Rome, Italy – After the ramblings of one of the Islamic State’s online propagandists were analyzed by a think tank, the Western media has begun a propaganda frenzy implying that ISIS is on the verge of “invading” Italy from Libya. It isn’t going to happen.
As soon as I saw the first segment, I began mentally writing an article destroying Charlie Winter of the Quilliam think tank. I had forgotten my number one rule for dealing with mainstream media: don’t believe any of it.
The frenzy is centered on a report written by Winter that details a propagandist’s essay. It’s not a bad analysis. Winter even states that the essay is one person’s opinion, not a strategic plan laid out by IS leadership. In the first few pages of the report:
“Though this does not give an official, Islamic State-sanctioned view on the importance of [the] country to the caliphate, it does present a window onto the mind-set of the IS jihadist in Libya. Hence, it sheds light on some of the primary considerations, motivations and intentions of IS’s Libyan franchise.
While it is important that one does not take the content of the essay as sacrosanct – after all, it is propaganda intended to recruit jihadists to the IS cause – it is imperative that we understand what makes Libya an appealing destination for jihadist militants.”
After reading the report, I would suggest you do the same for the very reason that Winter says: to gain insight into the intent of an Islamic State militant. “Intent” is a critical term. That’s what all predictive journalism or intelligence gathering is about. It is an attempt to figure out the intent of a specific group. The reality of the situation is often very different than what the group would like it to be.
The author of the essay Winter translated and analyzed was not a person with any tradecraft or military experience. The broad strokes of the plan, as laid out by the Twitter terrorist who penned it, fall apart after the most basic application of contingency planning.
The intent of the Islamic State as stated in the media:
The IS militants will take over Libya for the purposes of exploiting the vast amount of surplus weapons and the strategic coastline that could be used to infiltrate Europe using rudimentary boats. The Islamic State combatants would pose as immigrants trying to reach the safety of Europe and slip through with the rest of the immigrants. Once enough of the IS combatants were in Europe, they would begin attacks all over the continent.
The headlines the media are pushing don’t indicate that it is a small scale infiltration as laid out in the essay, but rather a full blown invasion. The flap has caused Italy to consider a preemptive strike in Libya.
The last time Italy was invaded, it took days of naval bombardment and 186,000 professional soldiers. These are numbers the Islamic State cannot field. The Islamic State does not have the resources to even hold Iraq or Syria or Libya. It does not control any of the nations it claims as part of its Caliphate. Simply put, the idea that the media is pushing through its headlines is laughably impossible.
The concept that was actually laid out in the essay is equally ridiculous for a number of reasons. First, IS does not control Libya. Second, the weapons surpluses that are available in the country are not in their hands. The weapons are in the hands of dozens of different insurgent groups that are warring.
The idea of blending in among the large population of people headed to Italy from Libya creates another small issue for the would-be invaders. The current immigrants are not indigenous to Libya, they traveled to Libya to make the trip. The vast majority of the migrants are Sub-Saharan Africans. Take a look at an image of one of the boatloads the propagandist is saying Islamic State fighters will use for camouflage. You don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to pick an Arab militant out of the group. More importantly, arriving in this method would leave the militants without the weapons needed to carry out their attacks. A simpler plan would be to go to the airport and buy a ticket.
The essay is a pipedream, but the Western media is using it to drum up support for intervention in Libya.