability.