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A father stoning his daughter to death… ISIS’s new trailer

Why was ISIS keen on promoting a video showing its fighters stoning a girl to death with the participation of her father?

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

Published: Updated:

Why was ISIS keen on promoting a video showing its fighters stoning a girl to death with the participation of her father? This video will remain one of the most dreadful videos vilifying Muslims. At the same time, this video does not only depict the brutality of this organization - as its ruthless side was already known - but also shows its ability to remain a top news item in media coverage by using social media for its own purposes. It has succeeded in reaching its goals, especially as it is one of the most popular topics being discussed in the media. Media wise, its cruelty has achieved what it set out to achieve.

Its aim was to shock people to the highest degree through the harshest images of beheadings, collectively killing unarmed civilians, persecuting women and stoning them. Even al-Qaeda, which popularized the use of these kinds of videos, did not display cruelty to the extent that ISIS has done.

If ISIS was able to convince the father and daughter to commit this crime, it won’t be difficult for the organization to convince thousands of naïve persons to join or support it

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

This violence and brutality are not only showcased to the general public to demonstrate their ferocity, but ISIS is also trying to persuade people that this is the true Islam and that they are the alternative regime and that they are able to recruit more members through challenge and change and promoting their own interpretation of Islam. The shocking video showed the extremists’ ability to convince the ignorant father that after stoning his daughter she would go to heaven. ISIS also wanted to show that they are even able to convince the girl to accept being stoned to atone for her sins.

The case in Raqqa

ISIS followers circulated this video but they failed to address what happened in the Syrian city of Raqqa, where they gathered citizens near the municipal stadium to stone a young girl but the public refused to participate in the crime. ISIS fighters stoned her without circulating the video because they knew that the non-cooperation and condemnation of the citizens is not the best propaganda material.

Nevertheless, we must not underestimate the success of its propaganda. If ISIS was able to convince the father and daughter to commit this crime, it won’t be difficult for the organization to convince thousands of naïve persons to join or support it when they see and hear about its activities. Although politicians are incessantly talking about the prosecution of hardline preachers and purveyors of a delinquent ideology, taking a look at social networking sites and videos on YouTube will clearly show that ISIS is winning in the battle so far.

Syria and Iraq are no longer the promised land for those who are getting ready for battle; Yemen has become the promised land for fighters. Fighting against the Houthis is the new rallying slogan. Young men are being rallied to fight in Yemen and of course the goal is a bigger army for al-Qaeda and its affiliates. It would not be difficult to cross into Yemen via its extensive borders or rugged terrain, especially as the state is on the verge of collapsing due to the alliance of the ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh with the Houthi militias who are known for their loyalty to Iran.

We should not view ISIS from our moral and religious standards as it is a group that decided to shake the world more than al-Qaeda has ever done. The ramifications of what we are witnessing will linger for years, as long as the solution continues to come late in the day. Most allied countries set forth to fight ISIS in small towns such as Kobane, but what about the hundreds of towns and villages scattered across Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Libya?

Indeed, there is no sufficient army to fight the extremists scattered throughout the region. Their numbers will never decrease, no matter how intense or precise the bombardment against becomes, due to their ability to market their propaganda and recruit more members. It will be a losing battle unless there are intense activities by all governments to stop extremists’ propaganda from spreading and hold all ISIS, al-Qaeda and Muslim Brotherhood supporters to account. That way, we may be able to put an end to their propaganda and exterminate extremism.

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on October 24, 2014.

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Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.