The Twitter Fight Against ISIS

Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook and other social media platforms are revolutionising the way conflicts are reported upon, influenced and to record events as they happen.

Real time intelligence is possible to extract and the impact of a single image tweeted around the world cannot be underestimated. Don’t get me wrong, one cannot defeat a hardened enemy with a harsh tweet and sifting the rubbish and deliberately misleading from the genuinely insightful or useful is an almost impossible task, but, with the right tools, intelligence and local understanding I think Twitter (and others) are genuinely useful and worthy of investment for the military intelligence community.

Have always said recce by Facebook was the next big thing!

So, in the fight against ISIS (or whatever we are calling them this week) a Twitter account I think worth following.

Gudaw English

Your gateway to Kurdistan and middle east. Providing the latest news and information from the region.

Can include graphic content

Some interesting individual tweets


Hamo and Coldkurd are also interesting


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September 28, 2014 6:01 pm

For the record, Kurdish tweets about Turkey need a serious grain of salt applied.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
September 28, 2014 6:40 pm

I’m inclined to judge Turkey on it’s actions…or rather inaction, in respect of making Incirlik available to the Coalition…or arming and supplying the Kurds keen to return to the fight after getting their families to safety…


September 28, 2014 7:14 pm

The Killdozer returns!

September 28, 2014 7:41 pm

Gloomy, I think that Turkey actually pounded some ISIS convoys out of existence earlier this year with artillery, killing one of their key leaders. My guess on this is either rumours that Turkey is supporting ISIS went a bit too far to the point where the Kurds start believing it or that someone had an axe to grind with Turkey and is using ISIS to smear them.

And I have my doubts on trains going into Iraq with SPGs especially when US planes are running around pounding obvious targets. Think their shopping list is going to include “Gun, Self Propelled, Easily Targetable, For Use of American Target Practice.”?

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
September 28, 2014 10:00 pm

@Observer – quite agree about the train, and I have no doubt at all about their malleting Daesh when it suits them…but they do remain ambiguous, especially with respect to the Kurds and use of air-bases (at least openly)…they are clearly confident that they can see the bad guys off at their own frontier if needs be, and in consequence are committed only to the extent that they can gain advantage thereby.

I find that disappointing in a NATO ally who at one time aspired to join the EU…although I’m not altogether surprised.


September 28, 2014 11:14 pm

Yeah it’s Erdogan, he’s an Islamist, though not quite so much as the Daesh, but he has gotten rather authoritarian more than once. Clamped down on the press severely, turkey now imprisons more journalists than China. Enacted numerous Islamist policies(some considered unconstitutional). Seeks to completely rewrite the Ataturk constitution. Persecuted non-Muslims. Met peaceful protests with massive force leaving thousand injured and even arrested children(among many others) just for being there(not even on the day, they were actively pursued afterwards). Purged the military of secular leaders. Considers Hamas, Hezbollah and Tehran friends and allies, all of whom he helps evade sanctions.

His previous party was declared unconstitutional for seeking to remove Turkey’s secularism and he was jailed for inciting religious hatred not long after for this gem among other things;

“The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers… ” (Quoted from a poem)

He was actually banned from holding public office when his party came to power, they changed they changed the constitution to appoint him.

Some of gems of quotes from the man;

“It is not possible for those who belong to the Muslim faith to carry out genocide.”
“Assimilation is a crime against humanity”
“Islamophobia is a crime against humanity, no one can attack things that are sacred to Muslims using freedom of expression as an excuse.”
“There is no Islamic terror.”

Once again it’s the split loyalties problem as with many of the other nations in the region. A lot of them support their goals the only real problem they have with Daesh is their methods, and for some that’s only because people are watching.

He’s made encouraging noises today about playing a bigger role in the coalition, but it very much smells of US arm twisting.

He is however a very shrewd politician and should not underestimated. He has walked a very fine line to stay in power and done it with great skill. Forcing through his Islamist policies while maintaining the veneer of a moderate.

September 29, 2014 1:04 am

The importance of twitter should not be underestimted for its role in UK defence. Remember it was only because of twitter last year that the Royal Navy found out their was a Russian carrier battle group of the coast of Edinburgh.

Engineer Tom
Engineer Tom
September 29, 2014 9:23 am

I just hope we are smart enough to take internet access away from anyone who is working on a sensitive op. The images posted by a Russian soldier that was geotagged inside of Ukraine, were embarassing for them, I never heard whether they dissproved them in the end


September 29, 2014 6:50 pm

A more current suspicion of the Kurds is that Turkey prepares the political ground to intervene against IS with ground forces, in order to have an excuse to occupy the Kurdish autonomy region in Northeast Syria. Turkey doesn’t want to tolerate it, that’s apparently their official policy.
This intervention may take the shape of a “buffer zone”, without substantial combat against IS, of course.

September 29, 2014 8:06 pm

So Turkey can’t keep Daesh fighters or 15yr old girls from getting into Syria, but they can stop the Kurds no problem. Ridiculous.

NATO needs to tell them to get with the program or GTFO.

It seems the longer this goes on the more I gain more respect the Kurds and lose it for our other ‘allies’ in the region.

September 29, 2014 8:15 pm

NATO is a collective defence alliance, not an intervention club.
The members are free to fuck up their own foreign policy and to counteract other members’ foreign policy at will as long as the North Atlantic treaty isn’t being violated. So far Turkey is one of the few member countries which did not violate the North Atlantic Treaty ever (AFAIK). UK and US certainly cannot claim the same.

September 29, 2014 8:53 pm

You’re not wrong S O, but interfering in our war efforts, which by definition is aiding our enemies is crossing the line. Not what I expect from a treaty ally, even if it is a only defensive treaty.

New Daesh recruits stream in via Istanbul Airport and seem to suffer no real trouble crossing the border and haven’t at any point, but even while friendly forces are under attack in the next town over they deny them fighters.

Obsessing over the Kurds is probably why the Daesh has no trouble crossing the border. When they felt threatened(F4 shoot down etc) they were happy to come running to NATO for reinforcements which they received promptly, now that NATO(and others) want their help they can’t even offer a runway or let friendly elements enter the fight. Even getting them to allow overflights was a struggle, and is so far their only commitment.

Just getting them to treat the wounded took diplomatic pressure and only started this week. Which is just disgusting, in any situation or scenario and no matter who the wounded are.

No they haven’t broken the word of the treaty. As I said earlier Erdogan is a shrewd man, but piss take, is the phrase that springs to mind, with regard to Turkey at the moment. They’ve been promising to do more since Mosul fell, but they’re doing much less than even the Arab states who initially supported Daesh. Iran is acting in better faith FFS.

September 29, 2014 10:08 pm

“You’re not wrong S O, but interfering in our war efforts”

Which ones? Not a single NATO country declared war on Syria or a group in Syria afaik. There was no declaration of war.
It’s all executive meddling, heads of government playing games with bombs.

September 29, 2014 10:28 pm

Not at war? Give over.

Armed conflict between groups is the very definition. Just because we don’t recognise them as a state to deliver a formal declaration on headed paper to their diplomats hardly changes anything.

I suppose the war on terror, isn’t a war either? The fight against the Taliban, not a war? Occupation of Iraq(post Saddam), not a war?

Not by your criteria. In none of these cases was a formal declaration issued to the opposing forces. Diplomatic niceties and military realities are very different things.

September 30, 2014 8:21 am

As much as I think SO might go off the rails at times, this time I’ve to side with him on the war part. It’s insurgency control, not war. If it was, we would be flattening the cities and having armour roll into the place by now. It’s this middle of the road thing that is getting everyone confused.

And “War on Terror” is bullshit PR. When the term first came out, there were some articles pointing that out. Terrorism is a tool, not an identity. It’s like declaring war on carpet bombing or war on troweling. Not to mention it never really stopped, somewhere worldwide, there is a terrorist group blowing something up, usually just ignored by the US until they got burnt by it as well, then CNN comes in and does a circus.

September 30, 2014 1:51 pm

Insurgency is a form of warfare. An asymmetric war is a still a war.

However this is not an insurgency. Even though the current belligerents grew out of an insurgency. Once their goal became to establish their own state and expand it through conquest of other states, rather overthrow the standing authority of a state, the term no longer applies.

Just because we haven’t committed all available forces does not mean it’s not a war. Not all forces are suitable or required in any war.

Cities are being flattened and tanks are rolling into all kinds of places, that point is nonsense, but to address the point I think you were trying to make; the coalition, taken as a whole is engaged in full combined arms operations. Even if we are struggling a bit with getting everyone combined.

Yes GWOT name is nonsense, but it is also a real war. One with getting on for 100k(500k if you count mental health and I do) NATO casualties and god knows how many more friendly local forces. Hostile and civilian casualties probably top 1 million globally, probably multiple millions with mental health considered as before. Trillions spent. All these numbers grow by the minute. If that’s not a war, what is?

PR aside it was begun with the US invocation of Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty. A fact long forgotten it seems.

Next you’ll be telling me the Falklands was just an immigration control operation.

Listen to yourselves. You’re arguing there is no war in Iraq and Syria and we are not one of the belligerents. Or even more ridiculously that there is a war and despite us being one of the belligerents we somehow aren’t involved in that war.

There is a war in Iraq and Syria. This is a fact. We have by act of parliament sent forces to engage in combat operations in that war. That is a fact. Thus we are at war.

To argue otherwise is a bigger piece of “PR bullshit”, as you succinctly put it, than declaring war on a noun.

September 30, 2014 1:58 pm

Love to see where you got the 100k NATO causalties figure from. Sounds hysterical. In both sense.

ISIS is NOT a country, there is no declaration nor recognition and if it were, we won’t even be giving a damn about their citizens. The fact that we do is already an anomaly and an understanding that the people living there are not citizens of an Islamic State but are people that were trapped there when an insurgency broke its banks and overflowed into Iraq.

September 30, 2014 2:20 pm

Wow, really?

Because they’re easiest to find and I don’t have time to google over a decades worth of casualty reports from every NATO nation(and other friendlies). This is just the US military;

52,000 US combat casualties 7000 killed;
200,000 US soldiers diagnosed with PTSD, far from the only psychological condition that war can inflict and it take years to develop so it will increase

Remember those are just for the US and don’t include contractors, security/intelligence services or NATO civilians or the 22 former US soldiers that commit suicide every day due to their mental health.

September 30, 2014 2:53 pm

@Chuck The effect of war on the mental health of soldiers is very complicated and figures can seem dramatic because of the the public’s misunderstanding of mental health. In fact Suicide is a much more common occurrence than people think and most studies ive seen of veterans show that they commit suicide less often than the normal population. People think that soldiers commit suicide more often than the normal pop and myths have grown up around this. for example there where not more veterans who killed themselves after the Falklands and who died there and in fact they killed themselves at a lower rate then a simler social economic section of society. Im sure that for some guy back from iraq whose seen his mate get depressed is going to think im full of shit. But what they might not realize is that depression is incredibly common and a huge number of vets are statistically likely to get depression just by virtue of being human, but after they go to war every event after that will be attributed in some way to what they went through in that conflict. I dont know the figures for PTSD exactly but they are not staggeringly higher than the normal population, in which it is surprisingly common. Of course there are lots of factors that may effect this, for example vets might be less likely to report there problems but you cant just say 22 people kill themselves a day because of the iraq war.

September 30, 2014 4:58 pm

I have PTSD and depression. So that load of nonsense just got right up my nose and yes I do think you’re full of shit.

I’d love to see the ‘studies’ you’re talking about. Because they don’t seem to tally with any of the other science on the matter. I think more likely you’ve heard a couple of statistical outliers and built your argument around them.

4x-8x higher rate of PTSD, up to 10x higher rate of general mental health problems. 5x higher rates of alcohol abuse Twice the suicide rate.

Sources which not coincidentally happen to be 3 of the most cited on the matter;

The only thing you got almost right was that British troops do seem to suffer PTSD less than our cousins over the pond, but not just in the Falklands. There’s no scientific explanation for this yet.

I never said 22 people kill themselves everyday because of Iraq.

September 30, 2014 5:04 pm

I do sometimes call OIF etc. “wars of occupation” myself, but here I opposed the “but interfering in our war efforts” because it seemed to imply a certain legitimacy and importance of the effort (otherwise derailing it would hardly be offensive). These conflicts aren’t even legitimate and important enough to be declared as war in more than speeches.
Why would we be offended by some formal ally being at odds with us on something that’s not important enough to us for a simple legislative declaration of war?

An alliance such as NATO is a commitment to collective defence, not an obligation to be a loyal member of a homogenous bloc. And there’s certainly not a bloc leader enshrined in the treaty.

Maybe the Americans are offensive to Turkish foreign policy and hurting their national interests? Did anyone think about this?
It’s THEIR backyard, after all. The Turks are the only ones who have a plausible explanation for how they could be threatened by IS. The others can so far only point at the risk to travellers and journalists in the region.

September 30, 2014 7:00 pm

Chuck, I might be a bit more sympathetic to your position if I did not come from somewhere that chugs out a 20% psych treatment rate for our students. I’ve seen slit wrists, paracetamol OD, high jumper wannabes etc. You’re not the only one with depression and PTSD. And PTSD does not take years to develop, it’s immediate onset, long duration.

September 30, 2014 9:34 pm

@observer: You don’t know what you’re talking about. The 2 assertions you made are both wrong.


Posttraumatic Stress Disorder can occur at any age, including childhood. Symptoms usually begin within the first three months after the trauma, although there may be a delay of months, or even years, before symptoms appear. Frequently the disturbance initially meets criteria for Acute Stress Disorder (see p. 429) in the immediate aftermath of the trauma. The symptoms of the disorder and the relative predominance of reexperiencing, avoidance, and hyperarousal symptoms may vary over time. Duration of the symptoms varies, with complete recovery occurring within three months in approximately half of cases, with many others having persisting symptoms for longer than 12 months after the trauma.”


September 30, 2014 9:40 pm

Apologies incorrect source, that’s the abridged version. Mixed my tabs up. Correct;

October 1, 2014 10:56 am

Careless of me to forget about the cases where there is traumatic memory loss. Not something common.