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Marketing Terrorism

Like a contest, terrorist groups like the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Boko Haram, Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, seem to be competing against each other. It seems like we are in an age where even terrorists are in a race for notoriety; for some kind of “celebrity status” that they can only obtain by expanding their influence with territorial gains, high numbers of supporters, and by committing bloodier terrorist acts as they go.

Unlike other less notorious terrorist groups, organizations like ISIL have taken very seriously the task of reinventing and differentiating themselves from the rest. Like a marketing strategy, this organization has made sure to become a recognized global brand. The Islamic State has a brand, marketing strategy, purpose and vast economic resources to carry out its plans. At every checkpoint and area under their control, ISIL has made it clear to put their flags up high in order to demarcate their territory and to prove to the world their expanding power.

Like a commercial product, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (the leader of ISIL) and his advisors, have taken very seriously the task to market their organization. Undoubtedly, ISIL leaders have learned that a great delal of their success lies in “selling their product”, in this case terrorism and their idea of a new and legitimate Islamic State. Like any product offered in the marketplace, ISIL relies on the four principles or marketing: product, place, promotion and price. However, unlike any other market good or commodity, what ISIL has to offer is nothing more than terror in the form of religious and minority group persecution, sexual violence, slavery, destruction of entire cities, communities and economies.

With the help of technology and (an unfortunately effective) marketing strategy, ISIL has committed to reach their sphere of influence not just in the Middle East, but throughout the world. So far, ISIL has done its best to engage governments, society, and the media through their despicable acts. Like the hideous act of killing Lt Moaz al-Kasaeseh, a Jordanian pilot who was burned alive, ISIL aims to publicize their “achievements” and make their cause heard all over the world. What’s more, with the help of social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp or Youtube, terrorist groups like ISIL have found the means to market, publicize and even to fund their operations just like any other non profit, cause or NGO.

Thus, twenty first century terrorism does not entail small groups or armed individuals, gorrilla warfares or small guerillas; but rather highly complex institutions with intelligencia, highly skilled supporters from around the globe, and of course vast economic resources. As technology becomes more sophisticated, so does the tactics groups like ISIL or Boko Haram implement in order not to get caught. Terrorist organizations have become increasingly harder to track, and just like any other citizen or group in the world, they use the benefits that technology and globalization bring along to carry out their destruction.

Therefore, fighting against ISIL the smart way means more than military retaliation. It must be clear that their media campaign, their “global brand”, and message should be backfired with a stronger and positive campaign that not only publicizes the so called “war on terror”, or successful attacks made by drones; but rather a media campaign that shows the human dimension to terrorism, conflicts, and wars. This perhaps could become a new alternative to dismantling the rhetoric of hate and conflict that lies in the surface of terrorism.

The kidnapping of 200 Nigerian girls in the hands of Boko Haram, the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris, the recent killing of Japanese hostage Kenji Goto in the hands of ISIL, all have a common denominator: terror. The truth is that beyond security there lies a humanitarian crisis on the verge of becoming a genocide. According to UN agencies, only in Iraq, more than two million people have been displaced. Thus, perhaps the stories of those whose rights are being violated day by day should take the spotlight. If and only if the true face of terrorism is put forward to the world; organizations like ISIL could have less supporters, financial means, or even a space in the marketplace where they certainly do not belong.


Mercadeo y Terrorismo 

Al igual que un concurso, grupos terroristas como el Estado Islámico de Irak y el Levante (ISIL), Boko Haram, Al-Qaeda y el Talibán parecen estar compitiendo entre sí. A veces da la impresión de que estamos en una época en la que incluso los terroristas se encuentran en una carrera por obtener notoriedad; por obtener algún tipo de “status de celebridad” que sólo pueden obtener mediante la expansión de su influencia con ganancias territoriales, un gran número de seguidores y cometiendo actos terroristas aún más sangrienta a medida que avanzan.

A diferencia de otros grupos terroristas, organizaciones como ISIL han tomado muy en serio la tarea de reinventarse y diferenciarse del resto. Como una estrategia de marketing, esta organización se ha asegurado en convertirse en una marca global reconocida. El Estado Islámico tiene una marca, estrategia de marketing, objetivos y vastos recursos económicos para llevar a cabo sus planes. En cada punto de control y el área bajo su dominio, ISIL coloca sus banderas en alto con el fin de delimitar sus territorio y para demostrar al mundo su poder en expansión. 

Al igual que un producto comercial, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (el líder de ISIL) y sus asesores, han tomado muy en serio la tarea de comercializar su organización. Sin lugar a dudas, los líderes ISIL han aprendido que un gran parte de su éxito radica en “la venta de su producto”, en este caso el terrorismo y su idea de un legítimo Estado islámico. Al igual que cualquier producto ofrecido en el mercado, ISIL se basa en los cuatro principios o de marketing: producto, plaza, promoción y precio. Sin embargo, a diferencia de cualquier otro bien de mercado o “commodity”, lo que ISIL tiene que ofrecer no es más que el terror en forma de persecución religiosa y de grupos minoritario, violencia sexual, esclavitud, destrucción de ciudades, comunidades y economías.

Con la ayuda de la tecnología y (por desgracia de una muy efectiva) estrategia de marketing, ISIL se ha comprometido a llegar a su esfera de influencia no sólo en el Oriente Medio, sino en todo el mundo. Hasta el momento, ISIL ha hecho todo lo posible para involucrar a gobiernos, la sociedad y los medios de comunicación a través de sus actos despreciables. Como el reciente acto de matar a Moaz al-Kasaeseh, un piloto jordano que fue quemado vivo, ISIL tiene como objetivo dar a conocer sus “logros” y hacer que su causa sea oída en todo el mundo. Además, con la ayuda de las plataformas de medios sociales como Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp o Youtube; grupos terroristas como ISIL han encontrado canales viables para comercializar, publicar e incluso para financiar sus operaciones como cualquier otra organización sin fin de lucro, causa u ONG.

De modo que el terrorismo del siglo XXI no implica pequeños grupos o individuos armados o pequeñas guerrillas; sino a  instituciones altamente complejas con inteligencia, miembros altamente cualificados de todo el mundo, y por supuesto vastos recursos económicos. A medida que la tecnología se vuelve más sofisticada, también ocurre lo mismo con las tácticas de grupos como ISIL o Boko Haram implementan con el fin de no ser atrapados. De modo que las organizaciones terroristas se han vuelto cada vez más difíciles de rastrear y al igual que cualquier otro ciudadano o grupo en el mundo,  utilizan los beneficios que la tecnología y la globalización traen consigo para llevar a cabo sus actos de destrucción.

Por lo tanto, la forma más inteligente de luchar contra ISIL va más allá de las represalias militar. Por el contrario, debe quedar claro que las campañas mediáticas, la “marca global” y el mensaje de organizaciones terroristas como ISIL deben de ser contrarrestados  con una campaña mediática aún más fuerte y positiva que no sólo difunde la llamada guerra contra el terrorismo, o los ataques de los aviones no tripulados; sino una Campaña mediática que muestre la dimensión humana del terrorismo, los conflictos y la guerra. Esto tal vez podría convertirse en una nueva alternativa para el desmantelamiento de la retórica de odio y conflictos que yace en la superficie del terrorismo.

El secuestro de 200 niñas Nigerianas en manos de Boko Haram, el ataque Charlie Hebdo en París y el reciente asesinato del rehén Japonés Kenji Goto en las manos de ISIL tienen un denominador común: el terror. Lo cierto es que más allá de la seguridad mundial se extiende una crisis humanitaria a punto de convertirse en un genocidio. De acuerdo a agencias de la ONU, sólo en Irak, más de dos millones de personas han sido desplazadas. Por lo tanto, tal vez las historias de aquellos cuyos derechos están siendo violados día a día deben tomar el centro de atención. Si y sólo si el verdadero rostro del terrorismo es presentado ante los ojos del mundo, organizaciones como ISIL podrían capturar menos seguidores, medios económicos, o incluso un espacio en el mercado en el que sin duda no pertenecen.

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9 thoughts on “Marketing Terrorism

  1. When ISIS began their rampage in the summer of 2014, looking at their fleet of shiny, new white Toyota pickups was all one needed to know they were being financed by very wealthy people. This seems to point to Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and other nations. Thus far, besides an astonishing admission by Vice President Joe Biden a few months ago, nobody is calling for aiding and abetting terrorist charges against the funders.
    Saudi Arabia played a similar financial role/part in 9/11 attacks in New York on September 11, 2001. Barack Obama and Joe Biden promised surviving family members of those who perished on 9/11 to declassify/make public the Saudi 9/11 connection described in what has become known as “The 28 Pages”. Despite those direct promises months ago, the “28 Pages” remain classified.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Excellent piece of work 🙂 The whole terrorism industry (as I see it!) is about gaining money, power and control. My blog on terrorism highlights the need for governmental bodies to take swift action to understand the reasons for recruiting from ‘Western’ countries and my take on how groups like ISIS have infiltrated into all of our lives.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. How come we’re not talking about cyber attacks? I feel like a huge blow to them would be to systematically take our their social media outlets. It would be a HUGE task, I’m sure, but if they can’t glorify their bloody and brutal deeds, then people will stop watching and it would be harder to recruit. Or is that naive? I have no idea what I’m talking about, so this idea could just plain be childish, I admit. But in my mind it would work, haha!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Very pertinently put post. The ‘brand’, as you say, of ISIL is one of the most disturbing things about them. You want to draw interest from within a modern, commercialist, image-obsessed society, it seems you have to market yourselves like a product or an edgy lifestyle choice.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Marketing Terrorism | renematosruiz6663

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