On any given day at MacDill Air Pressure Base, net crawlers scour social media for potential recruits to the Islamic State group. Then, in a excessive-stakes operation to counter the extremists’ propaganda, language specialists make use of fictitious identities and attempt to sway the targets from becoming a member of IS ranks.
At the least that is how the multimillion-greenback initiative is being bought to the Protection Division.
A essential nationwide safety program often known as “WebOps” is a part of an enormous psychological operation that the Pentagon says is successfully countering an enemy that has used the web as a devastating software of propaganda. However an Related Press investigation discovered the administration behind WebOps is so beset with incompetence, cronyism and flawed knowledge that a number of individuals with direct information of this system say it is having little impression.
A number of present and former WebOps staff cited a number of examples of civilian Arabic specialists who’ve little expertise in counter-propaganda, can’t converse Arabic fluently and have so little understanding of Islam they’re no match for the Islamic State on-line recruiters.
It is arduous to determine rapport with a possible terror recruit when — as one former employee informed the AP — translators repeatedly combine up the Arabic phrases for “salad” and “authority.” That is led to open ridicule on social media about references to the “Palestinian salad.”
4 present or former staff informed the AP that that they had personally witnessed WebOps knowledge being manipulated to create the looks of success and that that they had mentioned the issue with many different staff who had seen the identical. But the businesses finishing up this system for the army’s Central Command in Tampa have dodged makes an attempt to implement unbiased oversight and evaluation of the info.
Central Command spokesman Andy Stephens declined repeated requests for details about WebOps and different counter-propaganda packages, which have been launched beneath the Obama Administration. And he didn’t reply to detailed questions the AP despatched on Jan. 10.
The AP investigation is predicated on Protection Division and contractor paperwork, emails, pictures and interviews with greater than a dozen individuals intently concerned with WebOps in addition to interviews with almost two dozen contractors. The WebOps staff requested anonymity because of the delicate nature of the work and since they weren’t approved to talk publicly.
The knowledge operations division that runs WebOps is the command’s epicenter for firing again…