ISIS is extremely proud of their latest video but, trust me, it’s a bit of a snorefest. But, it’s also very different. The horrific violence they’re known for is there but only in comparatively small doses. Instead they’ve opted to take a lot of fringe financial theory (the kind you might have heard already if you listen to Glenn Beck or Alex Jones) and wrap it The Mummy Returns production values. Then, just like a college freshmen who has taken one economics class and read a dozen conspiracy theory websites, they drone on and on and on. It’s weird – just not weird enough to be interesting.
Of course, what we really need to know is why they’re going to all of this trouble. I’m still processing this but from their perspective:
- The production values project authority and capability. Their internal and external audiences both need reassurance.
- The pseudo-intellectual financial theory will not impress economists but it will resonate with people who view alternative financial systems as a rejection of current political systems. There are large numbers of people in the Middle East – and the United States who share this view.
- It checks the theology box by claiming to be a model that is more inline with Islamic principals.
- Money is central to statehood so this reinforces that claim.
- At the end of the day the ISIS wants to be seen as a viable alternative to existing powers. Videos like this (and the factors mentioned above) help support that case – at least in the eyes of potential recruits and supporters.
The alignment with the non-Islamic conspiracy thought in the West is the most intriguing aspect of this communication. Is this convergence intentional or is it a coincidence arising out of the fact that these ideas on the financial fringe have been circulating for a long time? I can’t make a call on that at the moment but it is certainly a question worth considering.