ISIS and US continue cyber bickering

Supporters of Islamic State (IS) and US electronic teams have been firing a flurry of tweets and a salvo of cyber responses as part of their internet war on social media.

IS declared a state of general mobilisation to confront the US-led media war against it.

The group's followers have been hammering away at their foes—the US, the rest of the "Crusader" West, Shiite Muslims, Arab regimes, the Sunni religious establishment, Al-Qaeda and other jihadist groups in Syria—as they sent out thousands of tweets and shared propaganda videos and pictures.

They kicked off the Arabic hashtag #the stateof generalmobilisationforISsupporters, in which they used the Arabic term nafir to mean mobilisation.

Nafir is an Islamic concept which means a departure to jihad. In other words, Muslims are allowed to emigrate to join the jihad without permission from their Muslim rulers.

Abu-Soliman al-Jahbazi wrote: "Brothers, be ready. The countdown to 08:30 has started; armed with knowledge, support your faith." 

A few IS sympathisers sent out self-congratulatory tweets about their ability to outwit Twitter, which suspended IS accounts.

A few tweets instructed IS supporters on how to avoid followers on Twitter, especially young women, who could be secret agents in disguise.

One IS supporter posted a picture of the co-founder of Twitter Jack Dorsey and tweeted: "Jack is shocked: for every account that is shut down, another pops up."

A sympathiser tweeted a purported CV of IS's leader, the self-declared "caliph", Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, highlighting his work record as an imam for three mosques in the Iraqi cities of Samara, Baghdad and Fallujah.

Al-Baghdadi learned the Quran at the hand of two "eminent" Muslim scholars—Sobhi al-Samarai and Abu Al-Saiqa, the CV showed.

The "caliph" is said to have a B.A., an M.A. and a PhD in Islamic sciences from the University of Baghdad, previously Saddam University, as the CV puts it.

Using the same hashtag, the US State Department's electronic communication team has been busy refuting IS's recruitment propaganda with arguments like the majority of IS's victims are Muslims and IS accuses fellow Muslims of apostasy.

Immediately, the group's sympathisers tweeted a recorded message by IS's spokesman Abu Mohamed al-Adnani, justifying why "hypocritical Muslims, including devout ones and even jihadists" are, from God's perspective, on the same par as infidels.

He cited numerous examples from early Islamic history to prove IS's hardline position on apostasy.

In contrast to the serious tone and the arcane language of Al-Adnani's message, the US team used mockery, especially in ridiculing Al-Baghdadi.

"We are wondering when the Twitter caliph will tweet to his loyal tweeters?" the team wrote and retweeted the message several times.   

The team posted a split screen photo animation with the title "IS is perishable and withering away".

On the right, a marmot-like creature is shown coming out of a hole in the rock face and tumbling away.

On the left side, a picture of Al-Baghdadi is seen appearing and disappearing in a similar hole. The effect is perhaps unintentionally comic but the message is serious: IS are rodent-like pests and they are fleeing their holes.  It bears more than a passing resemblance to whack-a-mole but the implication that IS will pop up in a different place seems to have been missed by the State Department.

In an apparent display of scorn, IS supporters posted a propaganda video flaunting Al-Baghdadi's fluency in Arabic, poise and self-confidence and disparaging Arab leaders for their inability to read the language of the Quran.

Al-Baghdadi's fluency is shown in the opening scene in which he is heading the prayer and giving what could be perceived by some Muslims as a mellifluous, professional recital of the Quran.   

This scene is immediately followed by one in which the late King of Saudi Arabia, stuttering while reading a verse from the Quran.

The old monarch, known for his poor education, changed one word in the verse unintentionally— to the dismay of an audience of Saudi dignitaries.

The ailing president of the UAE is shown giving a speech which he could hardly read and Lebanon's former prime minister Saad al-Hariri is shown making grammar mistakes in an address to parliament, to the laughs of lawmakers and his own amusement.

Ironically, the IS video used footage of MEMRI, a media institute that provides translations from various Arabic media, mostly material that reflects badly on Arabs.

MEMRI was co-founded by former members of the Israeli intelligence services.