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The State Department Ripped Our Footage For Propaganda

And they didn't even ask us if it was cool.
September 4, 2014, 8:35pm
Screenshot from the State Department propaganda video. Image: YouTube

Gloomy tunes play as low res images and video of the crucified and beheaded victims of the Islamic State in Iraq pass by, as word art translates the words of ISIS supreme leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

What you're watching isn't the troubling work of a back room ISIS operative plugging away on Adobe Premiere Pro. In fact, it appears to be the product of the US State Department's "Think Again Turn Away" campaign, the official terrorist trolling weapon for American PSYOPs confronting the increasingly stronger online jihadist networks dominating social media.

Related: ISIS's Favourite Hashtag Is a Weapon of War

The American government initiative has a substantive online presence on platforms like YouTube (on the account this video appears onTwitter, Facebook, and even Tumblr.

What's more shocking is the video seems to be a patchwork of Islamic State footage, tweeted out and pasted to the doldrums of the Internet by online fighters publicizing their graphic exploits—and some very familiar images to us.


The State Department isn't only ripping directly from the Twitter feeds of ISIS fighters, they also took video footage from a VICE documentary about the illegal oil fields of Syria that was released in January. None of the VICE rights and clearances staff we've spoken to have a record of a State Department request for footage.

See the comparison, with the State Department version first:

The sequence, which features a quickly shifting Word Art headline ("Plundering Public Resources"), shows a Syrian oil drum as it drips to the ground with an oil worker showing the cameraman his work.

Ironically, back in July I reported on how ISIS stole video footage from Alberta Tourism for their online recruitment videos for Westerners.

An anonymous official confirmed that the video was indeed produced for the State Department, although the official wouldn't elaborate on who actually made it, nor how much it actually cost to produce.

"The video was released by us first in Arabic on July 25, and later in English as part of the Think Again Turn Away campaign on August 22," the official said.

Correction: This article initially stated that ISIS/ISIL only formally formed in early 2014, which is incorrect. According to a staffer involved with the Syria video above, the subjects of the piece were not affiliated with ISIS at the time of filming, which of course does not mean that ISIS did not exist at the time, despite us making the mistake of saying so. We regret the error.