The U.S. government has authenticated the gruesome video of Steven Sotloff’s killing at the hands of the Islamic State, but questions still linger about the militant group's strategy behind the widely-disseminated recording.
Former CIA counterterrorism analyst Aki Peritz told HuffPost Live on Wednesday that the Islamic State’s ability to penetrate the mainstream media with its own stories has been particularly notable.
“They’re really trying to cut through the media consciousness of the West,” he told host Ricky Camilleri. “When Jim Foley’s murder video went online, that was on Aug. 19. On Aug. 20 the New York Post and the New York Daily News put their pictures up online. It made its jump from social media to mainstream media -- and in New York, of all places. So their ability to manage their media narrative, whether it’s to draw us in, whether it’s to terrify us, is actually quite impressive.”
Aside from the long-range media narrative that the videos help to craft, former counterterrorism operative Mubin Shaikh suggested that the beheadings are also part of a recruitment tactic that could ultimately be a double-edged sword.
“For those who want to see some kind of action [or] injury come to the enemy, these videos are very helpful for that,” he said. “But on the other hand, it does kind of send it the other way because people are saying ... even in the extremist jihadist mentality, ‘How do you justify killing a non-combatant journalist that has nothing to do with foreign policy?’”
Watch the full HuffPost Live conversation here.
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