BreakThru News, ep. 27: Understanding ISIS


By Charlotte Thun-Hohenstein

The idea of fighting for something bigger than yourself, and risking your life to do so, is embedded in the origins of the United States. It is this sense of transcendent purpose, however, that is now drawing thousands of Westerners to the cause of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS): the promise is nothing short of fulfilling a holy and historical destiny. The tragedy, then, is the extraordinary human cost of this calling: the atrocities of ISIS mar both the humanity of the innocent victims, and that of their killers. This sickening brutality was demonstrated to the world yet again this past week with the beheading of American journalist Steven Sotloff.

The stated purpose of this execution, following the earlier instance of James Foley, is to punish Obama for recent US air strikes against ISIS in Northern Iraq. However, as John Knefel of the Radio Dispatch podcast on BTR points out on this week’s episode of BreakThru News, the reverse effect of increasing foreign military intervention might elevate the terrorist group’s status on the world stage and legitimize its goals in the eyes of potential recruits.

Ultimately, the clearest objective of the video is that of publicity stunt. ISIS is particularly troubling as a terrorist threat because of is its unprecedented savviness in manipulating its own public image. Their alternative to an empty consumerist lifestyle is promoted using all the latest social media platforms. Irony aside, it’s working. For those who have joined the fight, we can only hope that witnessing these atrocities firsthand is an unconditional wake-up call.

Video Credits
Host, Writer, Research – Charlotte Thun-Hohenstein
Video Editor – Andy Morell
Script Supervisor – Matthew DeMello

with guest – John Knefel