Anger: it’s one of the most powerful emotional triggers. Marketers know it and so do ISIS’s recruiters. Anger is truly powerful: it makes people act without thought, buy without thought, accept without thought. That is exactly what ISIS needs to get people to join their ranks.
How ISIS Uses Anger to Recruit
Pro wrestling manager Jim Cornett once said, “mad draws money.” He meant that when the heel, the villain in pro wrestling, angers the crowd, the audience will get more involved in the match. The heel will
provoke the crowd by insulting them, making arrogant remarks, cheating or belittling the face, the hero. By doing this, the heel encourages spectators to buy tickets for the next event so they can hopefully see him get humiliated. ISIS does something similar. Like any good marketer, ISIS understands that they have different audiences and use different strategies for each of them. In the case of young men from Muslim families, the message these videos promote is Muslims are the most hated and persecuted people in the world. These videos usually show footage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the war in Afghanistan or the US invasion of Iraq. They consist of montages of women in hijabs crying for their children who have been killed or for their homes that have been destroyed, and children crying for their dead parents. Just like spectators of the pro wrestling match, ISIS’s target audience become outraged. They want to watch more and hope their heel, the West and Israel, will be beaten.
ISIS’s Message for Europe
ISIS in countries like England and France will also arouse anger through speeches. These are meant to make their audience of non-European descent angry at the country they live in. The recruiters teach their recruits that the reason they have it so bad is because the European country they live in hates them for being Muslim. ISIS will even teach them that the Western country in which they live have nothing to offer but discrimination. This message strikes a chord with these potential recruits as they already face discrimination. Now that the target audience is too angry to use their heads, they heed the propaganda’s call to action: fight injustice towards Muslims… through terrorism.
ISIS message to descendants of Muslim immigrants in the West is they are hated and under attack. When potential recruits accept this rhetoric, they feel paranoid. They see themselves as victims. Any criticism of Salafism or Wahhabism, the basis of ISIS’s philosophy, becomes an attack against their own identity. Why else would Islamist terrorists who live in the West claim their acts are vengeance for things happening in the Middle East and the Near East?